Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 130)

“I’m just saying, you might use the time more productively. There is so much he doesn’t know.”

“You’re right, you’re right.” She sighed. “Where do I begin?”

“You could explain about being thirsty,” Archie suggested. “That was the hardest part, when I first woke up. And we’ll be expecting a lot from him.”

When Edythe answered, it was like she was spitting the words through her teeth. “I won’t hold him to that. He didn’t choose this. He’s free to become whatever he wants to be.”

“Hah,” Archie said. “You know him better than that, Edythe. The other way won’t be good enough for him. Do you see? He’ll be fine.”

It was quiet while she tuned in to whatever Archie was seeing inside his head. Though I understood the silence, it still left me alone in the fire. I started panicking again.

“I’m here, Beau, I’m here. Don’t be afraid.” She took a deep breath. “I’ll keep talking. There are so many things to tell you. The first one is that when this passes, when you’re… new, you won’t be exactly the same as I am, not in the very beginning. Being a young vampire means certain things, and the hardest to ignore is the thirst. You’ll be thirsty—all the time. You won’t be able to think about much else for a while. Maybe a year, maybe two. It’s different for everyone. As soon as this is over, I’ll take you hunting. You wanted to see that, didn’t you? We’ll bring Eleanor so you can see her bear impression—” She laughed once, a damaged little sound. “If you decide—if you want to live like us, it will be hard. Especially in the beginning. It might be too hard, and I understand that. We all do. If you want to try it my way, I’ll go with you. I can tell you who the human monsters are. There are options. Whatever you want. If… if you don’t want me with you, I’ll understand that, too, Beau. I swear I won’t follow you if you tell me not to—”

“No,” I gasped. I heard myself that time, so I knew I’d done it right.

“You don’t have to make any more decisions now. There’s time for that. Just know that I will respect any decision you make.” She took another deep breath. “I should probably warn you about your eyes. They won’t be blue anymore.” Another half-sob. “But don’t let them frighten you. They won’t stay so bright for long.

“I suppose that’s a very small thing, though.… I should focus on the most important things. The hard things—the very worst thing. Oh, I’m so sorry, Beau. You can’t see your father or mother again. It’s not safe. You would hurt them—you wouldn’t be able to help yourself. And… there are rules. Rules that, as your creator, I’m bound by. We’d both be held responsible if you ran out of control. Oh—” Her breath caught. “There’s so much he doesn’t know, Archie.”

“We’ve got time, Edythe. Just relax. Take it slow.”

I heard her inhale again.

“The rules,” she said. “One rule with a thousand different permutations—the reality of vampires must be kept secret. That means newborn vampires must be controlled. I will teach you—I’ll keep you safe, I promise.” Another sigh. “And you can’t tell anyone what you are. I broke that rule. I didn’t think it could hurt you—that anyone would ever find out. I should have known that just being near you would eventually destroy you. I should have known I would ruin your life—that I was lying to myself about any other path being possible. I’ve done everything wrong—”

“You’re letting self-castigation get in the way of information again, Edythe.”

“Right, right.” A deep breath. “Beau. Do you remember the painting in Carine’s study—the nighttime patrons of the arts I told you about? They’re called the Volturi—they are… for the lack of a better word, the police of our world. I’ll tell you more about them in a bit—you just need to know that they exist, so that I can explain why you can’t tell Charlie or your mother where you are. You can’t talk to them again, Beau.” Her voice was straining higher, like it was about to fracture. “It’s best… we don’t have much choice but to let them think you’re dead. I’m so sorry. You didn’t even get to say goodbye. It’s not fair!”

There was a long pause while I could hear her breath hitching.

“Why don’t you go back to the Volturi?” Archie suggested. “Keep emotion out of it.”

“You’re right,” she repeated in a whisper. “Ready to learn a new world history, Beau?”

She talked all night without a break, until the sun came up and I could see her face again. She told me stories that sounded like dark fairy tales. I was beginning to grasp the edges of how big this world was, but I knew it would be a long time before I totally comprehended the size of it.

She told me about the people I’d seen in the painting with Carine—the Volturi. How they’d joined forces during the Mycenaean age, and begun a millennia-long campaign to create peace and order in the vampire world. How there had been six of them in the beginning. How betrayal and murder had cut them in half. Someone named Aro had murdered his sister—his best friend’s wife. The best friend was Marcus—he was the man I’d seen standing with Carine. Aro’s own wife—Sulpicia, the one with all the masses of dark hair in the painting—had been the only witness. She’d turned him over to Marcus and their soldiers. There had been some question of what to do—Aro had a very powerful extra gift, like what Edythe had, but more, she said—and the Volturi weren’t sure they’d be able to succeed without him. But Sulpicia searched out a young girl—Mele, the one Edythe had called a servant and a thief—who had a gift of her own. She could absorb another vampire’s gift. She couldn’t use that stolen gift herself, but she could give it to someone else who she was touching. Sulpicia had Mele take Aro’s gift, and then Marcus executed him. Once she had her husband’s gift, Sulpicia found out that the third man in their group was in on the plot. He was executed, too, and his wife—Athenodora—joined with Sulpicia and Marcus to lead their soldiers. They overthrew the vampires who terrorized Europe, and then the ones who enslaved Egypt. Once they were in charge, they made regulations that kept the vampire world hidden and safe.

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