I hadn't told Charlie about the longer trip yet, and I stewed about what to say to him while Edward and Carlisle's discussion went on. How to break the news to him just right?
I stared at Renesmee while I debated internally. She was curled up on the sofa now, her breathing slow with heavy sleep, her tangled curls splayed wildly around her face.Usually, Edward and I took her back to our cottage to put her to bed, but tonight we lingered with the family, he and Carlisle deep in their planning session.
Meanwhile, Emmett and Jasper were more excited about planning the hunting possibilities. The Amazon offered a change from our normal quarry. Jaguars and panthers, for example. Emmett had a whim to wrestle with an anaconda. Esme and Rosalie were planning what they would pack. Jacob was off with Sam's pack, setting things up for his own absence.
Alice moved slowly - for her - around the big room, unnecessarily tidying the already immaculate space, straightening Esme's perfectly hung garlands. She was re-centering Esme's vases on the console at the moment. I could see from the way her face fluctuated - aware, then blank, then aware again - that she was searching the future. I assumed she was trying to see through the blind spots that Jacob and Renesmee made in her visions as to what was waiting for us in South America until Jasper said, "Let it go, Alice; she's not our concern," and a cloud of serenity stole silently and invisibly through the room.
Alice must have been worrying about Irina again.
She stuck her tongue out at Jasper and then lifted one crystal vase that was filled with white and red roses and turned toward the kitchen. There was just the barest hint of wilt to one of the white flowers, but Alice seemed intent on utter perfection as a distraction to her lack of vision tonight.
Staring at Renesmee again, I didn't see it when the vase slipped from Alice's fingers. I only heard the whoosh of the air whistling past the crystal, and my eyes flickered up in time to see the vase shatter into ten thousand diamond shards against the edge of the kitchen's marble floor.
We were perfectly still as the fragmented crystal bounced and skittered in every direction with an unmusical tinkling, all eyes on Alice's back.
My first illogical thought was that Alice was playing some joke on us. Because there was no way that Alice could have dropped the vase by accident I could have darted across the room to catch the vase in plenty of time myself, if I hadn't assumed she would get it. And how would it fall through her fingers in the first place? Her perfectly sure fingers...
I had never seen a vampire drop anything by accident. Ever.
And then Alice was facing us, twisting in a move so fast it didn't exist.
Her eyes were halfway here and halfway locked on the future, wide, staring, filling her thin face till they seemed to overflow it. Looking into her eyes was like looking out of a grave from the inside; I was buried in the terror and
despair and agony of her gaze.
I heard Edward gasp; it was a broken, half-choked sound.
"What?"Jasper growled, leaping to her side in a blurred rush of movement, crushing the broken crystal under his feet. He grabbed her shoulders and shook her sharply. She seemed to rattle silently in his hands. "What Alice?"
Emmett moved into my peripheral vision, his teeth bared while his eyes darted toward the window, anticipating an attack.
There was only silence from Esme, Carlisle, and Rose, who were frozen just as I was.
Jasper shook Alice again. "What is it?"
"They're coming for us," Alice and Edward whispered together, perfectly synchronized. "All of them."
For once, I was the quickest to understand - because something in their words triggered my own vision. It was only the distant memory of a dream - faint, transparent, indistinct as if I were peering through thick gauze.... In my head, I saw a line of black advancing on me, the ghost of my half-forgotten human nightmare. I could not see the glint of their ruby eyes in the shrouded image, or the shine of their sharp wet teeth, but I knew where the gleam should be....
Stronger than the memory of the sight came the memory of the feel - the wrenching need to protect the precious thing behind me.
I wanted to snatch Renesmee up into my arms, to hide her behind my skin and hair, to make her invisible. But I couldn't even turn to look at her. I felt not like stone but ice. For the first time since I'd been reborn a vampire, I felt cold.
I barely heard the confirmation of my fears. I didn't need it. I already knew.
"The Volturi," Alice moaned.
"All of them," Edward groaned at the same time.
"Why?" Alice whispered to herself. "How?"
"When?" Edward whispered.
"Why?" Esme echoed.
"When?"Jasper repeated in a voice like splintering ice.
Alice's eyes didn't blink, but it was as if a veil covered them; they became perfectly blank. Only her mouth held on to her expression of horror.
"Not long," she and Edward said together. Then she spoke alone. "There's snow on the forest, snow on the town. Little more than a month."
"Why?" Carlisle was the one to ask this time.
Esme answered. "They must have a reason. Maybe to see ..."
"This isn't about Bella," Alice said hollowly. "They're all coming - Aro, Caius, Marcus, every member of the guard, even the wives."
"The wives never leave the tower," Jasper contradicted her in a flat voice. "Never. Not during the southern rebellion. Not when the Romanians tried to overthrow them. Not even when they were hunting the immortal children. Never."
"They're coming now," Edward whispered.
"But why?" Carlisle said again. "We've done nothing! And if we had, what could we possibly do that would bring f/?/sdown on us?"
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