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The count of the damages

Since the first time I'd met Aro, I knew he was a vampire. I'd read, heard, and seen so much about them I could recognize him at once. What I didn't know was the hell he had reserved for me.

We've been married for two years and a half, and we have a three-year-old son, Sebastian. Though I never wanted to conceive him or give birth to him he has become my most valued treasure, my only comfort in this Italian prison. Aro loves him, too. He really spoils Sebastian, buys him everything he wants, and calls him "my champion" or "little prince". Yes, I think Aro loves our son. And curiously enough, he also says he loves me. That I'm not so sure about.

He said he loved me the first time he hurt me, when I was fourteen years old. He said he loved me so much he wanted to marry me as soon as possible, and that he loved me so much he couldn't wait till the wedding night. It didn't matter how much I begged him, how much I implored him not to humiliate me, not to hurt me, he did it anyway, promising that I would enjoy it as much as he would. At first I tried to keep that horror a secret, but when two months later I found out I was pregnant my family forced me to marry him. No one paid attention to the small detail that I was only fourteen years old and he was a grown-up man, even to human eyes. Nor they noticed that though I expected a child I was a child myself, and that I hadn't chose to give myself to Aro, he had raped me. So I married him and came to live in Volterra, in this castle he shares with his brothers, Caius and Marcus, and with a whole army of their immortal kind.

And worst of all, I'm free to go and leave him whenever I want. I can get the divorce and move out of this hell as long as Sebastian stays with him. Aro is as evil as sly, he knows I would never, ever leave my child. I'm allowed to go out of the castle as often as I like, but they never let me take my baby with me; there's always someone –Jane, Alec, Renata, Heidi, whoever, ready to babysit him. Once I managed to leave with him, but I was quickly caught by Felix and Demetri. I didn't see my son in the three months I spent recovering from the trashing Aro had given me as soon as he was told about my failed escape. Naturally, after that he came, Sebastian in his arms, and said he was so sorry, he hadn't meant to hurt me, moreover, he wanted us to be a happy little family, because he loved me so much...

But right now I'm not that miserable, my son is on my lap and Aro is... I have no idea where, but thank God he's not here. I use this golden moments I have here in our bedroom to try to make Sebastian talk. Though he's three years old he's never spoken a word. When Aro asks why our son is mute I say I have no idea, but, God, don't I know. Anyone who looked directly at his eyes would know why. There's a deep sadness in there, a dark shine of fear and pain that makes me cry and hug my baby as tight as possible against my heart. My child is traumatized, he has seen his father go from loving husband to torturing fiend, he has seen him beating me, abusing me, and then saying he will never do it again, he will care for us, he loves me so much, and then the show starts all over again. I feel his little arms around my neck and swear between sobs that I will get him out of here, even if it's the last thing I ever do in my life.

Then I hear footsteps outside. As they sound closer and closer I know it's Aro. I try to calm down and reassure Sebastian, who has also noticed his father's arrival and moans in fear. I stand up with him in my arms and Aro comes in.

"Hi there," he says cheerfully. He approaches and kisses me on the cheek. Then he turns to Sebastian. "Hi, my champion," he says, and pats his cheek. I feel Sebastian's little hands clutching tighter at my clothes. "We have guests tonight," he announces.

"Who?" I ask.

"The Cullens." He paces around the room, talking excitedly. "Carlisle, the father, is a very good friend of mine. I'm sure I've told you about him. We've known each other for almost three hundred years! He's coming with all his family: his wife, Esme, and their kids, Emmett, Edward, Jasper, and Rosalie. Of course they're not their natural children, Esme was already a vamp when they met. They're all adopted. I'm the only one of our kind who has a natural child! Come here, little prince, come with Daddy."

Aro tries to take Sebastian, but the child just doesn't let go off me. When I see this I think Aro is going to get angry, but he only laughs.

"Never mind. I understand you, my boy, who would like to be apart from her?" He passes an arm around my waist and whispers in my ear. "How can someone ever leave you?"-he kisses me-"I suffered every second I was away," –he moves all the way to my jaw-"but I can make up for it right now, if you want."

When his lips touch my neck I desperately try to discourage him. "Aro, the child is here... please... your guests... we have to prepare everything..." He stops, looks at me, and smiles.

"You're right, my love. You always are. But I'll try to make them leave early and then..." the desire in his eyes is so repulsive I prefer to look down.

"Now get ready, darling. I want the Cullens to see how beautiful my wife is, I want to be proud of you." He heads for the door and adds, pointing at Sebastian. "And, please, try to get him to say something."

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