Alice is difficult to describe. She has all of the hunting enthusiasm of a starved wolf and the perkiness of a cheerleader. The last time we went to college, she majored in Russian and before that in fashion design. She can go from discussing the best way to take down a bobcat to a desperate need for a manicure within the same sentence.
In short, Alice is my sister and I dearly love her, but she is not the sort of person I would like to take on vacation.
Edward wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea, either. He claims that unleashing the two of us on Europe is like letting a class of finger-painting six-year-olds loose in the Louvre. I wish he would give us more credit. We're not rampaging lunatics; we're just vampires with an advanced sense of style.
Still, Carlisle was reluctant to let us leave the country without his supervision at all. Sure, it's been decades since any of us crossed any borders other than the Canadian one, but he is being extremely overprotective. I think that if Alice hadn't possessed the foresight to know what would convince him to let us go on a graduation trip, we would still be sitting in his office and he would start to get sentimental.
Alice brought up the idea in the same way a marketing executive presents a new ad campaign. I vetoed pie charts and essays—she had a strange fascination with both during our most recent trip through high school—but she still insisted on pecking out an itinerary on the typewriter so Carlisle could see that we were serious.
Our first argument was that it was high time that we acquainted ourselves with the world. Our second reminded him that we had been responsible adults for over five decades and could almost certainly be trusted to take care of ourselves. Our third was that last time we had graduated, he'd barely noticed. Lastly, both of us had finished with higher honors than the last time. In short, we deserved an adventure. We would even have a time limit—all of the things in our itinerary could be crammed into spring break. Instead of hanging around Moose Head Lake or hitting the beaches near Castine as our fellow students did, we'd actually go somewhere.
In spite of that ridiculous itinerary and the lack of pie charts, Carlisle agreed to send us to Italy on a few conditions:
We pay our respects to the Volturi.
We stay somewhere with easy access to hunting ranges.
We call home every other night so Esme doesn't worry more than usual.
We agree to a budget.
Neither of us was happy about the first and last ones, but it was a small price to pay for what we wanted and, all things considered, Carlisle was fairly laid-back.
Emmett rolled his eyes when we announced that we were going to spend some time with just us girls. He probably wanted to come with us as a kind of bodyguard and I rather like having him around, but the Red Sox are playing the Yankees while we'll be gone and he and Jasper would be parked in their usual seats at Fenway for the duration. Instead of demanding to know when we could have some 'just us' time, he kissed me and said he trusted me. Being married four times to the same person does that to you.
Jasper wasn't so easy-going. He hasn't been with Alice as long and it's not that he's jealous. He just wants to make sure no one can lay a hand on her. I cajoled Emmett into getting him excited for what they could do without their old ladies around. Ironic, since Jasper's supposed to be the calmer, but sometimes, it's a case of physician heal thyself.
Edward, always playing the older brother, wanted to give us chastity belts for graduation until I let him into my head and reminded him of what both of us would do if we were ever unfaithful to Emmett and Jasper. He doesn't have a mate yet, so he doesn't really get it yet. I think it's a result of spending sixty years eavesdropping on teenage boys.
Esme, on the other hand, spent most of the drive from Bangor to Boston's Logan airport in one panic or another. We'd all heard about Patty Hearst's kidnapping in 1974 and Esme was convinced that we would end up disappearing in one way or another. No matter that the Volturi would find us if the police couldn't and there was no such thing as 'unforeseen danger' when it came to Alice. Even if we did run into trouble, we're too fast and too strong to be overwhelmed. Besides, I don't think the Symbionese Liberation Army would give us a second thought. Not the female members, anway.
Still, it's comforting to know that we can all be just like a normal American family sometimes.
The cab ride from Peretola Airport to Volterra wasn't too bad. The guy whose license said his name was Alfonso kept ogling us, but I think it was mostly because we were the only people wearing winter clothes and hats in the 80-degree weather. Rosalie was wearing a flared knee-length dress that buttoned at the shoulder, full-length stockings with her stockings and a slouch hat. I was sporting my new white bell bottoms with a sky-blue hip-length tunic and had a wide-brimmed sunhat of my own. He was either trying to figure out what we did for a living or remembering the last time he had chauffeured stylish American girls.
Rose spent most of the ride perusing Carrie, a book by local author Stephen King. The cover claimed it was "A novel of a girl with a frightening power," but Rosalie just looked bored by it. I had picked up a copy of Vogue the moment we found a newsstand in Boston and spent the drive earmarking the clothes I wanted.
I had nearly gotten to the end when Rosalie tapped one long nail on the partition. "Qui, per favore."
"Si, signorina," Alfonso called back, sounding relieved.
I wasn't in the mood to climb to the Piazza dei Priori where we were supposed to meat Giovanni in clogs. On the other hand, bringing a human to Volterra was, Carlisle had said specifically, bad form. Instead, we unloaded our bags, paid Alfonso and strolled up the long road to the Piazza.
As usual, we made it about five feet before someone offered to carry our bags. It's the price you pay for being as natually adorable as we are. We managed to shake them at the fountain by saying we were waiting for our boyfriends. Luckily, at that point, I spotted Giovanni. Of course, I hadn't met him before—this was the first time either of us had been to Volterra—but I remembered Seeing an amusing conversation about mountain goats between him and Carlisle.
"Alicia and Rosalia," he greeted as we reached him. "I hope your journey was not too taxing."
"It was fine," I replied.
"Come with me."
We didn't ask questions, only followed him down one alley and another to an opening in the street. He slid through and immediately, Rosalie's lip curled.
"Is he serious?" she hissed. "This dress is new."
"Quite serious," his muffled voice responded. "My hearing is perfect and my English is not."
Actually, other than a heavy accent, his English was just fine. Without waiting for Rosalie to voice another objection, I dropped into the hole after him.
"Sorry," he said as Rosalie followed gracefully. "Someday we build elevators, no?"
"Lead on," she said irritably.
The Volturi had set up headquarters in one of the older buildings in Volterra, but Giovanni took us no further than the part that looked like a professional business office. There was a lounge to the left of the atrium and he ushered us in.
"Teresa will be with you in a moment," he promised. "Is there anything I can get you? A pint of B positive made by fresh young Italian men, yes?"
It was obviously his idea of a joke, but he was either ignorant or trying to be insulting. For Carlisle's sake, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"Nothing, thank you," I told him. "We're fine."
"Meraviglioso," he called over his shoulder.
Rosalie shot me an annoyed look as if his personality were my fault. Before I could say anything, the door opened again and an elegant woman entered. She was dressed in a pinstriped suit and but for the dark-red eyes, she could have been an average businesswoman.
"Good morning," she said in nearly-perfect English. "You are Alice Cullen and Rosalie Hale?"
"We are," Rosalie replied.
"Wonderful," Teresa sighed. "We do not receive many American visitors and you are so young."
"We've been this young for decades," I quipped.
"Thanks for having us," Rosalie added.
"My pleasure." Teresa sank into the chair closest to me, looking conspiratorial. "You are going to Milan?"
"We have reservations at the Villa d'Este in Como," I corrected.
"Ah, the Alpi," she said approvingly. "I have heard they have a wonderful Alpine ibex in that area."
Rosalie relaxed slightly at the sign that someone knew to respect our dietary habits.
"But you are for delights of a different kind," Teresa continued before either of us could respond. "De la Renta, Chanel, so on and so on. You will need a fast car, one of ours."
Rosalie's eyes had glazed over just a little at the names of the designers, but it wasn't until Teresa mentioned a fast car that she got the look usually reserved for Emmett.
"I couldn't agree more."
Author's Note: Hello and thank you for reading this. I am Ish, your friendly neighborhood polyglot. I hope you have enjoyed Chapter 1 because after several months of trying to get a story to work, this is my very first Twilight fanfic. I'm having a lot of fun with this story so far simply because I get to do a lot of research. If you're wondering, a few notes on things in this story:
I am a Red Sox fan. Because the Cullens did not always live in Forks and they needed a place to live in this story, I chose Maine. Castine and Moose Head Lake are two of my favorite places on earth, but Milan and Como, Italy outrank them. And thus the baseball-obsessed Jasper and Emmett are Red Sox fans.
Patty Hearst was kidnapped and held for ransom. She began to relate to her captors and was later convicted for aiding them.
Stephen King, also a Red Sox fan, published Carrie about two weeks before this story takes place. He is from Maine, hence the reference to the "local author Stephen King." The fact that Rosalie is bored by it is an homage to Eowyn77 and her husband, who both agree that Rosalie's tale in Eclipse would make the world's greatest horror film. What's a psychotic loner compared to a murdered ex-fiancee who kills you while wearing a wedding dress?
The fashions that Alice and Rosalie are wearing are actually from pictures that I have found of hot trends in the '70s. This originally started as an idea for "Cullen Family Album" challenge, in which there is a picture relating to something in their history that demands explanation. Eowyn77 suggested Rosalie in polyester and bell bottoms. Alice would want to be on top of the latest vogue and 1975 is when bell bottoms started actually becoming very popular, according to my research. And it would look funny on someone of her height.