A/N: Next chapter! Bet ya thought I was gonna disappear for over a year again, didn't you? LOL. I just wanted to say, for those of you who completely panicked because I hadn't updated in over a month, that I will finish this story and that I won't take months and months or even years to do so, but I can't update every day. I'll try my best to do it as quickly as possible, though.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this.
For those of you who have forgotten, due to lack of updates before, Alice is unable to see anything regarding James since he's so 'unstable' that his actions were instinctual, and there weren't a lot of decisions made. There's more to him that I can't reveal as of yet but it's there.
Disclaimer: SM owns it all.
POVs: 3rd person POV, Unknown POV, Edward's POV.
Esme came forward and sat on my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck. Her smile made me smile, too. "Don't worry, Carlisle," she said gently, her warm voice soothing me. "We'll make it through this. All of us."
I opened my mouth to voice all my worries but my phone started to ring. I grabbed it and flipped it open. My body tensed as I saw the caller ID. Capt. Matt Sung.
Esme rubbed my shoulder comfortingly as I answered the call. "Carlisle Cullen," I said curtly into the phone, waiting edgily for the news that awaited me.
"Carlisle, it's Sung," came the stern voice of Carlisle's friend from the SPD. "I've got news but you're not going to like it."
Carlisle cringed. He'd already figured as much. "Just tell me," he urged, bracing himself for the worst.
Matt Sung sighed on the other end of the line. He had known Dr. Carlisle Cullen for just a few years, but he knew Carlisle was a good man. The man seemed to hold his values strongly, and he took to saving lives on a higher level than most people Sung had ever known. He even owed his current position at the SPD to Carlisle, but that was another story for another time.
"I did a background check on James Hunter, like you requested," Sung answered Carlisle's question wearily. He knew that if Carlisle was asking him for a favor – especially one like this, which involved him using his connections on the police force to carry out – there had to be a reason behind it.
"James Hunter, 18 years old, born and raised in New York City by a single mother, Marissa Hunter…He's bad news, Carlisle."
"'Brought in for the investigation of several cases involving girls disappearing' bad," Sung clarified grimly. "Six in total. Three of them were his neighbors, two co-workers in two separate work places and one of a woman who had filed a report stating that Hunter was stalking her…Roommate said she wanted to take out a restraining order against Hunter, but she went to work, never returned."
Carlisle sucked in a deep breath, running a hand down his face at the news Sung was delivering. Esme, still perched on his lap, ran her fingers soothingly through his golden hair, even if she too was worried beyond belief. "Was he ever convicted?"
"He wasn't even charged," Sung scoffed. "There wasn't any evidence of him being involved – roommates or friends would comment that the victims would mention Hunter's obsession with them, but nothing ever came out of it. He's smart. He doesn't leave trails. It's like he's untouchable, invisible…"
"What about the fact that he was linked to six disappearances?"
"Carlisle, they wanted to take him in, but without evidence, they couldn't charge him," Sung reminded him, his tone rational.
Carlisle sighed. "Yes, I know."
Sung stayed silent for a few moments before he decided to just ask why Carlisle had taken such an interest in this particular case. "Why did you ask me to do a background check on Hunter?" Sung asked him curiously. "I know he's moved to Forks…You worried for your daughters?"
"Just one," Carlisle admitted, knowing that it was time for him to involve the police. "It seems like Hunter has become strangely obsessed with my youngest."
Sung's expression fell, a solemn grimace forming on his lips. "I'm so sorry, Carlisle," he said sincerely. "I'll do everything I can to help protect your family."
"Thank you, Matt," Carlisle smiled slightly. "Hunter has been leaving several gifts for Bella…I'm not sure if that's enough…"
"Not enough to throw him in jail, that's for sure," Sung informed him. "But could be enough for a restraining order against him."
Alice sat on the loveseat, cross-legged. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. The place might be chaotic at the moment, what with Emmett and Rosalie right there in the room fighting - loudly - over the remote, Edward and Jasper 'discussing' their latest wrestling match and the music from Bella's iPod practically making Alice's ears bleed, but she needed to calm down.
Placing her hands on her knees, Alice forced herself to relax and concentrate. She needed to see into James' future. This being blind thing wasn't a good thing at all. She hated it with a passion. She could only see bits and pieces of his future and it bothered her, especially since he was so determined to be a part of her sister's life.
Hysteria crept into Alice's body as she thought about the things he could do to Bella.
Their defenses didn't always lie in their physical strength.
Alice had always been able to tell if danger was on the horizon. Edward would be able to read the minds of their enemies and Jasper could always gauge their emotions, their lies, their truths. Their battle strategy depended on their gifts to an extent.
Right now, all three of them were stripped of their gifts when it concerned James, and it scared all of them. A part of their defense system was down. They had to wait it out and see what would happen, then plan out their tactics.
Mostly, they'd be relying on brute strength.
It wasn't a good feeling; this anxiety, this fear.
Jasper, noticing Alice's mounting anxiety, forewent his discussion with Edward to focus on her. He sent her a small jolt of serenity, wrapping his arm around her small frame and kissing her cheek gently. "Alice, calm down," he said quietly. "You're not going to be able to get anything if you keep panicking."
"God, this is so frustrating," Alice grumbled, rubbing her temples as though she actually had a headache.
"What is?" Bella asked as she stroked Lilly's fur, the cat cuddled up on her lap. Lilly had been feeling really odd lately and nothing Bella did would cheer her up. It was starting to be really worrying.
Alice shook her head, scowling at nothing in particular. "Edward doesn't want me to tell you," she tattled on her 'brother' easily, sticking her tongue out at him where he sat next to his human mate. "He's worried you'll be too much of a scaredy-cat to handle the truth."
Bella shot Edward a look. He had stiffened up in his seat and was shooting Alice a glare. "Alice!" he hissed.
Bella chuckled. "Thanks for the overprotective measures, Edward," she reached out and patted his cheek gently. "But it's not necessary. I want to know."
That last bit was directed at an agitated Alice, who was more than happy to divulge in her frustrations to her best friend, "I can't get any visions of James."
Bella frowned. "As annoying as that must be for you-"
"Very annoying," Alice interjected.
"-that's not exactly news," she pointed out. "You haven't been able to see James since the beginning."
Alice sighed despondently, "True."
Jasper wrapped his arms around Alice, pulling her to him. She buried her face in his chest and breathed him in. It worked like a charm and she pulled back, staring up into his breathtaking butterscotch eyes.
He smiled at her as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. "It'll be okay, Alice," he assured her. "Even without our gifts, we'd be able to protect her. She's our sister, our family. Don't forget, Alice, we have the strength of seven vampires on our side. This one single human can't do much damage, even if he is crazier than most people."
Alice nodded her head slowly. "When you put it like that…" she trailed off, mulling over his words.
It made sense, of course, that they would be able to overthrow one measly human. It was laughable that James thought he could actually corner them and overpower them. He just wasn't strong enough. He wasn't enough to even handle Alice, the smallest vampire in the family. How was he supposed to handle all of them put together?
With one flick of Alice's wrist, she could snap his neck.
But that wasn't how they were going to handle this.
They were going by human laws. Too many people were involved in this now.
The entire student population of Forks High had seen James around Bella, had seen the obvious lust he felt for her. He'd given her a gift and she'd return it to him publicly. Mike Newton had commented on his 'bravery' at approaching a Cullen girl. Carlisle had even approached a human police officer about James.
If they were to handle James their way and he were to suddenly disappear, too many questions would be asked. Not to mention the fact that his infatuation with Bella had been alerted to the police captain of the SPD, no less.
On one hand, it was incredibly smart of Carlisle to alert the police and let them handle this. It would give the Cullens more information and it would mean that none of them would bear the burden of another human life on their hands. Bella wouldn't feel guilty about it, either, the way all of them knew she would feel if one of them were to kill James.
On the other hand, it was stupid.
If something drastic were to occur, they would have no way of knowing until the last possible second and they'd have no way of preventing it. What, were they supposed to massacre the entire state now?
There were just too many variables. Too many factors. Too many things that could go wrong.
Alice bit her lip and looked back up into Jasper's eyes.
"I don't know, Jazz," she said uneasily. "I know I can't see and maybe this is just anxiety but I can't help but feel like…We're underestimating him somehow. We're missing something, a very big something, and I just don't know what it is."
Worry was shining in his eyes now but he set his jaw and nodded. "We'll figure it out," he said determinedly. "Don't worry, Alice. Nothing bad's going to happen to any one of us. I won't let it."
He spoke with such conviction that she immediately believed him. He was right, of course. Whatever it was, they'd handle it. Nothing would happen to their family.
So, pushing the thoughts of missing puzzle pieces to the back of her head, Alice laid back and allowed herself the comfort of Jasper's touch.
Sometime between Bella wanting to watch the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy and having Rosalie back her up, and Emmett ignoring both women and turning on ESPN, a vision flashed through Alice's mind, causing her to frown.
Jasper noticed - then again, he very rarely didn't notice anything concerning Alice. He was so very attuned to her, which she loved.
"What's wrong, darling?" he asked, sitting up straighter as he registered my frustration and confusion. Alice shook her head, trying to clear it, blinking a little. "Is it James? Something to do with Bella?"
Alice smiled a little at him to reassure him, though her smile was half-hearted. "No, it's not James or Bella," she said, causing him to relax minimally.
"Then what is it?" he seemed wary.
Alice sighed. "I've just been getting random visions…It's giving me an almost headache," she complained.
"What are the random visions about?" Emmett asked from his spot on the floor, pointer finger pressing the channel button repeatedly as he flipped through the channels at a maddening pace. "Are they 'strange family out in Nowheresville eating dinner' random, or 'clown scaring little children' random?"
Alice looked up at him, eyebrow raised and a pained expression on her face. "How do you even come up with something like that?" she muttered, her question rhetorical.
Pausing, she added, "Clown," answering his strange question.
"It's more of these…People," Alice continued. "Some of these visions are of people I'd never seen before, lying there, dead-"
Emmett snorted. "I see dead people," he intoned in the perfect Haley Joel Osment imitation. When no one laughed with him, and Lilly merely let out a depressed sort of meow, Emmett scowled. "Tough crowd," he muttered, returning to channel surfing.
Alice rolled her eyes. "Anyway, like I was saying…Either they're already dead, or they're being taken…My visions are sort of hazy when that happens, like something's blocking me from seeing the whole picture…" she shook her head. "What the hell is the point of being clairvoyant when everything's blocking my third eye?"
Bella wrinkled her nose. "Third eye? Really, Alice?"
Alice glared at her.
Bella stifled her laughter. "Sorry," she adopted a somber tone. "Listen, I'm sorry that you're having such a hard time…Is there anything I can do?"
Alice shook her head, sighing, "No, I just need to figure out what these visions mean."
"You don't think it has any connection to James, do you?" Rosalie asked sharply, amber eyes fixed on her sister.
"No, no way," Alice assured Rosalie. "Those dead bodies had definitely been drained of blood – it's the work of vampires."
Jasper, next to Alice, started. "Are these murders happening nearby?"
"I can't tell for sure," Alice murmured, her eyes sliding shut as she focused on the latest string of visions she had gotten, her mind taking in every detail presented to her, clear or otherwise. A flash of a street name caught her eye and her eyes flew open, her head snapping around in her husband's direction.
Jasper and Edward both had tensed up – the former from the emotions that had suddenly changed, and the latter due to seeing the vision in Alice's head.
"They're in Seattle," Edward growled in reply to Jasper's silent question. "The murders."
The others in the room grew alert, tensed. "That close?" Rosalie asked, not at all pleased by that.
Alice nodded. "I'm sure of it," she answered confidently. "Who could it be, though?"
Jasper shook his head. "Does it matter? This is our territory," he reminded his mate.
Alice shot him a stern look. "This isn't back in the South, Jazz," she said softly.
"No, but most of our kind knows there's an Olympic coven – they can't hunt here, especially not when it's enough to give you visions about it."
Alice opened her mouth to argue when something on TV caught her eye. "Emmett, change back the channel…No, the news," she urged.
Emmett grumbled. "Alice, the news is boring," he complained even as he complied with her wish. "What is it?"
"…The fourth body found in the last two weeks…Police are concerned this could be the work of a serial killer…Nothing physically distinctive about the bodies…The most alarming, most intriguing coroner's report…Blood drained from the victims…"
Alice's eyes widened as she took in two out of the three sketches shown on the TV screen of the victims they had been able to identify. "Hey, I saw those two in my visions," she told the others, frowning at the screen.
The six of them stared at the TV, incredulous. "What do you think? Nomads?" Rosalie asked out loud.
Jasper shook his head. "Nomads would be more careful," he insisted. "It's sloppy – gaining such large attention from the humans…It has to be newborns."
"Newborns in Seattle," Emmett rolled his eyes. "Exactly what we need."
"Could it be the vampires you saw in your vision the other day?" Bella asked Alice, eyeing her curiously, trying to repress a shiver of fright. "When you were hunting, you said you saw a couple of vampires…Could they have been the newborns?"
Alice shook her head. "No. They were far too…Controlled," she said, figuring that was the best word to describe it. "Newborns would've been much more crazed with their thirst. They were definitely nomadic. Besides…They headed North. I saw that."
"They couldn't have tricked you somehow?"
Alice scoffed. "Please, Bella," she rolled her eyes, her tone suggesting that the idea was too ludicrous to even consider. "They would have to know about me and my gift to even try and evade me. We've never crossed paths before. They wouldn't know."
Edward sighed, raking his hand through his hair. "Well, if it's not them, then we have no idea who it is – newborns don't just appear out of thin air," he pointed out. "Someone must have created them."
"Someone in Seattle?" Rosalie asked uneasily.
Emmett gave her a wolfish grin. "Aw, don't worry, babe – they can't get past these babies right here," he held up his arms, flexing his muscles. In a completely idiotic move, he pressed a kiss to each bicep.
Bella rolled her eyes and shared a look with Jasper, but Rosalie merely smiled indulgently at her husband.
"Oh," Alice murmured sadly, another vision flooding her mind.
"I saw an announcement the principal is going to make tomorrow - one of the girls from school is missing," she informed the others. "Such a sad thing."
Bella frowned, making a sympathetic sound at the back of her throat. "Anyone we know?" she asked, sounding terrified to know the answer. Please don't let it be Angela, she prayed silently, forgetting for a moment that she'd just spoken to her only, genuine human friend not an hour ago.
Alice shook her head. "No," she assured Bella. " You never really met her before."
Bella wasn't sure what the right response to that was, but she was pretty sure being relieved wasn't an appropriate emotion. So she merely nodded thankfully at Alice, dropping her gaze back to a mellow Lilly.
"We should probably head into Seattle tomorrow," Jasper said, jumping right back into their discussion of the nomadic vampires on a killing spree so close to their home. "Try and find…"
He was cut off, however, when Carlisle and Esme entered the room, hand in hand and wearing similar expressions of weariness. "We have some bad news," Carlisle said upon entry.
The patriarch and matriarch of the Cullen family froze in their tracks, their eyes taking in the somber mood of their 'children'.
"So do we," Edward replied, grimacing, his face growing stony as he took in what they had been thinking. This is a very, very bad situation…he commented to himself, his arm tightening around Bella's shoulder slightly as he tucked her closer to his body, the instinct to protect his mate becoming almost too unbearable.
My eyes narrowed as I gazed down at the coven down below. They were, yet again, in the same clearing they went to every time thunder was present. They were playing a game of baseball, as ridiculous as that sounded.
Then again, there was a lot of things about this particular coven that were ridiculous.
The fact that they drank from animals, for one.
For another - instead of preparing themselves for the vampire wars brewing yet again (in Europe this time), they were preoccupied with the protection of a single, silly human girl.
She was probably the most insignificant, clumsiest, stupidest human I had ever known to exist. She willingly stayed with a coven of vampires - animal drinkers or no, they still required blood to survive and could easily slip and drink her dry…What a merry day that would be - treating them as though they were family, playmates.
I watched as the human girl threw herself into the large, hulking vampire they called 'Emmett'. If a human ever had the gall to touch me like that, to speak to me in any way that suggested we were of the same standing…They would be dead in two seconds flat. Yet, this human girl had survived years of living with this coven.
They weren't worthy of being vampires, of belonging to the strongest, most lethal species in the world. They were weak, controlled by their emotions and their desire to retain their humanity.
This was exactly why I knew I would have absolutely no trouble whatsoever taking them all out. Including the human girl.
The only one I would fight to keep relatively unharmed was the small, bubbly female. Alice.
I found Alice before any of them did, even before her blonde scarred mate did. I found Alice in the early 1900s, when her parents first threw her into the asylum back in Biloxi. She had been thinner than she was now, as strange and unbelievable as that was. She was thinner, more gaunt and looked as though she was haunted every second of every day.
I had heard, rumors spoken in hushed tones, that Mary Alice Brandon was a witch. She could see into the future, predict every thing. At first I didn't believe it, but when the rumors spiked again, saying how Mary Alice was being thrown into the mental asylum, I decided to pay her a visit. See it for myself.
The first few weeks she was in that asylum, she didn't do much but scream. I thought it was desperation on her part - desperation to get out, desperation to be accepted, to be normal, desperation to be anywhere but locked in a cell, to be anyone but her.
Then she became insanely quiet, and that was when I first allowed her to glimpse me.
The first words she threw my way told me the rumors were right. At least, partially. Mary Alice wasn't a witch, but she was clairvoyant.
The hallways were dark, badly lit, and starkly empty. It was nighttime, and only two nurses were at the front desk. Nurses who were easy for a vampire like myself to get past without them noticing at all.
I slipped past the heavy doors leading to the cells filled with the inpatients, smiling to myself as I heard them screaming, some at nothing, some in pain, some hallucinating demons in there with them.
Pain and fear. I took in a deep breath. Good.
I started walking down the hallway, small, cramped cells each with one insane inhabitant inside on either side of me. Some of them merely stared at me as I passed, some barely acknowledged me, lost in their own world. Others, though, they screamed louder when they caught sight of me. I supposed my red eyes gave them fear.
I finally reached the cell I intended to visit. Turning to face it, I kept my eyes locked on the inhabitant of the cell.
She was crouched on the farthest wall, her back pressed to it, her knees drawn up to her chest. The plain white gown she wore, as was protocol for every female inpatient, was streaked with dirt, her hair short, chopped off messily. Her dark silver eyes, already an anomaly on their own, flickered to me the moment I walked into her line of sight, and stayed on me as I crouched down in front of her cell.
Her expression, blank and void of any emotion before, twisted into one of fear. She stared to shake her head, her pupils dilating and growing wider and wider. "No, no, no," she mumbled, eyes flickering before they shut close. "All the blood…No, not the…Not me. There's fire everywhere. Fire everywhere…No, no, no!" she screamed, her words bleeding into one another as she spoke so fast they stumbled.
I started to chuckle. She really was crazy.
"Psst," I hissed at her. Entertaining as she may be, I had a job to do. If she wasn't really psychic, she was only wasting my time. "Hey, girl, look here."
Her silver eyes snapped open and she stared at me, fearful. "Demon," she whispered, her tone horrified. "You're a demon! Blood all over you, all over…Your hands…Demon! Demon!" she started to scream, looking around her as though she expected someone to swoop down and save her.
A few more visits confirmed what I already suspected - she was clairvoyant and useful to me. If I changed her.
The third time I went to her, I caught a scent unlike the others in the crazy house. It was sweet, but unappealing in terms of a meal. It was cinnamon and honey. It was a scent not unlike mine.
Mary Alice had a vampire protector.
He was easy enough to get rid of, just an ancient vampire too weak in his old age and taking a human job as a doctor in the asylum.
Of course, the moment he found out I was after Mary Alice, he snatched her out of the asylum, hid her in the forest and bit her. He led me on a false trail so that when I finally caught up to 'them', I would realize that there was no 'them', just the ancient vampire. It took me some time to track them down, and by the time I found where he'd hid her, three days had passed, her change was complete and she had run off, nowhere to be found.
I was derailed as I went looking for her, running into a few old allies turned backstabbing foes - some of them, I turned on - and it took me some time to recover. I hid for a while. By the time it was safe enough for me to travel again, to find Mary Alice, years had passed.
I almost gave up on her, but I continued the search with only the thought of her gift spurring me on. I had never met a true psychic before. Not even in my world was that a common gift. She was a rare, incredibly useful commodity for me, especially if rumors about an ever expanding coven expanding underground in France, wanting to overtake Europe for their own. I didn't know how or why the Volturi weren't already after them the moment the rumors started, but I wasn't going to wait until it was too late. I needed Mary Alice and her gift to help me get through the next war.
I finally saw her again, in the late 1950s. And, again, I almost gave up on her.
She wasn't alone when I saw her again. She was much less crazy and over the years, I'd discovered by conversations she's had that she couldn't remember her human life at all. Not even me. But she did have her gift, and I learnt that she had discovered how to master it - her visions were based on decisions.
Even more useful. War was all about strategy, decisions made and followed.
But I couldn't just snatch her up. She had a companion with her, a scarred blonde male I would've been afraid of even if I had no idea who he was, simply because of his dangerous vibe and the scars that showed he'd been in too many fights to count and won them all.
As it turned out, however, I did know who he was. There had been a couple of nomads I'd run into, one of them a beautiful Hispanic artist, who had drawn a picture of the 'God of War'. I'd seen the sketch, and had recognized him immediately.
As for his title…There hadn't been one vampire in our world who didn't know who the God of War was if they'd been around when the Southern wars had been waging. He was famous for being ruthless, for being the unbeatable fighter.
He didn't seem all that ruthless or unbeatable when he was next to Alice - that was the name she preferred going by, and she only knew it was her name due to her hospital bracelet on her wrist when she'd first woken up. When I first caught sight of the God of War in real life, when he was next to Alice, he just seemed out of control.
That was even more dangerous. If he was out of control, he might be even more aggressive towards me if I dared approach them.
He seemed like he was struggling with all his might not to just grab the nearest human and sink his teeth into them. His eyes had been a fading orange color, and I had no idea why he would even abstain. Of course, one look at Alice's tawny eyes told me the truth - they had mated, she was a disgusting animal drinker and he was trying to change for her.
Again - pathetic.
Still, I didn't want to risk death by approaching them, so I bid my time and finally decided that it might be better for me if I had an ally by my side. So I left them and began my search.
It wasn't an easy task, finding an ally amongst a sea of nomads. None of us were very trusting creatures, and if there was no trust, there was an almost one hundred percent guarantee that we would turn on each other.
Finally, however, I found someone I trusted just enough to help me. It was the early 1970s by the time we caught up to Alice and her mate, Jasper Whitlock. When we did, I almost screamed in frustration.
They had joined a bigger coven, with a leader almost as famous as Jasper was. Carlisle Cullen, probably the pioneer of animal drinking vampires himself. They were the Olympic Coven, known in several circles for their close friendship with the Volturi.
My companion started getting wary - he hadn't signed on to anger the Volturi, nor had he signed on to fight such a large coven. I paid him no heed. He had been the one to state boastfully that he could take out Jasper Whitlock if given the chance. That in itself was a suicide mission. If he could do it halfway, he could do it all the way.
But he was right when he said that we needed to be careful, that we needed a game plan. So we set about to create a game plan, tracking not only Alice but her warrior mate and the rest of her coven.
It was easy to go by unnoticed. Before my companion came into the picture, all I had to do was change my decisions all the time and make sure none of them had anything to do with Alice or her queer bunch of vampire family. But my companion has a gift, too. He blocks out all mental abilities, cloaking us in darkness. I made a decision once, a long time ago, just to test out this cloak of his. Alice mentioned to her mate that she felt someone was coming their way, but it was all hazy and she couldn't see a thing.
We didn't have to be so careful anymore, though we certainly kept our guard up. We had come so far, me especially, and nothing would stand in our way. I'd make sure of that.
Our combined abilities - his mental block and my own ability to erase our trails so that it would seem like we were never there in the first place, like we were invisible - worked in our favor for decades. But we were both getting restless, the war was drawing even closer according to the rumors and we were nowhere near what I'd wanted since I'd first seen scrawny little human Mary Alice Brandon.
Our restlessness, paired with our distractedness during our hunt, caused us to slip momentarily. Alice saw a brief glimpse of us - strange red-eyed nomads in the Cullen's territory. It was enough to set the entire coven on alert, even the puny stray human they'd taken in. So we decided to use her ability instead of block it this time. We 'decided' to head North, and Alice was once again off our trail, my companion's mental cloak once again in place, and my ability erasing any trails that we were ever there in case any of the Cullens decided to seek us out.
They didn't, and we were once again in the all clear.
I viewed our slip up as a sign. We had to move, and we had to move soon. I had wanted to get started on building my own newborn army. I could train that army and use it to take down the Cullens. It would definitely put my companion's worries at ease, since he was so worried that we wouldn't survive going up against such a large coven. I had to admit, I was worried about that, as well.
Besides, building and training an army now would be like practice for the big leagues.
But then something remotely interesting began to happen, disrupting the dismal lives of the most boring coven to have ever lived.
The stray human they'd brought in, all grown into a pretty adolescent girl, had acquired herself a stalker. At first, this didn't even register as a blimp on my radar, but my companion made an observation - he figured that this human boy had a gift of his own.
It wasn't possible that the human male - 'James' - had managed to get past an entire coven of vampires unnoticed, even if they were weaklings. He had to have a gift of his own, activated even just at the lowest level, when he was still human.
Just like Alice.
My interest grew.
We had already gotten started on our own army, and one of our more seasoned allies, a vampire by the name of Owen who had been changed sometime in the late 19th century, backed up my companion's theory.
Owen had an ability, too. One that proved to be incredibly useful considering he would now handpick the humans we could change without us having to go through the tedious process of changing a random human, waiting for them to go through the transformation only to discover they were a waste of time and space because they were completely talentless, not only gift-wise, but battle-wise as well.
Owen was able to sense the gifts others had. If they were vampires, he would know what abilities they had. If they human, he was able to tell what abilities they would acquire once they were turned.
In James' rare case - and Alice's when she was human - he already had a gift as a human.
James had the ability to evade. He had some sort of block, something similar to my companion's, only more extensive. Alice was completely blind to him without him even knowing about it, let alone trying to keep her out. Jasper was unable to sense his emotions, and was therefore unable to manipulate him. 'Edward', the mate of the human girl - as crazy as that was - who was telepathic, was unable to read James' mind.
He was a total and complete block.
"He'd be a great tracker," Owen had told me. "If he was changed, and he learned, he'd be a great tracker. No one would be able to get the handle on him, and he could just slip in and out unnoticed."
My interest solidified.
So, I waited even more, Owen and my original, sole companion by my side, our expanding army behind us. My companion was getting restless, as was Owen though not as much since he was new to our little group, but I was patiently waiting in the shadows because now that I knew what James could be capable of, I wanted to see what he was already capable of.
Besides, what self respecting human blood drinking vampire didn't enjoy a little chaos, destruction and fear?
This was all three wrapped into one, as I'd find out when I'd followed James the night that he murdered the human girl he'd lured into the woods. That night, my lust for him spiked. Be it something physical or a desire to have him changed and be in my army, I wasn't sure.
All I knew was I was enjoying the game so far and as much as I couldn't wait to get what I wanted, I would enjoy the ride.
"Will you come on!" my companion hissed in my ear, glaring at me as he came to rest by my side. "You've been staring at them all day. Let's go before they catch us. We have to keep a distance."
"Yes," Owen drawled, his tone as low. "Besides, I'm getting hungry, Victoria. You know the only drawback of your plan to stay inconspicuous is that we have to hunt as far as Seattle."
I sighed, my red hair whipping as I turned my head to look at the coven one last night for tonight.
"Victoria!" my companion called edgily.
Rolling my eyes, I turned back to the other two, leaping from the tree I was in to the one they were perched in a few feet away. "Alright, Laurent," I growled back, not at all impressed by his impatience. "I'm coming."
I had been wary of James Hunter since the beginning, even before I'd met him. When I'd laid eyes on him, and hadn't been able to have access to his mind, I had panicked even more.
I knew Bella thought I was overreacting - in her opinion, I tended to be overprotective and overreact each and every time something that poses even a miniscule amount of threat was around her. She hadn't understood how bizarre and unnatural it was for a human being, no less, to be such a void.
She had confided in me, once, at the very beginning when she couldn't see anything horrible about James at all, that she was ecstatic to know that she wasn't the only 'freak' whose mind I couldn't read. I knew that she had always felt as though there was something wrong with her mind, as though it was broken or different and that was the reason why it was closed off to me. It had bothered her for years, even if she didn't exactly want her thoughts to be open to anyone.
I didn't know how to explain to her that the way her mind was closed off to me and the way James' mind was closed off to me were completely different.
With Bella, it was as if it was just silent. Peaceful, calm. Like the way one would witness the stillness of the world, sitting atop a hill on a beautiful clear night. It wasn't alarming, it just…Was.
With James, it was like static. It was as though something was blocking me, something dark. There was always a sense of foreboding every time I tried to get a read on him and failed, like I simply wasn't seeing something that was right in front of me and it was going to be my downfall.
Now that I was being proven right…I wish I wasn't.
Who would've thought that James would be so…Dangerous?
The book, the medication, the shrine, the gift…He had showed up at our house just hours ago. He had actually been in this house when Bella had been alone in it.
That last one made me shudder.
I was pulled out of my thoughts when I felt Bella shiver. She pulled herself closer to me, snuggling into my side. I could see the worry etched on her features, practically smell the fear in her scent.
I wrapped my arms more firmly around Bella, my fingers drawing patterns on her back. It was already past her usual bedtime but she was still wide awake. Perhaps everything that had transpired today had wound her up.
In any case, I just let her lay next to me in silence, not urging her to sleep unless she was ready to close her eyes.
Rose hadn't even come barging in demanding that I get the hell out of Bella's room since she didn't want us 'sleeping together'. Of course, I could - unfortunately - hear Emmett distracting her next door, but I was trying to block that out of my mind.
Bella scooted closer to me on her bed, resting her head on my shoulder.
"Edward?" I heard her soft voice call out quietly. I turned my head to look at her, struck once more by the beautiful color of her deep chocolate eyes.
She paused for a moment when she looked at me, and I knew it was because of my eyes. I knew they were darker than they had been just an hour ago. It wasn't because of thirst, however. She knew that, too. It was because of my anger, my worry, my frustrations over everything that was happening.
"Is everything going to be okay?" she asked, real concern coloring her quiet tone.
I had lifted her thin body up and laid her down on top of me before she could blink. My arms held her to my cool body, gently but firmly. One hand kept running through her soft, long hair.
"Yes," I answered her firmly. "I know that I can't say this surely considering Alice can't see the future of this situation but I assure you, Bella. I will never let anyone take you from me."
I felt her shiver again, though I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the temperature of my body - she had gotten used to our body temperature years ago. She was possibly the only human in the entire world who felt more comfortable with cold walking corpses than warm alive bodies.
I felt her smile as she laid her head back down on my chest, her cheek pressed against my shirt. "I wish that Carlisle's police friend would have enough evidence to arrest him," Bella sighed.
The hand I had on her back curled involuntarily into a tight fist, her sleep shirt bunched up in my fingers. "I wish I could tear him to shreds," I muttered angrily, all the conflicting emotions I was feeling about our tight spot flooding back to me.
Bella lifted her head and placed one small, feminine hand on my cool cheek. I blinked my eyes - which I knew had to be coal black by now - at her touch, the warmth surprising me even now, and turned my head slightly to press a gentle kiss to her palm. I closed my eyes and breathed in her scent near her wrist.
"Don't, Edward," she whispered, her deep dark brown orbs shining as she gazed at me. "I know you're angry-"
I shook my head, coming out of my Bella-induced stupor. "I'm past simply angry," I muttered, sitting up, Bella still curled on top of me, and running a hand through my messy hair.
I made no move to remove her from my lap and she made no move to do it herself, which I was thankful for. Instead, she maneuvered her body so that she was straddling my lap more comfortably, her long, lean legs wrapped around my waist.
"You don't understand, Bella," I insisted. "You are my mate. You are my life, my everything. This….This pathetic human decides that he could just threaten the life we are going to have together! Threaten our forever…It's unacceptable."
Despite my angry words, Bella started to smile. Her hand on my cheek started to caress my marble skin.
I gave her a confused look. "What?" I asked confusedly.
Bella shrugged, a soft smile playing on her full lips. "It's just…It's not very often that you would talk about the eternity we're supposed to get together," she explained.
Well, that was true.
Normally, I would be much more depressed about it all, drowning in my sorrow and guilt. No matter how many times Bella would assure me that her life would have no meaning without me and our family, I wouldn't be able to really believe her.
I would listen to the voice inside my head instead of her, borne out of my insecurities and all the angst I'd felt for decades before she came into my life, telling me that one day, Bella would grow to resent me for missing out on an actual human life like she deserved.
"It's a refreshing change," Bella was saying. I blinked a few times, coming back down to reality and focusing on her words. "Even if it is fuelled by your temper…I feel like sometimes I'm the only one between the two of us who has faith that we're meant to be together forever."
My arms around her slim waist tightened considerably, just enough not to cause me pain. I dropped my head to the crook of her neck, my lips pressed to the bare skin there, exposed to me because of the tank top Alice had insisted she wore.
"I'm sorry I ever made you feel that way, love," I apologized, my voice soft and repentant. A shiver wracked through her body, momentarily distracting me. "I don't have doubts about us. Not a single one…I just have doubts that some day, you will regret me. And I can't bear that, Bella. I can't."
Bella's soft lips pressed to my forehead, her warm hands cupping my cheek and lifting my head so that she could look into my eyes. There was a steely determination swimming in her eyes, making them seem darker than usual. "I would never regret you, Edward Cullen," she told me fiercely, her voice shaking with emotion. "Why would I when you are…The best thing about my world? Don't ever say that again. Don't ever think it."
My hands flew to her head, bringing her close to me and pressing fervent kisses all over her lovely face. "Nothing will take you from me," I promised her in the most steady voice I could manage. "Not James, not whatever it is that's going on in Seattle…Nothing. I can't bear it. I won't lose you, Bella."
My voice had cracked slightly at the end and Bella shushed me in a soft, soothing tone, running her hand repeatedly through my perpetually messy hair. "Edward, you won't lose me," she assured me. "Yes, this is a new kind of threat but we'll still stay together through it all."
I pulled back and gave her a small smile. "I'm supposed to be the one comforting you," I mumbled.
Bella chuckled slightly, shaking her head. "It's not how a relationship works, Edward," she chided gently. "We comfort each other. You're doing wonders just being with me."
Without preamble, I flipped her onto her back and ran my nose along her jaw, taking deep breaths of her beautiful scent. "I love you, my Bella," I whispered, my eyes fluttering close as I held her.
When I felt her shiver again, although I knew it had absolutely nothing to do with being cold, I smiled against her neck and asked, "Cold?"
"Nah-uh," she replied in a playful tone, her fragile human arms locked as tightly around me as possible as though she wished to anchor me there with her.
"Don't worry, my love," I murmured against her skin, my lips brushing against her pulse. "I won't leave you."
Two weeks had passed since Captain Matt Sung's phone call to Carlisle.
And two weeks had passed since the principal had called a morning assembly to announce the disappearance of Kayla Hendricks.
The police hadn't given out much information, just that there were no suspects as of yet and no clues as to where Kayla might have gone the night she disappeared. They were urging friends to come forward if they knew anything.
I could read it in the minds of the investigating officers, however, that they had one suspect very clearly in their minds: James Hunter.
The fact that three women, all between the ages of seventeen to twenty-two, had disappeared in and around Forks since James had appeared in this small town, not to mention the added suspicions of his involvement in all of those disappearances back in New York City…James was a very closely watched suspect.
They had brought him in for questioning, but he had provided an alibi: a friend of his in Port Angeles who owned a garage. It was a shady alibi provided by a shady friend, but it was an alibi nonetheless.
None of the other humans - teachers, students, townsfolk in general - knew about James being taken in, since the cops investigating Kayla's disappearance were very discreet about things.
"But the cops are going to find something on him, right?" Bella asked as we exited the Volvo, Thursday afternoon right after school. "They think he did it?"
I nodded. "Yes, but they don't have any evidence yet," I reminded her.
"Why can't they just search his apartment? If Carlisle tells his cop friend about what Jazz and Rose saw…"
I was already shaking my head as she spoke. "They need a reason to get a warrant to search someone's home, Bella…Besides, it's not as if Carlisle could just reveal to his friend how two of his children know about what's inside their suspect's house," I sighed, drawing my arm around her waist and pulling her closer to my side. "We'll have to wait, I suppose."
Bella didn't look like she found that particular option very appealing, either. "I hate this," she muttered, scowling. "What if he really did take Kayla? What if she's out there, hurt and needing help? Shouldn't that be reason enough?"
I didn't answer her questions. I knew that the probability of Kayla Hendricks still being alive, after over two weeks of being missing, were pretty slim.
"Honey, you've got mail," Esme kissed Bella on the cheek and handed her a large, thick brown envelope as Bella dropped her bag on the floor and curled up on the couch.
Bella frowned as she flipped the envelope, scanning it front to back. "Who's it from?" she asked. "There's no return address."
I shot a look at my mother, who seemed as concerned as I was. "Another one?" I asked through clenched teeth, just as the others filed in through the front door.
Rosalie caught sight of the envelope first. "James sent you something else?" she inquired, eyes flicking to Bella.
'Gifts' from James had been appearing in the mail. They had all started out innocent, mixed CDs, love letters which I had shredded before she could read all of it, candy and flowers…A few days ago, things had taken a turn for the worst, however.
Instead of candy, she received feathers, painted red with what Jasper said was dried pig's blood. Instead of music, she received locks of silken dark mahogany hair, knotted together with stringy light brown. Instead of fresh, red roses, she received black, rotting roses, maggots crawling all over them in the box.
That last one, she hadn't opened herself. Esme had smelled the decay the moment the mail man had delivered them, and it had been taken away immediately, thank God.
Bella shrugged, already tearing at the seal. "I don't know," she muttered. "No return address."
She reached into the open envelope, pulling out a small, white slip of paper. She unfolded it, reading the words with wide eyes, her hands starting to shake.
"I've been following you, seeing into what you do, almost knowing for sure what you think. It's only fair that you know what I think about all day."
"Alice," she called out. "Could you…Could you please?" she nodded at the envelope. She would've asked me, I supposed, since I was sitting right next to her, but I'd read the words over her shoulder and my eyes had gone pitch black since now I knew that James had sent it. I was pretty sure I'd rip the envelope in two if she'd asked me.
Alice nodded, darting forward and grabbing the envelope from her lap. She overturned it, glossy pictures falling out and plopping onto the coffee table.
The very first one showed a picture of Bella and James, walking arm in arm down the street, Bella laughing and smiling, gazing adoringly at James. Only the head was a little disproportionate to the body, and this event had never taken place at all.
James had snapped pictures out and about in town with her vampire boyfriend, and had edited it so that it was his own face gazing right back at Bella.
The rest of the pictures were a variation of the first one, all Photoshopped - some were of Bella and me together, out and about in Forks or in Port Angeles, strolling or at a restaurant, Bella was eating and I was talking to her, except none of the faces were mine. Some were of us in my car, kissing before the bell rang for first period like we did sometimes, only James' blonde hair and smug expression was the one plastered to Bella's sweet one.
Some weren't even of me and Bella, but of scantily clad women and practically naked men in compromising situations, their faces replaced with Bella's and James'.
There were also quite a few pictures just like the first one, just a photo of Bella, taken during inopportune moments, like a shot of her from the neck up as she showered in a stall in the girls' locker room bathroom at school, the picture slightly hazy due to the shower steam, (a crunching noise alerted me to the fact that I'd snapped the TV remote in half) or a picture of her taken from a sniper shot.
"Oh, God," Bella said, throwing the pictures onto the table, pushing them far from her. "I think I'm going to be sick."
I was already grabbing at the glossy photos, intent on throwing them away. She didn't need to see physical proof of this boy's mental illness any longer, and I certainly didn't want any of those pictures in the house.
I was about to throw them into the fireplace when I was stopped. "Edward, stop," Carlisle's voice rang out. I looked up, surprised. I hadn't even noticed him entering the room.
Surprise turned into frustration. "Carlisle, these pictures-"
"I know what those pictures are, son," he interrupted me. I was right here with all of you. I saw them, too. Before I could ask him why, then, didn't he want me to get rid of them, Carlisle had spoken again, "My friend, Captain Sung, is coming over."
Bella's head snapped around to look at him, eyes wide. "What? Why?" she was terrified, that I could smell clearly.
Carlisle sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I called him earlier," he admitted. "You know how I said I threw out those…Gifts that James sent you?" Bella nodded. "I lied. I sent them to Sung, as evidence. He's coming over to get a statement from you, then we can work on a restraining order."
Rosalie scoffed, crossing her arms. "A restraining order?" she sneered. "You think that would work!"
Our father figure shrugged, reaching me and tugging the pictures gently out of my grasp, probably worried that I'd grip them too tightly and ruin them. "Maybe," he said smoothly. "James Hunter is human, Rosalie. A restraining order is exactly what humans use to keep their equally human stalkers at bay."
Rosalie scoffed again, and looked away, shaking her head as though she disagreed with him, but she didn't say anything else.
Carlisle looked down at the pictures in his hand, flipping them over do that he wouldn't have to see any of the disgusting images. "He'll be here shortly, so why don't you just go upstairs? Relax for a while…I'll call you when he gets here," he suggested to Bella.
Too freaked out to protest, Bella simply nodded. She stood up, grasping my hand and tugging as hard as she could. I stood up and followed her, not needing any persuasion. I knew she must be scared, and I wanted to comfort her in any way I could. If that meant staying in her line of sight for the moment, I'd gladly do that.
She sank down on her bed the moment we reached her room, flopping backwards and uttering a weary sigh as she stretched out. "This…Is…" she shook her head from side to side, squeezing her eyes tightly. "It's not real."
"Sweetheart?" I inquired in a low murmur, perching on the edge of her bed and helping her to remove the sneakers she'd insisted on wearing to school - the argument she'd presented Alice with was that if James decided to come after her with an axe, she could run faster if she was in sneakers compared to heels. Alice hadn't been impressed and I was hardly pleased that Bella had turned her situation into a joke, but we were running late as it was and Bella had won. Barely.
"It doesn't seem real," she said again, rolling to her side and propping her head up with her palm, elbow pressed against the mattress. "It's like some sort of creepy horror flick. Or an episode in one of those cop shows which are, I have to admit, surprisingly addictive. I never thought a thing like this could happen in real life."
The corner of my lip curled up slightly. "I don't want you to worry, love," I said, reaching out to smooth my fingers through her soft hair.
Bella sighed again. "Unfortunately, worrying comes so very naturally right now," she quipped. We stayed there, just staring into each other's eyes, for a long moment. Finally, Bella blinked and looked away. "Where's Lilly?"
"Lilly," Bella repeated, sitting up. "She comes right up to me every day after I come home from school…She's not here."
That was true. The orange cat that I had given Bella so many years ago was as fond of my love as Bella was of her. It was never far from where Bella was at all times, and every day, when Bella came home from school, Lilly would come forward, brushing her furry body against Bella's legs before jumping onto her lap and demanding a cuddle for some time.
Either she was psychic or she could tell time or she'd just gotten used to the routine, Lilly never failed to show, no matter where she'd been earlier.
Today, however, she was a no show.
I hadn't even noticed until Bella had mentioned her. She was now looking around the room, searching for her beloved kitty. "Lilly?" she called out, dropping onto her hands and knees after glimpsing into Lilly's empty cat bed and cat 'castle' playhouse. She peeked under the bed, only catching sight of the books she had placed there after running out of room on her bookshelves. "Lilly?" she called again, searching everywhere from her bathroom to the deepest depths of her closet.
"Edward, could you sniff her out?" she asked me.
I raised an eyebrow. It sounded strange when she put it that way, like I was some sort of a search and rescue dog, but this was Bella, and she was on the verge of hysteria, so I nodded anyway. "Don't worry, love, I'm sure she's somewhere here," I said, kissing her on the forehead before going on my quest to 'sniff out' Lilly the cat.
Half an hour later, and Lilly was still nowhere to be found. Bella was actually crying by now.
"Hey, you think James took her?" Emmett suggested. All of us, congregated in the living room waiting for Carlisle's police friend and searching for Lilly all at the same time, turned to look at him questioningly. "Well…I read that stalkers sometimes kill the pets of people they're stalking. Maybe he snatched Lilly up and tomorrow we'll find her hanging by a rope somewhere."
I glared at him as Bella burst into a fresh wave of tears. "Not helping, Emmett!" I hissed under my breath.
"Oh, honey, that can't be it," Esme cooed, dropping onto the couch on Bella's other side, her arms going around my lovely mate. "That can't be it. I was home the entire day. I would've noticed this human boy trying to enter the house…He can't have taken Lilly," she shushed Bella as she cried into her shoulder.
Emmett's eyes widened and he glanced apologetically at his upset little sister. "Uh…Sorry, kiddo," he mumbled awkwardly, patting her back. "Maybe she just ran away?"
That didn't soothe her, either.
Bella wiped at her eyes when the doorbell rang. Carlisle and Alice both jumped up - Carlisle to answer the door and Alice to grab a couple of tissues, working at vampire speed to make Bella look 'more presentable' for their guest.
A human man, around his late thirties or early forties, entered the living room behind Carlisle. I supposed, if I were a normal boy, Matt Sung would be intimidating to me. He was tall, and almost as big as Emmett, and his eyes were dark and intense. He could easily scare criminals.
Of course, vampires were a different matter completely.
Introductions were made, the captain blinking in shock when he saw Bella's red rimmed eyes and pink nose. Wow, things must be really terrible here, he thought. She looks so distraught.
He had assumed that Bella's previous tears were a product of James' stalking. In a way, if Emmett had been right about James abducting Lilly though I seriously doubted that, he was right.
"Carlisle, there has been some…Progress," the way he said the word, cringing as he spoke, told me it wasn't the good kind.
Carlisle had seemed to catch on to that, as well. "What kind of progress?" he asked warily.
I caught it in Captain Sung's mind a second before he said it out loud. I had to work hard to keep in the growl in my throat, fists clenching tightly on my thighs.
Sung sighed wearily, shaking his head. "The good news is…James Hunter is our official prime suspect," he said, his voice strong and reassuring. "A few people have been reporting his strange behavior - neighbors, one or two teachers…"
"Th-that's good, right?" Bella asked him, another tissue in her hand as she dabbed at her nose, a blush of embarrassment on her cheeks. "You can catch him now."
Sung nodded, smiling comfortingly at Bella. "Yes," he confirmed. "And your dad's given me evidence of him stalking you. All the gifts? You can lodge an official report, get a restraining order if you want."
Bella's eyes went from me to Carlisle. At Carlisle's nod, Bella turned back to face Sung. "I'd like that," she said shyly.
Sung smiled. Nice girl, he commented. Shame what's happening.
Carlisle held out the envelope with all the pictures. "This came in today, Matt," he said somberly.
Sung noticed his tone, as well, and his smile fell off. He took the envelope from Carlisle, taking out the pictures with his gloved fingers. He looked disgusted at the pictures, his thoughts giving away his concern for me and Bella, for his friend, and the desire to catch James. I suddenly felt a strange surge of comradeship with this man.
"You can charge him just for this," he muttered, shaking his head. "I'll send this to the lab, dust it for prints." He placed the pictures back in the envelope, sighing as he looked back up. "Listen…You remember Kayla Hendricks?"
Carlisle nodded, leaning forward in his seat. "Have you found her?"
Sung shook his head, his expression haunted as he remembered a very recent conversation he'd had with Kayla's parents, the two of them pleading for him to find their daughter soon. I flinched away from his memory.
"No, we haven't," he admitted in a low voice, filled with disappointment and shame. He felt like if he was pushing himself harder, he could find her, but he just simply wasn't sure how to push harder than he already was. "But a friend of Kayla's…Jessica Stanley?"
Well, none of us in this house didn't know how Jessica Stanley was. She and a few of her wretched friends had tried going after me and both my brothers when we first moved here. When it became clear that Emmett and Jasper were involved, they had tried starting rumors of incest though no one bought it - it was a strange thing, foster siblings being involved romantically, but not illegal or morally wrong.
They had then focused their attention on me. Their envy and hatred had been plain ridiculous when Bella and I had finally gotten together.
"What about her?"
"She came forward," Sung revealed. "Said that Kayla called her minutes before she left her house, the night she disappeared. Apparently, James Hunter called her, wanting her to go on some secret date with him."
"And she fell for that?" Carlisle shook his head, frowning.
Sung seemed to agree with Carlisle. "I know…Kids these days," he ran his hand down his face. "No one else knew about this secret meeting, not even Kayla's parents. Kayla lied about where she was going. But we've got enough."
"Enough?" Rosalie questioned.
Sung looked more than a little taken aback at being addressed by my beautiful sister, but he recovered as quickly as he could. "Yeah," he nodded. "What Stanley said, and what with his involvement in the disappearances of the girls in the NYC…We've got a warrant to search his place and bring him in. We're going today."
"Now, listen," Sung looked at all of us then, trying to seem intimidating. The only one he could possibly have intimidated was Bella, but she wasn't a normal human, either. After facing crazy vampires turned too young, and the Volturi…She wasn't at all frightened by him, just shaken by what he'd said earlier about James. "No one else knows about this. Jessica Stanley was told to keep quiet about what she told us. Can you keep mum on this?"
The only reason, I glimpsed in his mind, that he had even revealed all of this to us was because of Carlisle.
First of, he wanted Carlisle to be in the loop - he trusted my father explicitly, and if it weren't for Carlisle, Sung believed he wouldn't have caught onto James so early anyway.
Secondly, since Carlisle had informed him of James' current obsession with Bella, he wanted all of us to understand just how serious the situation was and how dangerous James Hunter was. He wanted us to be on alert. He wanted Bella to be on alert.
Everyone nodded. "Of course, Captain," Esme replied sweetly. "Anything to help you catch him."
Sung blushed slightly, even more taken by my mother. Age differences, I supposed. "Thank you, ma'am," he said, standing up and shaking hands with Carlisle.
"Call me for an update?" Carlisle inquired politely.
Sung nodded. "Of course," he turned to look at Bella. "You be careful now, Ms. Hale."
Bella blushed but nodded. "Yes, of course."
We watched Sung leave, Carlisle showing him out and wishing him luck, and waited until the cop was out of the door and safely in his car, pulling out of our driveway, before we spoke.
"So…This is good, right?" Esme asked, her mind clearly worried though she tried to sound upbeat. "Once your friend catches James, it'll all be over?"
Rosalie seemed to agree with her. "Mom's right," she said, and even though we were in the middle of a dire situation, Esme couldn't help the sudden jolt of joy at being called a mother, just like she was every time one of us said it, no matter how many times it happened. "They have a warrant now. They'll see all the creepy stuff at his place…"
"Plus there's Jessica coming forward," Bella added, her fear waning now. I could see it in her eyes. She was still shaken, but she was getting stronger. "That would help, right?"
Emmett snorted a little. "Who knew Jessica Stanley would be the one to help in a police investigation?" he joked.
While the rest of them were trying to convince themselves and each other that this really was the end of the road for James' presence in our lives, I was focused on Alice.
Alice's eyes were distant, unseeing to the world around her, her mind lost to flashes of a possible distant future. I watched her, watched her mind, and sighed heavily.
"No," I said, my voice breaking through all the others'. They turned towards me, Jasper's apprehension as he stayed close to his distressed wife spreading throughout the room. "I don't think this is the end at all."
Matt Sung approached the suspect's apartment building, flanked by three of his officers - Stevens, Medina and Jackson. An arrest warrant was in his hand. As they stepped out of the elevator on the tenth floor and made their way towards apartment 10B, Sung fingered his gun, unsnapping the holster so that he would have easy access to it if he needed it.
He shoots a warning look at all three of his officers as they reached the door, silently reminding them as always to be on alert and to be careful.
Raising a fist, he knocked loudly on the door. "James Hunter? Seattle PD. Open up!"
He waited a few seconds before knocking again, frowning as he received no response. "Hunter, it's the police! Open this door!"
When another few calls for Hunter to open the door didn't get any response, Sung nodded to Stevens, easily the biggest guy amongst them. Stevens didn't even hesitate before knocking down the door. All four of them barged in, guns at the ready.
Sung stayed in the living room, moving about to check every crevice of the small space, before heading to the kitchen. "Kitchen, clear!" he called out to the others. Eyeing the kitchen, he soaked in every detail. It was plain and boring, the only odd thing about it were the bottles of glue and the scissors and cut out pieces of paper on the table.
Moving back into the living room, Sung lowered his weapon and looked around. Catching sight of the huge bulletin board stuck on the wall, he moved towards it. Half of it was empty, small pieces of paper stuck to it like someone had ripped out whatever was on it in a haste.
It looked like James didn't finish ripping off the entire contents pinned to the board because the other half was still there, the edges of some of the pictures frayed at the edges where they had connected to the ones that had been ripped out.
Pulling a disgusted face, Sung realized that the pictures were all of Isabella Hale, her face plastered all over. "Sicko," he muttered under his breath, shaking his head.
"Bedroom, clear!" Stevens shouted from beyond the living room. Sung turned around, looking to see if his officers were retreating back to the living room.
"Bathroom, clear!" Jackson yelled.
Medina's shaken voice pulled Sung away from the living room. He followed Medina's voice, past the bedroom where he could see Stevens still rooting around, and past the bathroom. He entered what appeared to be a second bedroom, though there wasn't a bed in there at all.
The room was darkened. The curtains were closed, the yellow sun outside contrasting with the red fabric to tint the room a dark reddish orange. There were candles everywhere in the room, the ones near the entrance to the room put out but the rest still lit. A single rectangular table was in the middle of the room.
"It's a shrine, sir," Medina observed, shaking his head. "Typical stalker."
Sung noted the pictures and the locks of hair, his mind flashing back to the things James had sent to Carlisle's little girl. "Call CSU," he ordered Medina and Jackson. "I want this place turned upside down."
Stevens entered the room behind them, looking a little flushed. "Sir," he said to Sung. "We've got a problem - Hunter's closet's empty."
"Wait - he made a run for it?" Jackson guessed incredulously.
"Impossible," Sung growled. "No one knew about us coming here." No one, he reminded himself. Except for the Cullens…No, he shook himself out of it. I trust Carlisle. There's no way.
A second later, he remembered that Jessica Stanley was the one who's come forward about James Hunter in the first place. Maybe she blabbed? Promising himself to pay her another visit to ask her, he turned back to Stevens. "You sure he's gone?"
"He took everything, sir. James Hunter's on the run."
Clenching his jaw, Sung whipped out his cell phone, dialing the number for the station. "Yeah, it's Sung…Put out on APB on James Hunter."
As you can tell, this isn't the last chapter of this story. When I said '50 chapters', I think I confused some of you. This is Chapter 50 including all the author's notes and whatnot. There are still a few chapters to go, along with an epilogue, considering James' storyline, Victoria/Laurent storyline and Bella's change has to be addressed. There are six chapters and an epilogue left.
As for what 'Owen' said about James' ability: I always figured that, as a tracker, James was more lethal than the average vampire. In the series, Edward was able to read James' mind and everything, which I didn't particularly enjoy when I read it though I understood it completely - if Edward hadn't been able to glimpse into James' mind, he wouldn't know that James was a tracker and after Bella. But here, I wanted it to be different. I always thought that James would be more lethal if he was closed off to other abilities, able to move like he wasn't there at all.
By the way, I just had to tell you about one of my all time favorite stories here on this site. It's simply amazing. It's called 'the Secret Keeper'. It's completed and there's an equally amazing sequel called 'the Wisdom Seeker' that I'm constantly on the edge of my seat for. It's by A.E. Giggle. Now, bear in mind, it's a crossover for Harry Potter and Twilight, but TRUST ME when I say it's not a lame attempt. In fact, reading the Secret Keeper and the Wisdom Seeker is like reading a work by J.K. Rowling herself. I'm not kidding. It's got wit, it's not American, Bella and the Cullens didn't change Harry Potter's history, they have their own story in the war, they interact with all the HP characters so flawlessly…It's simply brilliant. I don't know why she doesn't have tens of thousands of reviews. I think it's because people see 'Harry Potter crossover' and are turned off, maybe because they've read so many lame attempts before (I know I can't write a good crossover between these two amazing worlds) but this is different. Please give them a try, you will not regret it.
I hope you'll bear with me on this, and I hope you've enjoyed this chapter.
Thank you for reading, and for all of you who reviewed - you were the sweetest.