Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 131)

I listened as much as I could. It wasn’t a distraction from the pain—there was no escape. But it was better to think about than the fire.

Edythe said the Volturi were the ones who’d made up all the stories about crosses and holy water and mirrors. Over the centuries, they made all reports of vampires into myth. And now they continued to keep it that way. Vampires would stay in the shadows… or there would be consequences.

So I couldn’t go to my dad’s house and let him see the eyes that Edythe said would be bright. I couldn’t drive to Florida and hug my mom and let her know that I wasn’t dead. I couldn’t even call her and explain the confusing message I’d left on her answering machine. If there was anything in the news, if any rumor spread that something unnatural was involved, the Volturi soldiers might come to investigate.

I had to disappear quietly.

The fire hurt more than hearing these things. But I knew that wouldn’t always be the way it was. Soon, this would hurt the most.

Edythe moved on quickly—telling me about their friends in Canada who lived the same way. Three blond Russian brothers and two Spanish vampires who were the Cullens’ closest family. She told me that two of them had extra powers—Kirill could do something electrical, and Elena knew the talents of every vampire she met.

She told me about other friends, all over the world. In Ireland and Brazil and Egypt. So many names. Eventually Archie stepped in again and told her to prioritize.

Edythe told me that I would never age. That I would always be seventeen, like she was. That the world would change around me, and I would remember all of it, never forgetting one second.

She told me how the Cullens lived—how they moved from cloudy place to cloudy place. Earnest would restore a house for them. Archie would invest their assets with amazingly good returns. They would decide on a story to explain their relationships to each other, and Jessamine would create new names and new documented pasts for each of them. Carine would take a job in a hospital with her new credentials, or she’d return to school to study a new field. If the location looked promising, the younger Cullens would pretend to be even younger than they were, so they could stay longer.

After my time as a new vampire was up, I would be able to go back to school. But my education wouldn’t have to wait. I had a lot of time ahead of me, and I would remember everything I read or heard.

I would never sleep again.

Food would be disgusting to me. I would never be hungry again, only thirsty.

I would never get sick. I would never feel tired.

I would be able to run faster than a race car. I’d be stronger than any other living species on the planet.

I wouldn’t need to breathe.

I would be able to see more clearly, hear even the smallest sound.

My heart would finish beating tomorrow or the next day, and it would never beat again.

I would be a vampire.

One good thing about the burning—it let me hear all this with some distance. It let me process what she was telling me without emotion. I knew the emotion would come later.

When it was starting to get dark again, our journey was over. Edythe carried me into the house like I was a child, and sat with me in the big room. The background behind her face went from black to white. I could see her much more clearly now, and I didn’t think it was just the light.

In her eyes, my face reflected back, and I was surprised to see that it looked like a face and not a charcoal briquette—though a face in anguish. Still, maybe I wasn’t the pile of ash I felt like.

She told me stories to fill the time, and the others took turns helping her. Carine sat on the ground next to me and told me the most amazing story about Jules’s family—that her great-grandmother had actually been a werewolf. All the things Jules had scoffed about were straight history. Carine told me she’d promised them she would never bite another human. It was part of the treaty between them, the treaty that meant the Cullens could never go due west to the ocean.

Jessamine told me her story after all. I guess she’d decided I was ready now. I was glad, when she did, that my emotions were mostly buried under the fire. She’d lost family, too, when the man who created her stole her without warning. She told me about the army she’d belonged to, a life of carnage and death, and then breaking free. She told me about the day Archie had let her find him.

Earnest told me how his life had ended before he’d killed himself, about his unstable, alcoholic wife and the daughter he’d loved more than his own soul. He told me about the night when his wife, in a drunken rampage, had jumped off a cliff with his little daughter in her arms, and how he hadn’t been able to do anything but follow after them. Then he told me how, after the pain, there had been the most beautiful woman in a nurse’s uniform—a nurse he recognized from a happier time in another place when he was just a young man. A nurse who hadn’t aged at all.

Eleanor told me about being attacked by a bear, and then seeing an angel who took her to Carine instead of to heaven. She told me how she’d thought at first she’d been sent to hell—justly, she admitted—and then how she got into heaven after all.

She was the one who told me that the redhead had gotten away. He’d never come near Charlie after the one time that he’d searched Charlie’s house. When we’d all gotten back to Forks, she, Royal, and Jessamine had followed the man’s trail as far as they could; it disappeared into the Salish Sea and they hadn’t been able to find the place where he came back out. For all they knew, he’d swum straight out to the Pacific and on to another continent. He must have assumed that Joss had lost the fight and realized it was smarter to disappear.


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