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Volterra Vignettes Vol 4: Miracolo Sulla Via di Castello

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Miracolo Sulla Via di Castello

"It's hopeless, isn't it?" Alec asked quietly.

Bella glanced at Jane who was perched on the other side of the library. She was trying to be discreet as she glanced at Edward every few minutes. But you couldn't do discreet with Edward, not when he could hear your every thought. Luckily for Jane, Bella had gained better control of her gift in the last six months. She could now expand her shield to enclose others with minimal effort. She'd taken to shielding Jane when she was in the room with Edward. It was bad enough that he was Jane's mate. It was worse that he wouldn't even acknowledge her. And it was downright heartbreaking to know that Jane knew he was still actively pursuing another.

Bella had shut him down on his every attempt. Not that it had stopped him. And it drove Alec all but crazy. She was afraid that he would snap one day and do something that they all would regret. If Alec killed Edward, it would destroy Carlisle and Esme. And even though they all listened to Edward and had abandoned her, she didn't want to hurt them. And it would kill Jane if her brother murdered her mate.

But Edward still persisted. She felt his eyes on her often. She hadn't let him get close to her, always using her shield to keep him from getting too near. She didn't want him to talk to her or touch her. She didn't want to have him around period. He was a constant reminder of her painful past and she was trying her best to leave that behind. He didn't understand just how much he'd hurt her. And he didn't comprehend that she didn't love him any more.

She'd done everything that she could think of to dissuade Edward. She'd tried ignoring him. She'd tried being hostile towards him. She'd gone to Marcus for his help to try to get the vampire to see reason. Marcus could see the ties between people. He could see that Alec and Bella were mated. He could see the ghost of the former tie between herself and Edward. Marcus hadn't talked to Edward directly. He was standoffish toward Marcus, knowing that the older vampire was trying to persuade him into letting her go. But Bella knew that Edward had gotten the message. His talents worked against him as much as they worked for him.

Still, he persisted. If it hadn't been for the threat of Vladimir and Stefan, Bella would have left Italy altogether. She was eager to see the rest of the world and she was eager to put distance between herself and her former love.

But she couldn't leave just yet. Dimitri and Felix had scouted the Romanians and they reported that there was increased activity around their palace. They saw a number of different covens coming and going. It didn't make for good news since Vladimir and Stefan had been in exile for years.

And Edward wouldn't leave. Carlisle was there at Marcus' invitation. And the reason he was there was to help her. Despite their research, they still hadn't found any information about her unusual diet. The color of her eyes was another anomaly. For the first few months, her eyes had been like any other newborn vampire, a pure and vibrant red. Then, as they began to change, they started to resemble the way Alec's eyes had looked the night that they met. They were purple-violet after she'd fed and then would grow darker as she got hungry. Now, when she was approaching the one year mark of being a vampire, they were a shade of blue grey after feeding. Then they gradually darkened to black as she grew hungrier.

She wouldn't mind her diet if she didn't fear that it was detrimental to Alec. She was afraid that it would catch up someday, that Alec wouldn't recover from her feedings. Marcus and Carlisle had done extensive tests. So far, it didn't seem to affect Alec at all other than the need for him to hunt more frequently. Still, it was always in the back of her mind that she was nothing more than a burden to him, that she was hurting the one that she loved. It seemed rather poetic that she was a freak amongst vampires since she didn't seem to fit in with regular people either.

Then, there was the inherent danger associated with her diet. If a normal vampire could drain an animal or a person and cause their death, could she drain a vampire to death? It was something that Carlisle and Marcus were considering but she would not agree to a test. She didn't want to have any blood on her hands, even if the test subject were guilty of a crime. It made her doubly cautious when she fed. It would destroy her if she hurt Alec.

She shifted her focus back to the present once more and sighed wistfully as she watched Jane. She felt bad for the little vampire. She didn't understand how she'd gotten such a bad lot in life. By all accounts, her and Alec's childhood had been a rough one. Then there was the whole witch thing and how she'd been burnt at the stake with Alec. She'd been alone for a millenia and now she was fated to be Edward's mate, who was acting like the biggest jerk. It was unfair.

She reached up and kissed the corner of Alec's mouth before murmuring a response to his question. "It's not entirely hopeless. But it will take a miracle."

"I don't want you to go," she said petulantly.

"I know, tesoro," Alec placated. "But it is only for a week. And I would never forgive myself if something happened to Dimitri or Felix, or heaven forbid, my sister because I chose to stay behind."

"I know," she responded. "And I don't want anything to happen to them either. You know, I could go with you."

"No," he stated firmly. "It's mine and Jane's duty. Not yours. Besides, I know how you feel about the Volturi in general. And I never want you to feel obligated to this place. Not only that, I'm afraid that something might happen and I would lose you."

"You're silly," she smiled up at him as he pulled on his cloak.

They were in his quarters in the castle, which were very lavish. His bed was very plush and covered with a velvet duvet. They'd made very good use of it since they had returned. She reached up for him and pulled him into the bed with her.

"Besides," she said coyly and kissed his neck. " I can handle myself."

"I'd rather not take any chances," he said seriously as he looked deep into her eyes. "Stefan and Vladimir want you on their side badly. I'm sure that there isn't anything that they wouldn't do to make it happen. Or, if they couldn't persuade you to join them, they wouldn't have any qualms against taking you out."

"You forget what I can do Alec," she soothed.

"I don't forget," he answered as he kissed her lips. "But I do know that there are many different kinds of gifts. There may be another out there that can affect you where others cannot. I'd rather not risk it. Not when you are safe here."

"It's the first time that we'll be apart since my change," she whispered softly. "You've become the center of my world, Alec. I know that I'm not the best at expressing myself. And I know that the way I came to be a vampire wasn't ideal. But I forgave you for that. I forgave you the same night that you changed me."

"I know," he said somberly. "But it doesn't mean that I forgive myself. You were a lovely, vibrant living creature. You had your whole life ahead of you. I swooped in like some type of cinematic villain and took it all away. It's unforgivable."

"It was a half-life, Alec," she placated as she pushed her hands into his silky brown tresses. "I told you what happened. About James and the accident. About my memory loss. It's why I came to Italy in the first place. I was searching for myself when you found me in the church. And I found what I was looking for. In you."

His lips met hers in a searing kiss, his tongue tangling with hers immediately. He growled as she nipped his bottom lip playfully.

"Minx," he accused as he pulled away slightly.

"You love me for it," she said cheekily.

"That I do," he replied, his eyes glittering as he scrutinized her. "I didn't know just how much I'd been missing until you came into my life. For that, I'm grateful to the animal drinkers. Without them, I would have never met you."

She smiled as she traced the strong line of his jaw, marveling once more that he was hers. He was right. Without the Cullens, she would have never made the trip to Italy when she did. Life was a funny thing. As terrible and tragic as Edward leaving her had been, it had lead to better things. It had lead her to Alec.

She reached up and kissed him once more, pouring her heart into the kiss. He was leaving shortly and she wanted to show him how much he meant to her. She ran her hands under his cloak and pushed it from his shoulders.

"What are you doing?" he asked playfully as he grasped her wrists and stilled her movements.

"I'm seducing you," she said quietly. "I thought that much was obvious."

"I have to go," he replied. "The others are waiting."

"Let them wait," she whispered.

She could see him turning the idea over in his mind. She arched her hips and pushed herself against his groin. He was hard already. She squealed as he dove back in, his lips claiming her once more.

"You don't play fair," he accused as she latched onto his neck.

"Of course I don't," she mumbled in between kisses. "I play to win."

He lifted off her momentarily to pull off his shirt and she did the same, shucking her clothing a vampire speed. They didn't have much time. She moaned as he leaned down and latched on to her nipple, his tongue and teeth tortuously teasing as he tasted her. She undulated slowly against him trying to ease the ache growing within her. She was going to miss him while he was gone.

Alec released her breast and worked his way to her abdomen, his tongue dipping into her belly button. She giggled and tugged on his hair. He knew that she was horribly ticklish there.

She felt his smirk against her skin but all thoughts of retaliation flew from her mind when his mouth closed over her clit. She moaned loudly as Alec worked magic with his tongue. How he made her feel should be criminal. He left her bereft of thought.

She undulated against his mouth, the fire inside her growing to an inferno in moments. She hissed as his fingers breached her drenched opening. His thumb joined his tongue and her legs trembled as she tumbled over the precipice.

Alec gave her no time to recover, he was inside her and moving before she'd had the chance to open her eyes.

"So good," he mumbled as he plunged into her. "So wet. I don't think I'll ever get over craving this. Craving you."

Bella met his movements thrust for thrust as he took his pleasure from her. She loved to watch his face as they made love; the furrow that he developed between his brows and the muscles that tensed in his jaw as he grew closer to orgasm.

Her abdomen clenched as she drew closer to her own end. Using her legs, she flipped them so that she was riding him. She rolled her hips as she impaled herself on him over and over. His fingers dug into her hips and she increased her pace. She gripped the headboard as Alec powered up into her. He wasn't going to last.

Three strokes later and he was calling her name. She released the headboard and brought her mouth to his neck. She bit down, sipping slowly. She took very little as he would need his strength for his mission. She soothed the bite with her tongue and watched the skin as it knit back together seamlessly, the only trace left was a silvery half moon scar. It was Alec's only bite mark since no one ever got close enough to him to inflict any damage due to his gift. It gave her a sense of pride that her mark was the only one that he wore.

She lay quietly in his arms, savoring the moment. It was over too soon. She moved off to his side as he shifted under her.

"I'm sorry," he said as he pulled on his clothes. "I must go now. They are probably wondering what is keeping me."

"Oh, I'm sure that they know that I'm the one keeping you," she teased. "Seriously, though, please be careful Alec. I don't know what I would do if I lost you."

"Don't worry," he assured. "We'll be fine. We've done this many times."

He leaned over and kissed her once more. Then he was gone. Bella touched her lips thoughtfully. Alec's absence may give her the time she needs to make Edward see reason. She had a plan how to bring Edward and Jane together. And it would require the help of a meddling pixie.

Bella waited for two days before she decided to meet with Alice. She hadn't talked to her since that day in the throne room, the day that they had returned from Romania. Alice and Jasper had both stayed along with Carlisle while he researched with Marcus.

Alice hadn't approached her either. Unlike Edward, Alice had kept her distance and allowed Bella the space that she needed. And honestly, Bella did miss Alice. She had thought that she was her friend. She was the only other Cullen that seemed to genuinely like her other than Emmett. So it had hurt Bella terribly when she regained her memories to realize that Alice had walked away from her as well.

Bella found Alice in the courtyard just as she knew she would. Bella knew that when she made her plan that Alice would see it.

"It still works," Bella commented as she sat on the stone bench next to Alice.

"Not always," Alice confessed. "I think that it only works when you want me to see something. This is the first vision that I've had of you since we came."

"And before," Bella pressed.

Alice turned slightly and met her eyes. Alice's face was somber as she answered. "Edward made me promise not to look," she answered sadly. "And I didn't. Not purposely. But I did get flashes. I saw your prom. I saw you graduate. I saw you at your Dad's funeral."

Alice swallowed and looked away before she continued. "I didn't see your change until it was too late. I saw that in real time. I'm so sorry Bella!" she cried. "If I'd known..."

"If you'd known what?" Bella prodded. "There was nothing that you could have done at that point Alice. You have no idea what a heartless bastard Aro was. He would have destroyed you or locked you away somehow if you had interfered."

Bella was quiet for a moment before she asked the question that she'd been asking herself since she regained her memories. "How? How could you leave me like that?"

"I didn't want to!" Alice protested. "None of us wanted to leave you. Not even Rosalie. She argued that after you'd experienced such a horrific event that you would need help. It was so very similar to what happened to her. And I told him. I told Edward that the outcome was still the same. I still saw you as a vampire but I didn't see how you would be changed. He wouldn't listen."

"And yet you all followed him anyway," Bella replied bitterly.

"Yes," Alice said simply.

"I didn't know what had happened to me," Bella confessed as she faced Alice once more. "I woke up and had all these tubes sticking out of me. And the doctors, they questioned me incessantly about the bite on my arm. I had no answers. I was so confused. And it was frustrating."

Bella blew out her breath and looked away once more. "Then my mom died," she said quietly. "I blamed myself. If I hadn't run away, she wouldn't have come to Arizona. I believed that story because that was what we told Charlie. And then, to return to Forks and find that I'd had a boyfriend but he just up and left without a word was devastating. I didn't remember you all specifically but I knew that I had lost something profound because the hole that you left still hurt. Jacob abandoned me. He wouldn't be my friend anymore because he said that it wasn't safe for me to be around him. I had no one other than Charlie. And then I lost him too."

"I'm so sorry, Bella," Alice cried. "I know that it's not enough. I know that it doesn't change what I did. And I regret it so much. I should have stood up to Edward. I should have stayed. I'd go back and change it if I could."

"But you can't," Bella said sadly. "You can't change the past. All we can do is try to move forward. I forgive you for leaving, even if I don't fully understand why. But I need your help. I have an idea how to show Edward that he is not my mate. I just need to know if it will work or if I'm wasting my time."

Bella watched as Alice's eyes glazed slightly, her vision focused inward. Alice sat as still as a statue for several minutes before she turned toward her.

"It will work," she predicted. "But you're going to have to let him touch you. If he doesn't touch you, he won't see."

"Alright," Bella answered as she drew in a shaky breath. As unsavory as letting Edward touch her for any reason was, she would do it for Jane. She had grown very fond of the little vampire.

"There's one more thing," Alice added. "The place that you decided to meet Edward at is being watched by the Romanians. They will try to attack you if you go there."

"Well," Bella said immediately. "I will just meet him here somewhere on the grounds."

"No," Alice said abruptly. "The outcome is clear. Jane and Alec will arrive with Demetri and Felix. Vladimir will attack Jane and Edward will save her. You have to let this happen."

"But what if something goes wrong?" Bella worried. "If something happened to any one of them and I had knowledge that the attack was going to happen, I would never forgive myself."

"Nothing will happen," Alice stated confidently. "I won't let it."

Alice left the castle immediately with Jasper to hunt. Bella supposed that she left to keep her thoughts safe from Edward. She didn't want him to hear anything about the vision she'd had. Despite Alice's assurances that nothing would go wrong, Bella was still nervous. As much as she wanted things to work out for Jane, she didn't want it to to cost anyone their life.

But she did as Alice had told her. She sent Edward a note through the couriers to meet her outside of town. They didn't need to have any human witnesses to what was going to occur. She arrived a few minutes early to find Edward already there, pacing back and forth. She watched him for a moment as he ran his hand through his copper hair.

He looked just as she remembered. Still gorgeous. But he didn't hold her heart any longer. That belonged to Alec. She zipped down the hill and came to a stop about ten feet away from him.

"Bella," he said quietly.

"Edward," she acknowledged.

They stared at each other, an awkward silence descending between them. She wasn't sure how she was going to do this. She had to be very careful not to think of Alice's vision. It could ruin everything if she did.

"I've missed you," he said finally.

"Have you?" she questioned.

"I have," he said earnestly. He took a step toward her and she forced herself not to retreat. She had to let him in for this to work.

"I thought about you every single moment of every day. Every day, I got closer to coming back to you. It was torture."

"I'm glad you had your memories to sooth you," she replied bitterly. "All I had was confusion."

"I told you why I left," he replied softly as he stepped even closer. "You were too good for this life. I wouldn't be the reason that you lost your soul."

"But it's okay now?" she questioned. She was at war with herself. He was only two feet away from her and all her instincts screamed at her was to use her shield and push him away.

"We're the same now," he responded simply as he came to a stop not a foot away from her.

"We're not the same," she muttered. "In case you've not realized, I'm a freak amongst our kind. An anomaly."

"You're special," he corrected. He reached up and ran the back of his fingers over her cheek. "And as beautiful to me now as you were then."

"Edward," she breathed as she grasped his hand and drew it away from her face. "You have to stop this. I know that you think that I'm the one for you, but I'm not. Alec is my mate. I know this. And you're hurting your true mate."

"Jane," he said acidly. "Yes, that damned Marcus has been all but assaulting me with his thoughts. But it's you that I'm drawn to."

"No, it's not," she corrected. " You were attracted to me while I was human because my blood called to you. I fascinate you now only because you can't hear me. It's a puzzle that you can't solve."

"You're wrong," he asserted as he stepped forward, eliminating the space between them.

Bella gulped as he began to lean in. She reached out with her shield and froze him in place. She might let him touch her but she wasn't going to allow him to kiss her. She concentrated very hard and peeled back the protection over her mind. His sharp intake of breath told her that he could hear her thoughts. She showed him her human memories of the time after he left. Her heartbreak after the death of her mother and then Charlie. The crushing loneliness that she felt. She showed him her first meeting with Alec. She showed him her thoughts as she regained her memories. She showed him her change and her realization that Alec was her mate. She showed him her comforting Jane as she cried over the unrequited love of her mate. She showed him everything up until the last few days.

"Do you see?" she questioned gently as she released him from her shield. She let it snap back into place, protecting her thoughts once more.

"Vell, vell, vell," a voice drawled arrogantly. "Vhat do ve have here?"

Edward pushed her behind him and faced the direction of the voice. Bella stepped around him and stood next to his shoulder. She was the better defense whether he liked it or not. It was Stefan and Vladmir along with about thirty other vampires.

Bella raised her chin. "Stefan. Vladimir," she greeted. "Always a pleasure to see you."

"Is it?" Stefan questioned. "Ve've come to give Marcus our thanks for all the company he's been sending our vay. Too bad that he underestimated the fact that it left him severely veakened to send out all his best defense to spy on us. You see, vhile they've been in Romania vatching us, ve've been here vatching you."

"Me?" she questioned, stalling for time. She watched warily as the group fanned out. She hoped that Alec got there soon. She couldn't take on the whole group with just Edward. She didn't know if her shield was large enough.

"Yes, you," Vladimir echoed. "You're the linchpin, are you not? Vith you, ve could be unstoppable. Ve could have our revenge."

"Well, you forgot one little detail," she retorted hotly. "As I explained in Romania, I have no interest in vampire politics or power struggles. How do you plan on making me want to join you?"

Bella shifted her stance as Vladimir leered at her. Her eyes darted around quickly at all the vampires poised to attack. How many could she obliterate before they got to her and overpowered her? Edward was stiff beside her. She was glad that he was here and she didn't have to face this on her own.

"You know that some of you will die if you attack," Edward stated. "You know what happened to Caius and Aro and their mates. The same will happen to you as well."

"It vas a fitting end for those tyrants," Vladimir agreed. "But she can't kill us all before ve get to you. Vhat then? It is better for all if she just comes quietly. I vouldn't vant to have to harm her mate to force her compliance."

Bella was confused by his threat. Her mate? Edward wasn't her mate. Vladimir must have mistaken their display from before as a lover's embrace. But it could work in their favor as his threat didn't hold as much weight as he thought it did.

"Luckily for her, she isn't alone," Alec stated as he materialized beside her.

She could have kissed him but she restrained herself. The odds were still heavily in the Romanians favor as it was thirty against six. But of those six, they were all gifted. But who knew what powers lay dormant on the other side. They could have gifted vampires as well.

"Alec," Stefan said in surprise. "So glad to see you. Ve definitely owe you one. It is most gratifying that ve vill get the chance to repay you for the blood you spilled."

Alec growled beside her. Bella wasn't sure but she thought that his words were meant as a vague threat toward her. She didn't have time to think much more because the Romanians suddenly broke rank and rushed toward them.

She incinerated first one and then two vampires. Everywhere she looked was chaos. Alec couldn't use his gift because it would affect everyone on their side other than her. He was fighting hand to hand just as everyone else was. She saw a flash of blond hair and her confidence surged when she realized it was Jasper. Alice had showed up with back up.

At the edge of the clearing, she could see Vladimir and Stefan waiting for the opportune moment. She wouldn't let them have it. She moved through the fighting, roasting vampires as she went. She wanted an unimpeded view of the Romanians. She would make them pay for threatening her mate, even if they threatened the wrong one.

She ignored Dimitri and the vampire that he was fighting. The man had already lost an arm. Dimitri would finish him. Alice and Jasper were tag teaming a big, hulk of a man. They almost looked like they were dancing together, their movements were so fluid and in-sync with one another.

She shrieked as someone grabbed her from behind. She twisted in the man's grasp and placed her hands on his face. She watched as his flesh melted from his bones. As she struggled with the burning vampire, she looked on horrified as Stefan crept up stealthily behind Jane. She was concentrating on the vampire that she had writhing at her feet and didn't see the threat behind her.

Bella screamed, trying to warn the oblivious girl. "Jane!" She burnt the vampire's hands to ashes as she tried to get to her friend. He fell away from her and another man grabbed her. She burnt him as well but she was tiring. "Jane!"

Stefan lunged toward Jane, an ugly snarl curled upon his thin lips. Everything seemed to slow down as he closed in on knew that she would never make it in time to save her friend. Just then, Edward came between them and grabbed Stefan by the throat before slamming him into the ground.

Bella didn't see what happened next. She finished the vampire holding her down before Alec helped her back to her feet. She looked around warily. There was carnage everywhere she looked.

Her eyes found Alice and Jasper as they gathered body parts to burn. She knew Jane and Edward were all right. There were two missing.

"Where's Felix and Demetri?" she whispered, dreading his answer.

"Tracking Vladimir," he answered as he tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. "He fled when Edward killed Stefan."

Bella turned her head and looked across the clearing at Jane and Edward. She watched as Edward reached down and wiped a dirt smudge from Jane's cheek. She watched as Jane leaned into his hand. Bella could have jumped for joy when he leaned down and kissed her.

"See," she pointed out to Alec as Edward and Jane embraced. "I told you that it wasn't hopeless. Miraculously, all it took was a little push and a lot of luck."

"You had something to do with this," he accused.

"I can neither confirm nor deny those charges," she bantered. "But I know to never bet against Alice."

She laughed as Alec swooped in and kissed her. Good or bad, things always happened for a reason. Of that, she was sure.