Renesmee only caught sight of the edge of the man's robes before he blasted her with something, and she felt herself falling. She should have never gone out hunting alone, even if an elk was her version of a pint of Ben & Jerry's. She especially shouldn't have been out alone while angry and emotional. She was usually so much smarter than that. "Sorry." She murmured as she fell into unconsciousness, even though her parents were too far away to hear it.
She woke with a grumble to a bright light being shone in her eyes, and a very familiar voice. "Hey, are you all right? Miss? Can you hear me?"
"Grandpa?" Nessie said, blinking a few times, a hand rising to her head, which was aching and, judging by the wetness and the smell, bloody. Whether it was hers or the elk she had been eating before she had been startled by the member of the Volturi, she didn't know.
Charlie Swan laughed at that. "I don't think so, I'm not that old yet." he moved the light out of her eyes. "I'm Charlie Swan, Chief of Police here in Forks. Do you know what happened to you?"
Nessie blinked again, confused. That was definitely her grandfather, but something was off. He smelled different, and he looked different, he looked...younger. "Someone was chasing me...I don't remember anything after that." She shook her aching head. "What's the date?"
"February tenth, two-thousand-five." Charlie replied, steadying the poor girl as she stood up. "We should call your parents and take you to the hospital to get you checked out."
Nessie stopped in shock when her grandfather told her the date. 2005? How could it be 2005? She wasn't even born in 2005."Uh...um...no parents." She said finally, losing her usually impeccable balance a little. Her parents weren't together, her mother was still human. "Carlisle." She said after a minute. "I need to find Carlisle." Her other grandfather would be patient enough to hear her story, and have enough experience with listening to the future from Aunt Alice that maybe, just maybe, he would believe her.
"Dr. Cullen?" Charlie said in surprise. "He's probably at the hospital, so that makes it easier. What's your name?"
"Nessie." She answered quickly, and then rethought her stance. "Vanessa Wolfe." She murmured, using her oldest pseudonym as Charlie shuttled her into his police cruiser.
Renesmee did not find the hospital pleasant. While her one grandfather had gone off to find her other grandfather, she had been escorted to an exam room by a nurse. It would have been fine if the nurse had just left her there to wait, but the nurse wanted to take her blood pressure, pulse, temperature and clean the wound on her head.
"I just need to see Carlisle." Nessie said, avoiding the woman as much as possible. "I'll be fine." She knew her heartbeat was strange, her blood pressure stranger, and her body temperature far above normal.
"Chief Swan is getting him, I only want to get some information for him, Miss Wolfe." The nurse said kindly as the girl all but sprung away from her.
"Carlisle can do it." Nessie said stubbornly, trying to keep more space between them."I want Carlisle." She sounded a bit more like her chronological age than she would have liked, but her paranoia was justified.
"I'm not going to hurt you." The nurse said softly. "No one will hurt you here."
Nessie was saved from another round of jumping around the room demanding her grandfather, by him opening the door and entering the room. Without really thinking it through, Nessie quickly sprung and hid behind him, using him as a shield between herself and the nurse.
"What's going on, Sarah?" Carlisle asked, his voice calm and was aware that the girl behind him wasn't normal. She didn't smell human, and he could hear her strange heartbeat. It put him on guard, but at the same time, his compassion made him realize just how frightened she was.
"She won't let me touch her, sir." Sarah replied, looking a little put out. "She just kept asking for you."
"I'm sure I can handle it, Sarah, thank you." Carlisle replied, taking the blood pressure cuff from the rather put-out nurse as she left.
Threat gone, Nessie moved away from Carlisle, jumping up on the exam bed. "Hi."
"Hello." Carlisle said, a little amused, and approached her, taking her blood pressure. "Who are you?"
"It's complicated." Nessie said with a sigh.
Carlisle raised an eyebrow at the blood-pressure cuff, and took a note on his pad. He wasn't charting this. "What are you?"
Nessie made a face, looking around. "A hybrid. Half..." She gestured to him. "And half..." She gestured toward the door.
Carlisle was shocked enough to drop his stethoscope back around his neck. "I've heard legends, but...I never thought it was possible."
"Yeah well, here I am." Nessie said, biting her lip. "But...I'm not supposed to be here. I was having some elk, and I caught sight of a Volturi guard...I started running...and I woke up in 2005." She paused for a moment. "I'm not even born yet!"
"You think you've traveled back in time?" Carlisle asked, doubt in his voice.
"Pretty much." Nessie admitted. "I wonder if maybe that was the guard's power...Alice can see the future, maybe he can...move someone in it? Manipulate it somehow?" She sighed. "Or maybe I watch too many cheesy sci-fi movies with Emmett."
"You know my family." Carlisle said, listening but not sure whether he believed it.
Renesmee was never one for talking, and her words weren't getting her anywhere. She reached out and touched his cheek, trying to prove it.
Nessie standing against a growth chart, as Carlisle took careful notes. "You're still growing quickly, sweetheart, but not as fast as you used too. Looks like Nahuel was right. I think Edward's home, why not go see what he brought you?"
Nessie curled up on a couch beside Emmett, eating popcorn and watching a cheesy late-night movie, half-asleep.
Nessie dancing with Alice in the forest.
Nessie playing the piano with Edward.
Nessie falling asleep as Esme stroked her hair while waiting for the hunters to come back home.
Nessie, terrified, running and jumping to avoid the member of the Volturi, the way he gestured at her, the guilt for acting out, and then being woken up by Charlie Swan.
Carlisle stared at the girl as she dropped her hand from his cheek. He went with the least astounding revelation."You can project your thoughts."
"Only through touch." Nessie admitted. "I like to talk that way. Less chance to be misunderstood." She looked at him, a little lost. "Help me, Carlisle, please."
Carlisle felt something in her expression, the lost little girl in her eyes, tug at his heartstrings. "All right, I'll do what I can, though I don't know how I can help, if nothing else, we can give you somewhere to sleep."
Nessie goes to a place that should be home, but isn't.
Carlisle had assured Charlie that he would do what he could to take care of 'Vanessa' and soon enough Renesmee was sitting in her grandfather's car as he took the slow route to the home where had been – would be? – born.
"What do you eat?" Carlisle asked, glancing over at her as he took a turn. They both knew that he was trying to learn everything he could about her and her kind. Nessie could hardly blame him. It wasn't everyday something you didn't think possible showed up at your workplace claiming to be from the future and cowers behind a vampire when approached by a mortal nurse.
"Blood, mostly." Nessie admitted easily. "I can survive on human food, but…ugh." She shuddered at the idea. "Mostly I just have a few French fries or choke down a milkshake or soda if mortals start noticing." She grinned. "All my classmates are just convinced I'm anorexic."
Carlisle's voice shifted, becoming firm. "We have a treaty with the local tribe – we do not bite or feed from humans and do not hunt within their lands." He glanced at her, to make sure she understood, before looking back at the road.
"No worries." Nessie replied with a laugh. "I've only ever bitten one person, and he never minds." Even just the veiled reference to Jacob made the ache of missing him flare up, and it was only through strength of will that she kept herself from sighing. She wasn't bringing up the old argument about donated blood to a Carlisle without reason to tolerate her idea of a vegetarian compromise.
Carlisle's face creased with worry. "Your…trip…isn't going to set a newborn on the loose where…when you're from, is it?"
"Newborn?" Nessie repeated in confusion, and then put it together. He thought that because she said she had bitten someone, that she had made a vampire. She shook her head. "Oh! I can't turn anyone. Female hybrids aren't venomous, only males."
Carlisle shook his head. "I've never even heard of hybrids beyond shadowy legends, and you speak as if you've done a census."
Renesmee laughed, though there was an edge to it. She pondered what to say, still not fond of verbal communication, and then shook her head, recalling unpleasant, tense memories. "The reason you were measuring me, in the memories I showed you, was because from conception, I grew at an astonishing rate. After birth, it continued. There was a great fear that I would live five or six years and die of…" She shrugged, unsure of how to put it. "Well, I suppose, old age. There were some…issues with the Volturi…who consider me both useful and an abomination, depending on who you ask, and Alice found proof that I wasn't a threat in South America, a male hybrid named Nahuel, who is over a hundred and fifty." She shrugged. "He has several half-sisters, and like me, none of them are venomous."
Carlisle nodded, as he had no doubt that the Volturi would find a hybrid of interest, and that Alice would be able to find something like that if she set her mind to it. "And how old are you?"
Nessie made a face. That was a complicated question that engendered debates all the time. Most of them were ridiculous attempts on the side of her parents to keep her a child as long as possible, like 'You're only seven; you can't go to an R-rated movie.' "Well, if you ask me, I'm seventeen, because I'm just as developed, if not more so, than every seventeen year old you'll ever meet in every way that matters …" She sighed. "Chronologically, however, I'm seven years old and done physically changing."
Carlisle shook his head as he pulled in. "I think we should try to keep the time-traveling part a secret as long as possible." He admitted, although it pained him to suggest keeping a secret from his family. "We don't know what effect you being here will have on the future or what kind of effect foreknowledge might have on people. Alice's visions of the future alter so easily with the kinds of decisions made that we don't want you to talk yourself out of existence."
"Got it." Nessie said, considering things. It wouldn't be so hard, except for keeping her father out of her thoughts. She would just have to be very careful while in range of her father's gift. "Don't think about the future around Edward and keep my mouth shut otherwise." The nerves cropped up again as Carlisle pulled into the garage and opened the door. "Everyone?" He called, easily enough, as if company was common in the Cullen household. "I brought a guest!"
There was a moment of silence before the family appeared, one by one, first Esme, then Emmett followed shortly by Rosalie, then a shocked Alice and Jasper, and finally, a morose looking Edward.
"What a surprise, dear, I wish you'd called." Esme said, but she was smiling.
Carlisle chuckled. "It was for me too, Esme. This is Vanessa, the police chief found her unconscious by the road; she was attacked on her way to find us."
"Hello." Nessie said shyly, blushing bright red.
"What is it?" Rosalie said, staring at her, and then looking to her sister, who tended to have all the answers. "Alice?"
"I…" Alice looked disturbed. "I can't see her. It's like she's not even there." She was unused to holes in her sight. She put a hand to her temple and winced.
Nessie shifted from one foot to the other. "I'm a hybrid." She explained. "I'm half-human and half-vampire. My mother carried me while she was still human, and my father changed her after I was…delivered."
"Is that even possible?" Emmett asked, moving closer to Rosalie, whose expression had gone dark.
"There are legends…" Alice said slowly. "In South America, but…"
"I only know of five of us, and all of them but me were fathered by a vampire who imagines himself a scientist." Nessie admitted, thinking of Nahuel and his sisters, and the way their father had manipulated them. She winced slightly. "There are vampires who think me an abomination…" She recalled running for her life despite herself, and saw Edward react with an almost sympathetic wince.
Carlisle put an arm around Nessie's shoulders. "She was separated from her parents, so we're just giving her a place to stay until she can find them again."
"Welcome, Vanessa." Esme said with a beautiful smile. "I'm Esme, and this is Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, Alice, and Edward."
"It's very nice to meet you." Nessie replied, yawning despite herself, and trying to hide it behind a hand. She hadn't slept properly in days before she had been chased across the forest and fallen back in time. "I can't thank you enough for having me."
Rosalie, why don't you show Vanessa to one of the guest rooms?" Esme suggested, as much as she ever suggested anything. Esme asked and her children usually did.
Rosalie, stubborn until the end, made a face, but obeyed. "Come on then." She said, the exact opposite of welcoming.
It threw Nessie for a loop for a second; she was accustomed to Rosalie as she knew her, not Rosalie as strangers (and Jake) experienced her. She went along with little complaint to one of the guest rooms, thanking Rosalie again before the blonde returned to the undoubtedly continuing family meeting. Nessie just curled up on the brand-new bed and fell asleep.
The next morning, Nessie was woken from a very comforting dream of warm forest smells and the comfort of copper-colored fur against her face by Alice, bearing clothes and the announcement that Carlisle was enrolling her in the local high school, and that he had worked the whole thing out with Charlie and the principal. Nessie was never fond of school but she supposed it was better than just sitting around worrying all day.
As they approached Forks High however, a modicum of excitement passed over her, mixed with a sick feeling of nerves. She felt an aura of calm wash over her, and glanced up at Jasper with a grateful smile, ignoring his surprise that she had pinpointed where the feeling came from. So, she took a deep breath and stepped out of the car with everyone else, scanning the crowd in the parking lot. They were all staring at her, and she blushed despite herself, falling behind Emmett as much as possible, using him as a shield as much as she could. It was time for her first day in a new all-you-can't-eat buffet.
Nessie has her first day at school and faces a hard truth.
It was not Nessie's first time as a new student. She had gone to so many primary schools before she had stopped growing that she was a pro at being the new girl even though she was - had been? - going through her first cycle of high school. This time was distinctly different, however. Her usual support system, however unusual, was compromised by when she was, and completely missing a few key pieces. It also didn't help that her story of being a victim had been spread and morphed through the rumor mill. By lunch she had heard that she was everything from an amnesiac to a future Cullen adopted for Edward. That last one had caused a good amount of disgust and a rather humorous 'Ew' face, if Jasper could be believed.
She had been careful to bounce between family members for company and support, even if Rosalie kept leveling glares in her general direction every time she hid behind Emmett. Luckily for her, Emmett was amused - he was used to being the one without a gift and being chosen as a shield seemed to help his ego. As she was leaving an English class, however, she was cornered by a family member who was supposed to be a stranger to her.
"Hi...um...I'm Bella Swan." The mortal would be her mother said, looking somewhat abashed. "My dad's the police chief, Charlie...he wanted me to check in with you and see how you were doing." She shifted her weight from one side to the other. "So how are you doing?"
Nessie smiled slightly, unsure how to handle Bella as a mortal. There was a flash of irrational fear that she would somehow hurt her, holdover guilt from her birth as well as knowing without a doubt that Edward was eavesdropping in the hallway on more than just what she was going to say. "I'm...okay. Dealing as well as I can. Carlisle's trying to help me find my way home. I think the gossip's the hardest thing."
Bella nodded a little, remembering what it was like to be the new girl only a few brief months ago. "You mean you're not a gun moll for an organized crime ring?" She asked as she started to the door toward the cafeteria.
Nessie grinned, lost for a brief flash in a memory of blueberry muffins and warmth. "Hey, I might be an Alpha bitch, but I don't do crime." Even as she said it, though, she had a brief memory that might be considered grand theft motorcycle depending on who you asked and amended her statement. "Much."
Bella laughed, and it made Nessie's smile wider, and remember her mother laughing. They headed toward the cafeteria together, and for a moment, she was almost happy where she was; until she caught sight of Edward and the dark look he was casting in her general direction. The friendly camaraderie was broken as Edward came up and grabbed Nessie by the arm, pulling her in a way that no one would call gently.
"If you could excuse us Bella, Vanessa and I need to have a quick chat." Edward said, in a voice that was nowhere as kind or polite as his words.
Bella looked unsure, but Nessie forced a smile and waved Bella off before Edward propelled her back into the classroom. "Ow." She complained, pulling her arm out of his grip, bruises forming on her skin.
Edward ignored her pain, eyes dark on the strange half-breed creature. "Bella is not to be harmed, or I will kill you myself."
If there was one thing Nessie knew, it was how protective Edward was of his family. "I'm not going to try to hurt your mate." She said, thinking hard about the anger on his face.
Edward let out a growl that was more dangerous than most. "She's not my...I saw what you were thinking, how you think she'd look if she was turned. You will not..."
Nessie cloaked herself in anger. It was hard to guard her thoughts all the time, and she should have known a slip like that would happen sooner rather than later. "For your information, Mr. Grabby, I can't turn anyone, even if I wanted to. I'm not venomous." Her anger was flagging, too mixed with frustration and something else, and her last words came out pathetic compared to the beginning. "So...you know...go away."
A sudden need to get out herself, to get away, overtook her, and she shouldered her bag. I'm...going hunting." She said finally. It wasn't the hunt she needed so much as the run. She was hungry, but it was her head that needed cleared, not the animal population. She left the school as quietly as she could, despite her desire to stomp off like a seven-year-old in a tantrum. If she knew her father, and she thought she did, he would watch Bella tonight, so while it might be a little early...but surely that wouldn't cause any changes to the future? Not big ones anyway.
Nessie headed into the woods, into the mountains. She ran and jumped and swung until even her supernatural muscles ached. It wasn't like before, when she was being chased. This time the only thing chasing her was in her mind, and she couldn't escape it. She was near the highest border of the treaty lands when she smelled it.
Vampires, with the smell of human blood still lingering, and they were too close to the pack's lands for her comfort. A growl rose up in her throat despite herself. She hadn't crossed the invisible barrier of the reservation in this time out of respect. In her own time, no one would have thought it strange and it would have broken no treaty; not even Sam's pack would question her right as an imprintee. For other vampires to be this close, vampires who hunted people, it rankled. She was about to go after them, make them understand that this was her territory, Cullen territory and Pack territory and not theirs, when a realization stopped her in shock. She knew the stories. She had grown up on them.
She could scare them off, maybe even kill them, but what would happen if she did? She stood there, not knowing how long, stone-still, running through everything that might happen, and worse everything that might not. A ripple effect that she didn't know if she could control. The scents faded and still, she didn't move. Day turned into night, and the thoughts were still buzzing around her brain like bees. She felt Carlisle come up to her, sometime long after the sun had set, he put a cautious hand on her shoulder, and something inside her snapped.
She turned towards him, her immortal grandfather, buried her head in his chest, and started sobbing. She could change it. She could make it better for everyone. It would cost her greatly, but it would be better for everyone else. She could do this. She couldn't be so selfish. Her happiness was not more important than the human lives of all the newborns Victoria would make. Her life was not more important than Irina's life.
"What's wrong, Vanessa?" Carliisle asked, voice soft. Jasper was behind him, but not one else. He had anticipated her being upset, apparently, and she was glad for it.
Nessie pulled back and looked at both of them, wiping her eyes. "Hey, Jazz, I'm from the future." She said, the playful tone not coming out right, but as his power helped ebb away her grief, her resolution hardened. She cleared her throat and looked at both of them. "You have to listen to me." She said carefully, following the threads of her thoughts.
"Okay." Carlisle said, unsure what was happening.
Renesmee took a deep breath. Without Victoria going on her vengeance spree, there wouldn't be enough vampires to force Jacob to phase, meaning he wouldn't block Alice's vision, but making Edward come back would be impossible then. "Don't let Edward run away. Make him stay here." She pushed on Carlisle the importance of this. "He has to stay. When I do this, things will change, and what brings him back probably won't happen. You can't let him leave."
"When you do what?" Carlisle asked. "What are you going to do? What do you mean, when you change things?"
Renesmee wiped her eyes. "I'm going to save a lot of lives." She said with a harsh swallow. "I'm going to make things better."
"You shouldn't try and..." Carlisle said, trying to stop her.
"Alice always says the future is subjective to change depending on the actions we take." Nessie cut him off. "I'm just taking action. Now listen."
Carlisle nodded slowly, and Nessie knew that was all the assent she was going to get.
"When Bella and Edward get married, you have two options..." Jasper reacted to that, and Carlisle raised an eyebrow at her. "Yes, I know." Nessie replied, with a little laugh. "Either he turns her right away and you leave Forks for breaking the treaty, or..." She cleared her throat. "Or when they come back from the honeymoon, you keep Rosalie away from Bella long enough to..." She paused, in for a penny, in for a pound. "Long enough for you to abort me."
Carlisle, who had been listening, thinking nothing else could shock him, stared at her like she had grown another head. Jasper had an odd sort of spasm and made a choking noise.
Nessie ignored their distress. "I don't know how you'll do it, the placenta is as dense as vampire tissue and I don't want to know. Bella will fight you on it, but you have to. When I do this, the only reason the pack didn't attack you to destroy me will be gone."
"Vanessa..." Carlisle said, his face softening.
She looked between them. How could she keep her name a secret when she was telling them everything else? "Renesmee." She corrected. "Renesmee Carlie. Like Renee and Esme and Carlisle and Charlie." She grinned. "But everyone calls me Nessie."
That was almost all of her instructions, and her expression turned to a thin smile. "Make sure you introduce Garrett and Kate." She sighed a little. "Kate deserves a chance to keep all her sisters and find her mate, and Garrett is funny when he finds vegetarianism such a challenge." Maybe Laurent would join the Denalis and he and Irina could find happiness when Victoria had no reason to go on the warpath and come between them.
"I can't...you're asking us..." Carlisle said, struggling with the words.
Nessie beckoned Jasper forward, and took one of their hands in hers. Her power had enabled it so she no longer had to touch their cheeks, but she still required touch, in most cases anyway.
Old news stories, future news stories for them, but as her memory, it has a flavor of age to it, knowledge that this is before her time, but one after another about the murders, missing people, the chaos in the city, and her knowledge that it's an army of newborns that caused it...
The Volturi, assembled in perfect lines, everyone from Aro to the wives. Caius, slapping Irina, interrogating her. The guilt that a young Nessie felt, knowing this was all her fault, they were here because of her...and then Irina's death and the way Tanya and Kate cried out.
Nessie dropped their hands. "I'm asking you to help me save them. I'm asking you to help me make things go the way they should go."
Carlisle Cullen was not a man who enjoyed secrecy. He did what he had to to keep himself, his family, and others alive, but secrecy did not come easily to him. He had never minded the fact that his son was a mind-reader, or his daughter a seer, because he had no secrets with his family.
This girl was nothing but secrets. When she had thrown herself at him, he didn't even think she realized that she had projected most of what had been bothering her straight into his mind. As she explained, as she revealed to him exactly who she was, he couldn't help but slot this new information into her mystery and slot her new conjectures of changing the future next to her images of what had happened in her past. She truly wanted to make the future better, even without her.
Could he do it? Could he follow her instructions? If Edward did marry the girl whom he was so drawn to, could he make his son turn her before they consummated their relationship? And if he didn't, could he truly abort a fetus who was apparently, conscious, aware, and going to turn into someone that he already felt a strange affection for? Could he live with himself if he did? Could he live with himself if he didn't and it led to the death of Irina, a person he considered family - or the carnage of the army of newborns she had shown him? He didn't know.
Surprisingly, Vanessa, Renesmee, seemed calmer once she had extracted agreement from them both, and was heading back to the house, docilely enough, one hand wrapped around Jasper's, swinging it as they moved back through the woods. The move was child-like, and he wondered if she did it because she had never had a chance to be a child. There was an adult understanding in her mind, even in the memories she had shown him of Irina's death. She had known the whys and the consequences in a way most adults didn't, even when she looked like a child. It made his thoughts more worrying, but he had to stop thinking about it.
The next day was a Saturday, and Nessie planned to take advantage of it as much as she could. She wasn't about to spend the entire day shielding her thoughts from her father. It took too much out of her and if she slipped, the risk was too great. So, she dressed quickly in clothes that Alice and Rosalie had given her and left the house. As she was walking down the long driveway, a police car met her, coming up the drive. It stopped, and she found herself looking right at her human grandfather. "Oh, hey Chief Swan." She said, as pleasantly as she could.
"Hello, Miss Wolfe. Where are you off to today?" Charlie asked, stopping. He had come to see her, and he was a little glad he hadn't had to go all the way up to the Cullen house. There was something imposing about the long driveway and the large house. "I wanted to see how you were doing. Bella said you left school early yesterday."
Nessie had the good grace to blush. "I don't think I was as ready to be around so many people so soon." Suddenly struck by an idea, she tucked a bronze-coloured curl behind her ear. "I was going to see if I could get some fishing gear and find someplace to get out and relax. Do you know anywhere?" Fishing wasn't the hobby of choice for girls her age, either of them, but fishing trips with Charlie had become a relaxing time to bond, even after they had left Forks. It would be a good way to spend a day far away from Edward and his mind-reading. It also meant, whether he knew it or not, she could get some bonding time with her human grandfather.
Charlie was apparently up enough on the habits of teenage girls that he found this odd as well. "You fish?" He repeated, curious. "I haven't been able to get Bella to go fishing with me since she was seven."
Nessie couldn't exactly explain that she was seven, so she shrugged instead. "My grandfather got me started, actually. It's peaceful. Helps me get my head on straight sometimes." It was only partly a lie. She did it for fun, and it usually didn't help center her head, but she thought it sounded better and less desperate than "Come on, let's go fishing, Grandpa!" Besides, even if she wanted to, she couldn't exactly say that anyway. "So, any good watering holes and places where I can buy some gear?"
Charlie Swan, for his part, considered this. If she did relax, it might help him get more out of her situation than he had in the first day, and from what Bella had told him, she had disappeared from school in a rush. Maybe he could help the poor girl, she had sworn she was eighteen, old enough to be on her own, but that didn't mean he liked it. It did make him feel slightly better that the Cullens had taken her in, as they had with their motley adopted family, but he felt a certain protectiveness for the girl he had found by the side of the road. "You can borrow some of my stuff." he said generously, without a hint of his ulterior motives. "I'll give you a tour of the best fishing spots."
That was how Renesmee Carlie Cullen found herself sitting on the Cullen side of the river with her maternal grandfather, fishing on the floating dock. It was comfortable, and she felt the closest to truly happy that she had been since she arrived, watching her line in the comfort of family. Fish was one of the few bits of human food she would bother to eat regularly, almost purely due to these trips, and they had some good trout and bass today. She knew it wouldn't last though, even if the morning had gone by without incident.
Charlie broke the silence. "So where's your fishing grandfather? why didn't you look for him?"
Nessie ignored the irony of that question. Instead, she flirted with the truth. "He doesn't remember me." She said sadly. "He thinks my mother is my age." Well, one of her ages, anyway.
Charlie felt a stab of sympathy. "Alzheimer's huh?" he asked, gruffly. "It's a horrible disease."
"Yeah, it is." Nessie agreed. "My dad's known Carlisle for a long time, so I thought even if he didn't know me, he might help me find them." She shrugged slightly. "It was the best idea I had at the time." They fell back into companionable silence for awhile, until despite herself, Nessie's head came up.
"What?" Charlie asked, looking at the suddenly alert girl, who was staring across the river.
"Nothing." Nessie fibbed, reminding herself that her senses were too good for Charlie to have picked anything up. At the same time, though, she knew she should get going. She should make her excuses, give Charlie the fish and start running. Strangely, though, she couldn't make her legs obey her. It was like she had been nailed down to the dock, and if she could do nothing else, she dropped her head. It was official, she had inherited her emotional masochism from her father. The fact that she came by it honestly didn't help. She took a few deep breaths and focused on the shimmering scales of the fish as the scents and sounds got closer.
Don't look up, Don't look up, Don't look. Nessie instructed herself firmly as the sounds and scents became closer. She felt Charlie shift beside her as he finally heard things too.
"Hey, Charlie!" The voice called across the river as the matching dock creaked beneath the weight of the wheelchair. "Didn't know you were coming out today. Who's your friend?" Billy Black asked.
"What, did you finally give up on trying to get Bella to come with you and adopted a stray?" He asked, and Nessie felt a slight dart of pain, and then realized she had put her nails through her skin. She was not going to look at Jacob Black. She was going to stare at the water. Nice water. Calm water. Good fishies.
Charlie laughed, the traitor. "This is Vanessa, she got attacked a few days ago. I found her by the side of the road." He put a hand on her shoulder, but she didn't look up. "She's staying with the Cullens until she can figure something else out and find her parents."
"Oh, hey, that sucks, especially being stuck at the Cullens." Jacob said, some of the teasing leaching out of his voice. It had gone to the sympathetic but not coddling tone that only he used, and despite herself Nessie looked up. When she did, he grinned. "Anybody you need me to beat up?" A moment later he added. "I'm Jacob, by the way."
Nessie felt rather like she had gotten punched in the stomach, and shook her head quickly. It was as much an answer to the question as it was an attempt to ignore the pain. She had known there wouldn't be any recognition. This wasn't her Jacob. She had also known that there wouldn't be an earth-shaking, life-altering connection. He hadn't phased and couldn't yet imprint, and she was already imprinted. He probably couldn't imprint on her twice, even if he had phased. Still, to catch his eyes for even a second and see the complete lack of recognition hurt. "Call me Nessie." She called across, instead. 'Vanessa' was too much of a lie if he wasn't in on the joke. "All my friends do." Jacob grinned at her, but the small flash of joy she got out of making him grin like that, even when he barely knew her, was overshadowed by the hard, judging eyes of Billy. She could guess what he was thinking, and it made her stomach tangle. What if he thought the treaty had been broken?
"I should get going anyway." Nessie announced, pulling the borrowed line out of the water and brushing off her jeans, not bothering to roll the pant legs down, even if Rosalie would kill her. She gave Jacob and Billy her best smile. "After running off yesterday, Carlisle's keeping much closer tabs on me." She shrugged a little. "Can't go breaking any rules, when I'm a guest." Maybe that would assure Billy she had every plan of sticking to the treaty, even if it rankled.
Charlie looked up at her, surprised. "Well, all right, but at least come over for dinner. You helped catch all these fish, and Bella and I can't eat them all." He started to get up. "I'll give you a ride back."
"Wouldn't miss a fish dinner for the world." Nessie replied with a grin. "Don't worry about giving me a ride back though. I'll walk."
"No way, it's way too far." Charlie disagreed, beginning to pack up his things.
"Your friend just got here." Nessie argued easily. "There's no bad guy behind me, I'll be fine."
"I can take her." Jacob offered, despite the stern look his father gave him. "I have to run into town anyway." He nodded sideways to the woods surrounding them. "I'll meet you at the road?"
Nessie shifted her weight. "Really, I can walk." She started, but Jacob cut her off. He didn't even know her, and he still managed to do that. Irritating. He was always irritating, and yet, she loved him anyway.
Renesmee was glad that if Jacob was taking her home, at least it was in Billy's truck. It was different enough to be used as a tangible reminder that things were not normal, and that she had to keep herself separate. There was a strange sort of awkwardness to it, as she slid into the pickup, with a smile at Jacob. This Jacob looked so different from what she was accustomed to. He didn't have the bulk of a shapeshifter, and his hair was long. She wondered peevishly if he would let her braid it, but it was a silly question. Of course he wouldn't. This wasn't her Jacob, and when she fixed things, well…
"Do I have something on my face?" Jacob asked with a chuckle, breaking the silence as he drove towards the Cullen place.
The question startled Nessie, who shook her head. "What? No! Of course not!" She tilted her head at him. "Why?"
Jacob chuckled, looking sideways at her. "You're staring."
Nessie had the good grace to blush, feeling her already hot skin heat further. "Sorry." She mumbled. "I just…" She shrugged slightly. It was strange, not being able to just say anything to Jacob, or show anything, as the case might be. "I was thinking I like your hair."
Jacob glanced at the girl, trying to figure out if she was telling the truth or not. "You're not like normal girls, are you?"
Nessie resisted the urge to shrug again. "My family moves around a lot. I never much saw the point in being like the normal girls."
"Like the Cullens." Jacob said, nodding. "They just moved to town a few years ago."
"Like the Cullens." Nessie agreed. She looked sideways at him. "You sure you don't mind driving me there? What about the treaty thing?" She had to tread carefully, and felt a twinge of a pain for her fib. "Carlisle said as long as I was staying with them, I had to make sure I stayed off of the reservation."
Jacob was a little surprised that she knew it, or even that the Cullens knew the old legend, he hadn't been sure that they had been related to the family of the story, even though his father was. Still, he responded with a grin. "The treaty only restricts where they go, not where we go, it's our land, we just let them use it."
Renesmee laughed at that. It was good to hear the old humour and confidence in Jacob's voice. She knew she shouldn't, but she was basking in the familiar feeling of his presence. Being away from him was hard for her, even with only the one-sided imprint, it would probably ache even more eventually, but for now, it was enough. "I really should get my own wheels." Nessie said with a sigh. "Know anywhere I could find an old motorcycle to fix up?" She flexed her fingers a little on her jeans. "It be nice to get my hands dirty."
Jacob gave her that look again, like when he said she wasn't like normal girls. "You like mechanics?"
Renesmee grinned. "I always helped my aunt fix up the family cars, and...my best friend...works at a garage. I learn quick, and it's helpful when I'm frustrated. You can take everything out on dings and rusted bolts." She winked at him, not really thinking about it, but rewarded with another grin as they approached the driveway. Nessie realized that she must have been quietly staring for awhile before he said anything, and felt embarrassed.
"I know a few places." Jake said, thoughtfully. "I'll see what I can find, but the Cullens have several cars, don't they?"
"Yeah," Nessie said honestly. It was more than 'several,' a few times more, but it worked nonetheless. "All pretty and polished, which...I'm really not." Alice and Rosalie liked to dress her up, and she liked looking pretty now and then, but she was more comfortable in jeans than cocktail dresses. She always felt out of place getting out of the Ferrari in a t-shirt and shorts.
"Nothing wrong with that." Jacob said, as they pulled up the long driveway to the house. He stopped the truck, and Nessie was sad the trip was over. She avoided sighing through sheer force of will, and smiled instead. "Thanks for the ride, Jake."
"No problem." Jacob replied, with a grin. "I'll see you around."
Without even thinking about it, Renesmee, turned her head, kissed his cheek and left the truck. She realized what she had done, a few seconds later, but the way Jake had waved at her as she headed up to the house seemed to suggest he wasn't mad.
The Cullen house was tenser than usual, with the mystery of who she was, and Edward purposefully avoiding Bella and moping. Renesmee felt that the best way to handle this was to ignore it. Instead, she hummed happily to herself, refusing to think of any of the drama, focusing instead on everything that had happened during her day. Who knew how long she would be here, and it was an easy way to prevent her dad from picking up anything objectionable.
So, she replayed fishing as she took a shower, listening to her iPod, and then went into the spotless kitchen, where she knew no one would really go, and barefoot and wearing borrowed clothes, she danced. She didn't bother with music, she didn't need it. She let herself fall into memories of music, clearing her mind. She was so focused that she was startled when the music actually began to play, Edward, at his piano, she could tell. Almost amused, she moved out of the kitchen, into the living room, and then resumed her dancing. He was playing the piece she had been thinking, and she let herself fall into the role, careful not to knock into furniture or anyone as she danced.
As the music continued and she as Giselle danced what was supposed to be a pas de deux, altering it to make it a solo, she felt a bittersweet stab of something, because no matter how good she was, she couldn't dance, not professionally, not where anyone could see her. Fame was not permitted when you were immortal. What was it that made people want what they could not have? She slowed to a stop as Edward stopped playing, brushing a curl out of her face. "That was fun."
Edward gave her a strange look, but nodded. "You're good."
"He's right." Esme said, looking up from her sketchbook with a smile. "That was lovely."
Nessie smiled, used to the familiar praise. "I don't even have pointe shoes." She said, waving it off. "I'm all right. It's not like I can do anything with it, so why bother." As much as she loved dancing, she hated when her family praised it. She always knew she couldn't be a ballerina. Encouragement felt false. Rosalie was the only one who understood that.
She stretched slightly and fell into a chair with a smile, tucking her feet beneath her. Carlisle was giving her a searching look, and confused, she raised an eyebrow at him.
"Esme told me one of the Quileute boys brought you home." Carlisle said, voice even.
Renesmee was a little amused, and reached for a book sitting nearby, opening it nonchalantly. "Yeah, his name is Jake."
"You didn't go on the reservation did you?" Esme asked, concerned. "The treaty is very tenuous…"
"Nope. I went fishing with Charlie, on this side of the river, and his friend came up on the other side, and when I said I was heading back, Jake insisted on giving me a ride, while his dad fished with Charlie." Politics. she always hated the politics. Why did people always have to make things so complicated? Maybe it was age. Live long enough and make everything more complicated. "All rules were followed."
"Did you have a good time fishing with Charlie?" Carlisle asked. "I knew he said he was going to check on you, see if you could tell him anything more."
"He tried, I kept it simple." Nessie assured her grandfather, and then checked her watch. "I should get going. I promised Charlie I'd join him and Bella for dinner."
The dark look Edward gave her let Renesmee know that whatever progress that may or may not have been made, he still didn't trust her around Bella Swan. She heaved a sigh. This was going to be a long visit.
Fish fry and a fight.
Hoping her grandfather wouldn't ask to see her license, Renesmee headed to Charlie's house on the back of an old motorcycle that Jasper was about to retire because of his new one. It was, of course, still in top shape. Esme had worried, suggesting she take one of the "safer" cars, but Nessie had assured her grandmother that she was more comfortable and more familiar with motorcycles.
Soon enough, she was pulling up to the Swan house and taking off Alice's spare helmet. Much to her surprise she felt a surge of nervousness. She paused slightly, combing her fingers through her hair and convincing herself that she would not harm Bella. She had never seriously hurt a human, but there was still a lot of holdover guilt from when she had unintentionally hurt and killed her mother with her development and eventual birth. She took a deep breath of cold air and went up to the door, noting with equal parts excitement and dread that Billy's truck was parked in the driveway. It was amusing, however, to see the infamous truck that her father had insisted on replacing. Apparently she came by her love for old repaired rustbuckets honestly.
She rang the bell, biting her lip, smiling as Bella answered the door. "Hi, Bella."
"Hi Vanessa." Bella replied, with a smile. "Come on in. Dad and Billy are just finishing up frying the fish."
"You can call me Nessie." Renesmee offered, stepping into the house and looking around. It was different from how she remembered it, but not too much. Or at least, not too much from before Sue Clearwater had gotten her hands on it.
"Your parents named you after the Loch Ness Monster?!" Bella asked in horror.
The comment with the face that Bella pulled made Renesmee giggle despite herself. "It's a nickname. I like it."
Bella's expression informed Nessie that she most definitely did not, and forced the hybrid to start dreaming up ways to make her mother use it. She liked Nessie.
"Come on, let me show you to the kitchen." Bella said, and Renesmee followed obediently, though she didn't need shown. Even if she hadn't spent time here before, the smells were fairly obvious. Maybe a normal person wouldn't have smelled it though. She had no frame of reference for mortality, like her family did.
The kitchen was full of smells and sounds, and Nessie grinned happily at Jacob, who was sitting in a corner, and then looked to the bickering Billy and Charlie, as Bella cleared her throat. "Guys! Vanessa is here!"
The tone in Bella's voice was not terribly unlike when Nessie and Seth got too loud playing video games, or Emmett made some crass comment. The familiarity was nice. "Don't act any different on my account." Nessie disagreed. "I'm probably a little early. I'm still getting used to the roads around here and I'd never rode Jazz's bike before." She made a face, while the bike was expensive and top of the line, it hadn't been comfortable.
"It's fine." Charlie said, wiping his hands on a nearby tea towel. "I don't think you were properly introduced to Billy before, were you?" He gestured between the two of them. "Nessie, this is Billy Black. Billy, this is Vanessa."
Nessie gave Billy her best smile, and held out her hand, fighting the instinct to hold her breath. She could see the uncertainty in his eyes, the suspicion. If he could just realize that she wasn't a Cold One, it would be better.
Charlie helped that along, giving his friend an odd look. "Billy, is something wrong?"
"Not at all." Billy said, shaking his head, those his eyes didn't leave Nessie. "She just reminds me of someone." He took her hand, and the shock that painted his face at her temperature was obvious, but quickly recovered. "It's nice to meet you."
"You too." Nessie replied, shaking his hand firmly, glad for her high skin temperature, and then settled down in one of the chairs.
"Don't mind him, he's a little slow in his old age sometimes." Jacob teased from where he was sitting.
And so, Nessie settled in for a nice dinner, though she was a bit sad but unsurprised when Billy had come up with something he needed to do and dragged Jacob off with him. She hated to admit it, but she was a little relieved too, because the way Jake kept looking at Bella made something unhappy clench in her stomach.
It was the sick ache in her stomach and the lack of contact with Grandpa Charlie and her mother that made Renesmee cranky on the way home. She was used to hugs and teasing and kisses on the forehead. Now she was a stranger. So, when she walked into the house to be confronted by Edward, due to her not shutting her memories of her mother off soon, enough, she snapped and spoke to her father in a way she never had before.
"Bella is never going to be like us!" Edward hissed at her, and it was enough.
"Stop it!" She growled at him. "Stop looking at me like I'm going to hurt her. Stop acting like you're going to hurt her!" She knew she should wait, that her parents had their own timing, but she was not in a good place. "Come on, we need to talk." She grabbed his wrist, and pulled, but as usual, he wouldn't move. She grumbled to herself about their superior strength.
"We can talk here." Edward said, pulling his hand free."
"Yeah, but I'm no good at words, and I'm not standing for however long this takes." Nessie had her hands on her hips, face set, and slowly, he allowed himself to be lead into the living room, where he sat on the sofa.
Nessie tucked her legs underneath her, sitting sideways to face him, and with a sigh, leaned forward and rested her forehead on his.
Immediately, unused to the intrusion, Edward started back.
"Listen," Nessie said, tiredly. "Please."
Edward carefully leaned forward again, touching his forehead to hers in the slightest contact possible.
Nessie huffed, but she went with it anyway, pushing a little harder due to the slight contact. So, she showed him. She blurred faces, voices and figures, but left herself and the feelings intact. She showed him moments of her infancy, the love she felt from her family, how she had waited eagerly for her mother to come out of the change, Eleazar and Garrett, both unrecognizable, but their words about how vegetarians could form bonds of love, how they were a family.
Then, she took a deep breath, and dove into painful memories, sharing them as much as she could with him.
Nessie, six, looking thirteen, walking home from school. Chelsea in the height of Italian fashion, pulling her into an alley, shoving her against a grimy wall.
"Here's the little abomination." Chelsea cooed, and then her power invaded Nessie's mind. The bonds, however, resisted, sending shocks of pain through Nessie's system. They were not coven, they were family. Then Chelsea touched one bond not made by blood, and the rush of agony and adrenaline gave Nessie the ability to break free, to escape.
Nessie, a few months later, basically sixteen and fighting with herself, trying to make herself stop feeling an all-consuming kind of love. The kind of love that was dangerous, the kind of love that made the Volturi angry. Nessie, pushing love aside for something less dangerous. A date with Nahuel, that made her feel like she had done something so wrong. Crying into her pillow, wondering if love was worth the risk.
Eavesdropping as her family, blurred beyond recognition, talking about how much pain Nessie was in. How much pain they were both in. Her mother, unsurprised, reminding him that when he had left her, trying to protect her from the monster, from the risk, she had been unable to function. They knew she was eavesdropping, but it didn't matter.
Nessie pulled back, tears in her eyes. "Do you see? It can work. Love can make anything work."
"I'm a monster!" Edward yelled at her. She had touched something in him, and anger was a good defense. "I could kill her! I've killed before I…"
"I'm more of a monster than you." Renesmee said, crossing her arms over his chest.
Edward shook his head. "You're half-human. You don't understand."
Nessie nodded, crossing her arms over her chest. "You're right, I am half-human. And do you know what that means? That means I don't need to hunt to stay alive." She threw an arm out, gesturing wildly. "I could live entirely on human food, I could even live on salad and never kill anything." She stood up, moving over to a window. "I could, but you know what? I don't. I hunt down elk and deer and bleed them dry, because it tastes better. I've begged for donated blood from a blood bank on my birthday because I want it. You? You need blood. You make a conscious decision every day to deprive yourself. I make the decision to kill again and again when I could live off salad and tofu. So maybe you need to check a new mirror and ask yourself who's the monster."
Nessie makes two very different sorts of friends.
In theory, school was, at its' heart, a simple concept. It was a building where one went to learn. Nessie found that it was often not like that at all. She doodled angles in her calculus notebook, pretending to pay attention. She pondered the concept of “socialization,” turning some of those angles into a very bad attempt at a rendition of Harlow’s monkeys. Socialization had never really been a problem for her before. She had her family, she had Jacob and his pack. They had enough money that a secretive trip back to Forks now and then for fishing with Grandpa Charlie, or blueberry muffins with Emily while Jacob commiserated with Sam and his pack was beyond reasonable. She had some acquaintances at school she called her friends, but she had to hide so much from them that it made real friendship impractical.
Here, though, well, she was out of options and she was not the kind of person who would do well as a hermit. As calculus ended, she sighed and made her way to the lockers, slamming her locker door shut as she put her book away, she turned to find herself face-to-face with a boy who had been in her Civics class.
“Hey, Vanessa, right?” The boy asked, holding his hand out to her. “I’m Tyler.”
“Nice to meet you, Tyler.” Nessie replied, shaking his hand. “Are you on your way to lunch?”
“Yeah, want to join us?” Tyler said, with a grin. “Me, Ben, Mike, Bella, Angela and Jessica, that is.”
“Sounds like you have a full crew already. Sure you have room?” Nessie replied, a little playfully. She was mimicking, mimicking Sarai from New Hampshire, Cindy from the Appalachians. She wasn’t sure about making friends, but she had been good at mimicking from a very early age.
She sat between Tyler, friendly and with only hints of ulterior motive, and Bella, who seemed glad for her presence. Nessie knew that it was because Bella hated being the “new girl,” the one everyone talked about, but she could pretend. Being immortal, you had to be very good at pretending.
“Where’d you live before here?” Mike asks, curious.
“All over,” Nessie said with a slight laugh. “Most recently? Virginia. Before that Alaska, before that it was New Hampshire…” She gestured slightly. “You get the idea.”
“Army brat?” Angela asked sympathetically, interrupting before one of the boys could continue the interrogation.
“Not exactly,” Nessie said thoughtfully. “Though my mom works in defense.” It was as good a job description as she could give a shield, anyway. The boys at the table let out sounds of appreciation at the thought.
“What about you, Vanessa?” Ben asked, leaning forward slightly. “Any good gossip, like what it’s like living in the Cullen house? Police records? Embarrassing tattoos?”
Nessie waved a carrot stick. “Not embarrassing. ” She watched as multiple jaws dropped open. “But you’re still not seeing it.”
She tolerated the questions, laughing off the innuendos, perfecting the mask as the subjects changed. Of course, there were things that caused cracks in the facade, like the words La Push . She shook her head when the new circle tried to include her in their outing. “I couldn’t.” She said honestly. “I’m going to try retracing my steps this weekend, see if I can remember anymore from before Chief Swan found me.” She hadn’t been planning anything, but the words spilled out before she’d thought them out, and they fit. She decided that it was as good a course as any. Despite this new resolve, she barely managed not to make a face as she took a bite of her salad. If human food was unappetizing to start with, it was doubly unappetizing surrounded by the smell of blood. She was a Cullen, however, and as always, she resisted.
By the time Nessie left school, she was ready to go home and be around people who didn’t expect her to talk so much. She didn’t like words, they were terribly unwieldy things. However, her desire to go home and sink into the big couch or work out the new pointe shoes she had found at the end of her bed that morning. Her boredom burned away when she saw Jacob Black standing off to one side near the high school. A huge smile crossed her face, but then tempered slightly as Bella went over to say hello, and she saw Jake’s face light up.
Jealousy reared its ugly head, and she took a deep breath, trying to ignore her instincts. She was in the past, and things would change when she got rid of the nomads and disappeared herself from existence. This Jake wasn’t hers. His life would be better without her. Everyone’s would. Keeping the image of Irina’s death in her mind, the old clips of the newborn army and the faces of as many as she could, she steeled herself.
It was time to go find the normads. She blew a breath out, with one last longing look at Jacob Black, before turning away and heading for the woods.
She was so wrapped up in her justifications that she didn’t notice her father a few feet behind her.
It wasn’t particularly hard to find the nomads, they were close enough to the heart of Cullen territory, and she was enough of an oddity to catch their attention. A few buzzes just in range of their senses, and curiosity would have them follow. She slowed in the clearing they liked to use for baseball, and waited, choosing to take the opportunity to break in her new shoes, in case her strangeness made them think she was not a vampire. This is where it had first happened, and it seemed best to deviate as little as possible for the best outcome.
Renesmee didn’t have to wait long, the three strode gracefully into the clearing. She ignored them for a moment, finishing her cycle of thirty-two fouetté turns at hybrid speed, before curtseying to the flummoxed nomads.
Laurent clapped slowly. “You know, that ballet was quite unpopular when it premiered.”
“I know.” Nessie replied, tilting her head and studying Laurent. She had never had the chance to know him or Irina. “Thank you for the applause..”
“I am Laurent,” He replied, gesturing slightly to his companions. “And this is Victoria and James.”
“I’m Nessie.” The hybrid replied, not about to give out her real name, or lie and give out her alias when there was a tracker in front of her. She picked up a nearby rock and began rolling it in her hand.
“A pleasure to meet you.” Laurent purred, but there was something in his eyes and the eyes of the others that made her nervous.
“Indeed.” Nessie said, politely. “Though I may ask that you hunt further afield. Your activities have been noticed by the locals, and well, I don’t think either of our covens want the Volturi to see fit to punish us for exposure.”
“Our apologies, we didn’t realize the territory had been claimed.” Laurent replied, looking and sounding somewhat startled.
Nessie gave a small shrug. “We maintain a number of properties, this one we’ve had since 1936, though obviously we must move when the humans start asking questions. We wish to maintain this residence for a few more years before relocating again.”
“Questions...like what you are?” James asked, breaking his silence and suddenly right in front of Nessie, sniffing her in interest.
Nessie resisted the urge to tense. “I am...somewhat less noticeable.” She said, as if her skin wasn’t crawling. “But yes, people do begin to notice when you don’t age, we all know this.”
“Your heart beats…” James said, his head tilting to watch the blood pulse under her skin. “And your smell is strange.”
“And I can still rip you limb from limb.” Nessie hissed back.
“Peace, we mean no quarrel with you or your coven.” Lauent replied. “We’re only passing through. James is merely puzzled by your...strangeness.”
“ La vérité est une étrange créature.” Renesmee replied, in perfect French.
“And what is your truth, little bird?” James asked. “Do you taste as sweet as you smell?”
Nessie’s lip curled, as her fingers did around the rock she was holding, crumbling it to dust. “We’re both mated, so you’ll never know.”
The tension was thick, with Victoria shifting slightly, as if preparing for something.
Then Edward’s voice broke over the clearing, and he appeared, jumping down from a tree. “There you are, Vanessa. Carlisle and Esme want you back at the house, but I see that you’ve made some new...friends…”
Nessie’s lips quirked into a smile, practically seeing the math of the situation change in James’s mind. One of her versus the three of them was tilted in their favor, but two, when they didn’t understand her was a different story.
“Friends…” Nessie agreed. “My apologies friends , but I have been called, and it is unwise to keep the head of my coven waiting.. It was nice to meet you. Laurent, I hope when you find your mate in Alaska, we have a chance to discuss ballet at more length.”
Laurent’s crimson eyes went wide. “Something to look forward to then.” He made an abrupt gesture, and with a growl. James moved off, and the moment was broken.
Nessie watched them leave, refusing to cede her territory, but when it was over, she had a sinking feeling it was not the last she’d seen of James.