I miss writing soooo much! Sorry! School is getting ahead of me! ^_^
Chapter 16: Alliance
“Bella?” I called to her as she paused at the top of the porch steps.
She turned to face me as I jumped up the stairs to meet her. I took her into my arms again, kissing her once more. I let my lips convey just how much I loved her, no matter what happened later, and she responded enthusiastically. She seemed taken aback by the passion of the kiss when we finally pulled away, but didn’t comment on it.
“Let’s get this stupid party over with,” she muttered while staring at the ground.
I grabbed her face in my hands, willing her to look at me. After a few agonizing seconds, she did.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” I promised.
“I’m not worried about myself so much,” she said, her fingers lightly outlining my lips.
“Why am I not surprised by that?” I mumbled under my breath. Someone wanted to kill her, and she was going to worry about the rest of us. Because that was Bella; caring, compassionate, and completely unaware of the term “self-preservation”. I took a deep, needless breath and tried to smile. “Ready to celebrate?”
She groaned as I held the door open for her, never loosening my hold around her waist. I was planning to not let go until all of our problems were solved. And even then…
Bella’s mouth dropped as she took in the inside of the house. I couldn’t say I blamed her. Alice had gone completely overboard, as usual, but that was to be expected. She had turned the entire ground floor of the house into a nightclub; strobe lights and all.
“Unbelievable,” Bella said, shaking her head.
“Alice will be Alice,” I shrugged, leading her inside.
“Edward!” Alice chirped when she saw us enter. “I need your advice.” She had two large towers of CD’s, one of which was full of music I was sure nobody in Forks had ever heard of. “Should we give them familiar and comforting? Or educate their taste in music?” she asked, gesturing to the piles.
“Keep it comforting,” I told her. “You can only lead a horse to water.”
She nodded, putting the discarded pile away before joining us.
“I think I’m underdressed,” Bella said slowly, looking carefully at Alice’s club outfit.
“You’re perfect,” I whispered to her.
“You’ll do,” Alice chimed. I glared at her and she shrugged slightly.
“Thanks. Do you really think people will come?” Bella asked in a tone that suggested she wished they wouldn’t. Alice glared daggers at her.
“Everyone will come,” I promised, remembering the thoughts of our classmates earlier in the week. “They’re all dying to see the inside of the reclusive Cullens’ mystery house.”
“Fabulous,” she groaned.
Bella offered her assistance setting up, which Alice adamantly refused. That was fine with me, because I wanted to talk to Jasper and Carlisle before our guests arrived, and I was definitely not letting go of Bella’s waist. We found them easily, and had a private meeting in Carlisle’s study. I explained what Bella had come up with, and they seemed just as shocked as I had been. Carlisle was particularly disturbed that he hadn’t seen the connection. Jasper was uneasy with the numbers against us. Neither Carlisle nor Jasper had any luck finding anyone else to help us, and the numbers were not in our favor. Jasper was additionally tense from the impact of everyone else’s emotions, and he himself was having a hard time keeping his panic in check.
Bella stood tensely by my side as the discussion raged on, her pounding uneasily as Jasper spoke of being outnumbered. We hadn’t gotten very far in our conversation when the doorbell rang, signaling the start of the party. With that, we put on our best friendly human masks and went downstairs to greet our guests. Alice was just ushering in a group of Bella’s friends. Their thoughts conveyed uneasiness, mixed with awe at the house:
Wow…this place is huge!
Apparently doctors in Forks are making a lot more than we think they are…
Their house is nice…but they’re still creepy.
Stupid Cullen. It’s not enough to steal Bella; he has to be rich too.
Mike Newton was a little jealous, which I had to smirk at.
I led Bella from person to person as more classmates arrived. She was doing an excellent job of pushing the worry from earlier aside to play a gracious hostess. My family and I were polite, but distant. The dim lighting, mixed with the awkwardness of being in the Cullen house, made the humans more leery of us than usual. Only Alice was comfortable mingling, and she did so with a smug smile permanently plastered on her face. I told you both that this would be a huge success, she thought to me from across the room. I just rolled my eyes and clutched Bella tighter.
Within the hour, the house was heaving with people who, despite their initial discomfort, were having a great time. The loud hum of their inner voices mixed with the thumping of bass was already beginning to cause my head to throb, but I kept a false smile plastered to my face as Bella conversed with her guests. It took quite a while, but we finally greeted everyone in attendance and were back to Jessica Stanley. She was chattering on excitedly about something unimportant, and Bella was doing her best to appear interested. It was then when Alice’s thoughts shrieked in my mind. Something’s changed…
I glanced at her from across the room. Her face was blank, staring off into space. She was having a vision. There were too many people between her and I, and I was having a hard time seeing her mind. I didn’t want to upset Bella, so I reluctantly dropped my arm from her waist for the first time that night.
“Stay here,” I said into her ear. “I’ll be right back.”
I turned and walked quickly away before she could protest. I made my way as quick as possible to where Alice was standing off to the side by the kitchen, cursing under my breath that I still needed to keep up the human pretenses. She was just coming out of her vision when I reached her.
“What’s going on? What did you see?” I demanded.
She blinked quickly at me, a look of horror on her face.
“Well, we don’t have to go to Seattle,” she said, her face never relaxing.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“They’re coming here. To Forks.” She let the memory of her vision cloud her mind and I saw it through their eyes. The entire newborn army headed this way. We still couldn’t see the leader. I’m sure my face mirrored hers when it was through.
“I’ll get the others together. Meet us upstairs. Keep Bella away,” I ordered. She didn’t need to panic until we knew exactly what was going on.
I ran to the stairs, scanning thoughts quickly to make sure nobody was paying attention to mine and Alice’s exchange. They weren’t. “Carlisle, Esme, Jasper, Rosalie, Emmett,” I called under my breath, barely above a whisper. I knew they would hear me. “Upstairs.”
Edward! Alice called, and I turned to look at her again. I saw Bella in front of her, begging to be told what was going on, but Alice was studiously ignoring her. She locked eyes with me and showed me another vision. It was the same, the newborn army marching toward Forks. But one of them was clutching something. Bella’s sweater. I turned without a word and raced to find Carlisle.
My family had heard me, and one by one they slipped away quietly from the party to meet me in Carlisle’s study. Nobody downstairs – aside from Bella – was suspicious about our absence.
“What’s going on?” Carlisle asked, slightly panicked.
“Alice had a vision. They’re coming here; the entire army. To Forks,” I said simply. I knew they all understood what I meant when their thoughts became as horrified as Alice’s and mine.
“Why would they come here?” Esme gasped.
“For Bella,” I explained bleakly. “They have her clothing; they’re going to be looking specifically for her. And they’ll massacre the entire town if they have to in order to find her.”
“We can’t let that happen!” Carlisle exclaimed. “When are they coming?”
“Four days,” Alice said, suddenly appearing in the room. “And the dogs are here,” she added, throwing me a pointed glance.
“That would explain the smell,” Jasper muttered, wrinkling his nose in disgust.
“Perfect,” I muttered through gritted teeth, preparing to leave the room and get back to Bella.
Carlisle stopped me, putting his hand on my chest. “Edward, I think the werewolves are the least of our concerns right now, don’t you?”
I sighed and nodded. If Bella needed my help with the mutts, I knew she would call for me. I reluctantly turned back around to face my family. “So what do we do?”
“We go to Seattle right now!” Emmett exclaimed, ever ready for a fight. “Ambush them before they can cause damage here.”
“We aren’t ready for that!” Alice cried out. “Jasper hasn’t taught us anything yet. I’m sure if it was just a few of them, we could take care of them easily, but I see twenty-one right now. The numbers will decrease by the time they get here, but not by much.”
“So are you suggesting we let them come here and murder everyone?” Rosalie asked.
“Our chances are much better on our turf than theirs,” Jasper mused.
“We can’t put the entire town in danger,” Carlisle said firmly.
“We could meet them somewhere,” Esme suggested. “Stop them before they get too close to Forks.”
“That won’t matter,” Alice shook her head. “We can’t stop them all; not with only the seven of us. Some will get through and they’ll head straight where Bella’s scent is strongest. That’s Forks.”
The talking stopped for the moment. Everyone was thinking through potential plans in their minds, but nobody’s ideas were good enough. Finally Carlisle spoke up.
“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have a sort of strategic meeting tonight. Jasper, you’ll be in charge.”
“We need to be prepared to fight off the newborns, and we need to come up with a plan. If anyone thinks of anything, let the others know immediately. But for now,” he cut off, turning to Alice. “you need to get back downstairs. We have guests and they cannot be suspicious. We need to get through this party, and then we’ll work from there.”
Alice nodded and walked lightly to the door.
I’ll check on Bella, she thought, and I gave her a weak smile. Should I tell her? I sighed and nodded once. There was no point in keeping it from her, and I needed to stay with Carlisle. We had to come up with a plan.
“I’m going to go with her,” Jasper said.
Let me know if you think of anything.
Esme excused herself a moment later, followed by Rosalie who dragged Emmett with her. Carlisle and I were alone, and his thoughts weren’t any more comforting than my own. There was no way we were going to win this with the numbers the way they stood. My family was going to get hurt, possibly destroyed. And if something happened to me, Bella would be left unprotected. Bella. On top of everything else, I had to figure out what to do with Bella when the time came to face the newborns. I didn’t want her within a hundred thousand miles of the fight, and definitely not in Forks.
You’re worried, Carlisle stated. I looked at him, and only then did I realize I was pacing the study briskly.
“Of course I am,” I snapped. “What do you expect?”
“We’ll figure something out, Edward.”
“Like what, exactly? There isn’t a way for us to take on this army – and whoever is behind it – with only the seven of us. You know it, I know it, and the entire family knows it. I’ve seen it in their minds. We’re strong, yes, but we aren’t that strong. And Bella – “ my voice broke on her name.
Carlisle stepped forward, placing a comforting arm on my shoulder.Have faith, Edward.
We were silent then, nothing more needing to be said. Carlisle was trying his best to keep his thoughts positive for my sake, but I wasn’t fooled. He was just as scared as the rest of us at the prospect of losing someone. His words of comfort only annoyed me further. I didn’t have faith. Whatever higher power was out there obviously was not on my side. My beautiful Bella was always in danger of being taken away from me for good. It was only a matter of time until it was successful. If we won this battle, something else would come along after. I wasn’t meant to find happiness. And innocent Bella was being punished for my selfish existence. It wasn’t fair.
Minutes passed, and neither Carlisle nor I moved an inch. I wanted to check on Bella, especially since that dog was still in the house, but it would do her no good to see me like this. She needed me to be strong for her, and that’s exactly what I intended to do. With new resolve, I turned to Carlisle to tell him we should head back down. Before I could the words out, Jasper came barreling into the room, a look of pure elation on his face. The rest of my family followed closely behind him, minus Alice, who I assumed was still with Bella downstairs.
His thoughts were scrambled with excitement, and I was having a hard time making out what it all meant.
“What’s going on?” I asked cautiously.
“We have backup,” he smiled slyly.
“What are you talking about?” Carlisle asked.
“The wolves,” he replied. “They want to fight with us. With their help, we can’t lose!”
I let out a loud breath at his words, and felt the relief wash over me. The pack was willing to fight with us. We hadn’t even considered them in our options. Their strength mixed with ours – throwing in the element of surprise – would make it almost too easy to bring down the newborn army. My family’s thoughts and actions all mirrored my own. All of the worry and tension dissipated in less than a minute. The only one still strongly annoyed was Emmett, who was happy he wouldn’t have to worry about Rose getting hurt, but rather upset at having to share this fight with the wolves. But he soon got over it and settled on being grateful.
“I invited them to the clearing tonight,” Jasper continued. “So they can learn how to best handle the newborns as well. We need to be there at three ‘o clock.”
“And they have no reservations about fighting with us?” Carlisle asked, surprised.
“No, they’re almost as excited about it as Emmett,” Jasper replied, earning a scoff from Emmett.
“Do you think it will work?” Rosalie asked doubtfully. We all turned to her. “I mean, how do we know they’re going to be able to handle fighting with us and not turn against us?”
“What other option do we have?” Carlisle mused. “With their help, we can’t lose. The treaty is still in place, they have no reason to turn on us.”
Rosalie had successfully placed the seed of doubt in everyone’s mind, but we needed to remain confident that this would work. It had to work.
It was getting close to the end of the party, and we had work to do. We went back downstairs in a truly happy mood, no longer needing to fake it. Bella was following Alice around the room in a daze, still attempting to mingle. She wasn’t keeping up her charade as well as she had earlier; the worry was etched in her face. I put my arms around her again, smiling genuinely when she met my eyes. She didn’t smile back. She looked completely sickened. All I could do was rub her back soothingly and kiss her forehead, hoping I could convince her that everything was going to turn out okay.