Written: 23-24 December, 2017
Fandom(s): Twilight, Sons of Liberty, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel, Underworld, BBC Sherlock, Vampire Diaries/The Originals
Pairing(s): Bella/General Thomas Gage, (one-sided) Bella/Lucian, (past) Bella/Edward
Summary: They said that Bella was going to be used to give Edward an example—they would make her happy without him. She just had to travel back in time to the Revolutionary War for this to happen.
Warnings: time travel, medical experimentation (canon), character death (canon), vampirism, bad poetry, father!figure!Marcus
Bella stood before the Volturi kings, Edward beside her and Alice a little to her right. The cold one, not to put a play on words, his face as dead as a corpse, his long dark hair still shining with health in the light, held out his hand to Aro Volturi. Bella thought his name might be Marcus. He was the one whose mate, Didyme, had been killed by Aro, her own brother. He had remained like this, a living shell, for centuries.
Aro, carefully, took his fingers, and closed his eyes. Then there was a spark in them as he looked at Bella, the red in them suddenly lighter, more playful. “Ah, yes,” he determined. “I remember it well.”
“No!” Edward commanded, pushing Bella roughly behind him so that she fell on the marble floor. “You cannot—you will not—this is madness—”
Alice looked at her as if she were a deer caught in headlights. It seemed a vision would not come to her, that she could not see what Edward saw in Aro Volturi’s mind. She ran to Bella, and helped her off the floor, running her hands through Bella’s hair to move it from her face. “It will be all right,” she whispered in Bella’s ear. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
Edward was screaming, but now it seemed someone, two someones, were dragging him away.
Remaining on the floor, her hands holding her up as she sat there, Bella looked at the three kings who were conferring.
“Lady Lily,” the blond haired one was saying. “I barely met her.—I remember your time in the Colonies, brother.”
“Your sentence,” Lord Aro stated, flicking his hand toward Alice to show her she should move aside. “Has long been decide, Lily. Lily, Isabella, Bella. You are ‘Bella’ no more. That name cannot pass your lips. You must understand this. Lord Marcus shall take you where you can be happy—without us.”
“Without you,” she murmured. “And I am to be Lily—Swan?”
“Hardly,” Marcus stated, rising from his seat and speaking for the first time. “You must have a noble name. Brandon-Corvin, I think. Common enough, but still reminiscent of the Duke of Suffolk.”
Bella looked at Alice, who was clearly as confused as she was.
“I shall simply be ‘Lord Marcus’. No other explanation is necessary.”
Before she could say another word, he had gone and she was being escorted out of the chamber. She stood before a desk where Marcus was writing something and then he signed it elaborately. Bella was attempting not to hyperventilate. When the other two kings came in and similarly signed it before they all three placed their seals upon it, Bella really was trying her best to breathe.
“It will be over soon, il mio piccolo,” Aro promised her, handing her the piece of parchment and returning her to the throne room. Alice was missing. It was completely empty except for one vampire dressed completely in white. Bella didn’t think she had seen him before. He didn’t move. He didn’t even touch her.
And she was lost.
She woke up on the floor of the throne room to see Jane standing over her. Bella immediately scooted away and wondered at her peculiar clothing. “I—” she tried, but the vampire kept on looking at her. Bella held up the letter with the Volturi seals. “I come in peace,” she quoted.
Lord Aro, dressed as he always did as a gentleman from a long past age, walked up to her and took the letter from her hands; inspecting the seals, he showed it to the other kings. Lord Marcus hardly looked at it. “It’s addressed to you, Brother.”
Bella was taken away, and she slept.
Out of all of the peculiarities she might have dreamt of, finding herself in Colonial America was not one of them.
“Lily,” Lord Marcus stated as they were docking on the shores of Boston. “You must remember that you are a lady of refinement.”
Bella was in a dress not meant for refinement, but instead for torture, and she felt like telling Lord Marcus just that—but he was a three thousand year old vampire who was now her guardian or “uncle” and she had to mind him. She was afraid to see what would happen if she did not.
“I don’t understand why we are here,” she reiterated for the hundredth time. “I realize it is so I might be happy—but I cannot get home from here—and everyone is dead, or at least not alive. What will Charlie do when I do not come home?” She folded up her fan that she had learned how to use, and looked at Lord Marcus rather forcefully. Her hair was tied up in a French Twist, which technically hadn’t been invented yet, but was the only hairstyle she knew. She’d used it at that horrible prom Edward made her go to, and now just ran through the motions each morning with little thought.
“Your home,” Lord Marcus replied in a dull voice, “might be here, Lily.” It was strange, but none of the Volturi kings knew her actual name. They all thought she was Elizabeth (a form of Isabella) or “Lily” Brandon-Corvin. She was even called “Lady Lily” most of the time, which rather frightened her.
That’s what she was afraid of.
They disembarked and Lord Marcus saw to their trunks—Bella had two, someone had procured her a wardrobe and she was only thankful it wasn’t Alice—and Lord Marcus hired a carriage to take them to their lodgings.
“Only the best,” he told her without a hint of emotion in his voice when they reached the fashionable center of town. The apartment was on the second floor and was full of white wainscoting, brilliant colors, and magnificent paintings and marble floors. Bella took the more feminine of the two bedrooms, it seemed the most obvious choice, and decided to make the best of it.
All of Boston society opened for them, and she rather dreaded it. Men wanted to dance with her (she was thankful she had been taught), women wanted to gossip with her, and still Bella couldn’t imagine this to be her home.
Sedition and war waged on the streets and still they just pretended as if nothing had happened.
“Mr. Hancock,” she greeted one evening, holding two flutes of champagne. “Is it true? The new Military General has absconded with your lovely house?” Bella passed him the champagne.
“I am afraid it is so, Lady Lily,” he replied, raising his glass to her. “I find there is little to celebrate.”
“I suppose not,” she agreed, taking a seat across from him. “I should like to meet this general. I do not like to get into the politics of this all. Fortunately, my apartment is too high for the Revolutionaries to paint ‘Tory’ on it, but, yes, something about the Lord Protector intrigues me.” She took a sip of her wine.
“What about him?”
“Je ne sais pas,” she answered in French, a habit she had picked up in Boston. Although they were all British Americans, the upper classes liked to think themselves more cultured than the rabble. “It’s just—” Bella couldn’t quite explain it. “Don’t make it obvious.”
“I am the soul of discretion,” he promised her, a twinkle in his eye.
He managed it within three days. She was wearing pink silk, a parasol in her hand, and he knocked on the door of what had previously been his home. “Ah, my good man,” he greeted, “a word with General Gage. This good lady loaned me a portrait and I promised her I would try to get it back for her.”
Of course, at first the Captain wouldn’t let them see the General, but Hancock was nothing if not charming, and eventually they were permitted entrance.
“A portrait,” Gage stated, not looking up. “What on earth would a young lady be doing loaning you a portrait, Hancock?”
“I was having one refurbished,” he answered, “and there was a rather blank space on my wall. I complained about it rather loudly to the point Lady Lily was quite annoyed at me and so offered one of her own. She cannot stand complaining.”
Bella looked at Hancock. “I’m afraid I cannot. I fear the Revolutionaries’ plight is quite lost on me with all of their drudgery. Is that not so, Mr. Hancock?”
At this, General Gage looked up and took Bella in. She had been certain to look presentable and quite beautiful that morning, wearing not her finest silks but those suitable for daywear. Bella raised an eyebrow at him, as if in a challenge, as she felt a sliver—a sliver—run through her.
She wanted to go up and touch his face, run the back of her fingers down his cheek, but instead, she remained where she was standing. Turning her head to mask what had just happened, she continued, “I understood you seized the house, but I hope you did not seize the portrait,” she stated coolly, shaking herself mentally. “It’s of a great-aunt, you must understand: the Duchess of Suffolk.” It was nothing of the kind. They had decided on the portrait and it was roughly of the correct era.
“I have a duchess on my walls?” he asked, his eyes never leaving hers. He was drinking her in almost obsessively, as if they were the only two people in the room.
“You do,” she agreed, with a small smile, meant for him and him alone. “I never met the woman, but it was a gift from the Duke when I left England, he wanted me to remember my heritage, and I would be grateful to have it back again.”
Gage seemed to be considering something. Then, he flicked his hand at Hancock. “Leave us.”
Bella watched everyone go. She took in General Gage. He was a handsome man in his uniform and powdered wig (she never thought she’d find wigs attractive, but such it was; she had been indoctrinated to the times). He was old enough, perhaps, to be her father and she wondered if he had any children. She realized that perhaps the thoughts showed on her face, and she cleared her visage as he continued to take her in.
Still there was that sliver of something running through her, that made her want to speak to him, to truly speak to him, but she knew she could not.
“Lady Lily,” he began, “I take it from your words that you still carry the name of ‘Brandon’.”
“’Brandon-Corvin’,” she answered carefully. “’Elizabeth Brandon-Corvin.’ I came to the New World with my uncle, Lord Marcus.”
“Indeed. If he is amenable, I would like to offer an invitation to tea Thursday next. Perhaps we can go find this portrait of yours and I will have it prepared for transportation by then?” His voice was cool, though not dead like Lord Marcus’s. His blue eyes still took her in, as if she meant something, and she wondered if she meant something more to him as he did to her.
“I would be very much grateful,” she agreed. “Is Lord Marcus to tea? He lost his wife many years ago and the joy went quite out of his life. I’m afraid he’s rather an—acquired taste.”
“Indeed,” Gage answered. “It would not do for you to be alone with a man too long.”
“This is British America,” she responded. “The rules are different here. Now, I would not dream of hindering your work any longer. If you would be kind enough to lend me a manservant or one of your subordinates, I shall go find the painting with Mr. Hancock.” She curtseyed to him low, ready to leave, although her heart was begging her to stay. Next she took out her card. “If you would care to send an official invitation to Lord Marcus,” she suggested.
“Indeed, Lady Lily.”
She walked to the door and opened it, finding Hancock on the other end. “We have permission to find the portrait,” she told him, “and I shall retrieve it later this week.”
“Whatever did you do to poor General Gage?”
She laughed at him. “Sealed my fate as a Royalist, I presume,” she answered, forever hiding the truth, and they went to the next floor up to find a rather drab painting of a woman in a high collar and black dress.
When the invitation arrived, Lord Marcus looked at it for a long moment. “I see you take an interest in politics, Lily.”
“Not particularly,” she lied. “I heard his name and felt I had to meet him. I hope you do not object.”
“No,” he told her. “I do not object. He is a brave man to come to our shores in such a time of rebellion.”
“He is appointed by the Crown,” she answered honestly. “You do not think that I am obstructing my happiness?”
“I think you are on a journey toward your happiness, and this may lead you to it, even in a way you do not expect. I must write to accept this invitation.” He left her, confused and a little ashamed.
Lord Marcus insisted, in the end, that he not attend but that a servant accompany her. It was a little bright, after all. Bella found it rather peculiar, but did not question him. She arrived promptly at three, and was shown into a brightly lit room with a tea table set for three.
“Mariah,” Bella stated, handing the girl her parasol and gloves. “Do go sit in the corner.”
Lord Marcus had few rules, but one was never to engage with the servants. Bella didn’t understand, but she agreed for the simple reason that she was slightly frightened of Lord Marcus. He was, after all, a king of a vampire race, and she never forgot that he could kill her on a whim.
After a moment, General Gage entered. He took her hand and kissed it. A moment of power passed between them and they quickly looked into each other’s eyes. “Where is your Lord Uncle?”
“He sends his regrets,” she replied carefully. “Business, I’m afraid, has been disrupted again. He sent me with my maid. I hope she won’t disrupt tea in any way?” Bella left the question hanging.
“Not at all,” he agreed, holding out a chair for her. She carefully sat, a tingling still present in her hand where he had kissed her. “What brings you to British America, Lady Lily?”
Bella knew the story well. “A rake,” she responded. “He would not stop hounding me or the Duke. They tried sending me to Italy, but he followed me there. I went to France under another name, and still her persisted. Lord Marcus finally suggested that even he would not go as far as the Colonies. They hope that once I am married, to a proper gentleman, naturally, that he will go away and I can return home to England. Unfortunately, he had the habit of scaring off other suitors.” Lord Aro had based the story off of Edward. In his thoughts he read about Mike and Tyler and the others—and he thought he could use it as a cover for Bella’s whereabouts.
“And what was this rake’s name?” General Gage asked, clearly curious. “In case he should come to these shores. I’ll lock him up on your behalf.”
“You’re too kind.” Bella was glad that she had read so much Jane Austen. She found that she could speak as if she were a British noblewoman. “Edward Cullen, Esquire.”
He snapped his fingers and a low-ranking officer appeared. “Did you catch the name? I want all ship manifests checked for that particular person.”
“Of course, General,” he agreed, writing it down in a little book before bowing and going back into the shadows.
She looked at him for a moment. “You are quite gallant.”
“Not at all,” he demurred. “I like a pretty face as much as the next man.”
This surprised Bella. No one had really thought her pretty until she had gone to Washington State, and even then she found the concept absurd. Edward was beautiful, a god deigning to look at a lowly ordinary girl such as herself.
“I’m afraid I have offended you, Lady Lily,” he apologized.
“No,” she refuted, as the hot water was finally brought for the tea. “I have just never thought of myself as beautiful. My mother was beautiful. She was quite—” She paused. “She was not a good mother.”
The tea was made and Bella poured them each a cup, inquiring how he took it, and then settling on just a bit of sugar for herself. She had learned to like the drink, strangely. One couldn’t pretend to be English without learning the accent and drinking tea.
“Surely you had nannies,” he suggested, his eyes looking at her intently.
“What are nannies to a mother?” she quipped back. “Surely you must be of—elevated rank—to have risen so high in your profession.”
“You have caught me out, Lady Lily,” he agreed, offering her a lemon cake. “I am the Second Viscount Gage.”
“Indeed.” Bella rarely ate anything, much to Lord Marcus’s amusement, but she took the cake and put it on her plate. Lord Marcus called her a vampire. Sometimes Bella wondered if she were here to meet a vampire.
“Do you care for poetry?” Gage suddenly asked, leaning forward in his chair with interest.
That pull seemed to exist between them, that sliver of something, and they each leaned forward toward each other as if they simply couldn’t resist.
“Poetry?” Bella inquired. “Perhaps not, but it would be interesting, I suppose … Are you a poet, General Gage?” She took another sip of her tea.
“Mr. Hancock is forever inviting me to soirees,” he shared. “One is to a poetry gathering tonight. I thought, perhaps, I might attend with a beautiful woman on my arm.”
Bella thought for a moment, of what Lord Marcus had said, how Gage might lead her to whom she was supposed to be with. Then again… she couldn’t imagine herself reacting so instantly… “If my uncle permits it,” she agreed. “If you would write a brief note, perhaps, and then we can send word back. My maid will be in attendance, naturally.”
“Naturally,” he agreed. “I shall bring the portrait so you will not be encumbered this afternoon.”
“Indeed, General,” she agreed, nodding her head to him. Her mind then turned to poetry and she wondered at it.
Lord Marcus read the invitation. “Poetry,” he stated.
“Yes,” she agreed, not mentioning the sliver. “Poetry.”
“You hate poetry, Lily. In all your books, not a single one is a book of poets. It has led me to conclude at least an indifference to that form of literary art. Why ever do you wish to go?” He looked up at her with red eyes.
“Because I was invited and I wish to see where this acquaintance with General Gage will take me,” she responded. “You told me yourself that my journey may include him.”
“Indeed,” he responded, his red eyes flashing knowledge before turning back to the letter he was writing. It was undoubtedly to his brother kings. “Do not let bad poetry put you off certain individuals. Not everyone’s skin is pale, after all.”
She raised an eyebrow at him and turned away, determined to find a gown elegant enough for the guest of the Lord Protector of Boston.
He was a handsome man, dressed in black coat tails, embroidered in white, with blond hair and a strong jaw. He was sitting a little to her left, slightly behind her, but she had noticed him. She was in blue silks, large ruffles of lace at her arms.
The young man was truly a dreadful poet. Bella was certain she hadn’t heard anything quite so bad. He had actually rhymed “peace” with “grease”. Nothing could be worse. She turned slightly to General Gage in her shock and whispered, “Who is this young man?”
“The Earl of Merton’s brother,” he whispered back.
Well, that explained his presence tonight.
Remembering Lord Marcus’s words, she walked up to the bad poet and commented, “You certainly have a singular style to your poetry. Where do you get your inspiration?”
“Life, Madam,” he responded earnestly.
“Life,” she responded. “I suppose we all draw the color of our world, however insignificant, from it. I understand your brother is the Earl of Merton. I did not catch your name when you were being introduced.”
“Lord William Pratt,” he introduced, bowing to her low.
“Lord William,” she greeted. “I am Lady Lily.”
“A lady on these dirty shores,
Is not for the common eye a sore—” he prattled away.
Bella lifted an eyebrow but did not comment. “I see you are a poet in many things,” she eventually said. Bella produced a card. “Tuesdays I am at home.” She left him there without a word.
He didn’t come on Tuesday, and Bella looked at Marcus. “You said he didn’t have pale skin—I thought he might not sparkle.”
“This Lord William of yours might burn,” he suggested. “Some do, after all.”
Skeptically, she repeated, “Burn?”
“We are not the only ones. Do you ever wonder, Lily, why you were not turned before we came here? You were not meant for some human, even if this Gage may fall in love with you. You were meant for something more. We are giving you that more—partially in punishment to Edward Cullen who, if he ever wants to see you again, must join the guard for seven hundred years.”
“Do you even know who Edward Cullen is?”
“No,” he admitted. “But it was in the letter.”
“Then you mean for me to burn,” she suggested.
“No,” he answered. “We mean for you to shine, but you must move amongst the natives first.”
Bella sat there, leaning back against the chair in a very unladylike fashion, and decided to read. All of her favorite books had yet to be written, so she was stuck with Shakespeare, mainly. She hadn’t even realized the sun had gone down and she had missed dinner (again) until she had a guest.
A card was presented to her. “Lord William Pratt.”
She looked at the clock. It was past seven. Looking at the butler, she inquired, “Does he know it’s past calling hours?”
“He is aware, yes.”
Bella glanced over to where Lord Marcus had been sitting, but he had long since vacated his chair by the desk. Standing in the middle of the room, she stood and waited for Lord William to make himself known. “I feel,” she greeted, “that this is quite out of the ordinary. In fact, I should throw you out, however my uncle suggested you might burn if you came during calling hours, and while I’ve never heard of such an occurrence, he is rarely wrong.”
Lord William was completely arrested by her pronouncement.
“Do you burn?” she asked.
“I do,” he admitted. “I’m called Spike.”
“Spike.” She repeated. “I’m called ‘Lily’. It’s not my name, although it seems to have become it.—Do you know of anyone who sparkles in the sunlight?”
“No,” he answered honestly.
She turned toward the window. “Then will you be good enough to tell me if you do?”
He kissed her hand and then left her to her thoughts.
But no one came.
Until there was Carlisle.
General Gage sent her a message and, as it was the middle of the day, only Mariah could attend her. “You said there was something of interest,” Bella stated as she came up to his desk and surveyed all of his papers. “I hope you don’t think I’ll be of much good in subduing the populace.” She laughed a little.
“I know you have many talents, Madam, which you prefer I know nothing about.”
Startled, she looked at him, and he gazed at her equally in fascination.
“No,” he decided. “I’ve caught someone who might be of interest. You mentioned a Mr. Edward Cullen who was harassing you, is that not so, my lady?”
Bella, unable to speak, simply nodded that this was the case. Edward hadn’t even been born yet. What could possibly be happening?
“I thought as much,” he stated. “We have a relation of his in custody and we thought, before interrogating him, it might be best if you had a brief conversation with him. See if he’s at all related to this Edward Cullen.” General Gage looked at her with a stern smile, although it did reach his eyes.
He came around the desk and gently took her hand, not lifting it to his lips, but holding it between the folds of her skirt in a familiarity that seemed natural to them.
Looking down briefly, she responded, “How kind.” Thinking she knew who it was, she nonetheless asked, “the person’s name?”
“Dr. Carlisle Cullen.”
Her dark eyes looked up into his blue ones, looking for a hint of recognition, and she found it there. No words were spoken between them, just this silent moment punctuated by a worthless conversation when they were communicating so much more to one another.
“Oh, I see,” she answered. “Well, I’ll gladly meet him. Mariah, my shawl.”
She was not taken down to the prison, rather he was brought up to her. She was sitting in a parlor, drinking tea, when an unwashed but definitely one Carlisle Cullen was brought up from wherever he was being held. Bella had made sure that his chair was out of direct sunlight and had claimed she had a headache, so the curtains had been drawn for his protection.
“There, Dr. Cullen,” she greeted. “I don’t think you’ll sparkle now. I am sorry about all of this—it’s a bit of a mix up.”
“Madam?” he asked in surprise.
“I know what you are and I don’t care,” she told him. “I know you’re a doctor who doesn’t feed off of his patients. I admire you for it, Dr. Cullen. You just happen to have the last name of a young man who has been causing me difficulties, and the Lord Protector is rather an admirer of mine.”
Carlisle looked at her for a second and then leaned back, “I see, Madam.”
“So, let’s get this over with. Do you know who I am?”
“Have you met anyone from the family of the Duke of Suffolk?” she smiled at him.
“Have any of your family?”
“My parents are dead as are all of my brothers and sisters. I am unmarried, Madam, so you see it is quite impossible.”
Bella smiled at him, knowing that would change in about one hundred twenty five years. “And, as of yet, you’ve never heard of an Edward Cullen.”
He paused and then shook his head.
“Excellent!” she determined, standing and replacing her cup of tea. “If you’re staying in Boston, I would avoid Lord Marcus and Lady Lily Brandon-Corvin. The Volturi tend to remember faces.” Exiting the room, she gave her report to the guard, and didn’t see a single Cullen until after she had lived into the twenty-first century.
She watched dispassionately at the Battle of Bunker Hill from a tree some miles away. She sighed as she became eighteen, nineteen, and she found Lord Marcus and confronted him, “This cannot be what you meant. I exchange tokens with General Gage, but as of yet he has not stolen a single kiss from me.”
“No,” he agreed. “But this is the beginning.” Marcus paused a moment. “The future we saw for you is not what we believed. However, you might join a war—a war far east from us with vampires ruled by other great leaders. Would you join this war?”
“Would I?” she breathed, looking at him. “When is this war?”
“Now, but you are not needed. You must wait, Lily. I will force William the Bloody to turn you and you will wait with the Volturi until we send you. Your dear friend, General Gage, will be sent home soon to England, and then too we may leave. How say you?”
“And this is my path?”
“This is your love,” he answered simply. “Do you wish to take it, Lily Corvin?”
She startled at the name, but then nodded. It was easy to send a card to Lord William and have him come to her one night. “You know why we asked you here,” she stated. “I need to become one of you.”
“I cannot accept the burden of a childe—” he began.
“Lord Marcus can,” she argued, not looking at him. “He is old, so desperately old. He can easily take charge of me. I ask this as a friend, Spike. I need not to age. I am waiting for someone.” Her large brown eyes pleaded with his.
“I can understand waiting,” he admitted. “Sometimes I wish to be gone. Love is so fleeting.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “I was in love once, and he was taken from me. However, I’ve been promised love again. Will you help me, William? Perhaps we will see each other again.”
She held out her wrist and offered it to him.
“Just a bite,” he suggested.
It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t pleasurable. The smell made her nauseous but she was positive that she wouldn’t faint. Not for something so important.
Bella knew as it happened. Her knees went weak, and he instantly caught her. Spike laid her against a chair, arranging her bleeding wrist so that it would only stain the carpet and not the upholstery. She groaned as she felt her blood shifting within her and a kiss was placed on the side of her temple. Then she was alone.
Another hand was in hers then, its skin paper thin, and she looked up to see Marcus. For the first time he offered her a smile. Soon… soon she would no longer be Isabella Marie Swan. She would truly be Lily Corvin. She wondered how they knew her grandmother had been a Corvin, but she thought no more of it as she lost consciousness.
The ship left at night. Lily Corvin was nonetheless wearing a blue silk cape and gloves over her green silk dress.
“Will you be sorry to see it go?” General Gage asked her.
She turned to him. “Strangely, yes,” she replied. “I did not believe I would enjoy Boston—but I believe I am to go to Italy again.”
“No,” she told him with a sense of finality. “Uncle favors it and I would not mind it for a little while. Nothing has reached me of Mr. Cullen so I suppose it is nearly safe to go back to England. Perhaps I will see you there, General.” She gave him a smile.
He paused. “You are a very beautiful woman,” he murmured.
She looked over at him warily, knowing a deep divide now separated them. “So you have said the second time we met. Perhaps you should not complete that thought. It would do neither of us good.”
“You do not wish to be a Viscountess?” Those words which but a week ago would have been so welcome now felt like acid in her stomach.
“I wish to never age,” she responded. “I have wished that for years. I wish for time to pass me by and to see it whip by with eyes that grow older in an unchanging face. I wish to walk hand in hand with my beloved as we view the world as unbiased observers.” She turned to the general. “I do not think you would wish that. I think you must have had a wife, a son, surely. I would not make a good mother, not yet at least.”
He bowed to her. “Thomas is but seventeen,” he admitted.
“He would resent a mother but a few years older,” she decided. “I thank you for the compliment.” Taking his hand, she squeezed it. “I was proud to call you Lord Commander of the Boston I knew. I never thought I’d say that as a British American,” her eyes twinkled, “but it is nonetheless true.”
She turned to leave, but he called her back. “Was that lady in the portrait truly a duchess?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “You’d have to ask Mr. Hancock and I fear we’ve left him behind.”
Lily was not a member of the guard. She was free to come and go as she wished as soon as she mastered her thirst. It took her thirty years, but she did not mind. Her face had smoothed out, her eyes still an arresting brown, her hair had a reddish sheen to it. She was a master predator and unlike cold ones she did not have any supernatural powers.
Still, she was welcome. Lord Marcus believed they had some debt to her and Lord Aro wanted to punish Edward Cullen, especially when he learned of his talent.
For her part, Lily enjoyed traveling throughout Europe and meeting esteemed personages. She met Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Vaughn Williams, various kings and queens, Italian poets, various Dukes of Orleans, Cromwell—she quite enjoyed herself.
The guard spoke of her in whispers.
She began to hear murmurs of the Eastern Vampires. Of Lords Markus and Viktor and Lady Amelia. Lady Amelia reigned in Russia and would soon go to wake Lord Markus. Before Bella came to save Edward, Lily had gone to the East with nothing but the clothes on her back and her name.
Settling in Prague, she decided not to seek the vampires. Someone would find her. She was Lily Corvin, and somehow this name, as much as Brandon, had significance.
A vampire was the first to find her. “You are new here.”
“I am,” she greeted. “I come from America.”
He inspected a blade within his hand. “And why come here?”
She didn’t answer at first. “I wished to be with my kind,” she answered honestly. “The vampires in America have lost their heritage. The old world,” she sighed. “The old world is full of nothing but heritage. I can smell it in the rain. I can smell it in the sweat of humans in the rain.” Lily smiled predatorily. “I hope I have not offended.”
“No,” he agreed. “When were you turned?”
“1774 in Colonial Boston,” she admitted. “I was a great friend of General Gage. I’m afraid I may have eaten him on my voyage back to England. I was less than two weeks old.” Lily turned to the vampire. He had hair to his shoulders and arresting brown eyes. His pale face was stark against his black leather jacket. “May I ask who you are?”
“Kraven,” he answered, tossing the dagger and catching the handle. “I am Lord Viktor’s regent.”
“I see,” she answered. “Lily.”
He looked at her like a predator. “You need not live among such filth. The nest is willing to accept any and all children of the great vampires.”
Lily tilted her head. “I may come and go as I choose? I like to stalk my prey,” she admitted. “I think it comes from spending my first few months on a ship. It was terribly claustrophobic.”
“Of course,” he responded. “You are not a prisoner. We only ask that you be present for all festivities when Lady Amelia arrives in the next three weeks. You will be given stored blood to drink. It is warm and taken in goblets, not as satisfying, but it suits our needs.”
She nodded. “Will you send someone for me or wait? I have a few possessions—” Lily let her voice tilt off.
“I shall wait,” he offered.
Unlocking the door, he followed after her. It was easy enough. She had only a suitcase of simple black clothing as she understood vampires here preferred it, a laptop, and her favorite dvds. She left the keys on the desk for her landlord to find.
The nest was decadent. She looked at the plush furniture and was surprised when Kraven took her suitcase, her backpack still slung over her shoulder. Kraven assigned her a suitable room off a side hall with a queen size bed and internet connection. A schedule was given to her along with security codes.
She fired up her laptop and was surprised when someone had gotten through her firewall.
>>You left, Little Corvinus.
Lily paused before answering.
<<Did you expect differently?
She waited for several long moments. Lily tried to run several back searches but kept on running into firewalls.
>>Little Corvinus, trying to find me? You must be hungry. No dinner. Perhaps you will want breakfast.
She couldn’t help but stare and she closed the laptop quickly. Taking off her black leather jacket, she got up in her black jeans and black lace top. Even she could admit that Alice would have loved it. It was designer. Lily played the stock market. She had developed a simple algorithm to beat the prices of stocks. Lily had always been good at math. She couldn’t help it if she was bored in that class with its simple Calculus equations and, therefore, didn’t show her true potential. Where the Cullens had Alice to predict when to trade and when not to, Lily had cool hard knowledge and it was perfect in that it wasn’t fool proof.
Moving downstairs, she looked about and saw empty goblets and a glass decanter filled with red liquid. It was helpfully labeled B Negative. Looking around for O Positive, she found it after two minutes and poured herself a glass.
“You’re Kraven’s new project,” a bored voice began.
Lily turned to see a beautiful woman, dressed completely in leather, with startling ice blue eyes and black hair cut to her shoulders. Those eyes reminded her of eyes in a different face, of soft words that would speak of military tactics to a fellow officer, before brushing past her and slipping his fingers through hers.
“I suppose I am,” Lily answered. “I recently came to Prague and was hoping the vampires in the area would find me—and they did.”
“Lucky you,” she drawled. “I’m Selene. Lord Viktor adopted me.”
“I see,” she answered. “Lily.”
Selene looked at her. “What does he see in you? Not that I’m not glad. He’ll leave me alone.”
Lily gaped at her. “I have no idea.”
“Then again,” Selene continued, “Erika is in love with him. She’s the blonde over there.” She indicated her with her goblet. Erika truly was beautiful, but Lily recognized that her hair had been dyed at some point and as nightwalker as opposed to cold one, hair grew at the roots and yet never gained length. It was clear that is exactly what happened here. Lily never understood it. If vampire hair stayed the same length, why did roots show? It was a mystery to her. Cold one hair did not behave so strangely.
“Well, I wish Erika the best,” she answered. “When I wish to fall in love, I don’t mean to compete.”
“It’s not about love,” Selene told her helpfully. “It’s about sex.”
Well, Lily had never had sex, in her 247 years, and that was worse than Edward. She supposed in all of those years with the Volturi that she was just waiting for what the three kings had promised her. When she was nineteen, it hadn’t seemed quite so bad, but now, waiting all these hundreds of years, it seemed a little pathetic.
“I’ll leave it to Erika, then,” she stated openly. Her eyes tracked Kraven who was prowling down the stairs. “I find sex without emotions quite overrated.”
His head turned toward her minutely, but he gave no other sign that he had heard her.
Lily finished her drink and then looked at Selene. “I understand that my surname means something here in Prague. Could you perhaps help me?”
“What surname?” Selene asked.
“Perhaps I should ask Kraven,” she suddenly decided. “He’s in charge of the Coven.”
“I’m the daughter of a king,” Selene pressed.
“I am the daughter of a Western king,” she rejoined. “I still have yet to determine why he took me to British America to change me, but I will leave that to Lord Marcus of the Volturi to know and for me to wonder.”
The coven suddenly became silent.
Lily looked around at everyone. Her eyes found Kraven’s.
“You are not a Cold One,” he stated.
“No,” she agreed. “Lord Marcus decided I should be a nightwalker. It was my destiny, he claimed.” Lily looked about. “It seems I have overstayed my welcome this evening. I’ll retire. Selene. Kraven.” She nodded her head to each of them and then moved away from both as she climbed the stairs.
She could instantly hear the chatter as soon as she turned away toward the corridor where her room was, but she didn’t listen. Lily could imagine what they were saying.
Opening up her computer, she saw that the messages were still there.
>>Little vampire, surely you must be hungry.
Quickly, she typed an answer.
<<Are you offering?
It took only a moment for an answer to follow:
>>I’m sure I could show you prime hunting grounds.
A time and place were set. She fell asleep to mysteries and confusion, wondering if coming to the nest was truly the wisest decision she had made.
The next morning she left on foot. Pushing through her apprehension, she went to a public square and waited for the signal. A man with long, curling dark hair, a slim face, and dark eyes approached her. He had a five p.m. shadow given that it was after eight at night and was similarly dressed in black. He was holding a purple rose.
“Who are you?” she asked, accepting the flower.
“A friend,” he answered carefully. “You are a Corvin.”
“What does that matter?” she questioned. “Names are just names.”
“Names are powerful,” he disagreed, placing a hand on the small of her back and leading her down toward a subway. “Now, you wait until there are two or more trains and drain someone in the confusion. When you’re finished, just leave.”
“You honestly think I can get away with this on a subway platform?”
“Yes,” he answered honestly. “The cameras will only see the top of your head.”
He led her down and they were waiting for a train. One came but another did not come with it. He placed a hand on her arm and they waited another four minutes until three trains came in. Then she pounced on a young man with too many tattoos, attaching herself to his leg, so that his leg bent and he fell into the mass of people. When she was done, she wiped her face and walked out toward an exit, her paces fast but measured and she took a deep breath when she reached the open air.
“That worked,” her friend told her. “I knew it would.”
“That was an experiment?” she stated angrily.
“To be honest, I haven’t personally met many vampires since the age of the underground,” he offered. He held up a hand when she made to object. “I had someone practice for me. He wasn’t a vampire, but we stuck someone with a needle and withdrew enough blood to incapacitate him.”
“You’re confident,” she admitted. “What do you want?”
He hesitated and then decided, “It doesn’t matter what I want.”
“Are you some human groupie?” Lily asked suspiciously.
Laughing, he looked at her. “Hardly. You’re—marvelous.” He glanced down at her—he was rather tall. “I hadn’t expected you to be marvelous.”
Lily looked at him cross-eyed. “I don’t believe I’ve been called ‘marvelous’ before.”
“How old are you?” he inquired.
“Two hundred and fifty, give or take,” she answered honestly, “not as old as the twins.”
“You’re a child,” he murmured. “I’m over eight hundred.”
“And yet not a vampire,” she reiterated. “I can’t imagine—” Then her mind flashed to Lord Caius and his hatred of werewolves. She grabbed his face, looking into his eyes as if she could determine, just through a hard stare, what he was. “You can’t be,” she decided. “Our kinds hate each other.”
“Not always,” he promised. “I had a vampire wife—once. She was murdered for looking at me.”
Lily swallowed. “How horrible.” She looked around. “Now what? The sky is still dark but I really shouldn’t stay out.”
“No, little Corvinus,” he agreed. “Come out with me tonight.”
“You cannot be so taken with me,” she argued. “I do not even know your name, Lycan.” She understood that’s what werewolves were called here. Spirit wolves, werewolves, Lycans. It was so different depending on where one was. There were also subtle differences.
“My name means something.”
“So does mine,” she joked. “When I was in Colonial America, I became Brandon-Corvin so that I could be related to the Duke of Suffolk. I was always, however, a Corvin. Lily Corvin. I wasn’t born Lily Corvin. Corvin was my grandmother.”
“Then you are a Corvin,” he decided for her, “just through the maternal line.”
He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. And that’s when she felt it, a fission of pure—it wasn’t electricity and it wasn’t magic. It was pure attraction. This is what Marcus had promised her all those hundreds of years ago and it was with a Lycan. It was Thomas Gage except so much more viscerally weak.
She knew he felt it, too, because he looked at her with surprise in his blue gaze.
“You must surely tell me now,” she whispered. “I will not speak of it.”
“Lucian,” he agreed. “My name is Lucian. I’m supposed to be dead.”
“Then be dead,” she agreed. “I’m going to be dead in two years—and I am taken somewhere else that no one can follow, and that path leads me here, to you. Tonight.”
She hurried back to the nest, with the rose in her hand, and was surprised to see the same decadence that was there which she had seen when she had left the night before. Conversation stopped as soon as she entered, and she sighed.
Lily saw Erika. She approached her. “We look about the same size,” she greeted. “You have such nice clothing and I want to impress a guy—not Kraven,” she amended. “Could you loan me something for tonight? A skirt?” She bit her lip. “I would really appreciate it.”
Erika looked her up and down. “Let me see your closet,” she decided.
“Thank you,” Lily breathed.
Her day was spent reading in the library, as she spent most of her days, and when the sun set, she got into the little leather skirt Erika had loaned her and a sheer black top she owned herself. She hoped she didn’t look the complete fool.
They met in a little café and Lily had a coffee just for appearances. “If you’re supposed to be dead…” she murmured, “whatever are you doing with ‘Little Corvinus’.”
“Testing the bloodlines,” he answered her honestly. “There was one man, Corvinus. One son was bitten by a bat and became the first vampire. The other a wolf.”
Lily looked at him. “Are you trying to produce a hybrid—and your little game was to lure me out?” She suddenly felt silly for wearing the skirt and the shirt. “I see.”
“You don’t see,” he told her, taking her hand. “If we can merge the two bloodlines, vampires will stop trying to hunt us to extinction.”
“But that’s the way it is everywhere,” she told him. “I’ve seen it in the Pacific, Italy, now here. There will always be fighting between our two kinds.—I suppose I could run, but I walked into your trap, Lucian.” How could she have been so wrong about what Lord Marcus meant for her? How could she have thought it was with a Lycan of all possible races?
He looked at her a long moment. “I’m not taking you.—I’m,” he looked aside. “I’m too personally involved, Lily.—Come, see what we’ve done.”
“See you torturing other Corvins?”
“Human Corvins,” he admitted. “You were a long shot.”
She looked at him for a long moment but then, when he stretched out his hand, she couldn’t help but take it. Lily slid off of her coffee stool and let Lucian walk her out into the rain, a raincoat she hadn’t brought coming over her shoulders and an umbrella finding its way over their heads.
He led her back into the subway, deep into the underground, where there were several men mulling about in painted on pants, sweat dripping off their abs. They looked at her in clear interest, but she held her head up high, and was taken into a lab, which had various humans up on racks.
“This is inhumane,” where the first words out of her mouth.
“What do you care? This is a medical research laboratory funded on virtually nothing and you’re a vampire.” He walked over and shook a man’s hand. “Singe. This is Lily Corvin, the vampire I was telling you about. Her mixed heritage has been kept from her and she is interested in the results of our findings.”
“Yes, I would imagine you would, Miss Corvin,” he answered. “The result will be half-vampire, after all.”
“Is this so feasible?” she wondered, coming up to one bleeding—specimen. “A hybrid?”
“We believe so. If you had been injected with the right combination of chemicals and blood, you might have become a hybrid yourself.”
She laughed at him. “You’re two hundred fifty years too late, Lycan,” she told him plainly, “and on the wrong continent.” Bella thought of herself now, a fifteen year old living in Arizona with her Mom, and how she had no idea any of this was going to happen to her in just two years’ time.
Perhaps she should go back. See her—take an evening out with her old schoolmates in Forks when she would normally be holed up with Edward. It was a thought.
“Would you like strength at the moon?” Singe suddenly asked.
Lucian looked at him suddenly.
“I mean no harm. I’ve been developing, in my own free time, a tincture for non-werewolf members of the Corvinus family. If you take it at the time of the full moon, you will not change, but you will feel her power. I would test it on one of our guests here, of course, first, Miss Corvin.”
“But she would be your first vampire guinea-pig,” Lucian guessed. “The answer is ‘no’.”
“The answer,” Lily decided, “might be ‘yes’. I have to see it working first.” She smiled at the Lycan and then turned her smile to Lucian, who was looking back at her dubiously.
He reached out carefully and, taking her hand, intertwined their fingers. It felt wrong somehow. The last man who had taken her hand had been General Gage—and she had lunged at him their last night aboard ship. She still felt ashamed of herself. She had loved him after all. Lily had never told anyone, but she had loved Gage.
Lucian’s blue eyes were so haunted and she couldn’t quite understand the cause, but she held onto him and tried to brighten her smile, forgetting for a moment that she was in Prague and not in British America.
Lily was given a full tour and was even shown the combination of chemicals being pumped into the ‘subjects.’
“And I’m related to these poor souls,” she remarked. It had been a long time since she had viewed humans as anything other than food. That’s what they were to her, after all. Food. She ran a finger down one man’s face. “We look nothing alike. Then again, I look nothing like Grandma Corvin. She looked nothing like Dad. We both took after her husband.—You should have seen Mom,” she smiled. “She had golden hair that flowed down her back, these big brown eyes, the perfect face. Mom had four husbands by the time I’d disappeared. I didn’t much care for the last one, though he was nice enough.”
Lucian pulled a piece of hair away from her face, and she looked at his fingers as they moved through her hair. “What is it?”
“You understand,” he realized. “You understand my vision.”
Lily had always understood the visions of a great man. She was able to comprehend on a level that most men and women frankly couldn’t. It was quite frightening sometimes, but it was part of what drew her to Gage apart from that sliver of something. It might, in the end, draw her to Lucian, though she couldn’t imagine that Volturi elaborately planning all this to give her to a Lycan.
She shrugged and looked around. “It’s not my vision, per se, but I’m a vampire. I see no reason to merge our species. If I think about it, I might be genuinely horrified.” Lily looked away from him. “If it’s the full moon you seek to free yourselves from—”
“No,” he stated, coming closer to her. “We seek only the power to kill a vampire.”
A shiver ran down her spine. “I’m not sure I should be here, then.”
She moved away from the body of the barely living human she was inspecting, away from Lucian, toward the door, but there was a gentle pressure on my arm. “You don’t know about our histories, do you? How can you? You’re too young. You’re not from here.”
Lily paused and looked back at him. “I don’t understand.”
“We were your slaves once,” he told her, ripping off his jacket and showing her the ornate V singed into his upper arm, a brand a slave would carry. Any American would know that from studying the slave trade. “And I never bore my masters any ill will. I even took one of you to wife.” He approached Lily again and ran a hand across her cheekbone and down her cheek. “Sonja, my bride, was never so beautiful as you.”
Her eyes looked at him, accusingly. “Should I be flattered?” she sniped back.
“Little Corvinus,” he whispered and then he kissed her hungrily right there, in the lab, in the stench of human sweat and chemicals.
It had been so many centuries since Bella had been kissed. She didn’t want it. It was all wrong. How could this be happening to her? Before she could think about it, Lily slapped him—hard.
He felt his cheek and laughed quietly to himself. “You’ve never been kissed before, Lily Corvin.”
She looked down, and pushed her hair behind her ear, but he gently raised her chin with the side of his thumb.
“No,” she answered, deciding to hide behind the ruse. “I mean, when I was still human I had a—a boyfriend—but he was a cold one and was convinced he would kill me if he—well—and—why are you smiling?” Lily looked at him rather angrily.
He kissed her gently. “You’re so wonderfully young and untried, Little Corvinus.” He brushed the side of her temple with his large thumb. “Why do you accept this, accept me?”
“I do not accept, I observe,” she replied without thinking. If she weren’t already so pale, she would have gone white when he let out a healthy laugh. His eyes twinkled at her, so she thought she would continue, “I always preferred literature, but I am quite gifted in math and a bit in science. I find this quite fascinating—and these creatures aren’t people.”
“You have no empathy for man.”
“I lost it,” she admitted. “I was sitting with the great Sir Antony Eaton, using my womanly wiles to pry state secrets out of him, and I realized what a small minded little man he was. Here he was, losing the Suez Canal and going behind the back of NATO, and all he could care about was what lay between my legs.—Vampires have such concerns, but at least they play the game, and back in Italy no one would dare touch me because I was the child of one of the Volturi kings and I was a nightwalker.”
“I’ve never heard—”
“You wouldn’t,” she responded. “There are kings in the west of the cold ones, and kings in the east of the nightwalkers. I happen to be a nightwalker who was fostered by Lord Marcus of the Cold Ones. He and Lord Aro saw me as an investment.”
A frown tugged on the side of his mouth. “And what did you have to do?”
“I have to live and find happiness within the next seven hundred years,” she stated, “and present myself to the boy who wouldn’t kiss me. I’m to be his torture.” A hush fell over her as an old sadness permeated through her. “It is strange, being kept alive to torture someone. I’ve seen so much, lived so many lives, Lucian. I’m here because I’m now at the heart of my kind and the happiness I was promised, this happiness that will torture this boy, could very well be here.”
He took her hand and entwined their fingers. Still, it felt wrong. Her mind, as it had for so many decades, cried out for Gage.
“Little Corvinus,” he murmured, kissing the back of her knuckles. “You remind me of so much of that which was lost.”
“I, a child?” she asked. “But truly, you can speak more of your kind and perhaps of mine than I can. What is this—smoothness—that runs between us?” she half-lied, wanting some answers finally to something she had lost so long ago.
“I can only speak from what I know,” he answered carefully, “but I believe all vampires have the potential for a sliver.”
“Sliver?” she asked.
“Look it up,” he suggested, taking her hand and leading her out again.
He took her to a crowded square for dinner, where he got them a table and she went off to go find someone to eat. She returned in twenty minutes.
“What?” he asked.
“The sky,” she answered, looking up at the blackness. “It’s cloudy even now.”
“That can only be positive for you, can it not?” he answered. “It is not a full moon for a good two weeks yet.”
She smirked at him. “I promised Lord Marcus of the Volturi that I would send him a letter soon—I will write about this sliver and my thoughts regarding it. Shall I simply refer to you as ‘L’ when I name my source, and your love of all Corvinus?”
“It’s vague, but direct enough,” he decided. “Many vampires don’t believe the legend of Corvinus anymore.”
“But you do,” she decided.
“I’m a first-generation Lycan. I have seen more than you can imagine, Little Corvinus.”
“My name is ‘Lily’,” she corrected.
“No,” he told her lightly. “That’s what they’d have you called.—Your name was something else before you became one of them. You said your grandmother was a ‘Corvin’ so not even that is true. Who are you, Lily Corvin?”
“You’ll never know,” she told him honestly. “I barely remember myself.”
He took a hold of her hand and kissed the back of it, before the two of them left under a moonless sky.
Lily went into the library when the sun was shining. The windows were blacked out and she knew she should sleep soon. Still, she was interested. Kraven was in a corner, just observing her, and he sat up. He was wearing a black suit that looked a little peculiar with his long hair. “What are you looking for, Lily?”
“Slivers,” she answered, running her hand down a book. “Someone referenced it, and I’m not exactly certain what it is or where to look.”
Kraven looked decidedly uncomfortable. “Slivers?”
“Yes,” she agreed, moving through the racks. “That feeling when you touch someone and there’s a harmony between you—or when you just look at them and know. That’s apparently a sliver. Perhaps that’s what Lord Marcus meant me for. I have been waiting far too many centuries on just a promise.”
“I think,” Kraven told her, clearing his throat, “you’ve been misinformed.”
“Have I?” Lily asked carefully. “It’s just—I wouldn’t want to disappoint a vampire king.”
“No,” he laughed. “I suppose not.—Who?”
Lily looked at him. “So you believe me now?” A book caught her eye. “Oh, let it not be ‘mates’,” she muttered to herself, wondering if she had lost her mate to an episode of newborn hunger. Taking the book off the shelf, she looked down the contents to find a three-page chapter on slivers.
It was a rather archaic belief that dated back to the six hundreds, that a sliver of a vampire’s soul remained human and that humanity recognized, very rarely, the sliver of humanity in another vampire —and that these two individuals often felt such an affinity for each other that they were mates. They were called slivers. When a person had been chosen by a vampire for transformation, a sliver could appear to them as their soul had already begun to be corrupted.
General Gage had been her sliver. And he was forever lost to her.
How bloody fucking lovely—and yet—this is what she had been promised. Happiness. She took out a pen and paper and wrote a short note to Lord Marcus, begging him to tell her what to do. Then, to be careful, she wrote another to Lord Caius about the Lycans and the war here and how she wasn’t quite certain a Lycan was a werewolf. Did he have any thoughts?
That night she went out and posted her letters herself, not trusting the vampires she nested with, wearing nothing but a black blouse and black linen trousers, a black trench coat to keep out the rain.
Kraven was near the door. “You can drive, can’t you, Lily?” He dangled a pair of keys in front of her. “We wouldn’t want to offend the Volturi.”
“I wouldn’t know where to park,” she admitted.
“Then a motorcycle, perhaps,” he suggested, reminding her of her time as human spent with Jake.
Despite herself, her eyes lit up, and he chuckled. He snapped his fingers and new keys were placed in his hand. “The helmet is with the motorcycle, which is yours until you leave this nest. If you need another helmet, you may sign one out at any time.”
“I take it you will be tracking me,” she responded.
“How little faith you have in me, Lily. I hope you will take this opportunity to buy an evening gown for when Lady Amelia arrives over the next few weeks. As the emissary of another coven, I would hope that you would allow me to escort you and present you personally to Lady Amelia?”
She paused and looked at him a second. She really didn’t like Kraven, but there was no way to fault his logic. “I will try to find something appropriate,” she promised as she took the keys and exited the mansion.
He had given her a Ducati, and Lily was more than pleased. She hunted quickly and then found Lucian, “Get on,” she told him before going to one of the more exclusive evening gown shoppes in the city.
“I need an objective point of view,” she told him when she was on the third dress. “I’m a representative from Italy.”
“On whose arm?” he asked peevishly.
“Does it matter?”
“It does,” he answered, “if it’s not mine. Let me throw you a rave tomorrow. We can all dance around the fire, drink too much, and I’ll give you a place to sleep where you will be kept safe.”
Lily looked at the shopkeeper who disappeared for a moment. “Only if you help me choose a dress.—And I’ll only say ‘yes’ because I know what slivers are—a question I’ve had since the 1770s.”
In the end, he had chosen for her a long, tight-fitting dress of black velvet that came up to her neck in a choker in opaque black material, which fell down her arms all the way to her wrists. She was completely covered, but she knew that she wasn’t leaving there, at least with a dress, if she didn’t bow to his obsessive possessiveness. She knew that when she had picked him up for their shopping expedition. At least the sheer material had diamonds on it to make it sparkle.
He then took her to a hospital, where the smell of blood drove her mad (How could Carlisle Cullen work under such conditions?), and he pointed out a man with a slightly boyish face and longer brown hair. She was beginning to see a pattern here in the men in Prague. “He’s a doctor,” she murmured.
“His name is Michael Corvin.”
She looked at Lucian. “Corvin.”
Then she heard it. The sound of tiny clicks somewhere. Someone was taking pictures. Pushing Lucian into a closet, she moved down the hallway and followed the sound. She reached Michael Corvin and put a finger up to her mouth before she looked out the window, aware that the sound was coming from the roof above and across the street.
“Do you have any enemies?” she asked him quietly, and he shook his head.
“Who are you? Are you like that woman on the subway this morning?”
“No,” she answered, not knowing what he meant. “I just know someone is following you, and it’s not me.” Holding out her hand, she introduced, “Lily Corvin. I understand we might be cousins, of a sort.”
“Michael,” he responded. “Dr. Michael Corvin.” He seemed too nervous to even offer his hand to shake.
“Right you are,” she agreed, taking back her hand. “Let’s get you away from your photographer.” Lily put her hands in her pockets and walked steadily toward the door. After a few moments, she could hear him following after her. Of course, at first she wasn’t quite certain what to do with him, but when she saw the extra helmet on the bike, she immediately thought of Lucian.
Could she do this? Could she deliver a human being to Lucian as a lab rat?
Had she lost her moral fiber so much that she was willing to do this?
Had losing Gage—had ending his life—really meant that she would end others’ lives?
She threw him the helmet. “Come on,” she stated a little brusquely, putting her own on. “We’re going somewhere underground, so trust me a little.” Lily felt him get on the back of her bike, and she sped off toward the subway station, parking across the street.
Of course, they came across the Lycans on their way to the lab. “It’s only me, boys, bringing Lucian a present!” she called, turning back to Michael and winking at him. She could see the hulking figures of several Lycans turning to her, seeing her with a human in her wake. “Does someone want to make sure he doesn’t want to wake up for awhile?” she suggested.
When he woke up again, he was hanging from a board slab and Lily was standing next to Lucian.
“Don’t say I’m not romantic,” she told Lucian, joking. “I just gave you my cousin as a twisted Valentine.”
Singe tied a tourniquet around his arm and then took the cocktail and inserted it in a vein. The three watched as Michael Corvin panicked and then nothing happened. He passed out.
“Well,” Lily stated, “that was anti-climactic.”
When she arrived back at the nest that night, it was to find Selene on the warpath. Lily was instantly taken to Kraven’s, where she was accused of consorting with Lycans.
“How am I consorting with Lycans?” she asked. “I thought—aren’t they all—well—gone? We got rid of the werewolves in Western Europe.” Having once been a completely innocent human girl really came in handy sometimes. She could just pretend to be completely clueless.
“Yes, thank you, Lily,” Kraven responded. “Selene, your only proof is following her and a human into the subway and hearing what sounded like heckling.”
Well, that was one way of putting the betting those Lycans put on their games of backgammon. It was quite interesting to watch. They really got into it. Lily even played a few rounds, thankful that she carried cash on occasion as she still wasn’t used to credit cards as her life progressed into the modern age.
“Where is the human?”
“Michael?” Lily asked. “He’s a cousin of mine. I imagine he went home, but I can’t be certain. I don’t actually know where he lives, and he honestly doesn’t know where I live because I’m, well, a vampire.”
“Michael Corvin is your cousin?” Selene asked in shock.
“Yes,” she answered. “That tends to be what happens when two people have the same rare last name.”
Kraven looked at her. “You’re Lily Corvinus.”
“Corvin,” she corrected. “It’s Corvin.”
Kraven was now tapping his fingernails against the desk. “No wonder the Volturi wanted you. You’re Lord Markus’s own descendant from his human son—and you’re a vampire.” He sat up suddenly. “You must be presented to Lady Amelia’s envoys as soon as they arrive. I trust you got an appropriate dress.”
“It’s rather modest—” she apologized, and he looked at her. “I’m a rather modest person.”
He took her hand and kissed it. “I’ll have Erika sort it out,” he promised, and then he left her there.
Lily watched him go.
“I didn’t know you were a Corvin.” Selene was definitely accusing her.
“Surnames so rarely come up. Usually, it’s enough that I’m ‘Lady Lily’. Everyone already knows the rest.”
“I suppose, for you, that’s true,” she answered a little spitefully.
The telephone call came just before she was to go out that morning. There will be an assassination this morning. Get out.
The phone went dead.
Lily thought she recognized that voice. She took her motorcycle keys and ran to the nearest train station. Using cash, she paid for a ticket to Paris.
Her mind trailed back to Lucian. There had been no time to warn him.
“I had found my sliver,” she told Lord Marcus. Now it was one year before they would meet and leave on their journey. “Except he’s dead.”
“Your sliver is not dead,” he promised. “And you will find the whole world.”
It was a cloudy day when she was walking down the street and she noticed that the security cameras were following her. She paused, looked at one from the corner of her eye, and it, too, paused. She walked on a few steps, and it continued its motion.
How utterly peculiar.
At four in the morning, she noticed one camera was pointed toward the other side of a deserted intersection. She lured a woman to her corner and drank her dry before disposing the body. When she returned, the camera was slowly turning toward her. She stood, leaning up against the wall, and waved at the camera when it finally rested on her.
In sign language, she clearly asked, “How are you?”
She then walked away.
The next night she went back to that same street corner. It was as deserted as it had been the night before. The camera was pointed where had been when she had left early that morning. Fortunately, she had already eaten.
“Hello,” she mimed. “Are you going to do morse code?”
A limo pulled up and a woman got out, typing quickly on her blackberry. “No,” she answered, “he will not do morse code. Please, get in.”
Intrigued, Lily took a step back and leaned against the wall. “I don’t think I shall.”
There was a brush of air and, suddenly, behind the woman and just out of reach of the security video, was a man with golden hair and a beard. He looked at Lily questioningly. His eyes unfocused as he looked into hers. “Go find yourself a nice warm bed.”
“Beg pardon,” she answered. “It’s still early.” Lily looked at her watch. “It’s only eleven thirty.”
“You’re too young to be out this late,” he teased her, holding the woman fast and looking at her blackberry.
“I daresay I’m older than you,” she flirted.
“I daresay not.” He broke the blackberry.
The security camera began to turn and Lily quickly took the man’s arm and began walking away with him. “I think they’re some new form of A.I.,” she joked. “Can’t quite tell why they’re following me.”
“Following you, luv?” he asked.
“I’m highly regarded in certain circles,” Lily told him, remembering dancing the night away on General Gage’s arm.
“If you’re Lady Lily Brandon-Corvin, who I hope you are,” the man said, “we have a mutual friend.”
“Do we?” she asked with a grin. “Who are you?”
“Klaus,” he answered and she paused.
“I’ve heard of you,” she admitted, picking up the pace again. “Who’s the friend?”
“When he was a man, he met a woman. She was effervescent, lied just so she could meet him and it didn’t seem she wanted social advancement or that she was husband-hunting. Instead, she was intelligent, beautiful, and a close relation to the Duke of Suffolk. Strangely, just before they both left Boston, she became ill and wasn’t seen in society until the night their boat left.” He looked at her. “Then at sea, this woman appeared and was just as beautiful, except she seemed paler, her eyes brighter. Her hair, despite it being night, shone with a health that was unparalleled to human women—and she drank his blood. Unfortunately, she meant to kill him but she left him dying on the floor, hidden for weeks, until on the last day of the sea voyage he gained enough strength and killed another passenger. He became a vampire.”
Through all of this, Lily felt her heart surge at the story, wondering how one of the Original Vampires could have heard it, how General Gage’s story could be known—and now—
“He lives?” she asked.
“He’s in England,” Klaus told her as they walked down the street. “General Thomas Gage is generally known as ‘Gage’ now—perhaps you know him by reputation, perhaps not. You’ve spent most of your time with the Volturi.”
Lily shook her head.
“He’s a day away by train.”
It was one of the longer train rides Lily had ever endured, but when she got off at the station, she briskly walked toward the sea to the Manor House she saw standing there. When she entered the gate, she stood there, uncertain what to do. The sun had set several hours ago, and she breathed in the cool darkness of the air.
Eventually the decision was made for her. A young woman with blonde hair came up to her and asked, “May I help you?”
She couldn’t be more than twenty-five years old.
“Oh,” she replied. “I’m looking for Gage. I’m an old friend from America. Is he in?”
“Depends who’s asking,” she responded suspiciously.
Taking a deep breath, she answered, “Isabella Marie Swan. I was called Lady Lily Brandon-Corvin, then. But tell him, ‘Bella Swan’—and I haven’t come about a portrait of a duchess—this time.”