Friday, May 24, 2019

The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon Chapter 20 VOLTERRA

WE BEGAN THE STEEP CLIMB, AND THE ROAD GREW CONGESTED. As we wound higher, the cars became e preciseplacely close to pick outher for Alice to weave insanely between them anymore. We slowed to a crawl piece of ass a myopic tan Peugeot.Alice, I moaned. The measure on the dash contrivemed to be speeding up.Its the only focus in, she tried soothe me. But her enunciate was too strained to comfort.The cars continued to edge forward, wholeness car length at a time. The sunniness beamed down(a) brilliantly, seeming already every(prenominal)place guide.The cars crept wizard by genius toward the metropolis. As we got closer, I could see cars parked by the brass of the road with people getting out to walk the test of the mood. At first I thought it was merely impatiencesomething I could easily beneathstand. But then we came approximately a switch derriere, and I couldsee the filled parking lot outside the city wall, the crowds of people walking through the gates. No one was being allowed to drive through.Alice, I whispered urgently.I know, she give tongue to. Her side was chiseled from ice.Now that I was looking, and we were travel slowly enough to see, I could itemize that it was very nuzzley. The people crowding toward the gate gripped their hats and tugged their hair out of their faces. Their clothes billowed well-nigh them. I also observe that the color red was everyplace. Red shirts, red hats, red flags dripping deal long ribbons beside the gate, whipping in the windas I watched, the brilliant crimson scarf one cleaning woman had tied around her hair was caught in a sudden gust. It twisted up into the air above her, writhing like it was alive. She reached for it, jumping in the air, further it continued to flutter higher, a patch of bloody color against the dull, ancient walls.Bella. Alice spoke quickly in a fierce, low voice. I cant see what the guard here will decide nowif this doesnt work, youre going to earn to go in alone. Youre go ing to have to run. Just keep asking for the Palazzo dei Priori, and running in the direction they tell you. Dont get lost.Palazzo dei Priori, Palazzo dei Priori, I repeated the name over and over again, trying to get it down.Or the clock tower, if they speak English. Ill go around and try to find a secluded spot somewhere behind the city where I can go over the wall.I nodded. Palazzo dei Priori.Edward will be low the clock tower, to the north of the square. Theres a narrow alleyway on the right, and hell be in the shadow there. You have to get his attention sooner he can move into the sun.I nodded furiously.Alice was near the front of the line. A man in a navy blue uniform was directing the flow of traffic, twist the cars forth from the full lot. They U-turned and headed patronise to find a place beside the road. Then it was Alices turn.The uniformed man motioned lazily, not paying attention. Alice accelerated, edging around him and heading for the gate. He shouted something a t us, exactly held his ground, waving frantically to keep the next car from following our bad example.The man at the gate wore a co-ordinated uniform. As we approached him, the throngs of tourists passed, crowding the sidewalks, staring curiously at the pushy, flashy Porsche.The guard stepped into the middle of the path. Alice move the car carefully before she came to a full stop. The sun beat against my window, and she was in shadow. She swiftly reached behind the seat and grabbed something from her bag.The guard came around the car with an irritated expression, and tapped on her window angrily.She rolled the window down halfway, and I watched him do a double look at when he saw the face behind the sorry glass.Im sorry, only tour buses allowed in the city today, miss, he said in English, with a heavy accent. He was apologetic, now, as if he wished he had better news for the strikingly beautiful woman.Its a private tour, Alice said, flashing an tempt smile. She reached her han d out cf the window, into the sunlight. I froze, until I realized she was wear an elbow-length, tan glove. She took his hand, still raised from tapping her window, and pulled it into the car. She put something into his palm, and folded his fingers around it.His face was dazed as he retrieved his hand and stared at the thick roll of money he now held. The outside bill was a thousand dollar bill.Is this a hoax? he mumbled.Alices smile was blinding. Only if you think its funny.He looked at her, his eye staring wide. I glanced nervously at the clock on the dash. If Edward stuck to his plan, we had only v minutes left.Im in a wee bit of a hurry, she hinted, still smiling.The guard blinked twice, and then shoved the money inside his vest. He took a step external from the window and waved us on. None of the passing people seemed to notice the pipe down exchange. Alice drove into the city, and we some(prenominal) sighed in relief.The street was very narrow, cobbled with the kindred c olor stones as the faded cinnamon brown buildings that darkened the street with their shade. It had the feel of an alleyway. Red flags decorated the walls, spaced only a few yards apart, flapping in the wind that whistled through the narrow lane.It was crowded, and the foot traffic slowed our go on.Just a little farther, Alice encouraged me I was gripping the door handle, ready to throw myself into the street as soon as she spoke the word.She drove in quick spurts and sudden stops, and the people in the crowd shook their fists at us and said untamed words that I was glad I couldnt understand. She turned onto a little path that couldnt have been meant for cars shocked people had to squeeze into doorways as we scraped by. We found some another(prenominal) street at the end. The buildings were taller here they leaned together overhead so that no sunlight touched the pavementthe thrashing red flags on either side tight met. The crowd was thicker here than anywhere else. Alice stopp ed the car. I had the door open before we were at a standstill.She pointed to where the street widened into a patch of bright openness. Therewere at the southern end of the square. Run straight across, to the right of the clock tower. Ill find a way aroundHer breath caught suddenly, and when she spoke again, her voice was a hiss. Theyre everywhere?I froze in place, but she pushed me out of the car. Forget about them. You have dickens minutes. Go, Bella, go she shouted, climbing out of the car as she spoke.I didnt shimmying to watch Alice melt into the shadows. I didnt stop to close my door behind me. I shoved a heavy woman out of my way and ran flat out, head down, paying little attention to anything but the uneven stones beneath my feet.Coming out of the dark lane, I was blinded by the brilliant sunlight beat out down into the principal plaza. The wind whooshed into me, flinging my hair into my eyes and blinding me further. It was no wonder that I didnt see the wall of flesh un til Id smacked into it.There was no pathway, no crevice between the close pressed bodies. I pushed against them furiously,fighting the hands that shoved back. I cond exclamations of irritation and even pain as I battled my way through, but none were in a language I understood. The faces were a blur of anger and surprise, surrounded by the ever-present red. A blond woman scowled at me, and the red scarf coiled around her neck looked like a gruesome wound. A child, lifted on a mans shoulders to see over the crowd, grinned down at me, his lips distended over a set of plastic vampire fangs.The throng jostled around me, spinning me the wrong direction. I was glad the clock was so visible, or Id neer keep my course straight. But both hands on the clock pointed up toward the pitiless sun, and, though I shoved viciously against the crowd, I knew I was too late. I wasnt halfway across. I wasnt going to make it. I was stupid and slow and human, and we were all going to die because of it.I h oped Alice would get out. I hoped that she would see me from some dark shadow and know that I had failed, so she could go home to Jasper.I listened, above the angry exclamations, trying to light upon the sound of discovery the gasp, maybe the scream, as Edward came into someones view.But there was a break in the crowdI could see a bubble of space ahead. I pushed urgently toward it, not realizing till I bruised my shins against the bricks that there was a wide, square fountain set into the center of the plaza.I was nearly crying with relief as I flung my leg over the edge and ran through the knee-deep pissing. It sprayed all around me as I thrashed my way across the pool. Even in the sun, the wind was glacial, and the miffed made the cold actually painful. But the fountain was very wide it let me cross the center of the square and then some in sheer seconds. I didnt pause when I hit the far edgeI used the low wall as a springboard, throwing myself into the crowd.They moved more r eadily for me now, avoiding the icy water that splattered from my dripping clothes as I ran. I glanced up at the clock again.A deep, booming chime echoed through the square. It throbbed in the stones under my feet. Children cried, covering their ears. And I started screaming as I ran.Edward I screamed, knowing it was useless. The crowd was too loud, and my voice was breathless with exertion. But I couldnt stop screaming.The clock tolled again. I ran ago a child in his mothers armhis hair was almost white in the dazzling sunlight. A circle of tall men, all wearing red blazers, called out warnings as I barreled through them. The clock tolled again.On the other side of the men in blazers, there was a break in the throng, space between the sightseers who milled aimlessly around me. My eyes searched the dark narrow passage to the right of the wide square edifice under the tower. I couldnt see the street levelthere were still too many people in the way. The clock tolled again.It was har d to see now. Without the crowd to break the wind, it whipped at my face and burned my eyes. I couldnt be sure if that was the reason behind my tears, or if I was crying in defeat as the clock tolled again.A little family of four stood nearest to the alleys mouth. The two girls wore crimson dresses, with matching ribbons tying their dark hair back. The father wasnt tall. It seemed like I could see something bright in the shadows, just over his shoulder. I hurtled toward them, trying to see past the stinging tears. The clock tolled, and the littlest girl clamped her hands over her ears.The sometime(a) girl, just waist high on her mother, hugged her mothers leg and stared into the shadows behind them. As I watched, she tugged on her mothers elbow and pointed toward the darkness. The clock tolled, and I was so close now.I was close enough to hear her screaky voice. Her father stared at me in surprise as I bore down on them, rasping out Edwards name over and over again.The older girl giggled and said something to her mother, gesturing toward the shadows again impatiently.I swerved around the fatherhe clutched the baby out of my wayand sprinted for the gloomy breach behind them as the clock tolled over my head.Edward, no I screamed, but my voice was lost in the roar of the chime.I could see him now. And I could see that he could not see me.It was really him, no hallucination this time. And I realized that my delusions were more flawed than Id realized theyd never done him justice.Edward stood, motionless as a statue, just a few feet from the mouth of the alley. His eyes were closed, the rings underneath them deep purple, his arms relaxed at his sides, his palms turned forward. His expression was very peaceful, like he was dreaming pleasant things. The marble skin of his knocker was barethere was a small pile of white fabric at his feet. The light reflecting from the pavement of the square gleamed dimly from his skin.Id never seen anything more beautifuleven as I ran, gasping and screaming, I could appreciate that. And the last seven months meant nothing. And his words in the forest meant nothing. And it did not matter if he did not want me. I would never want anything but him, no matter how long I lived.The clock tolled, and he took a large stride toward the light.No I screamed. Edward, look at meHe wasnt listening. He smiled very slightly. He raised his foot to take the step that would put him directly in the path of the sun.I slammed into him so hard that the force would have hurled me to the ground if his arms hadnt caught me and held me up. It knocked my breath out of me and snapped my head back.His dark eyes opened slowly as the clock tolled again.He looked down at me with quiet surprise.Amazing, he said, his exquisite voice full of wonder, slightly amused. Carlisle was right.Edward, I tried to gasp, but my voice had no sound. Youve got to get back into the shadows. You have to moveHe seemed bemused. His hand brushed softly against m y cheek. He didnt appear to notice that I was trying to force him back. I could have been pushing against the alley walls for all the progress I was making. The clock tolled, but he didnt react.It was very strange, for I knew we were both in mortal danger. Still, in that instant, I tangle well. Whole. I could feel my touchwood racing in my chest, the blood pulsing hot and fast through my veins again. My lungs filled deep with the sweet scent that came aside his skin. It was like there had never been any hole in mychest. I was perfectnot healed, but as if there had been no wound in the first place.I cant believe how quick it was. I didnt feel a thingtheyre very good, he mused, closing his eyes again and pressing his lips against my hair. His voice was like honey and velvet. Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, hath had no power tho upon thy beauty, he murmured, and I recognized the line spoken by Romeo in the tomb. The clock boomed out its final chime You smell just e xactly the same as always, he went on. So maybe this is hell. I dont care. Ill take it.Im not dead, I interrupted. And neither are you Please Edward, we have to move. They cant be far awayI struggled in his arms, and his brow furrowed in confusion.What was that? he asked well-bredly.Were not dead, not yet But we have to get out of here before the VolturiComprehension flickered on his face as I spoke. Before I could finish, he suddenly yanked me away from the edge of the shadows, spinning me effortlessly so that my back was tight against the brick wall, and his back was to me as he faced away into the alley. His arms spread wide, protectively, in front of me.I peeked under his arm to see two dark shapes detach themselves from the gloom.Greetings, gentlemen, Edwards voice was calm and pleasant, on the surface. I dont think Ill be requiring your services today. I would appreciate it very much, however, if you would send my thanks to your masters.Shall we take this conversation to a mo re appropriate venue? a polish up voice whispered menacingly.I dont believe that will be necessary. Edwards voice was harder now. I know your instructions, Felix. I havent broken any rules.Felix merely meant to point out the proximity of the sun, the other shadow said in a soothing tone. They were both concealed within smoky gray cloaks that reached to the ground and undulated in the wind. Let us seek better cover.Ill be right behind you, Edward said dryly. Bella, why dont you go back to the square and enjoy the festival?No, bring the girl, the first shadow said, somehow injecting a leer into his whisper.I dont think so. The pretense of politeness disappeared. Edwards voice was flat and icy. His weight shifted infinitesimally, and I could see that he was preparing to fight.No. I mouthed the word.Shh, he murmured, only for me.Felix, the second, more reasonable shadow cautioned. Not here. He turned to Edward. Aro would simply like to speak with you again, if you have decided not to f orce our hand after all.Certainly, Edward agreed. But the girl goes free.Im afraid thats not possible, the polite shadow said regretfully. We do have rules to obey.Then Im afraid that Ill be unable to accept Aros invitation, Demetri.Thats just fine, Felix purred. My eyes were adjusting to the deep shade, and I could see that Felix was very big, tall and thick through the shoulders. His size reminded me of Emmett.Aro will be disappointed, Demetri sighed.Im sure hell survive the letdown, Edward replied.Felix and Demetri stole closer toward the mouth of the alley, spreading out slightly so they could have a go at it at Edward from two sides. They meant to force him deeper into the alley, to avoid a scene. No reflected light found access to their skin they were safe inside their cloaks.Edward didnt move an inch. He was dooming himself by protecting me.Abruptly, Edwards head whipped around, toward the darkness of the winding alley, and Demetri and Felix did the same, in response to some sound or movement too subtle for my senses.Lets behave ourselves, shall we? a lilting voice suggested. There are ladies present.Alice tripped lightly to Edwards side, her stance casual. There was no hint of any underlying tension. She looked so tiny, so fragile. Her little arms swung like a childs.Yet Demetri and Felix both straightened up, their cloaks swirling slightly as a gust of wind funneled through the alley. Felixs face soured. Apparently, they didnt like even numbers.Were not alone, she reminded them.Demetri glanced over his shoulder. A few yards into the square, the little family, with the girls in their red dresses, was watching us. The mother was speaking urgently to her husband, her eyes on the five of us. She looked away when Demetri met her gaze. The man walked a few steps farther into the plaza, and tapped one of the red-blazered men on the shoulder.Demetri shook his head. Please, Edward, lets be reasonable, he said.Lets, Edward agreed. And well leave quietly now, w ith no one the wiser.Demetri sighed in frustration. At least let us discuss this more privately.Six men in red now joined the family as they watched us with anxious expressions. I was very conscious of Edwards protective stance in front of mesure that this was what caused their alarm. I wanted to scream to them to run.Edwards teeth came together audibly. No.Felix smiled.Enough.The voice was high, reedy, and n came from behind us.I peeked under Edwards other arm to see a small, dark shape coming toward us. By the way the edges billowed, I knew it would be another one of them. Who else?At first I thought it was a young boy. The newcomer was as tiny as Alice, with lank, pale brown hairtrimmed short. The consistency under the cloakwhich was darker, almost blackwas slim and androgynous. But the face was too pretty for a boy. The wide- look, full-lipped face would make a Botticelli angel look like a gargoyle. Even allowing for the dull crimson irises.Her size was so insignificant that th e reaction to her appearance confused me. Felix and Demetri relaxed immediately, stepping back from their offensive touchs to blend again with the shadows of the overhanging walls.Edward dropped his arms and relaxed his position as wellbut in defeat.Jane, he sighed in recognition and resignation.Alice folded her arms across her chest, her expression impassive.Follow me, Jane spoke again, her childish voice a monotone. She turned her back on us and drifted silently into the dark.Felix gestured for us to go first, smirking.Alice walked after the little Jane at once. Edward wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me along beside her. The alley angled slightly downward as it narrowed. I looked up at him with frantic questions in my eyes, but he just shook his head. Though I couldnt hear the others behind us, I was sure they were there.Well, Alice, Edward said conversationally as we walked. I suppose I shouldnt be surprised to see you here.It was my mistake, Alice answered in the sam e tone. It was my argument to set it right.What happened? His voice was polite, as if he were barely interested. I imagined this was due to the listening ears behind us.Its a long story. Alices eyes flickered toward me and away. In summary, she did jump off a cliff, but she wasnt trying to kill herself. Bellas all about the extreme sports these days.I flushed and turned my eyes straight ahead, looking after the dark shadow that I could no longer see. I could imagine what he was hearing in Alices thoughts now. Near-drownings, stalking vampires, werewolf friendsHm, Edward said curtly, and the casual tone of his voice was gone.There was a loose curve to the alley, still slanting downward, so I didnt see the squared-off dead end coming until we reached the flat, windowless, brick face. The little one called Jane was nowhere to be seen.Alice didnt hesitate, didnt break pace as she strode toward the wall. Then, with easy grace, she slid down an open hole in the street.It looked like a dr ain, sunk into the lowest point of the paving. I hadnt noticed it until Alice disappeared, but the grate was halfway pushed aside. The hole was small, and black.I balked.Its all right, Bella, Edward said in a low voice. Alice will catch you.I eyed the hole doubtfully. I imagine he would have gone first, if Demetri and Felix hadnt been waiting, smug and silent, behind us.I crouched down, swinging my legs into the narrow gap.Alice? I whispered, voice trembling.Im right here, Bella, she tranquilize me. Her voice came from too far below to make me feel better.Edward took my wristshis hands felt like stones in winterand lowered me into the blackness.Ready? he asked.Drop her, Alice called.I closed my eyes so I couldnt see the darkness, scrunching them together in terror, clamping my mouth shut so I wouldnt scream. Edward let me fall.It was silent and short. The air whipped past me for just half a second, and then, with a huff as I exhaled, Alices waiting arms caught me.I was going to hav e bruises her arms were very hard. She stood me upright.It was dim, but not black at the bottom. The light from the hole above provided a faint glow, reflecting wetly from the stones under my feet. The light vanished for a second, and then Edward was a faint, white shine beside me. He put his arm around me, holding me close to his side, and began to tow me swiftly forward. I wrapped both arms around his cold waist, and tripped and stumbled my way across the uneven stone surface. The sound of the heavy grate sliding over the drain hole behind us rang with metallicfinality.The dim light from the street was quickly lost in the gloom. The sound of my staggering footsteps echoed through the black space it sounded very wide, but I couldnt be sure. There were no sounds other than my frantic heartbeat and my feet on the wet stonesexcept for once, when an impatient sigh whispered from behind me.Edward held me tightly. He reached his free hand across his body to hold my face, too, his smooth thumb tracing across my lips. Now and then, I felt his face press into my hair. I realized that this was the only reunion we would get, and I clutched myself closer to him.For now, it felt like he wanted me, and that was enough to offset the horror of the subterranean tunnel and the prowling vampires behind us. It was probably no more than guiltthe same guilt that compelled him to come here to die when hed believed that it was his fault that Id killed myself. But I felt his lips press silently against my forehead, and I didnt care what the motivation was. At least I could be with him again before I died. That was better than a long life.I wished I could ask him exactly what was going to happen now. I wanted desperately to know how we were going to dieas if that would somehow make it better, knowing in advance. But I couldnt speak, even in a whisper, surrounded as we were. The others could hear everythingmy every breath, my every heartbeat.The path beneath our feet continued to slan t downward, taking us deeper into the ground, and it made me claustrophobic. Only Edwards hand, soothing against my face, kept me from screaming out loud.I couldnt tell where the light was coming from, but it slowly turned dark gray instead of black. We werein a low, arched tunnel. Long trails of ebony moisture seeped down the gray stones, like they were bleeding ink.I was shaking, and I thought it was from fear. It wasnt until my teeth started to chatter together that I realized I was cold. My clothes were still wet, and the temperature underneath the city was wintry. As was Edwards skin.He realized this at the same time I did, and let go of me, keeping only my hand.N-n-no, I chattered, throwing my arms around him. I didnt care if I froze. Who knew how long we had left?His cold hand chafed against my arm, trying to warm me with the friction.We hurried through the tunnel, or it felt like hurrying to me. My slow progress irritated someoneI guessed Felixand I heard him heave a sigh no w and then.At the end of the tunnel was a gratethe urge on bars were rusting, but thick as my arm. A small door made of thinner, interlaced bars was standing open. Edward ducked through and hurried on to a larger, brighter stone room. The grille slammed shut with a clang, followed by the snap of a lock. I was too afraid to look behind me.On the other side of the long room was a low, heavy wooden door. It was very thickas I could tell because it, too, stood open.We stepped through the door, and I glanced around me in surprise, relaxing automatically. Beside me, Edward tensed, his jaw clenched tight.

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