"WHERE IS IT?" The ancient one was raging among his minions. "What fool allowed a nomad to come anywhere close to the most precious of objects in this fortress? Who was on guard?"
All of the others in the room looked nervously around placing their stares anywhere but on the milky red eyes of Aro. Jane stood next to the old vampire and smiled smugly at the cowering mass that was thrown into the middle of the windowless stone room where the thrones were.
"Felix! Are you responsible for this breach?" The hooded figure remained on his knees, his head hung down. His silence was confirmation enough. "Do your worst, Jane." Aro turned and walked to his two brothers to discuss their options. They placed their heads together in a bizarre sort of triad and began their silent conference. The only sound to be heard were the shrieks coming from the pitiful heap that was once Felix.
"Enough, Jane." Immediately the howling stopped and the brothers turned to the rest of the guard. "Demetri, you will locate the rogue and that red-headed devil woman he was with. Find them, destroy them and return the crystal back to me," Aro ordered, "Jane, Alec, and Hesperia, you will go with him." The group nodded and disappeared through a large oaken door.
"Heidi, please take this vile piece of garbage to his room. He will be of no use to me for days." A tall blonde woman nodded and threw the limp figure over her shoulder. When she exited the room, Aro turned to Marcus and Caius.
"Brothers, our time is limited. If the crystal is not returned soon, all will be lost."
Seattle, WA BPOV
Her heaving bosom glistened with sweat, the handsome sailor took notice immediately of her state of undress...UGH! Why am I writing this trash? I closed my laptop and pushed away from my desk. What on earth was a virgin doing writing about ‘heaving bosoms’ and ‘throws of passion’? It was laughable that a magna cum laude graduate with a masters in ancient languages and literature was writing trashy romance novels. Unfortunately the bills had to be paid and that wasn’t going to happen with out a job.
I plodded around my small apartment picking up the bits of paper I used to brainstorm ideas on. I guess I was old fashioned that way. I liked seeing the pencil scratches and the arrows and all my other crazy markings when I was coming up with a story. Once the mess was handled, I opened the refrigerator to find an expired half gallon of milk, a limp sack o’ salad, and something with gray hair on it.
I reluctantly picked up my jacket and purse, I hated going out. I guess you could say I was a bit of a recluse. I usually ordered my groceries to be delivered but at 10 o’clock at night, I was going to have to go to the store to get something to eat. That and I was out of tissues. I hated having a cold, but what can you do?
I walked the block and a half to the small supermarket and filled the little handheld basket with my staples; tissues, a box of cold medicine, milk, spaghetti, sauce, and I had to indulge in some cheesy garlic toast. I walked slowly back to my empty little apartment, though the word ‘little’ was probably too generous. When my college roommate, Angela, moved out after graduation, I had to downsize to a studio. I didn’t really have any friends in the city, so it’s not like company was coming over anytime soon, and it suited me just fine.
As I prepared my dinner my thoughts drifted to Angela. She and her fiancé Ben felt the need to do something altruistic so they joined the peace corps. They ended up being sent to some remote part of Peru, near the border of the Amazon. She would write when she could, I would get one or two letters every couple of months. She had asked me to join with her, but I had issues leaving my apartment, let alone getting on an airplane and going to some godforsaken jungle. That didn’t stop me from having an up-to-date passport, though. I had this wild romantic idea that I should always have a passport ready, just in case some handsome man wanted to whisk me off to some enchanting foreign hideaway. HA! I really have been writing smutty novels for too long.
After I had eaten my food, I decided to clear my head with a nice hot bath. I’d pick up with miss ‘heaving bosom’ tomorrow. The soak was wonderful and I was out like a light in very little time.
When I woke I tapped out the rest of the chapter I had been working on. I had a meeting with my editor in the afternoon, and she wanted to see progress. I dressed in my ‘work appropriate’ outfit, a pair of navy slacks and a white button down shirt, topped off with a gray blazer. It was plain and boring, just like me.
I grew up mostly with my Dad, Charlie, who usually wore flannel or his police uniform. I guess that’s why my sense of style is in the toilet. I grabbed a pair of flats and threw them in my messenger bag and laced up my trusty hot pink chucks.
I decided to take the stairs, it was only two flights down, and you know what they say about exercising whenever you can. As I reached the lobby, I noticed our mailman, trying to stuff a large manilla envelope into my box.
"Hey Joe! I’ll take that off your hands." I walked towards him with a little more enthusiasm than before. I hardly ever got ‘real mail’ and this looked important.
"Thanks Bella, here you go, and here’s the rest of it." He handed me the large yellow envelope and a stack of junk mail. I tucked the big one into my bag and quickly sifted through the other pile while standing over the trash can. Keep, toss, toss, toss, toss, shred, toss, toss. Done! Sorting my mail like that was a cinch. I shoved the two other pieces of mail into my bag and headed off to my editor’s office.
The meeting was fairly uneventful. Jessica underlined and bracketed, nodded, scowled, flipped quickly through the last few pages and handed me back the manuscript. I had some revising to work on but I was more anxious to find out what was in that mysterious envelope.
I headed to the nearest Starbucks and ordered a hot chocolate. The barista glared at me when I asked for more whipped cream. I just wanted some extra deliciousness on my chocolate, it’s not like it was coming out of her paycheck.
I squished into a big comfy chair and took out the envelope. I looked over the postmarks and deduced immediately that it had come from Angela. I tore it open and dumped the contents out onto my lap. There was a note, some kind of really old looking parchment, and what appeared to be a hand drawn map. That’s weird, this is not the kind of thing I usually get from her.
I glanced briefly at the parchment and saw that it was indeed really old. I’ll have to be really careful with that. I then moved on to the letter in Angela’s handwriting.
Dear Bella, I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to send you this parchment because you are the smartest girl I know. I was hoping maybe you could tell me what it says since it’s obviously not in English, and I’m pretty sure it’s not Spanish or Portugese. Ben and I came across the parchment and a deep red crystal when we were hiking to a remote village about 100 miles from Iquitos Peru. I pulled a "Bella" and totally slipped off the side of the trail and Ben had to rescue me. While I pulled myself together, I noticed an old looking leather purse. I thought it was odd that something like that would be here in the middle of the jungle. So I picked it up and pulled the drawstrings, that’s when I saw the crystal and the parchment. I showed it to Ben and we decided to hide it. We couldn’t take it with us to the Village and we wanted to make sure we remembered where we stashed it, hence the map. Keep everything safe and I don’t think it would be a good idea to show any one else. I just have a creepy feeling about this stuff. I’ll be in touch soon. Love, Angela
I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to send you this parchment because you are the smartest girl I know. I was hoping maybe you could tell me what it says since it’s obviously not in English, and I’m pretty sure it’s not Spanish or Portugese.
Ben and I came across the parchment and a deep red crystal when we were hiking to a remote village about 100 miles from Iquitos Peru. I pulled a "Bella" and totally slipped off the side of the trail and Ben had to rescue me. While I pulled myself together, I noticed an old looking leather purse. I thought it was odd that something like that would be here in the middle of the jungle. So I picked it up and pulled the drawstrings, that’s when I saw the crystal and the parchment.
I showed it to Ben and we decided to hide it. We couldn’t take it with us to the Village and we wanted to make sure we remembered where we stashed it, hence the map. Keep everything safe and I don’t think it would be a good idea to show any one else. I just have a creepy feeling about this stuff.
I’ll be in touch soon.
I folded the note and carefully picked up the parchment. Delicately, I opened up the ancient text and began to scrutinize the writing. This was the kind of stuff I should be doing, I was fascinated by the intricate decorations around the edges of the paper, the deliberate scroll of the calligrapher’s pen, pretty much just the antiquity of the whole thing. If I had to guess I’d put it at 4th or 5th century and it seemed to be written in some kind of extinct mix of Italian and Latin.
I was internally bouncing up and down like a little kid, it had been ages since I had a project. On the outside, though, I was the perfect example of calm. This was exactly the kind of distraction I needed to get my head cleared of all the ridiculous stuff I’d been writing.
I pulled out my legal note pad and began deciphering the words on the parchment before me. I don’t know how long I’d been sitting there, but my cocoa was cold and it was now dark outside. I took that as my cue to head home.
As I was walking down the block my cell phone rang. The caller ID came up ‘unlisted’, I usually don’t answer those, but I felt like this time, I should.
"Bella? Is that you?" The voice frantically whispered.
"Ange? I’m here, what’s goin..."
"Bells, I’m in trouble, did you get the envelope I sent?"
"Yeah, I just got it today why?"
"I need you to bring it back to Peru...I nee-" It sounded like the phone dropped and another voice, much more chilling got on the line.
"Bella," hissed the icy voice. "what a beautiful name."
"What do you want? Where is Angela?"
"Don’t you worry about her, she’ll be safe as long as you do as you are told."
"What do you want? I don’t have any money, neither does she."
"Ha ha, money is not what I’m after. She took something of mine and I want it back, and you’re going bring it to me. If you involve the authorities, well, that would be a shame."
"Come to Iquitos Peru, and from there take the bus toward Santa Teresa. You’ll get further instructions from there." Click
My hands were shaking as I closed my phone. I made my way back to my apartment stumbling more than once. When I approached my building there were a few police cars in front. I carefully pushed open the door and noticed my mail box had been pried open. I took the stairs two at a time clutching with one hand to my bag and with the other to the railing. I was panting quite hard when I got to the second floor. The hallway was filled with neighbors I’d never seen and a few police officers milling about.
My front door was taped off with yellow caution tape. I stood there with my mouth agape surveying what I could from the front door. Everything had been turned upside down. All the pillows on my bed were ripped, the cupboards were all thrown open and their contents strewn all over the floor. My clothes were flung everywhere and all my books were in a pile on the floor.
"What...I...how...what happened?" I looked forlornly at the officer in front of me.
"Are you Isabella Swan?" I nodded mutely.
"Your neighbor, Mrs. Chang, reported odd noises coming from your apartment. When we responded this is what we found. Do you have any idea who might have done this?"
Ahhh, so the cat lady called the cops. I had an idea who might have done this, but I couldn’t tell him that so I just shook my head no. "I don’t think I can stay here tonight, can I get a few things and go to a hotel?"
"We’re just about done here, so that shouldn’t be a problem, I’ll let you know when you can come in. Excuse me a moment," the detective turned to another officer and began speaking in hushed voices. I overheard a little but it didn’t sound very helpful. Something about no prints anywhere but they did find one single red hair.
I leaned up against the wall next to my door and closed my eyes. What was I getting myself into? PERU? For crying out loud! I’m going to have to remember my Xanax before I get on any kind of flying tin can. I was broken out of my musings when the cat lady shuffled up next to me.
"Such a shame," she squeaked in a heavy Chinese accent. "Too loud, I knew it not you brown hair girl, too loud." She walked away, her slippers flop flopping on the ratty carpet, stroking the cat in her arms all the while muttering in Chinese.
"Miss Swan?" I turned toward my door and the officer beckoned me inside. "I’ll accompany you to get your things, just to maintain the integrity of the crime scene." I shuddered and walked past the older woman. I sifted through the rubble that used to be my closet and found my rolling carry-on bag.
I unzipped it and double checked that my passport was still in the pocket inside. I pulled it out and stuck it into my messenger bag. I then started tossing my clothing and an extra pair of shoes into the suitcase. I had to step over another pile of stuff to get into the bathroom gathered my personal care items and was lucky to find my prescription bottle of Xanax on the floor under the cabinet. I scanned the rest of the apartment and picked up my tattered copy of Pride and Prejudice. If I was to be on a plane for who knows how long I was at least going to need a book.