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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 63
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"But believe it or not, it's possible to lie with your thoughts. If you had died, I would still try to stop him. And I would be thinking 'she's alive, she's alive' as hard as I could. He knows that."
I ground my teeth in mute frustration.
"If there were any way to do this without you, Bella, I wouldn't be endangering you like this. It's very wrong of me."
"Don't be stupid. I'm the last thing you should be worrying about." I shook my head impatiently. "Tell me what you meant, about hating to lie to Jasper."
She smiled a grim smile. "I promised him I would get out before they killed me, too. It's not something I can guarantee��not by a long shot." She raised her eyebrows, as if willing me to take the danger more seriously.
"Who are these Volturi?" I demanded in a whisper. "What makes them so much more dangerous than Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie, and you?" It was hard to imagine something scarier than that.
She took a deep breath, and then abruptly leveled a dark glance over my shoulder. I turned in time to see the man in the aisle seat looking away as if he wasn't listening to us. He appeared to be a businessman, in a dark suit with a power tie and a laptop on his knees. While I stared at him with irritation, he opened the computer and very conspicuously put headphones on.
I leaned closer to Alice. Her lips were at my ears as she breathed the story.
"I was surprised that you recognized the name," she said. "That you understood so immediately what it meant��when I said he was going to Italy. I thought I would have to explain. How much did Edward tell you?"
"He just said they were an old, powerful family��like royalty. That you didn't antagonize them unless you wanted to�� die," I whispered. The last word was hard to choke out.
"You have to understand," she said, her voice slower, more measured now. "We Cullens are unique in more ways than you know. It's�� abnormal for so many of us to live together in peace. It's the same for Tanya's family in the north, and Carlisle speculates that abstaining makes it easier for us to be civilized, to form bonds based on love rather than survival or convenience. Even James's little coven of three was unusually large��and you saw how easily Laurent left them. Our kind travel alone, or in pairs, as a general rule. Carlisle's family is the biggest in existence, as far as I know, with the one exception. The Volturi.
"There were three of them originally, Aro, Caius, and Marcus."
"I've seen them," I mumbled. "In the picture in Carlisle's study."
Alice nodded. "Two females joined them over time, and the five of them make up the family. I'm not sure,
but I suspect that their age is what gives them the ability to live peacefully together. They are well over three thousand years old. Or maybe it's their gifts that give them extra tolerance. Like Edward and I, Aro and Marcus are�� talented."
She continued before I could ask. "Or maybe it's just their love of power that binds them together. Royalty is an apt description."
"But if there are only five��"
"Five that make up the family," she corrected. "That doesn't include their guard."
I took a deep breath. "That sounds�� serious."
"Oh, it is," she assured me. "There were nine members of the guard that were permanent, the last time we heard. Others are more�� transitory. It changes. And many of them are gifted as well��with formidable gifts, gifts that make what I can do look like a parlor trick. The Volturi chose them for their abilities, physical or otherwise."
I opened my mouth, and then closed it. I didn't think I wanted to know how bad the odds were.
She nodded again, as if she understood exactly what I was thinking. "They don't get into too many confrontations. No one is stupid enough to mess with them. They stay in their city, leaving only as duty calls."
"Duty?" I wondered.
"Didn't Edward tell you what they do?"
"No," I said, feeling the blank expression on my face.
Alice looked over my head again, toward the businessman, and put her wintry lips back to my ear.
"There's a reason he called them royalty�� the ruling class. Over the millennia, they have assumed the position of enforcing our rules��which actually translates to punishing transgressors. They fulfill that duty decisively."
My eyes popped wide with shock. "There are rules?" I asked in a voice that was too loud.
"Shouldn't somebody have mentioned this to me earlier?" I whispered angrily. "I mean, I wanted to be a�� to be one of you! Shouldn't somebody have explained the rules to me?"
Alice chuckled once at my reaction. "It's not that complicated, Bella. There's only one core restriction��and if you think about it, you can probably figure it out for yourself."
I thought about it. "Nope, I have no idea."
She shook her head, disappointed. "Maybe it's too obvious. We just have to keep our existence a secret."
"Oh," I mumbled. It was obvious.
"It makes sense, and most of us don't need policing," she continued. "But, after a few centuries, sometimes one of us gets bored. Or crazy. I dor't know. And then the Volturi step in before it can
compromise them, or the rest of us."
"Is planning to flout that in their own city��the city they've secretly held for three thousand years, since the time of the Etruscans. They are so protective of their city that they don't allow hunting within its walls. Volterra is probably the safest city in the world��from vampire attack at the very least."
"But you said they didn't leave. How do they eat?"
"They don't leave. They bring in their food from the outside, from quite far away sometimes. It gives their guard something to do when they're not out annihilating mavericks. Or protecting Volterra from exposure��"
"From situations like this one, like Edward," I finished her sentence. It was amazingly easy to say his name now. I wasn't sure what the difference was. Maybe because I wasn't really planning on living much longer without seeing him. Or at all, if we were too late. It was comforting to know that I would have an easy out.
"I doubt they've ever had a situation quite like this," she muttered, disgusted. "You don't get a lot of suicidal vampires."
The sound that escaped out of my mouth was very quiet, but Alice seemed to understand that it was a cry of pain. She wrapped her thin, strong arm around my shoulders.
"We'll do what we can, Bella. It's not over yet."
"Not yet." I let her comfort me, though I knew she thought our chances were poor. "And the Volturi will get us if we mess up."
Alice stiffened. "You say that like it's a good thing."
"Knock it off, Bella, or we're turning around in New York and going back to Forks."
"You know what. If we're too late for Edward, I'm going to do my damnedest to get you back to Charlie, and I don't want any trouble from you. Do you understand that?"
She pulled back slightly so that she could glare at me. "No trouble."
"Scout's honor," I muttered.
She rolled her eyes.
"Let me concentrate, now. I'm trying to see what he's planning."
She left her arm around me, but let her head fall back against the seat and closed her eyes. She pressed her free hand to the side of her face, rubbing her fingertips against her temple.
I watched her in fascination for a long time. Eventually, she became utterly motionless, hei face like a
stone sculpture. The minutes passed, and if I didn't know better, I would have thought she'd fallen asleep. I didn't dare interrupt her to ask what was going on.
I wished there was something safe for me to think about. I couldn't allow myself to consider the horrors we were headed toward, or, more horrific yet, the chance that we might fail��not if I wanted to keep from screaming aloud.
I couldn't anticipate anything, either. Maybe, if I were very, very, very lucky, I would somehow be able to save Edward. But I wasn't so stupid as to think that saving him would mean that I could stay with him. I was no different, no more special than I'd been before. There would be no new reason for him to want me now. Seeing him and losing him again��
I fought back against the pain. This was the price I had to pay to save his life. I would pay it.
They showed a movie, and my neighbor got headphones. Sometimes I watched the figures moving across the little screen, but I couldn't even tell if the movie was supposed to be a romance or a horror film.
After an eternity, the plane began to descend toward New York City. Alice remained in her trance. I dithered, reaching out to touch her, only to pull my hand back again. This happened a dozen times before the plane touched town with a jarring impact.
"Alice," I finally said. "Alice, we have to go."
I touched her arm.
Her eyes came open very slowly. She shook her head from side to side for a moment.
"Anything new?" I asked in a low voice, conscious of the man listening on the other side of me.
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