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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 65
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This was my first trip anywhere, and maybe my last, too. But Alice's driving frightened me, despite the fact that I knew I could trust her behind the wheel. And I was too tortured with anxiety to really see the hills or the walled towns that looked like castles in the distance.
"Do you see anything more?"
"There's something going on," Alice muttered. "Some kind of festival. The streets are full of people and red flags. What's the date today?"
I wasn't entirely sure. "The nineteenth, maybe?"
"Well, that's ironic. It's Saint Marcus Day."
She chuckled darkly. "The city holds a celebration every year. As the legend goes, a Christian missionary, a Father Marcus��Marcus of the Voltun, in fact��drove all the vampires from Volterra fifteen hundred years ago. The story claims he was martyred in Romania, still trying to drive away the vampire scourge. Of course that's nonsense��he's never left the city. But that's where some of the superstitions about things like crosses and garlic come from. Father Marcus used them so successfully. And vampires don't trouble Volterra, so they must work." Her smile was sardonic. "It's become more of a celebration of the city, and recognition for the police force��after all, Volterra is an amazingly safe city. The police get the credit."
I was realizing what she meant when she'd said ironic. "They're not going to be very happy if Edward messes things up for them on St. Marcus Day, are they?"
She shook her head, her expression grim. "No. They'll act very quickly."
I looked away, fighting against my teeth as they tried to break through the skin of my lower lip. Bleeding was not the best idea right now.
The sun was terrifyingly high in the pale blue sky.
"He's still planning on noon?" I checked.
"Yes. He's decided to wait. And they're waiting for him."
"Tell me what I have to do."
She kept her eyes on the winding road��the needle on the speedometer was touching the far right on the dial.
"You don't have to do anything. He just has to see you before he moves into the light. And he has to see you before he sees me."
"How are we going to work that?"
A small red car seemed to be racing backward as Alice zoomed around it.
"I'm going to get you as close as possible, and then you're going to run in the direction I point you."
"Try not to trip," she added. "We don't have time for a concussion today."
I groaned. That would be just like me��ruin everything, destroy the world, in a moment of klutziness.
The sun continued to climb in the sky while Alice raced against it. It was too brigh:, and that had me panicking. Maybe he wouldn't feel the need to wait for noon after all.
"There," Alice said abruptly, pointing to the castle city atop the closest hill.
I stared at it, feeling the very first hint of a new kind of fear. Every minute since yesterday morning��it seemed like a week ago��when Alice had spoken his name at the foot of the stairs, there had been only one fear. And yet, now, as I stared at the ancient sienna walls and towers crowning the peak of the steep hill, I felt another, more selfish kind of dread thrill through me.
I supposed the city was very beautiful. It absolutely terrified me.
"Volterra," Alice announced in a flat, icy voice.
WE BEGAN THE STEEP CLIMB, AND THE ROAD GREW CONGESTED.
As we wound higher, the cars became too close together for Alice to weave insanely between them anymore. We slowed to a crawl behind a little tan Peugeot.
"Alice," I moaned. The clock on the dash seemed to be speeding up.
"It's the only way in," she tried soothe me. But her voice was too strained to comfort.
The cars continued to edge forward, one car length at a time. The sun beamed down brilliantly, seeming already overhead.
The cars crept one by one toward the city. As we got closer, I could see cars parked by the side of the road with people getting out to walk the test of the way. At first I thought it was just impatience��something I could easily understand. But then we came around a switchback, and I could
see 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 said. Her face was chiseled from ice.
Now that I was looking, and we were crawling slowly enough to see, I could tell that it was very windy. The people crowding toward the gate gripped their hats and tugged their hair out of their faces. Their clothes billowed around them. I also noticed that the color red was everywhere. Red shirts, red hats, red flags dripping like long ribbons beside the gate, whipping in the wind��as I watched, the brilliant crimson scarf one 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, but 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 can't see what the guard here will decide now��if this doesn't work, you're going to have to go in alone. You're going to have to run. Just keep asking for the Palazzo dei Priori, and running in the direction they tell you. Don't 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. I'll 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 under the clock tower, to the north of the square. There's a narrow alleyway on the right, and he'll be in the shadow there. You have to get his attention before 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, turning the cars away from the full lot. They U-turned and headed back to find a place beside the road. Then it was Alice's turn.
The uniformed man motioned lazily, not paying attention. Alice accelerated, edging around him and heading for the gate. He shouted something at us, but held his ground, waving frantically to keep the next car from following our bad example.
The man at the gate wore a matching 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 street. Alice angled 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 take when he saw the face behind the dark glass.
"I'm 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.
"It's a private tour," Alice said, flashing an alluring smile. She reached her hand out cf the window, into the sunlight. I froze, until I realized she was wearing 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 joke?" he mumbled.
Alice's smile was blinding. "Only if you think it's funny."
He looked at her, his eyes staring wide. I glanced nervously at the clock on the dash. If Edward stuck to his plan, we had only five minutes left.
"I'm 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 away from the window and waved us on. None of the passing people seemed to notice the quiet exchange. Alice drove into the city, and we both sighed in relief.
The street was very narrow, cobbled with the same color 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 progress.
"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 angry words that I was glad I couldn't understand. She turned onto a little path that couldn't have been meant for cars; shocked people had to squeeze into doorways as we scraped by.
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