The three kings were fascinated by the human girl that stood before them, displaying no fear outwards to them except when her friend was harmed. Considering how the boy had caused her so much pain in his leaving, it confused them why she protected him so fiercely that when Aro sought counsel with his brothers on their decisions on what to do with her, he too was again surprised by their feelings on the small girl.
The foolish man-child called her his mate so carelessly, obviously knowing little to what it takes to truly develop a mating bond. He knew it angered Marcus as he saw there was no true bond between the two. In fact, there was a strong link that had yet to be seen between the girl and another but the boy’s sister held a wealth of secrets from him. She knew the girl would be turned one day in the future and for that he agreed to let her go, allowing him to think he had gotten one over on them. As he watched the three leave, Marcus moved to his side as he too kept a careful eye on their retreating backs.
“What shall we do about the Cullens brother?” he drawled slowly.
Aro nodded slowly, he too was aware as Caius had remained quiet since his outbursts earlier and seeing the strength of the latent gift that young Isabella possessed. Edward Cullen, he knew believed they coveted her already for that ability. A mind reader himself, he was skilled in masking his true thoughts, as his brothers for being exposed to one regularly for a millenia.
“Have someone look into her family line. I want to know everything there is about that child,” Aro murmured. “She is truly fascinating.”
“I do not trust the Cullens, Aro,” Caius growled at him.
With a sigh, the king nodded slowly in consideration. “We shall send Silvia then to watch them. However I do not want her to interfere in whatever may come to that coven and their actions. Does that satisfy you brother?”
He looked at me with his sly smile and nodded, pleased. “Yes. Send her to follow them immediately. When she is to be turned, bring her to Voltera.”
“It will be Isabella’s decision should she live here. There is a world of choices for her out there to live,” Aro smiled at him knowingly. “Have confidence that she will come to us when she is ready. For now, let’s prepare for our dinner!”
“Because you fucking broke me, Edward!” Bella argued, her brown eyes blazing. “You left me in the woods, lost and completely broken! You’re lucky I was willing to come with Alice all the way to Italy, to the fucking lions den, to save your ass because you are an idiot! It’s change or die for me and you want me to marry you as a stipulation in order for you to be willing to change me? You are out of your fucking mind! I’ll take my chances on my own!”
Edward didn’t like what he was hearing and shook his head, pained by what she was saying. “You don’t mean that Bella. We – we’re mates…”
She sighed like she was dealing with a small child and turned to look at her wolf friend who watched silently. “You know well enough that we aren’t,” she said gently. “If we were, you never would have been able to hurt me the way you did. Now please. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. I’m planning on leaving Forks soon. I don’t want you to follow me.”
The vampire was quiet as he heard the thoughts that came through from the young wolf friend of hers. He turned ready to lunge at him in anger but she moved to block him, anticipating the two volatile creatures. “He turned you against me!”
“No Edward! My decisions are my own and the ones regarding you have been brought on by your treatment of me. You have no one to blame but yourself,” she glared at him. “Not Jake, not Jasper. You Edward. If you can’t accept that, then get lost. It’s not my problem any longer. Jake? Can you take me home now? I have packing to do since I need to call and make arrangements for my school and shit.”
“What is with this vulgar language? This isn’t you Bella,” he whimpered causing her to throw her arms up and walk away, ignoring his calls for her as she followed her wolf friend through the woods where she disappeared across the treaty line.
Bella was in the middle of loading up the back of her new truck that Charlie insisted that he help her get when he finally let go of her, that she was leaving him. Her old red clunker would never make the long drive to Texas and it was the least he could do for her. “I still don’t understand why you couldn’t just stay and go to school in Seattle. Stay home a little longer, save some money,” he sighed as he watched her with sad eyes.
“I need this Dad. We both need this. I need to be on my own. I told you this already,” she said as she walked past him back to the porch to grab the next box to load up without any regret for her decision.
“I know you do Bells, but geez, I feel like I just got you back,” he sighed. “I don’t want to lose you.”
She slowed in her step as she hesitated but didn’t look back at him, knowing the threat that Jane from the Volturi guard had given the Cullens at the field during the newborn fight that Victoria managed to escape again. “You’ll be fine,” she smiled as she looked over her shoulder. “It’s only college.”
“I know. I still can’t help it,” he said as he fought back the tears as he went to pull her into his arms.
They stood there for several minutes, just holding one another when Jasper, one of the few Cullens that she was willing to talk to after everything she’d been through with them since they’d left her high and dry, showed up. “I hope I’m not interrupting,” he grinned, holding a wrapped box in his hands that earned a cautious look from her.
“No Jasper, we’re good. We’re almost done actually. You here to say goodbye to Bells too?” Charlie asked as he gave her one last squeeze before letting her go and headed back inside.
“Yes sir. And to bring her a present for her new adventure,” he nodded before turning his bright golden eyes to Bella. “I know that you have been reluctant to make amends with Alice and she has truly been trying to avoid looking into your future at your request. When you made your decision for your school, she was unable to stop the one that came to her as she does care so much for you…”
“Please Bella, just hear me out. She does care and she is more than willing to give you all the time in the world that you need to forgive her, even if it is forever, but it doesn’t change the way she feels and she knows that it doesn’t change how you feel,” he explained in a rush before taking a breath. “Anyway, she saw where you were going to school and got this. She didn’t know if you would like it and asked me if you would. I think you would. Frankly, I’m surprised she bought it at all.”
Bella was speechless as she stared at him, her eyes flickering both with hesitation and curiosity at the package he held. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let her back in, Jas,” she whispered. “You know it was different with you and Rose because we never were allowed to get to know one another before.”
“I’m not asking anything of you but to just accept a going away present from my wife and I to my friend,” he said gently as he held it out to her.
She eyed the Dallas Cowboys wrapping paper for a moment before reaching for it. “Thank you,” she said timidly as she fingered the paper carefully, memories of her birthday party coming back to her.
“You can open it now if you want. I promise I’m in full control. I fed just before I came,” he whispered back, making her look up, knowing just what she was thinking about.
“Oh Jasper, I didn’t mean…I –”
“It’s okay Bella. I know. It was a difficult time for both of us. It’s bound to stick with us for awhile but the way I see it, it eventually brought us our friendship. Right?”
Bella slowly grinned up at him, having found in their time together the most pleasurable of all the Cullens. They had connected more with each other and she truly loved him like a brother more than ever. “Of course. Would you visit me in Texas?”
“I will certainly try Darlin’. Now open your present so that you can get on the road. You have a long way ahead of you.”
She ripped into the paper before pulling the box that had been conveniently left partially open to make it easier for her to reveal an authentic, cowboy hat fit just for her. It was all black with with light blue and tan beading along the trim. Bella knew it was definitely not in Alice’s taste but she loved it. “Thank you,” she said as she ran her fingers along the rim before putting it on. “Think I’ll fit in?”
“I think you’ll do mighty fine for a northerner,” Jasper grinned as he hugged her. “You take it easy. I’ll come down to see you when it’s time.”
Pulling back, she glared up at him. “Careful. You’re beginning to sound like your wife,” she complained but he only gave her a shrug as he walked back to his car. With a wave, he took off, leaving her to watch him drive away. Loading up the last of her things, she looked back at the house that she’d lived in for nearly two years that changed her more than she’d ever thought it would and sighed. While a small part of her did hold some malice for coming to Forks, she knew she could never regret it because deep inside, it was what she needed to give her the push to make the decision to leave and go out on her own.
“Houston, here I come,” Bella murmured to herself as she jumped into her truck and set off for the long haul out of Washington state, not looking back once.