To my mega, superior, divine and eerily tuned-in beta, Viola Cornuta, thanks for being just completely beyond compare! And for finding the perfect fairytale.
Miss Kari, the fabulous RowanMoon, helped me with the Romani research…you should go read her Broken Doll to see where it all came from.
Disclaimer: Defs born of SM's characters, they are hers…I'm just filling in their pasts and creating a new future.
I started this series in my Men of Twilight challenge oneshots and felt it had to be continued. I am incredibly excited that it will now be a full length fic!
It is, above all else, a love story. Lest we forget what drew us to Twilight in the first place...I want to take you back to that place.
There will be many different POV's, but each chapter will stick to one person.
For my women at the Double Wide, because y'all blow my mind!
Here is a new beginning, a fresh first chapter, I hope you enjoy it.
~~PS. There's a hella lot of history, but it's also pretty sexy~~
Youth without Age and Life without Death
Chapter One: Fair
Eliza Anis Anatolia
My favorite folk story was told to me by my matusa Petronela, the rock of our family and my mother's eldest sister, who raised the Anatolia brood with butica's untimely death. Tinereţe fără de bătrâneţe şi viaţă fără de moarte. Youth without Age and Life Without Death.
It happened once as never before-y, 'cause if it couldn't be true, it wouldn't make a story about the time when the poplar tree made berries and the willow tree broke out in cherries, when bears began to brawl with their tails, and wolf and lamb, unfurling their sails, threw arms around each other's necks and kissed each other with brotherly pecks, when fleas put on horseshoes boldly-- ninety-nine iron weights on one leg only-- then jumped right up to the sky in its glories, and they only did it to bring us stories:
About the time when flies wrote themselves on the wall,
And he's a big liar who doesn't believe this at all.
The privileged Emperor and Empress of a mythical fiefdom with their ruinous want for a child. The Handsome Son who was begot them, the hateful Woodpecker Fairy, the Scorpion Witch guarding her territory, the pontificating, wise horse carrying the prince through pitch night and lands filled with fantastical spite, gloriously terrifying sprites.
In search of youth without age and life without death, this fabled hero was embedded in me, for who didn't want those very things, and what a high cost such desire would deliver.
We were travelers, nomads…Gypsies. Some called us, in a denigrating manner, vagabonds. But we were neither transients nor beggars to be belittled. Of strong stock we rarely took notice of the condescending remarks. Smart, wily and capable, we carried our homes with us for my head would lay down to rest wherever my family was.
Romani. Of the Balkan Peninsula, the Black Sea, the Danube. Wanderers, people living off the earth, her gifts and our wits.
Soothsaying and sight-seeing went hand-in-hand and were facile occupations for our troupe; we believed in the mind's conjuring and the existence of fanciful beings. I was but one of my family tuned like a church organ to other's churlish fancies, descended from the matriarchal arch of women said to have been born of the dialen -- Romanish wood-spirits -- themselves with uncanny visionary abilities.
When I took a hand, when I looked closely at a stranger, I knew the insides of their minds opening like calligraphic script on parchment scrawling in black ink from the nib of their inner thoughts. Unlike some who used the notion of palm reading and fortune telling unjustly and for ill-gains, I was not a corrupt charlatan.
Nee Eliza Anis Anatolia, pledged to God, I was now Eliza Anis Anthony. Ellis Island saw the last of the Anatolians as we disembarked the the SS. Elbe in a massive Diaspora, brought from Bremen, Germany through Southampton, England to our new country with persecution nipping our heels. Romanichal was the name we gave our emigrated group, arriving in 1883, just ahead of the tight closing of Lady Liberty's all-welcoming arms to Romani immigrants just two years later.
In 1893, when we skirted through Chicago's streets lined with architectural strongholds and a balmy clover-filled scented breeze, I was thirteen. Grinning at the massed horde, I twirled in my wide pantaloons patched many times over from my scrapes with brambles and tree limbs, the tinkle of my self-made bazaar-like necklaces scattering like my youthful giggle. I'd been cosseted, had been told I was beautiful, smart as a whip and even my magpie tendency to collect every little trinket I could get my hands on -- from foreign coins to pebbles and pieces of frayed ribbon -- was indulged. Having bartered for a pair of castanets, I held the little cymbals above my head and clacked them in time to my pattering, tapping feet. The daisy chain wound round my wild coral-colored locks sank time and again to my eyes, but I just pushed it back up to my crown, shoved my untamed curls over my shoulders and carried on; enthralled at this crowd watching our descent on their beloved city to the newly renowned fairgrounds of the World's Columbian Exposition. Fabrics glittering like jewels swayed, and the Anthonys' muddle of love and humility and pride swept through the roads, as a caravan of song and sound wheezing and escalating from horns and accordion and pipes.
Spring was my preferred time of year. Chicago's World Fair was the best place to be.
The Great Fire of 1871 was a thing of the past, and the red carpet was laid down for opulence, livelihood, commingling of cultures, appreciation of industrialism, invention and grandeur.
With wide mossy eyes starved through curiosity, I hardly slept our first night; the wagon cluttered with all my treasures, my mama, my tatal, and their soothing words of our patria in my ears slipping down with me to slumber and dreams of our homeland.
Morning found me, every day for four months, traipsing the hundreds of acres ogling the strange and wondrous sights of man's creation and imagination! Buildings that looked like Rococo fairytale palaces! Filigree and turrets and ideas to build a wedding cake upon. Flags flew color-drenched standards, countries were represented and courtiers abounded. Fresh languages sank to my ears and I knew I was a lucky nomad to be here.
Night time was an illumination against the blackening sky…streets timed with electric lights by Westinghouse showing up the luminosity of all the blanched stucco buildings. The White City. This place was as magical as the deep dark green and brown and fen and fallow forests of my homeland.
Spirits and otherworldly beings could live in this untimely fortress.
But a child, I could be most found at Midway Plaisance. At this center of amusements, I plied my own gifts, filling my pockets with amulets from the moneyed citizens for bouquets of wildflowers, whose fragrances were a fragile touch of frangipani and fern.
Gathering ideas and seeking out the most willing, I approached both men and women alike to fascinate them with my fortuitous skill of prescience. No matter what I saw -- and sometimes I was galled, sickened, left dirty -- I dove down like an osprey striking water and fish until I sought the gold residing inside a person's soul.
It went without saying I circumnavigated a slew of less than savory fairgoers, especially when they bellowed to me, "Hey, Gypsy girl! Come read my destiny!" Their hands cupped in places most unseemly, their red-veiny eyes yellowed at my disobedience.
For all my savviness, boldness, street knowledge, I wasn't prepared for the vision of him. He'd just alighted the Ferris Wheel whose turning made me feel both capricious and nauseated.
A bold child, nearing womanhood, my heart pounded out flushes of rhythm like the reaches of an organ meeting the cacophonic climax of our Lautari music! He was still just a young man, but the bearing of his wide shoulders, his tallness, his long limbs spoke of manhood on the cusp.
One of his friends clapped him on the back, bantering about one thing or another, "Well, Edward, how'd you like that ride?"
At that very moment, the boy who was surely no more than three years my senior caught my highlighted emerald stare and snared me with his arctic eyes of icy blue.
My breath hitched, and the flush reigning over his high crisp cheekbones had nothing to do with the racing chop of wind blowing off the manmade lagoon to our side, sifting up caplets and white waves.
Monotones of mumbled sentences and the milieu of his mates' conversation glanced off my mind and wrestled away like nothing more than dandelion fluff as I bounced on my heels and wanted closer, immediately.
Daringly, I skipped up to the statue, staring at me. He hadn't yet answered his friend. From nowhere, from nothing I'd ever known, I felt the feminine roll of my hips in my blousy skirt and my shoulders lifting up and back to pronounce the small nubile rounds of my breasts.
Coquetry seemed a trait ingrained.
The chaff of my hair settled over my collarbone bared by the azure threaded, boat-necked shirt whose décolletage sat high enough on my throat to remain chaste.
My pull to him was like that of the Handsome Son to the keepers of the source of eternal life.
With a tiny tremble, his polished berry lips, carved and clean against a face that might have needed a shave in the morning, raised crookedly. Of its own mind, hypnotized, his hand lifted to catch me.
I didn't think I should be this close to him. I should have stopped, planted my feet, halted my panting breaths, turned on my heel and walked away.
Instead, I touched his tough skin with its fleshy glens and sank beneath the overwhelming precision of his netting wiles, slipped my fingers into his like trawling guiles.
This close, I saw the finesse and polish and pristine beauty of his skin! In scant seconds I'd memorized his forelock of jet hair, the shiver in his frozen-to-melted diamond-sapphire eyes. Unbelievably, he pulled my hand, clasped inside the width of his, to his chest where the pound-pound-pound of his heart tore up muscle like my own.
Unthinkingly I weakened into his form, only to feel his forearm wrap around my girlish waist, bearing me up and into him.
We didn't move.
I refrained from trespassing his mind.
The Ferris Wheel starting up again woke a flock of black swans from the lake into a torrent of honking and huge flapping nightshade wings.
The bewitching charm broke.
Edward leant closer so I breathed the warm haste of his mint and candy breath and fantasized this would be my first kiss! My heart galloped and trolloped, too close.
It took a mighty effort to stave off his ideas, this close.
I smelled the rampant wish of the wildflowers I'd plucked earlier riddling my skin, finding sanctuary in my hair…heated, the perfume swallowed us whole. Twined with his musky aftershave I couldn't place.
He descended, his intentions unclear, and I begged my body not to fidget.
Swooping just this side of my mouth that spilled a slight moan, he hardly touched my cheek to find my ear, "Girl, I think you'd best get back to your people."
The touch of his tongue, the breadth of his chest to mine was at odds with his ornery words. Nonetheless, I recoiled like a cobra to my woven basket, eyeing him strictly.
Swiveling elegantly, Edward stretched his back and strolled to the ring of his friends and their mocking, "Little gypsy girl got to you, eh Edward?"
Listing forward, listening through the thundering of my pulse and my sprung ire, I heard his response, "Shut up, Cords. You're a disgrace to your family." Then, in an undertone, he mentioned gravely, "She's beautiful. She knows me."
One final time, he looked back. A damp frost to his Siberian orbs, an icy barrage following his proclamation, a succinct nod in my direction, sending me on my somber way.
I wished I'd taken in his internal meanderings, just to see what he really thought of me.
That Handsome Son.
We returned, with our wares and crafts a vivacious exhibitionism to Chicago's fairgrounds in 1899.
This play palace was not near as whimsical as it'd been six years earlier, but I was even giddier. Blinded by the intrigue of girlish fancies, I'd waited, toiled, troubled, trembled with every annum, knowing we were coming closer and closer to this fixed point from whose fulcrum my past would flitter away and my future would unfurl.
Our number had multiplied to include spouses and children. I was still waiting. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews…we were ghicitoare and sorceresses, rudari and zlătari – wood crafters and goldsmiths.
And most exceptionally, bear trainers!
Most sensually…musicians, singers, and dancers.
As a fortune teller, a ghicitoare, I didn't need to touch the lines running in plump rivers up the hills of my patrons' palms to see their fate, but I held each person before reading the present, binding it to the future, like a forest nymph searching out the caress of the one who was meant to be mine.
Pounding out our native pattern, my Uncle Caspar and his sons Dukker, Emaeus, and Mihali were a taraf playing the lăutărească music with its complicated, intense improv rythms on their upright bass, panflute, the dulcimer-like tambal, and the reed instrument caval. Clapping and tapping their feet, the crowds parted slowly, a lithe chink openining in the armor of the audience as one man shouldered through, drawn by the music and us women dancing the Oro. The tempo shivered us through a circular dance, to a straight line, jumping and skipping, hopping and keeping up an intricate design like snake charmersworking from one end of the throng to the other.
To shouts of, "Eliza, Eliza," the tempo rapidly changed. Grinning and ribald, I loosened my shawl with its peacock tones and tethered it to my waist. Thready silken tassels hung down one hip while the other side formed a triangle of cloth that fitted my opposite thigh and dangled below my knee.
Forward thinkers, we embraced the New World, the melting pot mélange, and I'd taken up the Andalusian Flamenco as another expression of my Traveler heritage.
Effortlessly, my relatives transformed their beat to a sensuous tone, the ring widened, I felt eyes stunned to every movement of my hips, waist and shoulders. With the amplification of the music, finding the eyes soldered to my heady dance, I pulled my wrap up again and swept a matador's veronica.
This bull had a dark forelock sitting across his brow, which he blew up in a huff of breath to reveal the hoarfrost eyes I still remembered every night.
I was bolder, older. A woman, nearly. Just waiting for a man's touch to replace my own. I'd come back here, happily, knowing.
For all my confidence and flamboyance, if this particular man demeaned me, I would be crushed.
Crescendoing to reverberating applause, I held my pose but for a moment before gathering my shawl, my bouquets of flowers from the outside of the ring, and hurried to the man whose look gored me as if with horns.
Six years ago, he'd been just out of boyhood. Now he stood head and shoulders above his peers and the look in his eyes had taken a lascivious, probing gleam.
My full hips still moved to the echo of the earthy music. My hands sweated around the stalks of my flowers, for I was still both a florare and a clairvoyant.
Lashed by the magnitude of feeling looping between us, people shunted aside and made an open path between the colorful Romani young woman and the upright young man.
Straight and tall and beautiful. Breathtaking! In his lightweight dove gray suit emphasizing the brawny muscles of his shoulders, the inverted triangle of his chest, the pleated placket of his trousers accentuating his narrow hips and long, lean legs, he held his brilliant white Panama Hat by the ends of his fingertips. He was the picture of elegance and repose but for the clenching of his jaw and the hazardous snapping of his eyes. And, Doamne!, that jaw was edged with white sharp bone that looked so erotic, I wanted to lick from his hairline to that strutting jut just beneath and down from his ear. He looked…mature.
Above his ruddy lip, tickling the bow indenting it, was a slim mustache as inky as the hair on his head.
I wished to run my finger between that finely trimmed fringe and his mouth until he took my finger inside.
Breathless by the time I reached him, I offered a spray of peonies in the same crimson as the plush dais of his mouth, its whisper of nights spent in heathenish delights, its call like the open-road and windblown curtains. "Flowers, sir?" I archly questioned, knowing he wasn't interested in the blossoms at all.
"Flowers have no call to me," he stated, the incandescence of his Poseidon eyes slaking their thirst around my halo of undomesticated hair, "Fruit, perhaps." A secret smile played upon his lips and pulled me in closer than was strictly prudent. Biting down on what seemed to be a grin and a chuckle, he continued his flirtation, "Strawberry…blond." The further whipping of his look down my body tightened around me like a whalebone corset, crushing my breath and heaving my breasts upward, a lacing that constricted even more with his next saucy proclamation, "Candy floss hair…is there more?"
Perhaps I wasn't of his social standing, I'd no doubt he interpreted my increased breathing describing my titillation correctly, but indeed that didn't mean he could overstep the boundaries of propriety and demean my breeding!
As before, once again, I flinched as if slapped.
The apple bloom on his cheeks bleached and he looked aghast, "Christ," he muttered, shifting his feet on the ground, frowning down at his polished leather boots, finally bending at his knees to meet my insulted visage, my undimmed glare.
"I'm sorry, that was uncalled for and completely ungentlemanly. I've never thought something like that, let alone uttered it aloud in the company of the fairer sex! You do something to me, Miss." Even shaken with self- disgust and turpitude, his voice was tenorous.
The sincerity of his apology evident, I placated, "You just caught me off guard. And you do something to me too, Mister…?"
A cajoling sprinkle of white sparkled his eyes. Covering his head, stepping back a few paces, he began anew and my head dizzied at the sight of this stunning creature with his dappling smile tucking up to his moustache. He took the flowers from my clasp and laid them on the verge, first. He kept hold of my wrist and lifted it to his mouth, second. The heat of his breath sluiced over my knuckles. He bowed low and gestured his hat down to my feet with a flourish, third. My legs trembled, my eyes clamped shut to feel the brush of bristle and soft at my fingertips, then pressing into the heart of my palm. Still bent over my hand, he looked up through the feathers of his eyelashes and had I been a weaker woman I'd surely have swooned from that look alone! "Edward John Masen. Miss?"
A touch of the smug scoundrel littered back over his bountiful expression, creeping up into a smirk lifting his high cheekbones and wrinkling the corners of his eyes. A caged thing, my heart tried to jerk out through my breastbone.
Clearing my throat, I looked anywhere but at him, until I recalled the way he'd watched me dancing as if I held, already, his heart in my hand. He stood straight, so erect and tall and of unbearably perfect posture. My eyes reached his when I tilted my neck up, and my own face juggled into a warm smile, "Eliza Anis Anthony."
He stroked his chin and perused me again, not quite extinguishing the craving slipping over him, "Are you married, Eliza Anis Anthony?"
Pushing my hands to my hips, I jutted my chin so the temeritous dimple in it pointed skyward, "No, sir. And you, Edward John Masen?"
At my challenge and swagger, he laughed so beautifully my own answered, and I knew before he said it, "No, ma'am," with a wink.
Shyly, I wondered, "Do you remember me?" Edward wasn't of my ilk. Nor I of his, but a touch, a look, a glimpse, and he would be mine. As before I'd slinked away from his imaginings soon as I saw him, but now I had to see -- Rich truffles, black forests, fawns galloping in the gloamy thick loam and decaying autumn leaves, blowing frothy streams of frost from their blaring nostrils. She is wild. Miss Anthony is unlike anyone I've ever met, and I've met her before – yes, he remembered me.
This time he asked permission, nodding to my waist and extending his hand, "May I?" I nodded. His touch, his fingers slipping into the indentation and holding on, he pulled me a couple steps closer.
"Yes, Eliza, I remember you. Cotton candy hair, and sugar-spun smiles. Flowers," Edward nodded down to my forgotten goods, "and fortune telling. My little gypsy girl." His warmth colluded inside of me, his chin topped my crown we were so close. He inclined and I leaned forward and our chests nearly touched on his next words, "Will you read my palm?"
Shaking my head so a nest of snarls curled into his neck, I declined. I had no wish to know what my heart was already full of. Muffled a hairsbreadth away from the starched collar of his very clean shirt, I traded as I was wont to do, "Shall I tell you a tot o poveste populara instead?"
Like the beautiful fairy princesses who stood apart from the hourglass of time, housed in their glass palace like it was an unbreakable coffin in which they breathed and lived but never aged, and the moat swimming around it tasted of the Fountain of Youth, there was told a folk story of a Teutonic family of fair maidens. The Higgin clan. It was said their touch disarmed the passage of time, and ceased its clip-clopping motion.
Edward John and I were wed in 1900.
Looking ahead, my familia extended their well wishes. There'd been no child marriage for me, no dowry paid aside from my trousseau and the heirlooms passed to me through matrimony. This was one small step in becoming the head of my family; my authority would only be cemented with the birth of my first child, as ruled by Romanichal customs.
His Masen kin were, at first, less inclined. Fortunate and favored by fate, they looked to me as gold-digging, dirty hobo undeserving of their only son.
The night of our announcement to society at large made a hothead of my quiet, calm, cool betrothed. Sniggers and titters and smirks behind the crystal coupes of Bollinger made him nearly savage! He stormed to the terrace with me towed behind him. He only calmed when his arms wrapped around me, crushing my variegated ivy gown, a more debilitating, diaphanous affair than I was used to, with its small train and cumulus leg-o'-mutton sleeves tapering to my thin wrists with a lengthy row of mother-of-pearl buttons. The corset was unfamiliar and constricting, my hair contained in a French Twist, and the low décolletage, whose dips to the swell of my breasts was followed by Edward John's frosty eyes thawing to something hotter as he exclaimed, "This is balderdash!"
I caressed his face and leant up to kiss his mouth, a touch I'd never weary of, my glittering bejeweled ring caught light in a prism and sent it back out in rainbows. "Shhh, my love, you think a Romani streetwise gypsy woman can't handle a roomful of common vipers?" I joked before kissing him more deeply so the muscle of our tongues took residence in his mouth then mine.
The narrow gap of his heated lavender eyes assured me he felt in better health. The grip of his hand upon my buttocks as we reentered the brownstone made me yearn for what was to come with our consummation…all the while I slapped at his hand and begged closer with my striving hips.
We parted at the twinned double doors on either side of the hall, feminine laughter behind one, clotting smoke and bold jests behind the other, "Give 'em hell, Eliza," Edward John stole one more slip over my hip and far too near my breast to be gallant, but neither of us cared.
With strength and cunning and coyness, not to mention a little bit of my own intrinsic ability, I was capital. Capitol? – I giggled because that was such an Edward John phrase. In the drawing room of the Masen manse while the men adjourned to the smoking parlor – I had to assure Edward John that all was right and I was thoroughly able to handle and captivate the Masen matriarchy.
It was entertaining to watch my mama and matusa Petronela with their parlour games, charismatically bringing first one then another woman into their tightly woven magnet webs.
The unfamiliar Belle Epoque habille threatened to hobble me, but I was determined to prove myself a worthy lady, in my own right. A fast learner with an agile mind, my alluring gift aided me.
The grande-dame of the dynasty sat regally in a high-backed chair; forbidding, poised, she kept her aquiline nose high in the air as if she didn't see me. With tenacity, I straightened my shoulders and perched beside her, "Mrs. Masen," I held out my hand to her, "May I?" Not one wit of emotion strained the clinical mask of her features, though she flinched as if from the touch of a leper. "Come now, I don't bite," I inveigled.
With a deep, long-suffering sigh, she presented herself to me with an open palm. My eyelids shuttered down, and I concentrated on the furrowed silken planes of her elderly flesh, frail yet stalwart. I sought one line within the many drawings of her life. What I felt and what I saw sent a serene smile over my lips. Opening my eyes, I delivered, "You have loved fully."
The break in her daunting façade showed for but a moment. Drawn by my hypnotic seaglass eyes, she leaned to me as I reclined closer to whisper this woman's long-kept secret, "It was not your husband you gave your heart to."
The armor fell away, briefly but completely. She grabbed my wrist with that steely strength I'd viewed, "My dear, you do not know! How can you fathom…he wasn't of my standing. My Frederich," his appellation was an absolution to the past forty-eight years of a loveless marriage.
"I feel it, because what you were never allowed to reciprocate, that love, is exactly what I have for your grandson. Perhaps the fates will be kinder to us?"
With the elder Mrs. Masen's staunch approval, I was welcomed, not with entirely open arms but with respect bordering on admiration, to the fold as Elizabeth Anthony Masen.
The adjustment wasn't easy or altogether pleasant as I said goodbye to my own family who carried on in their drifting ways while I made of myself a matron of the arts and charities, now one of Chicago's elites. Ladies luncheons, home making, and always, always, making love with my husband.
We made new traditions while I clung to some of my old. I didn't forego my Christian Orthodoxy for his Protestantism, and that was a bone of contention only smoothed by the reality of how silly it was to fight about religion when we possessed such heavenly love.
I held fast to certain marime, purity laws. Hair cuttings were to be burnt, and nails to be filed instead of clipped so as not to leave an essence of our bodies for misfortune to find and use against us.
The taboo on the lower body and genitalia stood not a chance, not with the heart-stopping erotic night time pleasures Edward John introduced me to until I felt, at least after dark, more his mistress than his wife.
In high society, at important functions, I the wife of the ridiculously attractive, enterprising next-in-line president of Masen Furriers, and he the husband who was no longer seen as mismatched by his exotic, striking, red-haired spouse, it was all above board, aside from the reminiscent slight nudge across my buttocks with the rasp of his knuckles so the thick, gold ring on his pinkie scoured my flesh with flaming desire reflecting in his snowdrift bedroom eyes. Our societal roles intact, I charmed and enticed and entertained while Edward John made contacts, cut deals and lavishly donated half as much money as his worth toward philanthropic undertakings.
Generous to a fault was he, especially in the bedroom.
At home, Edward John liked me in a corset, chemise, my drawers – all ornately trimmed in ribbon with ruffles of chiffon, the garments creating a feminine S-shape he admired for minutes at a time -- and barefoot with my hair let down in fiery waves to my waist, without the finery and frippery. Because for all our rank and position, he was still my Fairground Boy and I his Gypsy Girl.
In passing on my way to the range I nudged the toes of his calfskin boots as he read the broadsheet, propped against the doorjamb, feeling a delicious thrill as he ran his look, austere to steadfastly sexual, over my very nearly nude body.
He liked a home cooked meal, my husband did.
He rarely waited until after dessert to take me, any damn place he wanted.
Beneath the starch and new aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the cultural commitments, Edward John was a carnal creature, an ardent lover.
The way he licked his fork clean made sly butterflies flutter inside my tummy. When it clattered to his cleared plate, I bit my lower lip, the whalebones confining my chest straining.
My carriage was held upright with my breath gusting tightly inside the bone-lined linen limits.
Edward John watched the rise and fall, and looked to my mouth, his bearing rigid.
He scraped back his chair with nary a though to the polished tiles.
I gathered the cutlery and china.
He ran his index finger beneath his fine, ticklish, black mustache.
Turning my back, my feet slap-slapped on the marble, just like our flesh, naked, writhing, against each other.
I swayed my hips.
Looked over my shoulder, I took in my sotul's eyes darkening, narrowing, pinpointing the precise motion of my bottom, the bared flesh at the base of my spine, the keys of my back and the keyed up muscles at the start of my neck.
His breath preceded his lips licking from the round of one nude shoulder to the other, pushing the tiny capped sleeves lower.
Propelling me to the parlor, he pressed my hands to the mantle and held my hips far away from the blissful flames of the coal fire.
I steadied in several breaths, he ran his hand down the criss-crossed lacing that held my flesh away from him.
To my front, across my bodice, Edward John cupped my breasts and sank his fingers into the valley created by man's gilded cage, "I could just take you like this, Eliza," I moaned greedily, he only ever called me by my given name when we made love, "But I'd hate for you to faint from lack of breath."
At the encouragement of his fingers, my head turned so our lips met and the itch of his groomed mustache to my mouth swayed over me before the lush firmness of his tongue turned and twisted into my mouth.
"Dragostea mea," I hushed into his neck when he released me, "My love, set me free."
"With pleasure, hold tight, Eliza." He yanked the bow from the binding and inched his deft fingers between fabric and skin, unwinding the bond, marking the intake of deep breath that lifted my arse up against his erection, and tilted my breasts to his hands now completely enveloping me.
I rolled my hips and reveled in his groan, "Oh, yes."
The corset slipped to the floor, and I swiveled around. My lubita, my lover, dashed the negligent camisole and bloomers away, swatting my inner thighs in demanding play.
Grabbing my ample hips, braiding his tapered fingers to my disheveled tresses, he bore me to the settee with a smirk teasing his lips.
I kissed that smirk right off of him.
He retaliated by slowly, oh so slowly, unbuttoning his shirt, lifting off his loosened tie, pulling open his expensive tailored trousers. Further blighting me, he opened the top of his pants just enough I could see the thick trail of black-brown hair leading to his shaft, but nothing more, while he reached for my tits with the same subtle, wanton smile as always. His thumbs ramped down my nipples gently, knowing the tenderest touch on my breasts made me savage. With his attention, the buds peaked, perked, turned bright red at the top and deep pink around the circling areole. He hefted the weight, and slid his fingers underneath the base curves; against the corner of my mouth where I could hardly breath he repeated his hymn to my breasts, "I love the shape of you, like a teardrop." Edward John lifted my full bosom up to his lowing mouth, suckling, nuzzling, "I love to make your tits smile like this."
Eroticism was heavier than the amber liquid of our nightly cognac in the cut-glass tumblers on the side table and my head lashed, my back arched, my hands triggered to the stiffness still hidden.
I backed away, he begged, "Wench, why do you starve me of your charms?"
Volleying, I shot back, "Husband, take off your breeches."
The heliotrope head of his shaft mesmerized me as it danced in thin air, an arc of flesh so stiff, soft, hard, and dynamic, I beseeched with my magical hands, my beguiling eyes, my undulating hips in a makeshift, age-old dance until he came to me.
When close enough, I dallied over the brightening, hardening taut heart of his cock, linked my fingers to take him wholly and stroked powerfully up and down, watching the clinch of his abdominals, the strain in the ligaments of his neck, the shiver touching chills to his biceps and chest.
He stayed my movements with hands at my shoulders, and sat away, on the chaise longue. His finger crooked, hooked, captivated me closer, until I stood between the brawn of his thighs and he pointed to his piece, "Come on top of me, Eliza," he ordered, in an erotic, no-nonsense tone.
Elixir, remedy, balm and poison all mashed into one, his penis lanced me as I sat astride him! The power made me bow back so hard my hair hit his feet planted mightily on the carpet, and he had to hold my rocking body in place.
Regained from the instance of entrance, I sat up with my hands on his chest, rubbing his nipples, leaning to wetly kiss those brazen lips, the square jaw, the tight ropes of his neck, I prayed, "Edward John."
I gyrated slowly until his breath chugged deadly. My calves trembled into cramps.
"Eliza Anis Anatolia!" he became uncontained, a zephyr, a Zeus, an ardent erotic lover who had me begging, in a most unladylike fashion – like the child I used to be with bruised, scabby, filthy knees, my dress awry, my hair ajumble, pleading for a bit of licorice.
Now I beseeched for his manhood.
And he was, as ever, profoundly beneficent; pelvis clenching, hips lifting in a volcanic rupture from the cushions while holding down on my shoulders until the effervescent frown of climax solidified my face and narrowed my vision until all I saw was the pounding, terrifyingly beautiful absence of everything!
"MY GOD!" he jammed up into me several more times 'til we both sagged, bonelessly, to the chaise.
A searing chuckle rumbled Edward John's chest beneath my cheek and flattened hair, "Was that your idea of dessert, my love, or is there more?"
There was once a great emperor and an empress, both young and beautiful. Wishing to have children, they did many times over everything that had to be done about that. They went on journeys to wizards and wise men who could search the stars and tell if they might have children, but in vain. Finally, hearing that there was a cunning old man in a nearby village, the emperor sent for him. The old man, however, looked the king's messenger straight in the eye and said that the ones needing help should come to him. Having heard as much, the emperor and empress gathered several great lords, together with soldiers and servants, and their highnesses brought themselves to the gray beard's house. When the old man saw them coming, he went out to greet them right away.
--Welcome in good health! he said. But what are your majesties traveling to find? The wish you have will bring you sorrow.
--I didn't come to ask you that, said the emperor. If you have some remedy which will make us have children, give it to me.
--I have, said the old man, but you will have one child only. He will be the Handsome one, the most dear Son, and you shall have no joy of him.
We weren't long-married before I miscarried our first baby.
Another four months meant a second loss.
This night, I wore my silk scarf wrapped majestically around my head, my capacious skirts glittering with jewels and sparkling gem tones. Hosting a fancy dress party, only I was being my true self.
The stays for my morning dress had already been loosened.
I was five months pregnant, at least I reckoned from the time of my last menses. Approaching our first anniversary, I felt…him quickening in the marrow of my bones, in the thud of my heart, my organ pumping within me and umbilically into our son.
The glow inside me couldn't be diminished. The cherubic roundness of my formerly lean face compelled Edward John to stroke me whenever he was near, wanting so much to have me though I cautioned against it.
October's ghouls beat at our doors and hard frost made spirals and webbed paintings on the windows, but inside there was ease and friendship and hope.
Richly flavored and highly spiced dishes of pork, and hominy, meat jelly, and sweet breads were a counterpoint to imported wines, Feteasca and Grasa.
On the gramophone I played the records reminding me of my traveling, wayward youth, hoping only to bring a young one of my own to this world.
As the feasting dwindled, I strolled over palms and cards by firelight, the gas lamps at a low flicker. Frivolously, I gave my gifts to my friends who'd accepted me as a genteel, well-heeled woman and an heiress to a fortune of Western European legacy.
All the while I discreetly massaged my belly.
A tough rap at the door ended the evening on a sour note. The low voice of my husband turned rocky, the harangue of my own language was hasty as they spoke in the vestibule.
Opening the door, I saw one of my own. A sage, an elderly woman whose splicing eyes were more youthful than the tangent folds of skin and flaps of wrinkles making squashed plum of her face.
Rapidly, she spoke to me, explaining she knew my family by song and dance and fair, far and wide. Taking a gold amulet from her pocket, she waved it before my face and tucked her free hand into my elbow, guiding me back inside. Edward John was anxious, fraught, until I nodded to him complacently.
"Femeie inteleapta, is all right with the Anatolias?"
My heart pounded fat blood and I felt the babe kick its heels for the first time!
The smoky cavern of her voice found me like a bee charmer, "They are well, copilul meu." My child. My child was beginning to move inside me, somersaulting it felt like, in his gestation!
"You are with child, Eliza?"
"Yes," of their own, my hands wrapped around the little roundness of my stomach.
She came at my face and gripped my shoulders, only to ease down and waylay the fright her actions caused…and again, to cause further unease with these words, "Mortality will be eclipsed for his love is a machination of the future. Whatever you believe, Eliza, you know in your heart, phantoms live and humanity reins."
It must have been the clammy heat, the small drink I'd had, the long cigarette. Whatever the means, I held that eerie hallucination like a talisman to ward off bad luck
Even the witch had said he'd be born.
Right before the hour of birth, the child put up such a storm of weeping that no wizard was able to console him. Then the emperor began to pledge the child all the good things in the world, but neither was he able to quiet him, though he did everything in his power.
--Be quiet, Daddy's dear one, the emperor said, and I'll give you this or that kingdom; be quiet son, and I'll give you this or that emperor's daughter to wive, and a lot of other things like that. Finally, when the emperor saw over and over again that the child wouldn't be still, he said on top of that: be quiet my son and I'll give you youth without age and life without death.
With the birth of Edward Anthony Masen, I was tied to this world as never before!
My earth revolved around him, Edward John the guiding sun that protected us, doted on us, provided for us, and remained my first love.
But the love I felt for young Edward was ineffable! Every squint of his eyes turning from newborn wishy-washy blue to the deepest tint of forest green, the curl of his teeny fist around my finger, his rosebud mouth opening in a yawn or the strangest, funniest little expressions littering across his face plummeted mother-love down to the pit of my belly and made my heart beat faster.
I could look at him for hours without blinking or tiring. Months after his nascence,I still felt the phantom kicks and wiggles of his residence inside my womb, a sensation I'd never know again because he was to be our only child.
In a manner I'd never have been able to imagine previously, Edward John and I were fulfilled, filled to bursting with ripe affection and devotion and tenderness for this wee bairn!
With a squeal much bigger than his small frame, my babe called down my milk in a flow of rich, thick liquid rendering to a lighter drink the longer he suckled.
Sometimes I simply had to smell him for my breasts to fill with nourishment. From his begetting, Edward's fragrance had been different, heady, other-worldly. Some tell of the perfume of saints, as if in canonization their bodies become imbued with the bouquet of fresh fields of flowers.
That's how Edward always smelled to me as I nuzzled the pudgy rolls of his neck and the softest folds of his elbows.
As he grew from infancy to toddlerhood to childhood, the years passing too quickly at a frantic clip, more Anatolian portents became apparent; Edward knew far too much about people than could be explained by anything other than my own unique perception of the mind's eye.
At the shore, gathering freshwater shells and inspecting limpets and leavings of Lake Michigan, Edward raced up and down the beach with shouts of belly rumbling laughter, chasing off seagulls and flapping his own wings in search of taking flight! He approached anattractivelady, landing at her feet with a spray of wet tidal mud. I heard his stammered apology and watched the peachy blush fly up his plump cheeks. As I stood to approach, the woman leaned down and cupped his bonny face, and with a grieving smile opening only to him she whispered, "That's okay, dear boy. This old dress was headed for the wash line anyway." Patting his head, she sent him on his way, back to me where his eyes coalesced stormy and viridian as the wavelets beneath a thunderous sky.
By the time we reached each other, Edward's expression was somber and, in his six-year-old lisp, he reckoned knowingly, "That lady is sad, mummy."
Over the sand, I met her eyes, and nodded.
Her own young son had died not a year and a half before of sepsis.
A curiosity, he was a first in the Anatolia family. The first male with the ability to summon other's thoughts.
We raised him as an American and a Romanian. The music, rituals, food, lore, and religion of both my and the Masen ancestors were folded into Edward in a sincere and homey method.
Most importantly, I wished him to have the freedom of his childhood as I did! Getting dirty, collecting ornaments wherever he found them – beach, park, during a walk down the road to the bustling square – climbing trees and building fortresses and making friends from strangers at every turn.
A consummate dancer, an accomplished piano player, as Edward grew older, he accompanied his father and me while we turned about the parlour. He took his own stance before me, at thirteen already taller than me, his shoulders filling out to a man's proportions, and gracefully applied me across the floor.
The more the child grew, the more quick-witted and daring he became. They sent him to schools and philosophers, and all the teaching that other children learned in one year, he learned in a month, so much so that the emperor was dying and resurrecting for joy. The whole country prided itself that it would have an emperor as learned and wise as Solomon. From that time forward, however-- I don't know what Handsome Son had wrong with him that he was all melancholic, sad and lost in thoughts.
How I hated time that took Edward so speedily from baby to almost-man even while I gloried in the articulate, talented, striking adult he was becoming.
His hair was darker than mine, bronze and copper, but just as feral as my own. His eyes were celery green and clean with all his emotions baldly demonstrated, his chiseled features and athletic build all Masen. I giggled in the hall outside the bath when Edward John showed his son how to shave just so with the straight razor, then felt my heart slow to a stop at my handsome son's clean-cut jaw and autumn hair and flushed cheeks when he emerged.
He rolled his eyes at my reaction and sighed with a smile, "Oh, mum. It's just a shave."
Edward John was more stoic about Edward's anterior aptitude than he was with mine…a father's worry for his son's standing and concern over what his future might entail. We spent so many nights talking in between the torrid trysts still marking our ecclesiastical passion.
I wondered if Edward ever heard us, at the opposite end of the house. Now that he was an adolescent and then some, I wished him to find his own flirtations. But I'd adopted the policy of never searching out his thoughts, and he did the same for me.
He was sixteen, and so beautiful!
Perceived as too insular, so that his shy aloofness appeared pompous, Edward became almost worryingly reserved. Redoubling my efforts, I worked vigor and more and more and more of my maternal love into him.
I couldn't help it because I blamed myself…had he been around my people at all, his skill wouldn't have appeared so outlandish.
Every week, year in and year out, we sat in the plaza, admiring the hustle and bustle, admitting our gifts, and I shuddered at the unwholesome thoughts aimed at my son by glassy-eyed, mauling strange women.
Surely, there was one for him.
How I loved nothing more than a houseful of his friends, an all too rare occurrence. In this instance, a houseful was never more than three or four for my modest Edward. Booms of boyish laughter and tussles and unending snacking were my reward, and Edward's was the connection he built with his mates Whit and Carty.
I taught him there was nothing to be ashamed of in his physical body, no need to worry over his manly needs so long as he gave proper respect to both himself and the woman he desired.
In answer to my forthright chats, Edward jittered his leg, tumbled the coins in his pocket, looked both sheepish and emboldened.
I didn't know how to read him anymore.
Times had changed. Skirts had lifted, corsets loosened, collars displayed more tantalizing flesh and fine-boned ankles were readily seen.
The Great War was approaching from across the archaic mountains, the Danube, the spiny scrawl and sprawl of Europe, reaching its Reaper's fingers out and calling to our own boys.
I wanted so much for him to meet the woman he'd love eternally! Secretly I hoped that would keep him from signing up.
One night, passing his bedchamber, I heard a muffled, strained whisper, "Isabella."
But it happened one day when the child had just turned fifteen years old and the emperor was to be found at table celebrating with wine and song among all the lords and seneschals of the kingdom that Handsome Son stood up and said:
--Father, the time has come to give me what you promised me at birth.
Hearing this, the emperor became very sad, and he said to him:
--But look, son, where can I get such an unheard of thing as that to give you? And if I promised you then, it was only to quiet you down.
--If you can not give it to me, Father, then I must need scour the whole world until I find the pledge for which I came into this life.
Then all the lords and the emperor threw themselves on their knees, with pleas that he not leave the kingdom. And the lords added:
--Since your father is an old man from here on out, we shall raise you to the throne, and we shall also bring you the most beautiful empress under the sun for a wife.
But they couldn't turn Handsome Son from his resolution. He stuck to his word like a rock so that when his father saw that over and over again, he gave him his leave and planned vittles for the trip and all things needful.
It should have come as no surprise. Carty and Whit had already enlisted. It was 1918. That war had grounded itself in our very lives even from across the vast Atlantic.
Edward joined rank and file.
Deep in my bones, a sagging despair that wouldn't be displaced clung to me.
My passionate, artistic, quiet son, if only I could keep him safe from harm, I'd employ any means necessary!
Edward John listened to me railing, bitter tears tightening my face and mottling my skin with the rash of weeping. He held me while I hit and scratched. He lifted me to our bed and made me forget, in all the magnificently sensuous ways his body still moved over and into and around mine.
Afterward, he held me for dear life, and I like him to a life preserver, because he too knew there were no more guarantees.
Not long now, a few weeks left. I'd pleaded with him to reconsider, to go off to school if he needed space, anything but to put his existence in danger so blindly, so trustingly.
Steadfast as his father, Edward never wavered.
In the end, I made up his kit, sewed and stitched and joined the Ladies Auxiliary, started working in the wards at St. Luke's Hospital, so my time was already divvied between Edward and the occupations I'd have to take my mind off his peril to come.
I purchased scented stationery and new pens and inks. Because I would write him every day.
As a parting gift, I took Edward to The Majestic to see Swan Lake.
We made quite a pair; me in my evening gown and finest mink stole, my son in his tuxedo.
Focused on the dance and music and artistry as the ballet jetted across the stage, Edward was mindless to the gaggle of women surrounding him. For once, I was thankful, as I'd not have syrupy young Tanya getting her claws into him.
Before intermission ended, I returned to our private box where Edward had remained. The curtain lifted ahead of me as a man departed with the words, "Do please forgive me, young sir, I seem to have misplaced my party," hanging behind him. He nodded pleasantly at me and held the closure aloft for my entrance.
In the vestibule, that man's ambrosial cologne saturated the air. Honey and sun-dew and something akin to my son. Looking after him, I watched the slinky predatory nature of his gait. There was a connection just beyond my immaculate reach as his mind shifted like the heavy carnelian velvet drapes swishing across the stage in preparation for the second half.
Quickly dancing and flipping up motes of dust, blurring the exceptional veined wood of his past, his being, the swags shut me out.
In his retreat, I detailed this man. Godlike, sleek as the Phaeton carriage polished to a brilliant sheen enshrined and unused in the outbuilding at the Masen's mansion. Proud and determined and shining as the pantheon demi-god Phaëton on his chariot, seeking knowledge.
A phantom…as I'd been forewarned by the Romanichal witch.
I did see one thing.
He possessed youth without age, life without death. He was the young, handsome prince inside the castle.
For he was vampyre.
Suddenly, I knew only one thing; fairytales are true and immortals walk among us. Not in palaces guarded by mythical fairies inhabiting magical realms and circled by savage animals, but here, shoulder-to-shoulder.
Even for all my insight into Freudian, flickering minds, I could never have foreseen the swift tide of fortunes changing.
Ki shan i Romani-- Adoi san' i chov'hani
Wherever gypsies go, There the witches are, we know.
~Thoughts on this very first chapter? Please review~
Carlisle is next.
If you want to chat about this or any of my other stories (and for something entirely different, you should check out the fuck-hot, and frickin' hilarious Southern AU story, Dead Confederates), come on down to my thread on the Twilighted forums. Link on my profile.
The name comes from the Romani fairytale I referenced throughout (the passages in italics, apart from the bit about the Higgin family): Tinereţe fără de bătrâneţe şi viaţă fără de moarte: Youth Without Age and Life Without Death written by Petre Ispirescu.
Kinda stole a bit from Jane Eyre, too.
Just so y'all know, I fully intended to get on the replies for Surrender (WOW), Jealousy, and Dead Feds tonight 01/08/2010...but fuckfic had other notions. I apologize, and it is my promise to get back to y'all this weekend for every review for all my fics. I LOVE nothing more than talking to you lovely ladies, so if you have something to say to me, now's the time :). I just wanted to get Eliza out to you first.