I sighed deeply, as I after a very long day sat down in the soft leather seats of the silver Volvo, glad that another day of planning was finally, finally over. When this whole thing had started, I believed everyone had hoped that Alice’s enthusiasm would be contagious – well, it seemed to work on everyone, except for me. I was just glad when everything was over. The reason for this was quite simple: All my life I had been taught to cringe at the thought of frilly white dresses, long ceremonies which ended with the words ‘I do’ and a kiss, and basically the whole concept of marriage. Renée, my dear chaotic mother, had made sure of that.
The door on my side was barely closed, as Edward already took his seat behind the wheel, looking at me worriedly. I know that I wasn’t the most eager fiancée, but Edward had known, what he was getting into, when he had asked me to become his wife, so I only felt a bit bad for him. Most of the time. Still, when he was looking at me, like he did now, his eyes telling me that he would immediately call everything off, just to make me happy, the guilt of being unfair to him returned at full force.
I was asking so much of him, so much more than he did of me, so I think it was only fair of me to give him this, my hand in marriage. Actually - relatively seen - it really was such a small favor compared to changing me into a vampire and, as Edward would say, turning me into a monster.
I tried to give Edward a small reassuring smile, at the same time as I tried to convince myself – again, I should add – that marriage wouldn’t be too bad. I was slowly getting used to all the stares and the whispers of the inhabitants of Forks. I even only blushed half as much as before, when I heard them gossiping about me.
Yeah, right, some inner voice mocked me.
Of course, everyone had jumped to the apparently most-likely conclusion at first – that I was pregnant. Even Charlie. To say he hadn’t reacted well to the news of the wedding was a bit of an understatement. For a moment, I had thought that he would suffocate, and then for another I had feared that he would shoot Edward. In the end, he had just grudgingly accepted that I wasn’t a little girl anymore and just informed me that I still had to tell Renée. I could tell that he still wasn’t excited about it, but I hadn’t expected it to be different.
However, Renées reaction couldn’t have been more startling, after I had finally gathered all my courage to tell her that I was going to marry Edward. Instead of berating and warning me, she had just said that she had been expecting it for a while, actually since Edward and I had been to see her. ‘You are much more mature than I probably ever will be,’ she had said and added that I’m not like her and that I know when I’m making the right decision. Since that day, Renée was fully immersed in the wedding plans, talking to either Alice or Esme every second day to get some updates and offer her ideas. I was really surprised that she was still keeping at it, as nothing had held her attention for more than two or three weeks until now.
“Bella?” Edward’s melodious voice tore me out of the thoughts I had gotten so lost in. His topaz colored eyes had become even more worried and he reached up to tug a stray strand of hair behind my ear. My breath caught and my heart stuttered, as his cold fingers brushed my cheek. “What are you thinking?”
“Nothing, really…” I shook my head with a small smile, more to fight against the dazzling effect his touch and voice had on me than to emphasize what I had said. “Just everyone’s reactions, the… you know… in general. Nothing we haven’t talked about before.” I know it must hurt him that I couldn’t even say the word and it reminded me briefly of the Harry Potter movie that Alice had made us watch the other night, where no one dared to say the name of the evil wizard, because they were so afraid of him.
“Oh, Bella,” he sighed, but there was a small smile tugging at his lips. “Let’s get you home. You look tired.”
“I am tired,” I admitted, as he already turned the key in the ignition. The motor of the Volvo began to purr softly and before I knew it, we were on the road through the forest. As soon as the light from the Cullens’ house had faded away, I noticed how true my statement was, as my eyelids began to drop. Edward noticed this and put his arm around me, pulling me against his chest. I tried to protest, wanting to tell him – as usual – to concentrate on the road, but as I inhaled his unique scent I forgot about everything around me and just closed my eyes.
I must have fallen asleep on the short drive home, as I suddenly found myself lying on my bed, with Edward kneeling at my feet, pulling off my shoes. He put his fingers to his lips, before I could say something, so I just whispered, “Charlie?”
“Asleep,” he answered quietly. He put my shoes in front of my closet and then sat down on my bed. Almost of its own accord, his hand began to glide through my hair, as he was looking at me with a fond smile on his face. “You were so peaceful and I didn’t want to wake you.”
I simply sighed, as I leaned into his touch, my eyes already closing again. I was really so unbelievably tired, but I blamed the stress and all those weird dreams that came with it. Graduation, Victoria, the wedding… and everything that would come after that. It really was no wonder that I was so tired. But I knew that I couldn’t go back to sleep, yet.
“Human minute,” I murmured sleepily and sat up. Edward chuckled quietly, as he pulled me to my feet and gave me my old pajamas.
“I’ll wait for you,” he told me.
Trying not to trip over my own feet, as I was almost sleep-walking to the bathroom, I desperately tried to stay awake. So I quickly brushed my teeth and attended to all my other needs, before I returned to my room, ready to give in to sleep. When we were lying in my bed, Edward pulled me into his arms and placed a soft kiss on my forehead, saying goodnight, and before he had even finished humming the first few lines of my lullaby, I was already fast asleep.
My dreams were again really creative that night. I was standing in the clearing, where the Cullens and Quileutes had fought against Victoria and the newborns. But I wasn’t alone. Only a few feet in front of me there was a young woman, probably just a few years older than me. Her long blond hair was shining in the rare sunlight and she was smiling at me. However, despite the smile, her tone was serious, as she said, “They are coming. You have to be ready.”
“Ready?” I asked confused. “For what?” I was fairly sure that I didn’t know this woman, and yet I felt connected to her.
“For your destiny.”
Something blinked in the sunlight and first now I noticed that she was holding something silver in her right hand. Whatever it was, it was beautiful. It looked like a weapon, like an axe or a scythe. And it was calling to me.
Extending her right hand, she offered me that weapon. “This is yours now, too.”
I lifted my hand, but at the same moment, as I touched the weapon, a glaring light engulfed me. I had to close my eyes against the bright light and when I opened them again, I was looking directly into Edward’s eyes.
I had to blink a few times, as I noticed that I was back in my room. It was still dark outside, but I could still make out his face in the darkness. “What is it?” I asked groggily, as I tried to sit up, but Edward gently pushed me down again.
“Nothing,” he murmured soothingly. “Alice just called. The clouds will disappear in twenty-three minutes and they won’t return until Sunday night. The whole family will use this chance to go hunting over the weekend.”
His voice sounded regretful and I could understand him only too well. “So I will first see you again tomorrow night?”
“I’m afraid so.” His cool lips brushed mine carefully. “I wish I could stay.”
“I wish, you could stay, too…” But both of us knew that it wasn’t possible. “Well then, I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too.” He gave me one last soft kiss and then he was already gone.
With a sigh, I closed my again and tried to go back to sleep. But it was easier said than done. I was so used to Edward’s presence in my room, in my bed, that I couldn’t sleep well without him any longer. When I, after a long time of just lying awake and trying not to think about all the things that bothered me, finally fell asleep, the sky was already getting lighter and the dream I had before waking up was long forgotten.
When I finally woke up later, much later, that morning, Edward was gone – some part of my sleepy mind told me that he had said goodbye earlier that morning and I suddenly remembered lying awake long after he had gone – and my room was much lighter than usual. Just as Alice had predicted, the sun was shining brightly, with not a single cloud to be seen at the sky. About two years ago I would have been happy about that, but now it was different. It just meant that I really wouldn’t see Edward until tomorrow night, when they would return from their hunting trip. I had been silently hoping that it would be at the least cloudy, but I knew that it was selfish. Just as I needed my three meals a day, Edward and the other Cullens needed their fill of whatever they would find while hunting every couple of days.
I sighed as I came out of the bathroom, dressed in blue Capri pants and a T-shirt, pulling my damp hair into a pony-tail, when suddenly the doorbell rang. I knew that Charlie was still there, so I didn’t run downstairs to get the door – I would have probably broken my leg or neck, if I had done this, anyway. I didn’t expect any visitors today, so I was surprised when I heard Charlie’s voice call me, “Bella? Could you please come downstairs?”
“Okay!” I called back and slowly walked down the stairs, especially careful not to trip. I had been extremely accident-prone lately, more so than usual even, breaking things left and right, much to Emmett’s amusement. I blamed my growing clumsiness on the pre-wedding jitters and I hoped that it would be back to normal, once I was Mrs. Edward Cullen, or even better, disappear completely when I was finally one of them. Although my subconscious had started to tease me that my special talent as a vampire would most likely be my clumsiness. Pushing those unwelcome thoughts away, I pressed my lips into a thin line of concentration, as I watched exactly where I put my feet on the steps, because it would be too embarrassing, if one of my accidents happened in front of guests.
“Bella,” Charlie said, as I stepped into the kitchen. Next to him two persons were standing – a young woman with brilliant red hair and a dark haired young man with an eye-patch. “These are Ms. Rosenberg and Mr. Harris. They say that they are here to talk to you about college.” Charlie gave me a pointed look. I frowned at him, hoping that he would get the idea that I wasn’t interested in going anywhere but Alaska. I still insisted on going there to collegeinstead of Dartmouth, much to Charlie’s and
Edward’s annoyance – not that I would be able to visit any classes anyway, because honestly, in the next year I would probably be far too dangerous, regarding humans as Happy Meals on legs, to be able to be around them and going to college with them.
“Hello,” I greeted them, after I had turned away from Charlie, warily shaking their hands. I somehow didn’t like the way they were looking at me. Their faces were calm, unreadable, and this sent a shiver down my spine. Something told me that they hadn’t been entirely truthful, when they told Charlie what they were here for. “What can I do for you?”
In the meantime, Charlie had already grabbed a light jacket, which had hung over a chair. “Can I leave you alone, Bells? You know I wanted to…”
I chuckled, trying to keep the unease out of my voice, as I said, “Go ahead, dad. You don’t want to let the fish wait any longer. And say hi to Billy for me…” He gratefully grinned at me, although it was a bit subdued at my casual mention of Billy, bid my guests a good day and left through the door. I looked after him for a moment and sighed quietly. He was still a bit reserved around me, mostly because of the wedding, but also because I was taking Billy’s side concerning… Jake, or rather Jake’s… absence, but he was slowly coming around. I inwardly shook my head… Now wasn’t the time to brood about my missing best friend.
After I heard the cruiser pull out of the driveway, I turned my full attention back to my guests. They were still looking at me, as if I had grown horns or maybe a tail. I even had to resist patting my head to make sure that I really didn’t have two new appendixes. Alice would be so angry, if something like this were to ruin the wedding pictures. Unfortunately thoughts of Alice immediately led to thoughts of Edward and how much I wished that he were here now. I suppressed a sigh, as I gathered my courage to talk to my guests. “Please, take a seat,” I told them, motioning to the kitchen table. “Would you like something to drink?”
“No, thank you,” the woman, Ms. Rosenberg, replied, while this Mr. Harris simply shook his head, as they sat down. Both of them were apparently uneasy and this didn’t help my situation much. Over the course of the last two years I had developed some kind of sixth sense that told me, when there was something going on and this sense was screaming at me right now. I sat down across from them, folding my hands in front of me on the table to keep them from fidgeting and looked at them expectantly. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they would want to talk to me about. But the way they were looking at me still made me nervous. “I’m sorry for just barging in like that.”
“It’s okay,” I reassured them quickly, even though I didn’t mean it. I wanted them gone, like five minutes ago. Edward would be so angry, when he found out that I talked to two strangers, completely alone. But their hands hadn’t been cold, when I had shaken them, their eyes looked pretty human and they also didn’t sparkle in the sunlight that streamed into the kitchen. I tried to calm myself. After having taken a deep breath, I finally asked, “So, how can I help you?”
They exchanged a quick glance, which made me feel even more uneasy. My whole body tensed, as I waited for one of them to speak, playing with the ring Edward had stuck on my left ring finger. Much to my surprise, as I had expected the red-haired woman to do the talking, it was Mr. Harris, who began with a soothing voice, which at that moment only worried me more, “Miss Swan, we are now going to tell you something that might sound unbelievable, but we ask you to hear us out, alright?”
I nodded weakly, but my mind obviously had other plans. Tell them to leave,
Edward’s velvety voice said. Oh great, now I was hallucinating again. But it wasn’t just my mind that heard the warning bells at this declaration. Somehow my gut feeling also told me that they were going to tell me something I didn’t want to hear.
The two strangers exchanged one more glance, but this time it was deep and meaningful, almost as if they were communicating. This reminded me of the silent conversations I so often had to witness between Edward and his family. Eventually, after what had seemed like hours to me, Ms. Rosenberg spoke. “Miss Swan – may I say Isabella?”
“Bella,” I corrected instinctively.
“Bella,” the woman smiled. “I’m Willow and this is Xander. I think that this will be much easier, if we’re on first-name basis.”
I didn’t say anything to that. As far as I was concerned, I would never see those two people again, once they had left this house. At this moment, I swore to myself. No matter what they would tell me, nothing would change. I would still get married, I would still get changed. I was still staring at them, my eyes probably narrowed in distrust, and I noticed that I was making them slightly uncomfortable. Good.
The woman, Willow
, cleared her throat. “Well, Bella… have you felt somehow different in the past few… weeks?”
“Different? How?” I challenged. “You’re not here to talk to me about college, are you?”
“In a way, yes, we are. We’re representatives of Rupert Giles’ School for Gifted Girls,” she said with a nervous smile. “But back to my question. When I say different, I mean do you feel stronger somehow? Have you broken things by accident? Have you noticed that you’ve become faster, more skilled maybe? Did you maybe have an injury that healed much faster than it usually does? Do you have weird dreams that you can’t explain?”
I froze, but my voice sounded strong, when I only said, “I’ve always been accident-prone, so it’s not unusual for me to break things.” But at the same time I said this, I noticed something that I hadn’t realized before. While I had, in fact, broken a lot of things, I’d never once tripped. And I had even managed to dodge once, when Alice had wanted to tackle me with some new clothes, something that shouldn’t have been possible. And then my broken hand, which had stunned Carlisle, when he noticed one week after the fight against Victoria that it was completely healed. Not to mention the strange dreams, as I suddenly remembered the one from the previous night.
Both of them looked slightly confused by my declaration, as if they had expected something entirely different. I hoped that my face didn’t show any of the revelations I’d just had. I don’t know, when the change had happened, but I couldn’t deny that something had changed in me.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I first noticed that the man, Xander
, had thrown something at me, when I had already caught the small and soft ball only inches in front of my face. I lowered my fist in shock and opened it, revealing the ball, which had lost its round form in my grip. My hand began to shake and the ball fell to the ground, as I had to clutch the edge of the kitchen table to keep myself from fleeing.
It had finally happened – Edward had waited so long for it – I wanted to run away screaming.
“Bella,” the young woman said softly. I looked up and saw them gazing at me in concern.
“What’s happening to me?” I whispered. This wasn’t me. This wasn’t the clumsy Bella I had known the last almost nineteen years. That Bella could have never caught that ball or done any of the other things I had just realized I had done. Edward,
I called in my mind, wishing that he could hear me. Where are you? I need you!
“I believe,” Xander said, “that it’s best to start from the very beginning. Please, just hear us out. As I already said, it will sound unbelievable, but we’ve been in your position, too, many years ago, so please at least listen to what we have to tell you.” I nodded weakly, trying to find my courage. I had survived James, werewolves, the Volturi and Victoria. This really couldn’t be that bad. But the instinct to flee was growing with each passing second. “You see, a long time, a really long time ago, demons walked the Earth and it was their home, or rather, their hell, until mankind came and the demons had to leave this reality. Of those old demons, not much is left. Magic and certain creatures, weaker demons… Among others—“
“Vampires,” I mumbled, my eyes wide with sudden realization. Something splintered beneath my fingers and I noticed that I had almost managed to break off a part of kitchen table. I removed my hands from the table immediately, clasping them tightly together, as I first now saw the finger deep dents in the wood. How could they know? I thought the existence of vampires was the best kept secret in the world.
The two strangers must have interpreted my reaction wrongly, assuming that I didn’t believe in the existence of vampires. Xander nodded gravely. “Yes, vampires are real. As are werewolves and many other demons, you’ve only had nightmares about. But to continue my story… to fight those demons, the Powers That Be needed a warrior for their side and that’s were you come in.” He cleared his throat. “In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.” He didn’t say more, instead they both just regarded me calmly, apparently waiting for a reaction.
I shook my head slowly, in denial, as everything slowly clicked into place. Tears began to burn in my eyes, as I mumbled, “No.”
“But,” Willow suddenly said, before I could say more. “Xander was not finished with his story. You see, we changed the rules. Until a few weeks ago, what Xander said was true. There was just one Slayer, and when the Slayer died, a new one was called. Have you heard of Sunnydale?”
“The sinkhole?” I asked stupidly, not understanding why she would suddenly change the subject. It had been all Forks could talk about for a few days after it had happened – next to my engagement to Edward of course. A whole town in California had disappeared in a sinkhole. It had appeared in the news two days after the battle against Victoria, but the town itself had found its demise… on exactly the same day as the battle.
“Yes, just, it isn’t just a simple sinkhole,” Xander explained. “Sunnydale was right on top of a Hellmouth and the day the whole town collapsed, the Slayer and a lot of Potential Slayers, which means girls that could have become the next Slayer, went down into the Hellmouth to battle against an army of ubervamps. But just the Slayer and some normal girls, even though they had the potential to be called as the next Slayer, would have never been enough. So Buffy, the Slayer, decided to share her power with all the other girls and with the help of a mythical weapon and some nifty magic, Willow managed to turn all the girls into real Slayers.”
“And I’m one of them.” I had been on such an emotional roller coaster on that day and the days after that, I had never really noticed the changes in me. But now that those two strangers had pointed them out, I couldn’t deny it any longer. If what they had just told me was really true, then I was one of those… Slayers.
Willow nodded with a small smile. “Yes, Bella. You are a Vampire Slayer. One of many girls out there, we are trying to find and offer a place at our school, so that they have the possibility to train those new abilities you have now and prepare you for the fight against vampires and other demons. But contrary to all those Slayers before our little… revolution, you will have a choice.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. My mind was running wild. I couldn’t think straight. Nothing was making sense any more. I just wanted them to leave, and yet I needed some more answers. I looked directly at the red-haired woman, who wasn’t really that much older than me, waiting for an answer, which she was quickly willing to give.
“While before, the Slayer never had a choice, if she wanted to fight or not, you can now decide, if you want to join the battle, or if you want to continue your life. However, if you should decide to remain here and live your life like you used to, the least we have to do is to insist on offering you some training, so that you can learn to control your abilities and defend yourself, should you ever come across a demon. I don’t want to scare you, but as a Slayer, you give off some vibes that will tell demons what you are. On the other hand, you can also feel the demons. Our friend calls it her spider sense.”
It was making sense, somewhat… But still… I shook my head. “I can’t…” I noticed again that I was playing with the ring on my finger, the ring Edward had given me. “I’m getting married in a few weeks,” I suddenly told them softly and saw as their eyes went wide. “I’m sorry.” My voice was stronger now, as I thought of Edward. “I can’t come with you. And I have to ask you to leave now. My fiancé should be here soon.” It was a blatant lie, but I didn’t care about that. I wanted them gone, so that I could think. And there really was a lot I had to think about.
“Congratulations, Bella… Your fiancé must be a lucky man. And as to your decision, we understand,” Xander said, and his brown eye showed that his words really were sincere. He offered a small smile, as he got up from the chair and took a small card out of his breast pocket, which he put in front of me on the table. “And I’m also sorry for dropping this whole thing on you like this. But, should you change your mind, or if you have some more questions, it’s my mobile number on that card. We will hang around in Port Angeles for a few more days, if you want to talk to us in person.”
“Thank you,” I murmured and took the card without looking at it.
“Bella,” Willow now said and her eyes were so incredibly sad that I had to resist the urge to comfort her. “I’m really sorry… But at that time, the spell was our only chance to save the world. I know that I made many girls unhappy and I can understand that you don’t want to be a part of it.”
I simply nodded, not daring to say anything. It was obvious that she really felt bad about it and I could understand their reasons for doing this perfectly well. Wasn’t I in a similar situation? Didn’t I plan to give up my life, ready to hurt people in the process, for saving the lives of other people I loved?
I didn’t get up from the chair to show them out, but they seemed to understand and left the house on their own after saying a quick goodbye. The door fell shut behind them and I could hear a car drive away, and yet I didn’t move from the spot.
Slowly the realization of what this really meant dawned on me and I had to close my eyes, feeling dizzy.
Edward really had been right, when he had said one and a half years ago that I was a magnet for trouble.
Who would have thought that it apparently was my destiny to be his mortal enemy?