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Chapter 10: An apology
Bella and Alice emerged from the bedroom minutes later. Bella sat on the floor while I laid across the couch on my stomach, my feet up on the arm next to Alice; Jasper had since gone to sit at the desk in the corner, as far away from Bella as possible. I would have gone further away but one, I didn’t want to be rude, and two, I couldn’t really be bothered. A quick look in the mirror told me that my eyes were starting to darken and a dull ache in the back of my throat confirmed that I was starting to get thirsty. However, it was fairly easy to ignore and if I could get a chance, I would hunt at night or perhaps now, just to be safe. I wondered if Alice would agree to this.
She caught my eye and gave such a small nod that it went undetected by Jasper. Usually Jasper never missed those small movements that Alice and I made at each other as a silent conversation.
Bella picked at her food, not really caring what it was. I tilted my head towards her and looked at her for a moment before resting my head back on my crossed forearms to watch the TV. Nothing held my interest and I soon became still, so still that I ceased to breathe.
Alice shifted near my feet and I glanced back around at her to find her looking down at Bella.
“What’s wrong, Alice?” she asked my sister.
“Nothing’s wrong…” Alice answered with her golden eyes were wide, honest… I suspected Bella didn’t trust them. And nor did I.
“What do we do now?” Bella asked.
“We wait for Carlisle to call,” Alice answered calmly.
“And should he have called by now?” She was right of course. Carlisle was meant to call by now. Alice’s eyes flickered to her silver phone resting on top of her leather bag and back to Bella’s face.
“What does that mean?” Her voice quavered but she fought to control it. “That he hasn’t called yet?”
“It means that they don’t have anything to tell us.” Alice’s voice was even and calm.
Jasper stood and moved to beside Alice, standing closer to Bella then he usually would. “Bella,” he said in a suspiciously soothing tone. “You have nothing to worry about. You are completely safe here.”
“I know that,” she answered, as she abandoned the food.
“Then why are you frightened?” he asked, confused. Jasper might have been able to read the tenor of someone’s emotions but knowing the reason behind them was something different altogether.
“You heard what Laurent said,” she said in a whisper that came out sounding like a whimper. “He said James was lethal. What if something goes wrong, and they get separated? Carlisle, Emmett… Edward…” She gulped. “If that wild female hurt Esme…” Her voice rose in volume and seemed to have a touch of hysteria added to it. “How could I live with myself when it’s my fault! None of you should be risking yourselves for me –”
“Bella, Bella, stop,” Jasper interrupted her, his words pouring out so quick that Alice and I could understand them but I was pretty sure whether that Bella couldn’t as easily. “You are worrying about all the wrong things, Bella. Trust me on this– none of us are in jeopardy. You are under too much strain as it is; don’t add to it with wholly unnecessary worries. Listen to me!” he suddenly ordered when she turned her head away from him. “Our family is strong. Our only fear is losing you.”
“But why should you –” Bella started to say but it was Alice who interrupted this time, touching Bella’s cheek with her cold fingers.
“It’s been almost a centaury since Edward’s been alone,” she said softly. “Now he’s found you. You can’t see the changes we see, we who have been with him for so long. Do you think any of us would want to look into his eyes for the next hundred years if he loses you?”
Her words stuck a cord with me. I had too noticed that he was no longer sullen, no longer unhappy and feeling alone in the house. We were the only ones to not have a mate but I didn’t mind, I was too busy being a teenage vampire to notice much. Of course I spent time with my two closest friends/ siblings in the world, Alice and Jasper but when they needed time to themselves, I was always careful not to intrude on them. And it always ended up me and Edward spending time together, being brother and sister. Carlisle once hoped that perhaps I could become Edward’s mate– but the feeling remained at brotherly and sisterly love. There was nothing more, and nothing less. I could see first hand of how depressed Edward was.
And I could see how happy he was now. Bella had lit up a light in his life and I was sure as hell that I wasn’t going to let some sadistic tracker take it away from him.
I stood from the couch and walked to the door. “Going out for a while, I’ll be back before dawn.”
I could feel Alice’s eyes burning into my back as I left the hotel room.
There wasn’t much to hunt in the city. I stuck to the ally ways and away from the streets, fighting my gut instinct to go climb up a fire escape and snatch a defenceless human while they slept. It would be so easy and so simple, but no… I mustn’t think that way.
Instead, I found some stray cats near a restaurant exit, fighting over scraps in the dumpster. Their scent imitated what their blood tasted like – foul and unappetising. But it would have to do until I got home. I drained them quickly and hid them down the sewer drains. I still had a dry ache in my throat but it was less noticeable and easier to ignore.
I jogged at human pace through the slowly lightening streets back to the hotel. I slipped in unseen but instead of returning to the room, I headed up to the rooftop and stayed in the shade of a maintenance shed and watched the sun rise. I know I had promised Alice that I would be back before dawn but I didn’t want to go down yet.
I flipped out my cell and turned it on. I went to my contacts list and went down it until I got down to the ‘Rs’.
Rosalie’s name was the only one there. My thumb hovered over the call button as I debated with myself. She needed an apology, a real one this time, not just a mumble. I regretted calling her a stuck-up bitch; it was just the heat of the moment. Her words about me though had been spot on. I was a smart-ass and I was immature. Therefore, I was an immature smart-ass.
“I wonder if Alice could see me deciding,” I said aloud to no one but myself as I pressed the button.
It rang twice before it was answered. But not by the person I hoped.
“Shayla?” My mother’s voice sounded worried as she answered. “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine Esme,” I said quietly, in case anyone journeyed up onto the roof. “I just wanted to talk to Rosalie.”
“Of course,” she murmured. I heard nothing but silence for a few seconds as she assumingly passed the phone to Rosalie.
“What?” Rose’s cold, hard voice blared out at me. “What do you want Shayla?
I sighed wearily. Rosalie could be such a drama queen sometimes. Resisting the urge to bite her head off for being so impatient, I instead said, “I just wanted to apologise for my rude comments. They were spur-of-the-moment and unjustified. My behaviour was unacceptable and unprovoked.” I swallow a mouthful of venom before continuing on. “So, basically what I’m trying to say here is that I am sorry. I’m sorry for being stubborn and impatient. I’m sorry for being immature and a smart-ass. And I’m sorry for calling you things which you are not. I –”
She cut me off and gave a hiss of annoyance. “You called me up to apologise for one little fight?” She gave a high pitched laugh and I gave a low growl at her. “Seriously Shayla, are you going soft on me?”
“How can you laugh? I thought you were mad at me?” I snarled at her.
She sighed impatiently. “I was. But with the way you’ve been lately, I’m surprised that you took it out on me so calmly. You’ve been crabby even when you’re not thirsty, so I decided last night that I could forgive you. After all you’re only sixteen.”
“Physically sixteen,” I corrected her in a hard voice. “But emotionally and mentally, I’m nearing my forties. I should know better.”
“As should I Shay. I knew how easy you lash out and I went against my instincts to shut up. I should be apologising too. You are not stupid, even if some of your decisions and choices have not been smart.” She paused, probably wondering if she’d offended me.
But I nodded to myself. “Yes, that’s defiantly true.”
“And you’re not a smart-ass. You are quite witty, which I love so much about you,” she replied before giving another sigh. “So long story short, I’m sorry. Do you forgive me?”
“I do. Do you, in turn, forgive me?”
“Yes. I love you Shayla, never forget that.”
“I love you too. I have got to go now, the sun’s coming up. Tell Mom I love her.” I glanced behind me at the slowly lightening sky. “Bye Rose.”
“Bye Shay.” The phone hangs up with a beep and I snap mine shut. I couldn’t help but smile at it. Rosalie and I may have had our disagreements, or fights if you will, but we always, always, made up after it.
I head back downstairs and go back to the hotel room. Jasper was on the lounge by himself. He raised an eyebrow as I entered. “So?”
“So what?” I asked, confused as I stood before him.
“You know what Shayla. Alice told me. I can sense that you’re feeling relieved now,” he answered, lifting his head from the TV to look at me. “Did Rosalie accept your apology?”
I nodded. “She didn’t even expect one.”
“Because she loves you,” he murmured gently. “You have had plenty of fights over the decades. What makes this one different? That it’s over your brother and his girlfriend?”
I shrug. “I don’t know Jasper, I honestly don’t know. You know I hate to fight but if it’s to protect my family, I will.”
He nodded and hugged me. “I understand.”
That’s when I notice Alice and Bella are missing. “Where are Alice and Bella?” I asked.
Jasper nodded his head at the door to the bedroom. “Bella went to sleep but now she and Alice are talking about how you become a vampire. Edward didn’t tell her and he doesn’t want her to now. But Bella wanted to know.”
I listened and I could hear Alice talking. “It’s not very pleasant.”
I walked towards the room and opened the door a crack. Bella was lying curled up in bed with her chin resting on her knees while Alice sat on the end of her bed with her legs crossed. Bella looked up when I entered and I nodded in her direction as a greeting. Alice kept her back to me while Bella spoke. “Edward said it was very hard to do… I don’t quite understand.”
“We’re also like sharks in a way,” Alice explained carefully while Bella and I listened intently even though I knew how you could become a vampire. “Once we taste the blood, or even smell it fit that matter, it becomes very hard to keep from feeding. Sometimes impossible. So you see, to bite someone, to taste the blood, it would begin the frenzy. It’s difficult on both sides– the blood lust on one hand, the awful pain of the other.”
“Why do you think you can’t remember?” Bella asked.
“I don’t know. For everyone else, the pain of the transformation is the sharpest memory they have of their human life. I remember nothing of being human.” Her voice was wistful, almost sad. I wrapped an arm around her and hugged her gently.
And there we sat, each of us wrapped up in our own individual thoughts. I removed my arm from Alice’s shoulders and folded it across my chest, staring at the floor thinking hard.
But then Alice leapt up, landing nimbly on her feet. I looked up at her in alarm before leaping off the bed myself. “Something’s changed,” she said.
Jasper reached the door the same time as she did with me hovering behind her. He guided her to the bed and they began to speak in low tones. “What did you see?” he asked, staring intently into her eyes.
“I see a room. It’s long and there are mirrors everywhere. The floor is wooden. He’s in the room and he’s waiting. There’s gold… a gold stripe across the mirrors.”
“Where is this room?”
“I don’t know. Something is missing– another decision that hasn’t been made yet.
“How much time?”
“It’s soon. He’ll be in the mirror room today, or maybe tomorrow. It all depends. He’s waiting for something. And he’s in the dark.”
Jasper’s voice was calm, methodical, as he continued to question her with Bella and I listening intently. “What is he doing?”
‘He’s watching TV… No, he’s running a VCR, in the dark in another place.”
“Can you see where it is?” I asked her, keeping as calm as possible.
“No, it’s too dark.”
“And the mirror room,” Jasper questioned her again. “What else is there?”
“Just the mirrors, and the gold. It’s a band, around the room. And there’s a black table with a big stereo and a TV. He’s touching the VCR, but he doesn’t watch the way he does in the dark room. This is the room where he waits.” Her eyes drifted again before flickering to Jasper’s face and then mine before focusing on Jasper’s again.
“There’s nothing else?”
She shook her head at him. Then they both sat motionless and I wrapped an arm around Alice again, hugging her once more.
“What does it mean?” Bella asked from behind us. She got up out of the bed and moved so she was in front of us.
I hesitated on whether to answer. But Jasper made the decision for me. “It means the tracker’s plans have changed. He’s made a decision that will lead him to the mirror room, and the dark room.”
“But we don’t know where these rooms are?”
“But we do know that he won’t be in the mountains north of Washington, being hunted. He’ll elude them,” Alice added, her voice bleak.
“Should we call? Bella asked us all. We glanced at each other, trading serious looks, undecided.
But the phone rang.
Alice was across the room before Bella could even register that it had ringed. She held it to her ear but didn’t speak at first. “Carlisle,” she breathed, not seeming surprised or relived. Damn future-seeing pixie.
“Yes,” she then said before glancing at Bella. She listened again.
“I just saw him.” She explained her vision to Carlisle. “Whatever made him get on that plane… it was leading him to these rooms.” She paused. “Yes. Bella?” She held out the phone out to her and Bella ran for it.
I slipped out the door to give her some privacy. Alice and Jasper followed me. I sank into the couch before leaning my elbows on my knees and holding my face in my hands. I ran my fingers through my hair.
“I knew I should have stayed and hunted him,” I remarked bitterly. “All I’m doing here is nothing.”
Jasper patted my shoulder affectionately. “It’ll be fine Shay. With your animal senses and Alice’s visions, it would be impossible for James to hurt Bella. You know that.”
I scowled at him. “But is that a guarantee?”
He stayed quiet. “No, it’s not,” he eventually admitted. “But, we do have a fair chance of beating him.”
I growled softly at him. Fair chance; I wanted a good chance. A good chance was better then a fair chance.
Jasper growled back at me but Alice cut in between us. She hated to see us fighting and would never take sides. She hated choosing between her husband and her sister. But I would never suggest that she should pick me over Jasper; that was just unfair.
“Stop it you too!” she growled at us. “Fighting isn’t going to protect Bella.”
“Right,” I muttered. Jasper nodded in agreement and I lifted my arm to gesture to Jasper that I wanted to give him a hug. He obliged and I murmured in his ear, “Sorry Jazz.”
He nodded at me before handing Alice some of the hotel stationary. She began sketching on it a long, rectangular room with a thinner, square section at the back. The wooden planks that made up the floor stretched lengthwise across the room. Down the walls were lines denoting the breaks in the mirrors. And then, wrapping around the walls, waist-high, a long band. The band which Alice had said was gold.
“It’s a ballet studio,” Bella suddenly said, having finished talking on the phone.
We all looked up at her, surprised.
“Do you know this room? Jasper asked her calmly but there was a hint of another tone that I couldn’t identify. I looked back over his shoulder to Alice’s work now. Her hand was flying across the page, making the shape of an emergency exit against the back wall, the stereo and the TV by the right front corner.
“It looks like a place I went for dance lessons –when I was eight or nine. It was shaped the same.” She touched the page where the square section jutted out, narrowing the back part of the room. “That’s where the bathrooms where –the doors were through the other dance studio. But the stereo was here...” –she pointed to another section of the room, the left corner – “It was older, and there wasn’t a TV. There was a window in the waiting room –you would see the room from this perspective if you looked through it.”
We all stared at her.
“Are you sure that it’s the same room?” Jasper asked her calmly.
She shook her head. “No, not at all –I suppose most dance studios would look the same –the mirrors, the bar.” She traced her finger along the ballet bar set against the mirrors. “It’s just the shape that looked familiar.” She touched where the doors were set.
“Would you have any reason to go back there?” Alice asked.
Bella’s head jerked up. “No, I haven’t been there in almost ten years. I was a terrible dance –they always put me in the back for recitals,” she admitted. I stifled a laugh with difficulty. I could not imagine clumsy human Bella dancing.
“So there is no way it could be connected to you?” Alice asked, ignoring me.
“No, I don’t even think the same person owns it. I’m sure it’s just another dance studio, somewhere.”
“Where was the studio you went to?” Jasper asked in a casual tone. Yeah, as if this was a casual situation. He sends out a wave of calm at me as my frustration goes up a notch.
“It was just around the corner from my mom’s place I used to walk there after school….” Bella said, her voice trailing off. Alice and Jasper exchanged a look. I glanced between them. Bella seemed to catch the look they exchanged as well.
“Here in Phoenix then?” he asked her, his voice still casual.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Fifty-Eighth Street and Cactus.”
We all sat in silence, staring at the drawing. This was bad news. If James was in Phoenix, around the corner from her mother’s house… He could quite possibly track Bella. Not that Alice, Jasper and I were going to let that happen.
“Alice is that phone safe?” Bella asked suddenly.
“Yes,” Alice reassured her. “The number would just trace back to Washington.”
“Then I can use it to call my mom.”
“I thought she was in Florida?”
“She is –but she’s coming home soon, and she can’t come back to that house while…” Bella’s voice trembled.
“How will you reach her?”
“They don’t have a permanent number except at the house –she’s supposed to check her messages regularly.”
“Jasper?” Alice asked.
Jasper thought about it. “I don’t think there’s any way it could hurt –be sure you don’t say where you are, of course.”
“Couldn’t hurt to check though,” I added. Without waiting for an answer, I dialled my cell number. It rang and I glanced at the screen, checking the number.
“Unknown number- Washington,” I read out. “Yeah, it’s safe.”
Bella quickly dialled her mom’s number before leaving a message telling her mom to ring her at the hotel number. She repeated it twice before hanging up and closing her eyes. She sank down on the couch and started to pick at the half-eaten food. Poor Bella. Were we ever going to get out of this mess?
I watched the news, bored. Bella, Jasper and Alice did too but Bella seemed to be playing extra-close attention.
Immortality grants you endless patience. Even thought once I got up to look out the window before sitting on the floor with my back against the wall, I did not feel obliged to do anything. I stared at the walls, watched the TV or watched Alice sketch the outlines of the mystery room on the paper.
Finally Bella fell asleep. I got up and went to pick her up and carry her to the bedroom but Alice beat me to it. She mouthed, ‘I’ll do it,’ at me and I nodded before sinking back onto the couch.
It was going to be a long night.