Author: V.Lee.V PM
Lorelai Savione has her life on track, but after a trip to Seattle to help her dad do research for his next book leads her into the eyes of Seth Clearwater, she soon discovers that there is more to her life than she knew, including her mom's killer.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Romance - Seth - Chapters: 21 - Words: 118,807 - Reviews: 63 - Favs: 68 - Follows: 64 - Updated: 03-28-13 - Published: 04-13-11 - id: 6901943
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Welcome to Chapter 1 of my first ever fanfic, True Beauty! It's a planned Imprint story with a twist - a certain werewolf, or shapeshifter, imprints on someone who isn't exactly normal...not only do we have our favorite species of Humans, Vampires and Shapeshifters, but a new species will be introduced in this story. Keep checking back because I've got big plans.
Disclaimer - I do NOT own any property, settings or characters from Stephanie Meyer. However, all original characters found in True Beauty are MINE (laughing evilly)
Without further Ado...
There usually wasn't anything that I didn't like about traveling. I had been that rare child on the plane, perfectly behaved, eyes plastered to the window, chewing gum to lighten my ears from the air pressure, eagerly waiting for a glimpse of our destination. I'd never felt anything in my stomach other than the nervous butterflies that signaled that I was leaving for another adventure, usually in another country.
My dad had been an art antiquate, specifically dealing in Ancient Artifacts. He was originally from a small village in France, right on the coast, and had moved to Paris to pursue an education. His mother, my Grand-mama, was full blooded Egyptian, and had instilled in him a love of history, treasure, and knowledge. He'd met my mother on an archeological dig in Morocco in his Senior year of uni (university for the rest of us). A week later, they were dating, a month later and they were married, and nine months after that I was welcomed into the world.
I zipped up the duffle I had been packing with all of my toiletries, a small blue bag that hardly weighed ten pounds, but could fit anything that I could possibly think of inside. It was my very own Mary Poppins bag, and forever my lifesaver. I picked it up from its perch on the bed and dropped it in the hall, next to my two other suitcases. All I needed now was to call a cab, grab my purse, and lock up. I was reaching for the phone when there was a knock on the door. Wrinkling my brow, I opened it up.
"Morning, Miss Savione," greeted a familiar, kind voice. My face broke into a wide grin.
"David, I didn't know that you were working today?" I said, ushering the bell hop inside. His crisp navy uniform was pressed to perfection, the silver tassels on his shoulders a bit on the ridiculous side, but none the less dashing on the right person. His characteristic dimpled smile broke his tanned face, gray eyes twinkling.
"And miss the day when you leave us, never to return? I don't think so, Miss."
I sighed, giving him a sisterly kiss on the cheek. I was going to miss David as much as anyone here; he'd been the first to greet me when I'd arrived in Bangkok six months ago. I'd been sent here to follow up on a dig and assess the artifacts found, keeping my communications with the British Museum and the Louvre with updates and acting as a benefactor for both. David was twenty-four, four years my senior and a kind soul originally from the Southern coast of England.
"I'm supposed to be back in a couple of weeks to finalize the details of transportation," I reminded him. "When I'm back, I'm counting on you to take me around the areas of Bangkok I haven't seen, as my friend." I emphasized the final word, making sure he looked me in the eye. I hated how he always treated me as someone of superior ranking, rather than a girl in a new and terrifying place.
Suddenly he wrapped me in a tight hug, a friend saying goodbye to a friend. He pulled away with a sad smile, nodding his head once. Just as quickly, David's face was once more the calm business mask that he wore at work, and he picked up my bags from the door.
"Mr. Amon took the liberty of calling you a taxi," he said. "I will place these in the vehicle until you are ready. And Mr. Amon wanted me to inform you that there is to be no charge…so take as long as you like." He winked like an impish pixie and disappeared, leaving me alone in the parlor of my hotel suite.
I looked around at the golden walls, the crown moldings, and the small chandelier hanging above the parquet floor and sighed. As much as I craved to see my home and my dad, I knew that I would miss this place. Bangkok was alive and beautiful, the streets were congested and the air was thick with rain, sweat, smoke, and animals, but it was entirely unique. I double checked all of the drawers and cabinets to make sure that I hadn't left anything, made sure that my boarding pass, passport and wallet were safely in my purse, and took one last look around.
Yeah, I was going to miss being around this exotic piece of land. But I was going home, finally.
Nearly 20 hours later, I stepped into the crisp fall air of JFK airport, the breeze whipping the coils of my hair off of my neck. I smiled in relief, immediately raising my arm to catch a yellow-green cab speeding my way. It screeched to a halt, and the driver hastily came out to stow my bags in the trunk. I gave him the address and watched as his eyes widened; yeah, we weren't exactly going to the city. I smiled, sliding into the back seat as he mulled it over. After a few more seconds we were on our way, escaping the traffic before it became too crazy.
I tuned into my iPod, leaning my head against the cool window glass as I thought about how after six long months, I was finally home. My favorite time of year was fall, particularly because of the cooled air, the jewel tones of the trees, and the warm nights in front of the fireplace I'd spent with my dad as a child.
It had been dad and me for as long as I could remember, particularly because my mom had died a year after I was born. She had been in Prague for a chance at a particular dig that she'd been following since she'd been in college, and while on her way, had been t-boned by someone who wasn't looking. I'd been in France with my dad, visiting my grandparents. Less than two years together, and my father had become a widow. But he was everything I could've ever asked for, and everything I didn't think of.
I'd kind of grown up all over the place, but ever since my mom had died, my home base at been the country Tudor in upper state New York. The rolling hills of emerald green, the white boarded fences encompassing acres of oaks, cherry trees and fragrant rose bushes. The sky was bluer than the Mediterranean, which I have seen before, and the sun was more white light than yellow brilliance. And dear God, how much I had missed good old American food!
The gruff noise startled me and I jerked up, blinking against the sudden influx of light. Oh. I must've fallen asleep on the ride here. Beyond the window sat the beautiful building I'd called home. The rickety porch swing creaked in the light wind, and the sky was the color of steel, signaling the start of a storm. A matching barn sat further back on the 25 acres and I felt an intense longing to visit the horses. The cab driver cleared his throat to get my attention and smiled calmly, as if he understood my relief.
"How much?" I asked. I paid the fare, giving him a generous tip, and allowed him to help me with my bags to the porch. He drove off down the gravel road just as a roll of thunder rumbled above. I pulled the screen door out of the way, unlocking the main door with a satisfied sigh.
"Lorelai!" came the ecstatic soprano I hadn't heard for six months. My face grinned widely as I spotted Brianna Sullivan, my father's assistant. She had been part of our lives since I was seven, and to me, was the older sister I didn't have. She had an asymmetrical bob of platinum blonde hair, piercing green eyes and a white smile that blazed as she gave me the tightest hug I could withstand.
Before you get any ideas, she and my dad, while very good friends, are not an item. Bri, let's just say, doesn't exactly swing that way.
"How was your flight?" she asked, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and leading me to the homey kitchen my mom had designed. Antique cherry cabinets, stainless steel appliances, a rustic table with mismatched chairs and a planter of mums and daffodils sitting on the counter. A cup of coffee, still steaming next to a Blackberry, newspaper and boarding pass completed the look. I internally groaned.
"It was good. I got some sleep, but I'm glad to be home," I said, relaxing into a chair as Bri hastily made another cup of coffee for me. I wrapped my hands around the mug and smiled lazily as the heat melted the bones in my fingers.
"Did everything go alright in Bangkok?" she asked, a raised eyebrow angling her face. I snorted. Unhappy dealers, greedy curators, potential robberies, and a nearly avoided lawsuit would pretty much sum the whole trip up.
"Same old, same old," I smirked. She laughed, taking a sip of her coffee. "I go back in a few weeks to make sure everything gets shipped off properly, making a quick stop to the Louvre and BM to double check."
"Six months is too damn long," Bri muttered into her mug. "If they can't make a decision the Metro should've just taken it for a new exhibit."
"Preaching to the choir," I reminded her, the coffee hot and smooth down my throat. I would die without coffee. It was a proven fact.
"Where's dad?" I finally asked, eyeing the boarding pass warily. Bri shook her head.
"Seattle," she said, much to my surprise. Seattle? What could possibly be in Washington? Bri smiled at my expression and elaborated. "The yearly black tie gala, honoring history's greatest preservers and procurers? Ring any bells?" Oh, shit. Yeah, it rang a few. "It's in three days. He's staying a few days before and after to do some research for that book of his."
My dad had continued working throughout my childhood, eventually opening his own firm and creating a name for himself as one of the world's greatest antique specialists and dealers. I'd been homeschooled for most of that time; it was the easiest way for me to get an education while globe trotting as Emilio Savione's protégé. At the age of sixteen, I could wheel and deal with the best of them, accompanying my dad on digs and excavations. Anywhere from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. I was fluent in six languages, literate in a few more, and had a good ear for accents. When I was eighteen, I had become an agent of the firm, dealing particularly with communications between dealers and museums, as well as being an on hand source for the chief person in charge of the current dig.
I hadn't gone to college yet; I was working 24/7 (making very good money off of my commissions, if you're wondering) and was planning on taking over the company when my dad was good and ready to let it go. If I ended up wanting to go back to school, than I would…it just wasn't going to be anytime soon.
Dad was currently writing his third novel, the next installment of his bestselling series, so it wasn't uncommon for him to travel to do research. And apart from the gala, which I had totally forgotten about, what could possibly be in Seattle that would be so intriguing that he would want to go there and research? I kept my questions to myself, listening as the rain started to pour at long last.
"When do I leave?" I asked her, my body already growing excited for its next great adventure. My mind, however, groaned in pain at the thought of just arriving home, only to leave again.
"Day after tomorrow. I tried to convince him to go alone, but he wouldn't listen," Bri said with a sympathetic look. I shook my head at her; it wasn't that he wouldn't listen. He would've gone alone…if I'd allowed it. But Emilio and Lorelai Savione were like the feature presentation at the movies. If one part was missing, everyone would know and promptly freak out. It comes with the territory of our job description, and I'd rather not have every member of the world cultured community clogging up my phone and email, wondering why I wasn't at the gala with my dad. No thanks.
The clock on the microwave read 10:00 in the morning, but between jet lag and time zone changes, I was ready to pass out. Even having drained my cup of coffee in under five minutes, it was taking some serious power to keep my eyelids open. I fought back a yawn and lost, stretching my arms over my head until several joints popped in relief.
"I'm going to sleep," I announced, pushing away from the table and slowly trudging my way up the stairs. I debated taking a shower, which sounded extremely appealing, but instead stumbled into my darkened room, collapsing on top of my familiar, well missed bed, still completely dressed.
There are definite perks to traveling non stop. One is that you get to know the ins and outs of everywhere you go and you become skilled in the art of first impressions. I pride myself in being able to decide who a person is in a relatively short amount of time; it's a gift, really. The second is that to people like me, every time I get on a plane or train, its like a whole new world of adventure opens up. I become a part of someplace I'd never once thought about participating in. I saw places that weren't on a map taught in the classroom. It was truly a liberating experience.
I'd been to Seattle once or twice mainly as a layover stop. I had never really seen the city itself and despite the circles under my eyes, I was alert and curious. My dark hair was plaited neatly down my back, my purse over my right shoulder while I held the handle of my suitcase with my left hand. This would be a short trip, so I only brought one bag.
Seattle permanently smelled like rain, but even as the sky threatened to open up once more, the sleet blues and grays were beautiful. I was used to cold, I lived in New York for Christ's sake, but even with my woolen trench coat the frigid moisture was seeping into my bones. The city would probably be like any other city; a towering fortress of glittering steel and glass, full of mystery and intrigue, but still devoid of that piece of natural life that could be found in forests that I craved. I was always happier in an area where nature was convenient. Urban cities, while amazing, weren't my favorite places to be.
I turned to my right immediately and smiled so wide that it hurt my cheeks. Dressed in a warm sweater, slacks and trench coat, my dad wrapped me in a strong hug, kissing both of my cheeks.
"Papa!" I exclaimed, hugging him back, burying my face in his shoulder. His cologne was familiar and crisp, cedar and mountain snow. "I've missed you."
He smiled, pressing his lips to my forehead. My dad was not by any means a small man; he was a lean worker, a solid six foot with an athletic build harbored by years of archeological digs. His hair was thick and full, still the pure ebony that my own was; the only difference was the silver appearing at his temples, giving him what I thought to be a more dignified air. He had Grandfather's lapis lazuli colored eyes and Grandmother's defined, angular bone structure. He still wore the simple gold ring that my mother had picked up in Morocco, where they had met and married, on his left ring finger.
"How was your flight? Get any sleep?" he asked, taking my suitcase from my grasp. I could practically see the déjà vu. So, I nodded, walking with his arm draped around my shoulders in a comforting gesture. I was only 5'4, my dad a good eight inches taller, and constantly making me feel like a pixie whenever we were together. Other than when I had my business heels on.
"I completely forgot about this gala," I told him, watching some guy fly by on a bicycle. He looked anxious to get wherever it was before it started to rain again. My dad laughed, a knowing look in his eye. He wasn't fooled…he had known that I would forget, but knew that I would show up anyway. He looked at my relatively small suitcase and gave me a look I'd seen before.
"You need to go shopping, don't you?" he asked. I grinned impishly at him, giving him my largest pair of puppy dog eyes until a small smile cracked his stoic expression. He rolled his eyes, giving my shoulders a squeeze.
"All right, all right," he sighed. "Once we get settled in you can go."
"Do you have your tux ready to go?" I asked him, quickly crossing the street to the parking garage across from the airport. The rental sedan was parked on the first floor, a shiny little red number with Washington plates. My dad swung my suitcase into the trunk while I folded myself into the passenger side, the leather seats smelling new. A few minutes later, we were on our way to the hotel, passing by several boutiques displaying gowns that most certainly would be appropriate for the gala.
"I got your report for the finalities of the Bangkok account," my dad said, smiling softly. "Nice work. I was afraid that either BM or the Louvre were going to buy one another out and we'd lose one. And yet you split the spoils evenly between the two."
"I learned from the best," I grinned, folding my legs underneath me. "Besides, once you get to know them, they're pretty easy to figure out."
"Your mother used to be like that," my dad said. "Proud and humble all at the same time."
I hid my face and instead stared out the window. My dad hardly spoke about my mom. He didn't refuse to answer any questions that I had about her, but it was rare for him to willingly bring the subject up. I bit my bottom lip, an action I'd picked up from childhood.
I knew from photos that I looked more like my dad than my mom; my most prominent features were from my dad, while more subtle differences were inherited from my mom. I had the bronze, Egyptian skin, angular bone structure and ebony hair that hung thick and straight to my waist. I had my mother's full lips and long painter's fingers, my arms and legs lithe despite my pixie size. But if I had to pick my most unique, most defining feature, it would be my eyes. Not blue, not green, but distinctly both. The rings closest to the pupil were the vibrant emerald of my mother, but the outer rings of my iris were the same color of my dad and Grandfather.
The hotel was a fortress of steel and glass, modern and completely Seattle. Dad parked the car and grabbed my suitcase, and we headed inside, a blast of warm, vanilla scented air assaulting my senses. The art deco theme of the hotel, while not totally my personal style, was still tasteful and well done, and once inside the room, it immediately got the Lorelai stamp of approval; the beds were like a piece of heaven.
"I've got a guided tour of downtown in a half hour, so I'm leaving the card on the counter. Your card key is next to it, and I'd much rather you call a cab than walk. This is still a strange city."
I rolled my eyes. Here I was, twenty years old, traveling to places like Bangkok and Cairo on my own, and I was getting a set of rules about my safety in little old Washington State. I tilted my head to look at him, wondering if maybe he was just trying to kid around. The serious expression on his face told me that he wasn't.
"I'm serious, Lore," he said, narrowing his eyes. "There was a serial killer here a few years back, and while the killings stopped, they never found the killer. You need to be careful."
"That was six years ago," I reminded him. I had been fourteen at the time, and could remember reading about the random killings plaguing the city, until they just as suddenly stopped. I had almost forgotten about that…leave it to my dad to bring it up again. "But I promise to take a cab and be careful. And I'll keep my cell phone and Blackberry on me. Alright?"
He nodded, appeased. He kissed my forehead, smiling as if nothing were bothering him. "See you later, fleur," he said.
The next time I had to attend any event in the North-Western part of America, I was going in sweats. Warm sweats that fought against the ridiculous cover of freezing mist that seemed to blanket the entire city of Seattle. It was absolute madness to be going to a black tie formal event when you covered head to toe in goose bumps. Next year, I was going to suggest having the gala someplace warm…like Barbados.
"Come on, chérie, we're going to be late," my dad called from the living room. I was still shut in the bedroom, debating on whether to be proper and bring a shawl, or comfortable and bring a coat. Guys had it so easy; pick out a suit, put it on, and voila, you're done!
I decided to suck it up and go for the light, beaded shawl, knowing that I would regret it later on. I draped it over my shoulders before I could change my mind and hurried into the next room, quickly fixing my gown so that it lay right.
Dad looked just as debonair as he usually did on events like this; he wore a black tuxedo with subtle silver pinstripes and a pressed white linen shirt. He smiled when I came out, kissing my cheek.
"You look beautiful, ma petite," he said.
I had to say that the dress I was wearing was gorgeous; a black silk gown that was strapless and pleated on the top for a sweetheart neckline. A wide band of silver beading and embroidery sat on the empire waist, flowing down my body like a waterfall. Luckily, I had a pair of crystal encrusted heels that matched, and I'd pulled my long hair off of my neck into a curly chignon, a pair of diamond earrings I'd gotten while in Bangkok sparkling from my lobes. My dad handed me my small evening bag and we left, thankfully climbing into the warm town-car that would take us downtown to the Seattle Art Museum, where the Gala was being held.
The Seattle Art Museum was an interesting architectural feat; the pale sandstone color practically hid the title of the building, but the massive silhouette of a man with a hammer was undeniable. Once you knew what and where it meant, there was no mistaking what the building behind it was. The town-car stopped outside the entrance, in front of the, wait for it, black carpet. You would think that events like these, unless some major celebrities were slotted to attend, would be practically deserted. You would assume wrong.
Press lined the ropes, every reporter from every major journal, cultural magazine and museum in the world in attendance. Every year, the Gala was the place to discover the official announcements and significant finds of the past year. No doubt that a representative from Bangkok would be there to display everything of major value recently discovered from the dig I'd just come from. In the back of my mind, I wondered if they would display the flawless Thai tapestry that had caused so much problems between the Louvre and the British Museum. Wouldn't that be a riot?
I spotted a close friend of mine, the Irish correspondent Noelle MacDuggal, on the arm of her longtime boyfriend, Egyptologist Raymond Clarke, wearing a clingy emerald dress that brought out her pale complexion and flaming red hair. I instantly relaxed; if Noelle was here, than the night shouldn't be too hopeless. Our door opened and my dad stepped out with the practiced ease of someone who had done this too many times to count. He straightened his tie, reaching his hand inside to help ease me out of the vehicle. A familiar smile, one that I always used when at public events, was plastered on my face, and I carefully leaned on my father's arm as several flashes blinded me temporarily.
"Savione! Over here! Emilio, Lorelai, turn this way!"
The shouts were over the top, the stares made me feel hot and nervous, but as I glided into the familiar role of well known art protégé, my nerves subsided and I was able to enjoy the questions I was asked and answer. I posed for pictures, both on my own and with my dad, and just took my time underneath the pitch black sky, the stars my only constant of nature in this urban, surreal metropolis.
The Gala was being held in the Brotman Forum, a clean, contemporary venue with an entire wall of glass to one side. The largest focal point was actually the renowned exhibit I had never considered before to go see. Titled Inopportune: Stage One, it was awe-inspiring and all together impressive, a collection of identical white cars suspended in different positions from the ceiling. Spurts of wiring came out of each, giving the look of an explosion once it was lit up. I read a small blurb about the artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, who was one of the most acclaimed artists from China, and suddenly the room dimmed; the wires began to pulse different lights, showering the room in a multitude of colors. Large dining tables were set up around the forum, draped in elegant linens and topped with fine china, sparkling silver and towering centerpieces of fresh flowers.
I could practically predict everything that would happen at the Gala; after we took our seats, a video clip would roll, celebrating our particular community's successes during the past year. They'd serve us dinner as the string quartet and flutist performed, forcing discussions amongst the tables, who were usually grouped together by random order. After dinner would come the guest speakers and the presentations of some of the more significant digs, such as the Bangkok case, and then they would award one particular person who had "Achieved the Unthinkable". Dad had received that particular award maybe ten times already.
Then would come the open dessert buffets and the dancing, until people started to trickle out and attend the after parties, where they would get wasted into the wee hours of the morning. There was a running mystery as to what after party the Savione's would attend every year; in fact, it practically became a competition amongst the after-party hosts. One would leak out that we had accepted their invite, and suddenly it was reported that we were going to twelve after parties!
In reality, we never went to any.
The video clip was played; I had a dinner of grilled salmon and scallops with fire roasted vegetables. Luckily, dad and I were seated at the same table as Noelle and Raymond, our friends Marianne and Carlos Santini, a couple from Belgium who'd I had met while at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts re-opening, and an empty pair of seats who belonged to no one, apparently, so that conversation was enjoyable and not forced. It was only during the second guest speaker's speech did the missing couple arrive.
I don't consider myself a very vain person. I did like to occasionally dress up and play up my features, and I am aware that I could be considered pretty. I have several defining features that are unique and different, not exactly what I would call stunning. That being said, the couple that sat down across from me were two of the most, absolutely, positively gorgeous people I'd ever had the chance of seeing. Not a single person I knew, or saw on the big screen, had anything on them.
They were young and flawless, both pale as sheets, but their skin such a perfect shade of cream that I had to wonder if they'd ever seen the sun at all. I couldn't figure out who I believed to be the more beautiful, the guy or the girl, because they were so equally striking. The guy was maybe a few inches over six foot, with a tousle of bronze colored hair that I had never seen before. He was dressed impeccably in a black silk suit, his tie the same deep sapphire as the girl's dress. He was handsome, that was an obvious, with straight, aquiline bone structure that hinted at Roman or Greek statues.
The girl was stunning, the same pale ivory skin as her date, but in a more classic beauty. She had a heart shape face and full lips, and though she seemed to be my own height, there was something about the way she moved that hinted at an ethereal grace. Her hair, a rich chocolate brown, fell in soft waves around her bare shoulders, as the dress, a deep, jewel-toned sapphire chiffon, sat in a decidedly vintage style. It was sweetheart necked, with thick straps that hung off the shoulders in an edgy, but classic fashion. It gathered in a pleated knot under the bust and fell in subtle pleats to the floor. She was wearing a charm bracelet around her wrist, two baubles sitting on its silver links, as well as a flawless tear-drop cut sapphire around her neck.
What was most peculiar about the pair was the color of their eyes. The guy's were clear amber, shining in adoration as he cast loving gazes at her every few seconds. When she looked up, with the same love and adoration in her face mind you, hers were a brighter tawny gold. Not exactly the same, but very similar.
That was when I noticed the only other pieces of jewelry on her; a magnificent ring, a gold oval setting inlaid with dozens of clear diamonds and resting on a simple gold band around her left ring finger, and a simple gold, engraved band sitting flush with it. Immediately, my eyes darted for the guy's left hand, sublimely noting how long and graceful his fingers were, and found a matching gold band on his left ring finger.
Married. The only word that came to mind was wow; they looked just as young, if not a bit younger, than me and they were married. Not only that, but what exactly was a gorgeous, young, married couple doing at the gala? Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and these events were interesting for me because of the deep rooted passion I had for history. But these two…I just couldn't see them here.
"Lorelai? What do you think? Up for a party or two?"
I blinked, suddenly popping back into the zone. I turned towards Noelle, who hadn't yet seen the last couple, seeing as how they had arrived under the cover of dim lighting. I blushed, rolling my eyes at her.
"Sorry, love, but you know I don't party after these things," I reminded her, trying my best to treat the couple with the same respect I would anyone else. Outright staring would not be a good idea. Noelle pouted, turning her large green orbs onto my father, who was still listening to the end of the speaker.
"Emilio, you wouldn't mind if I took your daughter out after the Gala, would you?" she asked, widening her eyes to ridiculous proportions. I bit my bottom lip to keep from laughing, Andrew taking a long drag of champagne to do the same. Dad looked at her, a small smile quirking his lips up.
"Lorelai may do as she pleases. For whatever reason, in years past, she'd rather hang out with dreary old me than celebrate with people her own age."
"Papa," I said sternly. "You are not old."
Carlos piped up, wagging his finger at my father. "If you are old," he declared, his thick Sicilian accent making it all the more dramatic. "Than I am ancient!"
We all laughed, knowing full well that Carlos was a good decade older than my dad. Dad rolled his eyes, resting an arm on the back of my chair.
"Oh, my apologies! I had no idea that the remainder of our table had joined us!" Raymond suddenly said, all eyes turning to the last couple, who had been watching our easy banter with amused smiles. Raymond, who apparently knew them, went on to explain to the rest of us. "Everyone, this is the newest of the benefactors of the Third Dynasty Exhibit at the British Museum, Dr. and Mrs. Cullen."
Noelle and Marianne's eyes were wide in shock, the Belgians were talking quietly, casting curious looks, and Dad and Carlos merely nodded, a large sign of respect in our world. I could feel my own surprise on my face. There was no way that someone so young could be a benefactor of something so rare and rather pricey, not to mention the fact that there was no freaking way he was a licensed doctor. Dr. Cullen seemed appropriately abashed.
"Actually, it's my father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen and my mother Esme who are the benefactors," he said. His voice sent a wave of goose bumps down my spine, soft like fine velvet and smooth like honey. But while it was attractive, just as attractive as him, I also got a familiar sensation around him. It was the same feeling I got whenever I was at a dig, a feeling of anticipation and mystery. I'd never gotten it around a person before. "My wife and I came in their stead. They send their apologies for not being able to make it."
Raymond waved it away. "They could've sent the family dog and we would've been appreciative."
Something that he said must have sounded funny to Mrs. Cullen, because she slyly hid a small chuckle, her eyes planted on her lap. Mr. Cullen grinned, a half smile that was alluring and mysterious.
"Excuse my husband's rudeness," Mrs. Cullen said, giving him a fond smile. Her voice sounded like a symphony of bells, soprano and beautiful the way a French cathedral was. I got the same feeling again. "I'm Isabella Cullen, but please, call me Bella. This is my husband, Edward."
"Welcome, Bella and Edward," my dad said with a kind smile. "I hope that you will enjoy yourselves tonight. Luckily, you just missed all of the boring stuff."
We all laughed, and I tried to relax. I just couldn't shake the weird vibes that I was getting from Edward and Bella. It wasn't that they were snobbish, quite the opposite in fact. I had only met such sweet people once or twice before. I just kept feeling like there was more to them than met the eye.
As the gala ran longer and longer into the night, I started to become paranoid. More than once I had caught Edward's amber eyes watching me curiously, as if he were trying to figure something out. At one point, he leaned over and whispered something into his wife's ear, and Bella promptly gazed at me in surprised curiosity. At two in the morning, I couldn't take it anymore, and insisted that Dad and I leave, which he heartily agreed with. When we walked back into the hotel room, he sighed.
"Well, that was quite the event," he said wryly, smirking. "I thought that Dame Lovette was going to have that pompous Richard nose permanently glued to her butt."
I laughed, nodding my head. Dad continued. "But that Edward and Bella Cullen, I've never seen them before. And they were quite pleasant, wouldn't you agree."
I nodded, keeping my concerns to myself. The Cullens had been nice and practically effervescent, proving their adept knowledge in archeology and art culture was just as extensive as our own. It made me wonder if maybe Edward and Bella were truly the benefactors after all. Something was still off about them, but chances are that I wasn't ever going to see them again. I still slept soundly that night.
So...what do you think? Love it, hate it? Undecided? As long as you're curious about what happens with Lorelai, I'm good. Please comment, I love feedback.