Chapter 29:

Her time in the spotlight

"Okay." Kate tossed her long hair over her shoulder, dazzling Beth with its silver-white flash in the dark. "Show us your glamour, Beth. We need to see how it works."

"Er, okay." Beth glanced at Eleazar, Edward, and Bella. The rest of the family, who were all grinning at the prospect of a show, stayed inside to give them room As Beth disappeared, the Denalis all gasped.

"Most impressive!" Eleazar exclaimed.

Pride and embarrassment battled inside Beth. "Thank you." She reappeared, daring to give a little flourishing bow. Emmett clapped, whooping.

"Tell me, Beth," Eleazar said. "Did you possess your glamour as a human, or did you acquire it after your – ?"

"It was during it. I remember Tuono watching." Beth shuddered. "What could I do? I was in too much pain, so I just wished he couldn't see me. I focused on it for the rest of the night, screaming my head off."

"A cognitive shield." Eleazar nodded sombrely. "And what is it you do when you use your glamour?" When Beth looked confused, he elaborated. "What do you imagine? Is it a cloak?"

"Ah! I get you." Beth had never needed to describe her glamour before; it was as much a part of her as her red hair. "After feeling the urge to hide," – she grinned sheepishly – "I picture a thick veil covering me completely."

Eleazar's yellow eyes shone in the gloom. "Then, can you imagine this veil larger – enough to cover more than yourself?"

Beth's laugh burst out in her excitement. "I don't see why not!"

Eleazar smiled. "Good. Edward? Would you object to being our volunteer?"

"Not at all." Edward's gaze bounced from Bella to Kate. "I doubt this will be as painful as the last time."

The two women grinned, remembering a moment Beth was not privy to. "You'll be fine," she said as Edward stood beside her. It won't hurt a bit.

"I should hope so," Edward said. "Or you'll have my wife to answer to." He smiled to show he was joking. Everyone laughed again, including Beth.

"Your husband is in safe hands, Bella!" She grinned at Eleazar, nervously plucking at the sleeves of her hoodie.

"Go ahead, Beth, Edward said.

"Okay." Beth promptly vanished. When she spoke again, her voice sounded muffled as if smothered by a thick blanket. "Your turn next."

Edward squared himself. "I'm ready."

With a small exhale, he too disappeared, though it took longer as Beth concentrated hard.

As he faded from view, Bella gasped. "Edward?"

Similar to Bella's shield, Beth's glamour seemed to tremble as if caught in a breeze. Crimson sparks danced in its swirling surface, like embers in the night.

Catching Edward's eye, Beth grunted. "Oh, shut up. It's not that great." She was smiling all the same. "The red bits give it a nice bit of flair, though, doesn't it?"

"Is it always like that?" Edward said.

"Nope." Beth's breath hitched with excitement. "I just wanted to make sure you could see it."

"Edward, are you alright?" Carlisle called. Edward could still see his family, but it was as if through a stained-glass window.

"Yes," Edward answered Carlisle, who turned in his direction.

"Edward," Bella said, fighting a smile. "You sound like you're talking into a pillow."

Beth giggled. "It's all about stealth, darling," she explained smugly. "To hide effectively, one must be quiet."

"He's fine," Alice sniffed superiorly.

"Hey, Edward," Beth said. "Can you still read their minds from under here?"

Edward nodded. For all his family knew, he and Beth had just disappeared entirely off the face of the earth, yet their thoughts rang as loud as ever.

"Huh," Beth looked pleased. "Okay. Are you ready for me to take the glamour off now?"

"Not yet." A surprisingly sly smile curved Edward's lips. "I want to try something."

Beth looked wary. "Like what?" He began to move away, which made her panic. "Shit. Edward, really? I don't know if I –"

"Relax. They still can't see us." Edward spread his arms. "Just focus on me and keeping us hidden." Then he began to walk away until he stood alongside his wife. Beth gulped, and Edward caught a glimpse of the man who had always kept her glamour reliable.

Tuono skulked, prowling the decking like a tiger, sniffing the air. Beth's breath stuttered in her throat. You can't see us, she thought fiercely. Yet Tuono's vitriol boomed like a death toll in her mind.

"You should not fear a ghost," Edward said, even as the crimson wisps blazed in the thick glamour wall, smelling of cinnamon.

"No." Beth laughed shakily. "But it helps, doesn't it?" For the first time, her glamour felt real, like something she could move and manipulate. Beth had never felt so powerful, especially as everyone wanted to try hiding beneath her glamour - that is, until Bella's turn.

No matter how hard Beth tried to bend it around Bella, her glamour would not take Bella beneath its folds. It seemed to hover, vibrating with Beth's frustration.

"As I thought," Edward said, as Bella smiled apologetically.

"Why didn't you say anything, Edward?" Beth said, dejected.

"I'm sorry, Beth. I wanted to be sure. Your glamour is a mental projection, just like Jane or Alec's abilities. They do no effect Bella."

Beth sighed. "I'll remember that."

"Don't be so hard on yourself, Beth," Bella said kindly, and Beth saw Nessie in her expression. "An hour ago, you thought your glamour was just for you. That's incredible progress."

"Thank you, Bella." Beth stumbled as Emmett patted her on the back. She still felt like she had failed the Cullens, as well as herself.

"Demetri cannot track you beneath your glamour, can he?" Alice asked, suddenly.

Beth smirked at her. "No."

"Well, that makes two of us," Bella added. Beth laughed – if this was their way of making her feel better, it was working.

After another day of perusing wedding ideas with Dora, Anna had chased the setting sun to Aro's study. Caught up in her excitement, Aro had let her take him to their favourite sun-splashed library on the ground floor. Aro would look perfect in the gold and dust-orange light it. Anna sketched the quirk of his lip as Aro folded himself into a languid shape on their loveseat.

As Anna set to work with her paint, they talked about everything and nothing. It was times like this that Anna could forget about what happened the previous morning.

Now, nine hours later, Anna's favourite piece from Beethoven crested and fell around her as a light rain tapped at the windows. Her paintbrush swished against her canvas.

"I have almost finished," Anna said.

"I can wait." Aro smiled. She didn't seem to notice the smudges of black paint smeared across her cheek. It made Anna look younger, more lovely, especially with her lip caught between her teeth like that.

The sound of her phone buzzing made her start, and Aro was glad Anna put her paintbrush down first. "Why so tense, my love?" He asked.

Anna swallowed, picking up her mobile. "Ah!" She smiled with a rush of relief. "A text from Beth."

It was a somewhat cryptic message. Oy, oy! I got a surprise for you when I get back!

Hello! Are you okay? That sounds interesting.

Beth's reply was immediate. It is. I'm fantastic, BTW

Aro pressed a kiss to Anna's temple. It was a miracle that she kept her hand steady as she texted. Haha! Good.

So what are u doing? :)

Aro's fingers lightly brushed her curls. Anna's breathing was a little shaky now. I have painted Aro's portrait.

OOhhh. Like one of Jack's French girls?

Anna giggled, embarrassed, as Aro whispering something in Italian in her ear. No. But I think he likes it… Pressing send, Anna dropped her phone back on the table. With a sigh, she gave into his embrace.

To be continued...