Driving home after a long day working as a barista at the local coffee shop, Bella tiredly longs for a warm bath and a good nights sleep.
It had been a little over a year since she ran from Forks after finding her father’s brutally mangled body in his favorite recliner and the living room splashed with his blood, as if a savage beast had eagerly ripped open Charlie and used his blood to abstractly paint the living room crimson.
If that wasn’t hard enough to bear, the knowledge that not only had Charlie been murdered because of Bella, but also her mother and stepfather had been found savagely murdered in their home six months prior. No suspects had been found for either crimes and all leads had long since run cold. The police were no closer to finding the culprit than the day the murders had occurred. But she knew who was responsible. Written on a note clutched in her mother’s hand were the words “see you soon ~ V”.
Wearily wiping away a stray tear, she cautiously checks her surroundings to make sure she isn’t followed and finally drives home. When she left Forks she had no idea where she was going. She packed the essentials, sold her beloved truck, bought a car that would be reliable, and just drove. She had no one to turn to. Involving her human friends, more precisely Angela, would only get them killed and Jacob had stopped talking to her not long after her mother and stepfather’s murders. Two weeks before the murders, Edward, the supposed love of her life, had callously broken off their relationship, trampled over her heart and left her in the very woods he so often told her were too dangerous to walk in. The cold-hearted abandonment of Edward and his family had left her with debilitating depression until the news of Renee and Phil’s murders had snapped her out of her catatonic state. The knowledge that the bastard and his family had left her, a human alone and defenseless, to deal with the wrath of a deranged vampire seeking revenge for the death of her mate, infuriated Bella.
Entering her house and closing the door behind her, she leans against the door laughing humorlessly to herself. She is bone-weary and the recurring nightmares are not helping the situation. She is running on fumes. Months of continually checking over her shoulder for a glimpse of curly red hair and fearing that every minute will be her last, are taking their toll.
Moving through her house to her bedroom, she looks at herself in her bathroom mirror and sees a thin woman with an unnaturally pale face and dark circles under the eyes, and the eyes……..oh the eyes…….once vibrant and full of life, now continually roam the room looking for any possible threat. The vibrancy that once marked them is washed out and replaced by a hunted alertness.
Taking in her faded and almost sickly appearance she decides that since a good nights sleep is not likely to occur anytime soon, a least a relaxing bath will give her body some semblance of rest.
Rummaging through her bathroom cabinets she finally finds the lavender and grapefruit bubble bath Angela had shyly given her, at school, for her birthday the day Jasper had tried to take a bite out of her. Satisfied that it is still good, she quickly preps the bathtub. Filling the tub with hot water that is just cool enough for her to be comfortable in, she suffuses the running water with soft lavender and grapefruit scented bubbles.
Turning off the tap, she strips off her work clothes and tiredly throws them into the hamper. Gently lowering herself into the tub, she sighs faintly as the hot water softly envelopes her. Closing her eyes she allows the heat from the water to work into her tired, aching muscles, relaxing them as the soft floral and citrus scents meander through her nostrils and up to her brain, dispelling any vestige of fatigue or stress. Breathing in deeply……….holding for three seconds and breathing out slowly………..in and out…………..in……..out……….in…………out…………in………..out……………..
Mirrors, nothing but full length ballet mirrors surround her in every direction.
“I’m dead because of you.” James says behind her. “What is sooo special about one little human? Sure you smell absolutely delicious, but what makes you so special that a coven of vampires will go to such lengths to keep you from me?”
Turning to face James, she sees a flame spark to life at his bare feet and travel up his body, enveloping him. His ruby eyes bore into her.
“I’m dead because of YOU.” he roared
His screams fill the air and get progressively louder and higher in pitch as the flames cocooning him begin to burn him from the outside in as he stands motionless.
Eyes shining with agony and hate, James continues to burn. Purple smoke emanates from his body. First the fingers and toes, then the limbs begin to burn and turn to ash, showing her every sinew, muscle, bone, and organ as the flames eat away at his body. His screams hauntingly fill the air long after his lungs have tuned to ash. His glaring, accusing eyes are the last to go.
“Because of you.” She hears behind her as she stares, horrified, at the pile of ash before her.
“Because of you he is gone.” the menacingly female voice says behind her.
She turns to find Victoria standing behind her. Taking her in, Victoria looks disheveled. Her hair, wildly unkempt, has bits of dirt and leaves spread throughout her curly red hair and her clothes are torn and sporadically smudged with debris as if she ran through the forest to get here.
With a snarl Victoria lunges at her and sinks her teeth into her jugular vein pumping in venom instead of draining her dry.
Releasing her, she sinks to the floor and screams explode from her mouth as the venom races through her veins like hot molten eating her from the inside out. When it reaches her heart, the pain increases alarmingly and then vanishes.
She feels cold.
A soft breeze ripples across her naked body.
Opening her eyes, she finds Victoria standing over her smiling sadistically.
“We are going to have so much fun.” Victoria sweetly says
Unable to move or run away, she stares in horror as Victoria leans down, caressing her face gently. Brushing her fingers lightly down Bella’s face, following the curve of her neck to her left shoulder and down her arm, Victoria trails her fingers lightly over Bella’s hand. Catching her eye, Victoria smiles sweetly.
“I will make you pay. Inch for inch. You will feel the pain my James felt.”
Roughly grabbing her forefinger, Victoria tears it from her hand. Unable to hold it in, she screams as the pain courses up her arm. Laughing, Victoria pulls out a lighter and ignites the venom running down the finger, dropping it next to Bella as it turns to ash.
Finger after finger is ripped off and set ablaze. Her agonized screams and a sickeningly sweet scent fill the air. With glee filled eyes, Victoria moves to the other hand repeating the process. When only stumps remain, Victoria progresses up her arms, tearing them apart bit by agonizing bit, to prolong her morbid fun. When Victoria reaches her shoulders, she bends down and repeats the process from the toes up, until all that remains is her head and a pile of ash.
Lifting her head from the ground by her long, wavy, brunette hair, Victoria brings her to eye level sneering at her. With a quick flick of her thumb, Victoria turns the gear of the lighter and holds the small green flame under her head. The venom dripping from her neck ignites and the fire races up the venom trail, engulfing her head………………
Screaming……………………..screaming is the first thing that registers as she jerks upright in the bathtub. Looking around her bathroom, she quickly realizes that she is alone and slowly sinks back down into the the cool, almost cold, water. Closing her eyes and breathing in deeply, holding it for the space of a few seconds, she slowly breaths out in an attempt to calm her racing heart. When her pulse finally calms to a normal Ba-dump…………….Ba-dump, she relaxes her neck muscles and allows her head to loll to the side. Opening her eyes, she is met with vibrant, ruby eyes.
“That sounded like a lovely dream.”