Evening's Light

10. Slovakia

Carlisle booked our flights for Bratislava, Slovakia, leaving from Seattle at 10:50 am—which gave us time to hunt before leaving Forks, and getting Jacob and Renesmee safely to the Quileute Reservation. We weren't sure when we'd feed again, or, what we'd be feeding on when we got there. So we filled ourselves up as much as we could on deer and mountain lions.

Thankfully we were driving to Seattle. Running with all that blood in our systems would be quite uncomfortable.

Jacob and Renesmee weren't happy about staying behind, but we knew it would be safer for them on the reservation with the two packs—seventeen wolves in all guarding them—than anywhere else. We didn't know what had taken Alice and Charlie, or if it would be back, looking for anymore of us. Sam and Leah would make sure to destroy anything that would even try.

Renesmee was worried with me and Edward leaving, but we promised to call every chance we had. Emily and Sue, I knew, would take good care of her.

I didn't want to think about the fact we might not all come back, let alone Charlie or Alice. And I didn't want to think I might never see Renesmee or Jacob again. Those types of thoughts would rip too easily into my nerves and eat away at my stomach. So I packed them away, trying to be positive, for them…for all of us.

We said our good-byes with lots of hugs and kisses, and told them all we'd be back as soon as possible…with Charlie and Alice.

I didn't like I might be lying.

Just as much as they didn't like hearing it.

I saw the anguish in Sue's face as well as Billy's. She was trying to be strong.

"Find Charlie, Bella..." she whispered to me when I handed Renesmee to her.

I looked deep into her tired tear-drained eyes and nodded, knowing we could only promise to try.

They watched us head to our cars to leave.

I waved one more good-bye to Renesmee and Jacob when I opened the car door.

"I love you, momma," she yelled from Billy's front porch, still in Sue's arms.

"I love you too, sweetheart," I choked back, trying to hide my sorrow. I knew I would be crying all the way to the airport after this.

"I love you, daddy," she yelled to Edward. "Hurry back with everyone…" she trailed off, trying not to cry; not wanting to name the names of the ones she was missing so dearly.

"I won't take one minute longer than needed, Nessie. You be strong and take care of everyone here for us, okay?" He smiled. "I love you, too."

Edward and I turned onto the highway just after we reached the edge of the reservation, not having said a word yet. Carlisle, Esme, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie followed behind us.

I stared out my window, trying to hold back the dry tears that were trying to burst their way out. I kept my focus on the trees that flew by us counting each one as a distraction. Once I grew tired of green and brown, I stared up at stars that filled the sky just before sunrise, wondering which ones Alice and Charlie fell under.

After a few miles, I looked over at Edward. He was staring straight ahead at the road, but appeared to be looking right through it. I put my hand gently on his forearm when his face suddenly turned to sorrow.

"What is it?"

Edward's voice was heavy with grief. "We just drove out of range." He looked at me. "I can't hear her anymore."

My eyes closed, and I rested my head back on the seat. "We'll be back..." I whispered, gently rubbing at his arm. "We'll be back."

Then my sorrow turned to fury. I clinched my teeth, not looking up, attempting to maintain my angered breath. Whatever took off with our family…was going to wish it hadn't by the time we got there.

Any normal person would have taken three hours to get to a darkly, overcast Seattle, but we made it in one and a half, giving us a couple hours to check in and wait for boarding. We all had carry-on items, so we were able to go right to our gate after passing security.

Customs eyed Carlisle suspiciously when his bag passed through, pulling him aside immediately. But the piece of paper he handed them, put them at rest, and they waived him through. I wondered for a second what that was all about.

Carlisle booked us in first class, since we had a long flight ahead of us, and…they could afford it. Edward and I sat across the aisle from Esme and Rosalie, and Carlisle and Jasper sat in front of us. Emmett had his own seat across from them, so he could sprawl out comfortably. We had to remind him to be quiet sometimes when he'd burst out into song and heavy foot tapping while listening to his iPod.

Only one other person shared the front of the plane with us this morning. He sat a few rows up, separated from our presence by his own headphones and a laptop he was ticking away on.

Our first flight took us shortly to Calgary, where we then connected to our next flight, heading to Frankfurt, Germany. This one would be a ten hour flight. And that worried me for Jasper, it would give him that much longer to sit and think. He hadn't spoken nearly a word since Peter called.

I knew how bad he was hurting, we all did. But we knew Edward was keeping close tabs on him.

After about an hour into our flight, the stewardess asked if we cared for anything to drink or eat. We all declined graciously and went back to what we were doing. Esme and Rosalie had brought some magazines to go through for distraction, and to pass the time. Carlisle broke out his own laptop, continuing to research what he could on animals in the eastern European region. And Emmett still continued to explode into song every now and then, causing me to jump whenever he did. Jasper closed his eyes and put his head back on the seat, not moving a muscle or the twitch of an eyelid.

I gave Edward a curious look when he held a balled-up hand to his mouth, looking off in space with a saddened expression.

He noticed me staring at him.

"Jasper's replaying memories of Alice," he softly explained.

I sighed just before my face twisted into remorse for Jasper. "He's torturing himself," I whispered back.

"He's not the only one…" Edward turned to face the window.

That was true. He wasn't the only one. Besides Edward, I was now thinking of Alice. And my father.

I leaned my head over and placed it comfortingly on Edward's shoulder when he pulled his arm up and placed it around me. I rested my hand on his chest when there was nothing left to say. We stared out the window like that for the next hour, not moving; watching in silence as the falling sunlight blanketed the outlying clouds in gorgeous blends of pink, orange and purple. I hadn't seen a sunset that beautiful in a long time.

We had almost two hours left to Frankfurt, when one of the coach stewards passed us to speak with our stewardess up front. It was in that same instant, Jasper grabbed intensely at his arm rests, his black eyes flying open, his body jolting back into his seat, and a light growl began rumbling in his throat. He clinched his teeth and pulled his lips back, ready for attack.

Edward and Carlisle were on him in seconds.

Edward reached around both sides of the seat in front of him where Jasper sat, holding him in like an extra seat belt that covered over his arms and body. Jasper was trying to get up, pulling Edward's body harder into the back of the seat. Carlisle was trying to hold him down from the side to avoid a scene.

Emmett, Esme and Rosalie sat in horror across the aisles. They'd heard him as well and could only watch without giving Jasper away as Edward and Carlisle did their best to restrain him.

"Fight it, Jasper, fight it," Carlisle whispered while his laptop violently shook off him and landed with a loud thump to the ground. He tried to catch it with one foot, but the noise was definitely noticeable. Hoping no one else heard, he looked in the direction of our stewardess to see if she was heading our way.

She wasn't.

And the man up front still had his headphones in.

Jasper flung his head back fiercely with louder growls, his whole body squirming back and forth trying desperately to get free. If someone didn't know what was truly happening, they'd probably think he was having a severe seizure—which is what we'd have to play it off as.

Edward was straining with all his might, fighting against the blood-thirsty pull that continued in front of him.

"Bella, grab my bag under my seat!" Carlisle yelled in a low voice to me.

I got up and grabbed the bag that was on the floor by Carlisle's feet as quick as possible, keeping my eyes on Jasper.

"In the bottom, on the left side, is a smaller cooler-sealed bag. I need you to grab one of the items wrapped up in there."

I could see that Jasper was trying to calm himself with quick pants, but his eyes were still dark and cold. Then he would hold his breath a few times between slight groans and lower growls.

I un-wrapped the item as quickly as possible then dropped it to the ground when I noticed what it was. Out of surprise, I flung uncontrollably back into Rosalie and grabbed at my throat.

Carlisle looked at me.

I was frozen stiff on Rosalie's lap, my throat flaming in agony. I closed my eyes and held my breath while Rosalie seized me tightly.

"Emmett, grab that and get Jasper to the bathroom. Hurry!" he ordered.

Emmett picked up the item, grabbed Jasper and held on tight, keeping his arms firmly at his sides while getting him to the front lavatory. There was no way the two would fit in there, so he would have to stand guard until Jasper was better.

Edward grabbed me off of Rosalie the second he let go of Jasper, setting me back in my seat, putting one arm tight around me, and covering my mouth with his other hand.

My eyes were wide in horror, and the rapid breathing through my nose now was so heavy; I could hear it flowing forcefully against his hand.

"Bella, you have to be very quiet, okay?"

I nodded vigorously, trying to blink enough to compose my eyes that I knew were as black as Jasper's.

"Carlisle brings those in case things like what just happened to Jasper…happen. They're for emergencies when we go somewhere and we can't run."

My breathing starting to slow after a few moments when I'd finally taken in the information, but Edward still covered my mouth and held me tight. He was waiting for my eyes and me to calm more before he'd let me go.

Once the whole ordeal fully sunk in, and I knew it was for Jasper, that it would help him, I reached up and tapped Edward's hand.

"Are you better?" he asked.

I nodded again while he looked at my eyes to double check.

"Okay," he said as he slowly removed his hand, glaring at me with intense warning not do anything stupid.

I took a deep breath then whispered slightly shocked, "Was that 'human' blood?"

"If I say yes, are you going to freak out?"

"No, no...I'm controlling it," I sputtered as best I could.

"Then yes, it is human."

I swallowed hard against the large amount of venom that swirled inside my mouth like an open drain flooding it.

"Carlisle gets it from the hospital. He brings enough for each of us, like I said…just in case."

"You could have told me!" I yelled as quiet as possible.

"Would it have made the trip better if I did?" He looked at me already knowing the answer.

"No, probably not," I confessed. "But now I know it's there!" My voice was anxious.

And then an urging panic rose up in me as I looked down at the bag. The type of panic against a temptation; the kind an alcoholic would get if a drink were set right in front of them, and they new they shouldn't touch it, but wanted to, so...so badly.

"Hmm." Edward read my expression. He thought for a moment, looking around, and then leaned across me.

"Rosalie, hand me Emmett's iPod."

Rosalie leaned over the seat in front of her and tossed the iPod to Edward.

"Here, put these in," he said as he handed me the ear pieces. "Close your eyes and focus on the music."

"Okay," I understood what he was doing as I quickly grabbed them. I'd take anything that would help me right now.

Just as I was putting them in, the steward walked back past us, heading to his part of the plane. Emmett knock lightly on the lavatory door, letting Jasper know it was safe to come out.

Jasper stuffed the empty blood bag into his front pocket as he excited, wiping at the corners of his mouth. I could still see some of the blood lingering around the bottom inside the bag before it disappeared. I held my breath as I yearned for what he carried, then anxiously eyed Carlisle's bag again.

Edward was keeping a close watch over me as he scanned quickly through the music, looking for something soothing, I hoped. Did Emmett listen to anything soothing? What was taking so long?

Panic, desire, panic, desire, panic, desire...panic...no! You have to control this, Bella. You can control this.

I let out a deep sigh and redirected my thoughts. Renesmee, Edward, Renesmee, Edward, Renesmee, Edward, Renesmee, Edward...okay...that was somewhat better...

Emmett walked in front of Jasper as they made their way back. I assumed it was so he wouldn't be tempted to take off in a mad sprint towards the back of the plane. He'd have to mow past Emmett to get to the steward, and no way would the big vampire let that happen.

Jasper made no eye contact with any of us, but he didn't have to for us to notice the present agony he was in. His craving had only added insult to his already inflicted injury.

He stepped past Carlisle, sat down in his seat, then covered the back of his head with his hands and leaned over to bury his face in his knees. Jasper was suffering.

Once Edward found some soothing classical music and set the iPod down, he put a restraining arm across me, gripping my left arm rest. I didn't argue. He was smart to do that. My craving was also strong, and too easy to read.

Emmett looked around for his iPod then at Rosalie. She made a slight nod in my direction. He didn't ask for it back when he noticed my current condition, and Edward's warning glare. Instead he plopped himself down in his seat with a loud huff.

I closed my eyes, ignoring his reaction. I had bigger things to worry about, like the continued fight against the flame that lingered in my throat at the memory of what I had just witnessed. This was going to feel like the longest part of our flight.

Jasper and I stayed in our positions, not moving and not breathing until we reached our next stop.

The flight from Frankfurt to Prague was only an hour. Jasper and I were doing better by then, especially after checking in on Renesmee and Jacob. The scent had not returned to Forks. So our only hope was still with Peter and the Slovakians.

Transferring planes helped too, but I let my mind get the best of me, and panicked once again when we boarded our final flight that took us from Prague to Bratislava; hoping no one would walk by jolting me too. It was only an hour trip as well, so I put Emmett's iPod back in while Edward detained me once again, holding my breath the entire way.

It had been eighteen hours since we left Seattle, finally arriving at Letisko Airport, Slovakia around 2pm their time.

I was glad to be off airplanes, away from the temptation of strangers, and what Carlisle carried around in his bag. Knowing what was in front of me, on the floor the whole time, was very difficult to fight, iPod or not.

Going home…would not be fun.

Peter and Charlotte had arranged to meet us at the back of the airport when we arrived. It was a cloudy day, so we didn't have to worry about putting on our large, hoodies.

"Jasper," Peter said comfortingly, holding his arms out to him when we walked up.

"Hello Peter," he answered gravely as they embraced.

Charlotte stood next in line for a hug. "Dear Jasper, I'm so sorry to hear about Alice. We'll find her. Don't you worry too much now, okay?"

Jasper left his head buried in her shoulder for a short time, taking comfort in her sympathetic strokes and tender pats to the back of his hair.

"Carlisle," Peter stuck out his hand. "Thank you for coming."

"Thank you for calling, Peter. I hope we can help each other. It's been a difficult few days."

"Yes it has," he agreed with an imperative look on his face.

Peter then looked around to the rest of us.

"Edward, Emmett, Rosalie, Esme…Bella," he said all of our names as he shook our hands to welcome us. "Well, are we ready to go?" Peter then asked as he moved his hand in a sideways direction, showing us which way we'd be heading from here.

"Where are we going next?" I wondered loudly as we picked up our bags and threw them over our shoulders.

"We're going to meet the Slovakians at their home in the Carpathian Mountains, on the northern side, just outside the town of Trencin," Charlotte replied as she pointed to the vast mountain range beginning about twenty-five miles northeast of us. "They're looking forward to meeting all of you."

We walked quickly along the back perimeter of the capital city of Bratislava, so we wouldn't be seen, and, it was the shortest distance that would take us to the mountains. We couldn't take a car, since there were no roads back where we were, just train tracks, farming and open land.

The scenery, I had to admit, was beautiful. I didn't picture Slovakia to be this green, or…green at all really. The ground around the city was mostly flat and full of flourishing grass, with little rolling hills full of bright pink, white and yellow flowers. This was not like the rocky forest terrain we had back in Forks.

I stared in awe at the vastness of the mountains as we grew closer. They stretched out far and wide, circling in at the ends which were both miles away. Rows and rows of beautiful green mammoth trees, sat nearly one on top of each other all the way up the steep slopes to the top.

The mountains that gathered in the center were so elevated; snow had already made its appearance on the peaks that pierced through the dense clouds that hovered over them.

A light breeze blew the scent of leaking sap, moss and foliage our way. The soil was darker and softer, as if it had more life in it than back home. Not quite so muddy and damp.

"The Danube River is to the left, where these inner western mountains begin, known as the Little Carpathians," Peter rattled off like a tour guide. "The river runs through the middle of the city. Very handy for traveling, shipping and fishing, too," he continued. "And The Alps begin just on the west side of the river near Vienna." He pointed left.

When Peter mentioned the city of Vienna, I couldn't help but immediately think of The Sound of Music, and picture Julie Andrews twirling around on a lone mountain top singing.

"Oh, and for feeding…" Peter went on. "The mountains here are full of chamois, lynxes, brown bears, red deer and wolves. Marek will take you out when you're ready to go. He's well aware of your chosen hunting habits."

Eww, like any of us would drain a wolf.

"Bears?" Emmett shouted. "Sweet!" He rubbed his hands together in excitement.

"What's a chamois?" I asked Edward quietly, not sure if I was pronouncing it right. I didn't want to seem too unintelligent to the others.

"It's a goat like animal," he answered.

"Oh…a goat, huh? That doesn't sound very good." I crinkled my nose. "But, the lynx does." I liked cats, big cats for feeding. The lynx wasn't big, but it was a meat eater, which I preferred. Red deer might be quenching, too?

"Peter." Carlisle stopped suddenly, taking my mind off the current animal menu.

"What is it Carlisle?"

"Can you tell us a little bit about the Slovakians before we meet them? Just a little background if you don't mind, kind of a heads up. You mentioned, Marek?"

"Yes, I'm sorry, of course." He put his hands out in an apologetic gesture. "There are two of them, Marek and his wife Adriana. Charlotte and I happened to cross them about six months ago while making a run through the mountains. Not too many vampires run that way because there are so many trees, and not many people hike up where they are. But they were not surprised to see us, like we were them." His words inferred something that caught my attention. They weren't surprised to see them?

"What do you mean?" Esme asked, and I was glad she did before I had to ask Edward. I didn't enjoy picking others brains through his, but it saved me a lot of embarrassing questions at times.

"Well…Adriana has a gift. She can sense any 'mythical' creature within ten miles around her, in any direction. But only on the ground, and how many there are."

My eyes widened, impressed.

"Fascinating," Esme responded.

"Only on the ground?" Carlisle was intrigued.

"Yes. Her gift is connected to the earth and any mythical being that walks close enough to her on it. If they should get too high off the ground, she is completely unaware of their presence. She's in tune with them because of what she is, of course."

"And she sensed you and Charlotte?" Carlisle asked.

"Yes. We stopped when we saw their home. We smelled vampire and were curious. They came out and approached us when they realized we weren't leaving, and could tell we meant no harm. This is the third time we'd been through for a visit, and thought of you when we heard what happened to them."

"What happened?" Rosalie jumped in anxiously.

"Well, I think I'll let them tell you," Peter said in an apprehensive tone that made me curious again. "Let's keep going."

Emmett shrugged his shoulders when Rosalie looked at him, unhappy she wasn't going to be receiving an answer right this minute.

I looked at Edward.

He shook his head at me. "He's not thinking about it. I guess we'll have to wait."

We followed Peter and Charlotte on a hike half way up the mountain, then stopped when we came to a slight break in the trees.

Nestled, just on the other side of the tiny clearing was a medium-sized wood-built cabin. If I wasn't looking for it, or didn't smell vampire, I would have passed right by it. It blended so completely into its surroundings. Their home was very plain, nothing special at all. The front contained a door and only one medium sized window. I got the impression these were solitary vampires, and preferred to keep it that way.

Marek and Adriana came out to greet us as we walked closer. I could tell they were ancient vampires by their pale, pasty, clear skin and semi-clouded eyes. I wondered how long they had been around. They reminded me of the Romanians who came to witness with us against the Volturi.

Marek was definitely over six feet tall with medium, dark hair that hung just past his shoulders. His facial features were strong and perfectly lined for his cultural background. And his eyes were a dark, amber gold, which I wondered about.

Adriana was more my height with beautiful reddish-brown ringlet hair that hung down to the middle of her back, and deep amber eyes that were a close match to her hair. She was strikingly beautiful in a preserved antique way.

I guessed by the maturity in their faces, they had been 'changed' in their early thirties. And their clothes looked like they were taken from a museum part of one-hundred year old Slovakian history, not like the current jeans and shirts we were wearing.

"Marek," Peter said, grabbing his hand to greet him. "These are the Cullen's." He motioned out to us.

The two vampires stared at us. Adriana held a welcoming grin, while Marek's expression was firm, confident…and intimidating. He nodded only once.

"Carlisle?" Marek spoke, requesting him to step forward at the mention of his name. He was getting right to business. I stiffened at the power and strength of his voice.

"I am Carlisle," he said as he stepped confidently up to Marek, taking his hand.

"Thank you for coming, and bringing your family, Carlisle. I am sorry to hear of your loss and hope we can help one another."

The ancient vampire was very formal and still, almost expressionless in his speaking. No smile crossed his face, or even tried to. He didn't appear mean, but I wouldn't want to be one to cross him either. Everything about him warned 'don't even try it'.

"So do, I," Carlisle replied.

"Jasper?" Marek called out next.

Jasper walked slowly up to Marek and gave him his hand to shake. Marek held on to it as he bent towards him, looked him deep in the eyes and spoke with utmost certainty. "The thing that did this to you, I promise, will not live a day past meeting us."

Jasper dipped his head in appreciation and bent to him in respect. Marek placed his hand gently and briefly on his head to show compassion.

How could Marek promise such a thing, though? Did he have an idea what kind of creature we were up against? He seemed so…sure.

"And who is the girl whose human father has been taken as well?" Marek looked around again.

I glimpsed at Edward nervously. Marek didn't seem like one for friendly small talk and I worried about being called out. Edward nodded that it was okay for me to go to him.

I approached him with my hand out. "Hello, Marek, I'm Bella," I tried to sound confident, but I don't think I fooled anyone. I haven't met an ancient vampire yet that made me feel comfortable.

He grabbed my hand, placing his other on top of it. "Bella, my dear, I'm sorry to hear of your loss as well. We will do everything we can to help you find your father. My promise is the same to you as the one made to Jasper." He nodded gently to me with an ever so slight smile.

"Thank you, Marek." I nodded back with a slight smile. He was so intimidating I couldn't help but mimic him. I wanted to believe the promise he made, and, by the intensity in his eyes, I think most of me did.

The rest of the family introduced themselves while we remained out front. I noticed Adriana appearing to do what looked like a head count, seeming somewhat confused every time she did.

Edward chuckled a little.

"What?" I looked at him.

"She's confused why there are seven of us, and her senses only count six."

"Oh," I said, realizing then she couldn't sense me. "We'll have to tell her soon, so she doesn't think she's going crazy."

"Only if she brings it up, love. You're our secret weapon. And if Peter hasn't said anything already...we'll want to keep it that way." He leaned down and kissed my forehead.

"Please, everyone," Marek gathered our attention. "Let us go inside."

When we made our way in, he motioned for us to have a seat anywhere.

The cabin was one giant room with a table for eight placed in the middle, and no floor, just dirt. I assumed it was so Adrianna could have better sensory with the earth. There was an old fashioned ice box in the back right corner, and a book case along the back wall, full from top to bottom with a variety of titles.

A big paisley-patterned chair filled up the left corner and an olive colored couch that seated about four, rested along the left wall. I wondered about so much seating if it was just the two of them? Was it another vampire that lived here that was missing...or two?

We all picked a spot to sit down. Carlisle, Esme, Jasper, Peter, Charlotte and Marek pulled out chairs from around the table while Emmett plopped himself down in the comfy chair in the corner.

Rosalie, Edward and I sat down on the couch, with Rosalie sitting on the end closest to Emmett. I sat close as possible to Edward, putting my hand on his knee, feeling a little uneasy being away from home. He covered it, then gripped it reassuringly.

Adriana made her way over to an old, wooden shelf that sat half way up on the wall across from us. She pulled off what looked like enough cups for all of us that were placed next to a stack of bowls, then made her way to the icebox. I wondered why vampires would have bowls and cups when they weren't needed.

She appeared to be filling them, but I couldn't see with what, with the opened door in the way. When she was finished, she began walking around the room handing us each one. I smelled the liquid as soon as the breeze from the door shutting sent it over to me, and froze.

She was serving us blood!

I looked around at the rest of my family when she handed me mine. Peter, Charlotte, Emmett, Jasper and Edward had already downed theirs and handed their cups back with a thank you by then.

Then I watched as Rosalie, Carlisle and Esme sniffed at theirs.

Peter leaned over to Carlisle, and I heard him say, "It's human, but it's okay. None were harmed in getting this."

Human blood? None were harmed? I hadn't had human blood since I was pregnant with Renesmee, and a human myself. What if I liked it too much? What if it sent me into a frenzy to go out and find 'more'? What...what should I do?

I continued to hold my cup out in front of me as I watched Rosalie semi-hesitantly drink hers. She had never tasted human blood before either, and I waited for her reaction. But she only surprised me when she licked her lips very slowly after words, relishing in the taste, and then looked in her cup to see if she had left any. She appeared to be composed; no frenzy there.

I looked back at my cup. The longer I held it out in front of me, the more the burn was making itself known in my throat. I shied away from the cup, still nervous of my unknown reaction.

Next was Esme. She closed her eyes and drank it quickly, taking a deep sigh before opening her eyes again.

She was fine, too.

Then it was down to me and Carlisle. I watched carefully to see what he would do, knowing I would follow suit. He seemed to be contemplating the idea, and I'm sure he didn't want to seem rude by refusing. Everyone else sat quietly still, watching and waiting for us to drink ours.

Carlisle slowly raised his glass to his mouth and shocked me when he drank it. He was supposed to be my way out of this!

Adriana picked up the rest of the cups then came and stood in front of me, waiting to take away another empty one. I was still scared, but the blaze in my throat was calling out for me to chug it.

I looked at Edward and he smiled back at me.

A lot of help he was!

"Marek," Carlisle interrupted my weak performance. "Bella has not had human blood before, only animal."

Marek slightly raised his eye brows in surprise. "My apologies, Bella, I was not aware. You do not have to drink it if you choose."

Adriana reached out to take the full cup from my hand, but the fire that continued to grow, now erupting in my throat, did not want to give it up. It would not let me let go.

I turned to Edward and whispered with concern, "Catch me if I try to take off for more…"

"I will," he said with a nod and grin, then whispered in my ear. "Serving it cold helps control the frantic desire for more," he tried to comfort me.

Warm or cold didn't matter in my mind. It was the fact that it was 'human' that worried me.

I tiled the cup up to my mouth, closed my eyes, and took three large gulps till it was gone. The cold, thick liquid soothed the flames immediately and sent a low tingle down the rest of my throat and into my stomach. I licked my lips slowly, understanding now why Rosalie had done it. It was incredibly tasty and sweet. Like candy would be to a child; not at all like the rust and salt I had imagined, or tasted as a human. And I suddenly found myself wanting more.

I took three shallow breaths to try to calm the craving that was nudging heavily at me to leave, before opening my eyes up again.

I handed Adriana my cup as I strangled out a thank you. She smiled at me when she took it.

I noticed all eyes were on me now, waiting to see what I would do. That helped keep me in my seat. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, like I would have if it were just me and Edward. I would have been out the door by now, hoping he wouldn't catch me, like with restaurant girl. Burn. So I gave my best fake smile to let them know I would be okay…eventually. I felt my eyes turn dark and cold. I was thirsty for more. For her.

"Well done, Bella," Edward whispered, as he put his arm around me and grabbed at my shoulder with a firm weighted embrace. He was preparing for anything, just in case. He'd seen my eyes.

"Ian should be here soon, Marek," Adriana notified him.

I noticed Edward tilt his head in confusion at Marek after that, distracting my thirst with concern in his eyes. I'm sure he was trying to get a reading on who Ian was, but his expressions were not clear. Adriana had picked up on Ian, so he wasn't human. And I wondered by the look on Edward's face, was he not a vampire either?

Then there was a knock at the door. Marek got up to answer it.

Edward made a light sniff, looked through his mind at the door, then spoke very quickly and firmly to us Cullen's, "Listen...when Marek opens that door, nobody move! Is that clear?"

Everyone nodded their heads, puzzled, and then Edward moved his hand from my shoulder, to put both arms firmly around my waist, as if bracing me. I didn't like this.

"What is it?" I asked nervously.

"You'll see," he told me, staring at the door.

Marek opened the door to greet Ian. And the breeze that was faintly blowing outside sent it in at us—like a torpedo ramming into a ship. Our family stood up immediately in horror.

The scent!

My nostrils immediately began to burn, leaving my throat feeling raw and scratchy. It was the same scent we smelled at Charlie's, the same scent we smelled at the fabric shop…and the same scent I smelled in my father's blood stained car!

My eyes turned a darker black and I could feel the rage building, starting in my head, and then working its way down to my toes. Edward's grip on me became tighter and stronger when I began to growl. Emmett ran over and held Jasper, who looked just like me. Ready, and wanting to kill.

Marek and Adriana moved simultaneously to stand protective in front of Ian, who was confused by our reactions to him. Peter and Charlotte looked to Carlisle for an explanation.

"Bella, Jasper!" Edward yelled. "Don't, he's a friend of theirs. He carries the same scent, but he's not what we're looking for!"

My breathing was still rapid, a few snarls escaping my lips, but I attempted to calm myself so I could understand more of what Edward was trying to say.

A friend?

"Carlisle?" Peter said anxiously. "What's going on?"

But Carlisle was unable to speak. He only stood there, staring at Ian out the tops of his eyes, his hand covering his nose and mouth. He looked angry, very angry, trying not to attack as a low growl stirred in his chest, too. Esme grabbed his hand to keep him still. I had never seen him like that.

"Edward?" Peter questioned him firmly, looking at the three of us, concerned.

"Ian's scent, Peter, it's the same one we found back home, where our loved ones were taken."

"What!" Marek hollered, looking at Edward.

Ian wanted to come running through the door, not caring how we were acting towards him, he wanted to hear more. But Marek put his hand out, holding his chest, keeping him back.

"Ian," Edward spoke directly to him. "Please, if you don't mind, would you tell them quickly who you are?"

"Of course," he spoke huskily with a nod to Edward, then to us. "My name is Ian Dejanovic. And I am the leader of the Siberian Werewolves that reside here in these mountains."

Carlisle, Jasper and I froze.

I said towards Edward, still staring at Ian, but not with fury anymore, now it was in complete and utter confusion…"What did he just say?"



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