Summary: Bella never goes to Forks, instead living with Renee and Phil throughout high school. During her 3rd year at NYU, she is studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Her life is forever changed when she is compelled to visit Volterra; stumbling into a world she never dreamed could exist. AU, OOC, MA, Bella/Jasper
While this chapter isn't very long, it is necessary that I give some background and lay the foundation for the story to come. You won't really see Jasper until a little later in the story as I need to get Bella to a certain point before she's ready for him. This is my first multi-chapter fanfic and I have many things planned. I hope you enjoy!
Thanks: To Servayne, for listening to me blab for hours and helping to come up with the idea for this story. And especially to my beta, Sparagus, who sat on the phone with me for hours while I talked her ear off about my story and helped me with plot lines and proofreading.
I also must put a shout out to the girls on The Late Show for all their encouragement and ideas. Special thanks to MissMaj for the title, which I think is so absolutely fitting. You girls rock and deserve some hot cuddlecocking with Master Jasper (or Hot Bitch in Tara's case). KIK
Rating: This story is rated M (MA) for a reason. It will at times contain violence, lemons, and other adult content. I really don't do PG, as anyone who knows me could tell you. So if you aren't of age, you should not be reading this.
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight and all affiliated characters. I just like to play with them. Nor do I own any of the artwork discussed in any chapter of this fic. I am merely using it in one way or another for the purpose of my story.
I was lost in thoughts of my life as I stared at the clouds outside the tiny oval window next to my seat. I supposed that it was fitting for me to be reflecting on my life and what had brought me to this unusual chapter within it. So many thoughts were racing through my mind that I could hardly grasp at them all.
I, Bella Swan, was a fairly average girl. I guess I should say woman, as I would be celebrating my twenty-first birthday in just a few weeks.
My features were fairly average as well. I kept my dark brown hair long, usually just above my waist. Some have likened my eyes to 'chocolate'. I always got a giggle out of thinking that I had edible eyes. I was slightly curvy, though not overweight. I ate well, but just happened to have hips and breasts.
That wasn't to say that I believed I was unattractive, because I did think of myself as pretty, if only moderately so. I just had never put much stock in how people look. I tended to focus on who someone is on the inside. Regardless, I was happy with myself as I was. Not many people could say that, so I supposed in that I was unique. Perhaps my opinions were a result of my upbringing.
My mother and father divorced when I was very young. I was born in Forks, Washington, where both had grown up. Forks was very quaint, rainy and a bit dreary. They had been very young when they had me, just out of high school, and definitely not ready for the permanency of marriage and a child. They did give it a try for a few years, but it didn't work. They divorced when I was about four, and my mother and I moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
Renee, my mother, was a crazy woman, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. I loved her to death. She was this amazing mix of mother and daughter to me. We were constantly trying new things – various dancing styles, going to the gym, bird watching, anything that would catch her attention. She even tried skydiving once, though I put my foot down and refused that one. It sounded terrifying.
Even though it sometimes seemed like I was the mother, Renee never lacked in showing me her love. She had remarried five years ago to a minor league baseball player, Phil. He was a bit younger than her, but he made her happy. He had a good head on his shoulders, so I was happy for them. When he was signed onto a team in Jacksonville, Florida, we went with him.
It was probably fair to say that my love of art was my mother's fault. She talked me into trying a drawing class at the local community center when I was about twelve, and I fell in love with it. If I wasn't drawing when I was young, I was either reading or listening to music. I had always been an avid reader. My library consisted of a little bit of everything; however, I was most interested in classic literature and art history.
As for music, well, my tastes tended to be eclectic compared to others. While I did enjoy some popular songs, I also tended to enjoy less known artists. In fact, the sounds of the Mediaeval Baebes1 were currently drifting through the ear buds from my iPod. I thought the soothing tones of the Celtic group would help keep me calm during the flight. Although I had flown back and forth to visit my father numerous times, flying wasn't exactly my favorite thing to do, and I was excited to reach my destination.
My father, Charlie, had stayed in Forks after the divorce, and was chief of police for the small town. We visited often, as much as we could. I ended up visiting him in Forks most of the time. While it wasn't the most exciting place, I enjoyed the peace and quiet when I was there.
When Charlie wasn't working, he was either fishing or watching sports. While neither were really never my thing, I still went with him sometimes. Charlie was a very quiet man, so we didn't ever really 'talk'. Our conversation was really more like silent reflection in each other's company. But I didn't mind. Charlie was a good man, and I loved him.
After graduating high school, I was able to put together enough scholarships, grants, and financial aid with my college fund to attend New York University. I had been equally thrilled and terrified. I immediately set myself up to major in literature and minor in art history. It was an odd combination, to be sure, but they were my passions. I was still, even now, debating what to do with them – publishing, teaching, or writing.
The first year at NYU had been the hardest. Not only did I have to deal with moving to a place as crazy as New York City, but I was trying to settle into the dorms, study hard enough to keep up my grades to keep my scholarships and grants, and try to learn to be on my own. Granted, I'd taken care of Renee in many ways while younger, but being away from my family was daunting at first. I eventually got into my groove, though, and by spring semester, I was flourishing. I had made a few friends, got the hang of the locale and my studies, and even dated a little. It did wonders for my self esteem.
I left NYU that semester in a daze. My studies had gone very well, and I was more than maintaining my GPA. I wasn't on the Dean's List or anything, though I was hoping perhaps one day I could be. I had spent part of the summer with Renee and Phil and the rest of it with Charlie.
It was while I was with Charlie that we had gotten the news that Renee and Phil were in a car accident. It was storming and rainy, and they had gone off the road into some trees while taking a corner just a little too fast. Phil died on impact, but Renee had been taken from the accident scene in critical condition. We rushed to Jacksonville, and I spent four days by her hospital bed watching a ventilator breathe for her before her body just gave out. Her injuries were too severe.
Charlie had been a trooper. He helped me with all the post-death events – funeral arrangements, the will, selling the house, anything and everything that had to be done. I had been beneficiary for a sizable life insurance plan they had, but I hadn't considered that at the time. I had never touched it for anything but my education.
My sophomore year had been harder, obviously. I still did well with my studies, and it had helped to throw myself into them. But I didn't date or go out with my friends as much as I had before, which they seemed to understand. They were very supportive, though I hadn't been very close with any of them. I was at a very low point in my life then.
Remembering that time in my life brought me back to why I was sitting on this plane, making this trip halfway across the world. With a small smile, I looked down at the open book in my lap, my fingers tracing the outline of the picture next to the text on the page.
It was during that first semester back after my mother's death that I found this. I had been doing some research for one of my art history courses and came across a book of 15th Century Italian artwork. One of the sculptures pictured in the book captured me.
It was a beautiful piece, a bust of a very serene woman with a crown of flowers and a veil. She seemed peaceful and happy. It was like she spoke to me. My soul had been so battered and needed soothing, which I found in this sculpture to some extent. I'm not sure exactly why it comforted me, or even why it stood out to me. I just knew that I felt a connection with her.
I became almost obsessed with the sculpture. I searched for anything about the statue or the woman, but I found very little. I discovered that the name of the statue was Didyme, that the artist was unknown2, and that it was on display in the small town of Volterra, Italy. I immediately bought any book that pictured or referenced the sculpture. There weren't many.
A few weeks after finding Didyme, I heard about the semester abroad program in Florence. I immediately began gathering information about it. I spent an hour on the phone with my father getting his advice on going. I knew I didn't need his permission to go, or even to use the insurance money for the trip, but I still valued his opinion.
I had felt so much better knowing that he was so supportive of my going. I could hear him even now: "Bells, honey, just remember, this is your life. You are the only one who can decide what is going to make you happy. Don't let me, or anyone else, hold you back from that. "
I applied the next morning.
I was beyond excited when I was accepted. I started preparing for the trip. I filled out all of the required paperwork, applied for my passport and visa, and arranged for my medical exams and vaccinations. I had also signed myself up for beginner's Italian for the spring semester and was determined to take some summer Italian courses as well. I had wanted to be as prepared as possible linguistically before I got there.
So there I was, sitting on a plane to Italy, listening to the soothing sounds of the Mediaeval Baebes, trying not to vibrate in my seat with the excitement that I felt.
My eyes drifted from the book and out the window once again. The clouds were sparser, and I could see the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean Sea below. We must be close.
As if on cue, a voice came over the PA system. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to begin our final descent into Pisa…"
The captain's announcement drifted through the cabin, informing the passengers to fasten their seat belts and put their things away in preparation for landing. Grinning with excitement, I closed my books and tossed them and my iPod back into my carry on.
My ears popped as the plane descended. Looking out the window once more, I could see the town of Pisa below. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be spending any time there, but I hoped to make a trip back while I was in Italy. I would be taking a train straight from the airport to Florence.
It wasn't long before we had landed and I was shuffling along with the other passengers off the plane and over to the baggage claim. Once I had my two heavily packed suitcases, I made my way through customs and started following signs toward the train depot.
My body was feeling very lethargic, making my bags seem even heavier than they were. It had been a long overnight flight from New York and the sun wasn't quite out yet here in Italy. As excited as I was, I couldn't wait to get to my dorm and pass out for a few hours in a real bed. Sleeping while sitting up wasn't all it was cracked up to be, thus I didn't really get to do anything but doze.
I stepped onto an escalator going down, doing my best to maneuver my luggage without harming myself or anyone else. As I situated my bags, I looked up into the most beautiful face I had ever seen.
On the other escalator going up, was a man. He was tall, over six feet, and had slightly long, dark hair hanging in shaggy waves around his head. It was wild and looked windblown. The same dark hair ghosted around his lips and down his chin in a light goatee. He had high cheekbones and almost aristocratic lines to his face. His expression was somewhat intense, but his mouth. . . his mouth was luscious with full lips that looked soft and so utterly kissable.
I couldn't see his eyes, as he had dark sunglasses on. I found that odd, considering it was still dark and we were inside. I wished I could see his eyes, though. For some strange reason, I felt like he was watching me with as much intensity as I was him.
I wanted to draw him, paint him even. Actually, I wanted to do more than just draw him. I wanted to jump his body and ask him to take me home with him. Thankfully, I was stuck on the long escalator going the opposite direction and couldn't give in to my urge to turn and chase him through the airport, thus embarrassing myself for all eternity. Nope, no acting like a crazy woman and chasing down the finest specimen of a male I'd ever seen in all my twenty years of life. All I could do was stare at his face, his hair, his body. I almost had to fan myself as I started to wonder what was hiding underneath that sexy white button down shirt and vest he was wearing. He probably had a sculpted chest with six-pack abs. And I would bet those jeans were hiding a very nice ass.
Down Bella! Bad Bella! Stop ogling the poor man!
I sighed, berating myself for my actions and hoping I wasn't drooling anywhere but in my lust ridden mind. Still, it didn't stop me from continuing my admiration of him. My lips curled up in a little smile as my thoughts drifted into the more X-rated vein they were descending into earlier. A shiver of longing tickled down my spine at my thoughts.
A few seconds before he passed me on his way up, I again felt as if he were staring at me. He had a ghost of an expression on his lips. A smirk perhaps? He probably (obviously) realized that I was staring at him. I blushed, but kept my eyes on him. I didn't want to miss one second of the opportunity to look at this gorgeous man, embarrassed or not. It wasn't like I'd ever see him again, right? I sighed again, saddened at the thought.
As he passed me, our heads turned to watch each other. I felt a whisper of cold on my hand that was resting on the railing. Looking down, I noticed long, pale fingers ghost over the back of my hand. I felt oddly comforted by the gesture, which was confusing. Looking back, I saw him continuing up the escalator, but he was no longer looking back.
I took several deep breaths and then continued on my way, sifting through the crowds, making my way to the train station. Finding the appropriate one, I boarded and stowed my luggage before finding a seat. I immediately whipped out my sketchbook. I had to draw him now, while the memory was fresh, even if I couldn't imagine ever forgetting him. What woman could ever forget the most mesmerizing man they'd ever met?
Mediaeval Baebes – A female Celtic group with some amazing music. http://www. mediaevalbaebes. com
The sculpture mentioned is called "The Veiled Vestal Virgin" by Raffaele Monti in 1847. You may have seen it in the recent Pride & Prejudice movie. http://www. museum-replicas. com/images/productimages/large/veiled%20lady-o. JPG As you may have noticed, I am changing the 'history' of this piece to fit my own purposes with this story. This is a sculpture that I loved immediately when I saw it, so it seemed fitting to use it for my story and have Bella connect to it so well.
Altered Lions and Sacrificial Lambs – This is a new blog that I'm working on with some other really great FFn ladies. Please come check us out. http:// alsltwilight . blogspot . com/
Unfathomable Bond Blog – Yes, I've created a blog. On it are some profiles and photos of various characters used in my story as well as links to things such as Florence and Volterra tourism websites, the link to the sculpture I am using, and information on NYU's study abroad program in Florence. http:// unfathomablebonds . blogspot . com