Title: Private Tour
Summary: Tricked into accepting the secretarial position in Volterra, Gianna is forced to leave the love of her life. She must harness the strength she never knew she had in order to find her way home. A one-shot ficlet about forgiveness, family, and enduring love.
Pairing: Gianna/Felix; Gianna/New Character
Entry for:Forgotten Femmes Anonymous Contest
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is the creator and writer of the Twilight Saga. No copywrite infringement is intended.
Beta: Thank you to my beta Kelli, (Breath-of-twilight), couldn't have done it without you.
A Million Stars
This is all so surreal. It's the only interview I've been on, and he's offering me the job of a lifetime.
I stared glassy-eyed at the stack of papers in front of me, then stole a glance at my diploma.
Universita Di Pisa
Gianna Natale Ricci
Bachelor delle Arti - Lingue Straniere e Literatures
I graduated last week from the University of Pisa, with a degree in foreign language and literature. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would even get an invitation to visit the 'Il castello di Volterra,' let alone work there.
"I'm sorry, you were saying?" I asked him, as I peeked up from the papers that I'd been staring at for the past thirty minutes.
"I said that I'll need your decision. Now, Miss Ricci. Just so we're clear, the secretarial position requires the utmost discretion and complete secrecy. We have every confidence in you and believe your skill set is well suited for this career. You will find your responsibilities both challenging and rewarding as you utilize your foreign language skills while conversing with our guests. He awaited my answer.
"It sounds quite interesting, but…." I tried to politely decline, but was interrupted.
"You came highly recommended. As you are surely aware, the University of Pisa is one of the most ancient and prestigious universities in all of Europe. Founded in 1343, I believe? In any event, the president is closely associated with my colleagues at Castle Volterra." He slid a photo across the table.
I picked it up and noticed the U-Pisa president posing with a group of people in front of what I recognized as Castle Volterra.
I passed the photo back to him. "I mean no disrespect; it's just that I hope to get engaged and maybe even married this summer. I can't imagine moving away from Cecina."
He ran his fingers through his closely shorn black hair. Although he didn't seem that much older than me, I found myself intimidated by his presence.
He leaned forward and breathed in and out purposefully. His piercing eyes seemed to look into my very soul.
"We are offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity, Miss Ricci." He paused to gauge my interest, and sighed audibly and heavily in my direction.
Suddenly, I was not only interested in the secretarial position, but I wanted nothing more than to appease the man sitting across from me.
"I'm sure you've read the terms, but so there's no misunderstanding. I will review the finer points with you. We in Volterra are a compassionate people. We understand what it will be like to remove yourself from your family and friends. But, you will be well compensated, Miss Ricci. The position includes your own brownstone, fully furnished, I might add, as well as use of a car and driver." He smiled knowingly.
"Understandably, there will be…shall I say… adjustments that will need to be made as you begin your career and leave certain aspects of your life behind." He stared at me, his eyes unblinking.
Those words brought me out of the fog. "Excuse me? Are you suggesting that I would have to leave everything behind?" I choked on my words.
Certainly he wasn't serious.
"There will be no going back, Miss Ricci. The Secrets of the Volturi are among the most sacred in the world. Those secrets are held in higher regard than even the clandestine world at the Vatican or Italy's own SISMI."
He continued, "Make no mistake. There are those whose very intentions are to inflict great harm upon the Volturi, and who would stop at nothing to uncover our secrets. Even under the threat of death, there are still those that threaten us, and those that have broken our trust."
"Once you pass through the castle gates, you will be entrusted with our most sacred of truths. So long as you remain loyal, absolutely no harm will come to you. The conditions of your employment are for your protection as well as ours, Miss Ricci. Shall I continue?" He paused and once again took deliberate deep breaths, judging my demeanor I suppose.
I felt a bit dazed but nodded my head in affirmation.
But even through the mist, my thoughts went to my boyfriend, Matty.
"We've been quite thorough researching your qualifications and researching not just you, Miss Ricci, but your family and friends as well. For example, we are attuned to your father's dire situation with his winery. We are also keenly aware of your romantic relationship with one Matteo Esposito. It is his dream to renovate and expand that rundown marina, isn't that correct?" He gestured knowingly.
"Yes, but what do my father and Matty have to do with my employment at Castle Volterra?" I mean, really?
"As I was saying, Miss Ricci, this is a demanding job, requiring that you work long hours and weekends. It would be next to impossible for you to maintain ties with family and friends outside of Volterra. "His face revealed a hint of sadness.
I stood to leave and offered my hand. "While I appreciate the opportunity, I truly must pass."
He stood and towered over me, then placed a firm hand on my shoulder suggesting I sit back down. "In light of your personal sacrifice in leaving Cecina, we are prepared to offer a severance package as you cut the ties to your past. We will wire two million Euro's now, divided equally, between your parents account, as well as that of Matteo Esposito."
Sever the ties to my past?
But Matty could have his own marina. He'd be set for life!
My family wouldn't lose the winery.
"Your starting salary will be one hundred and fifty thousand Euros per annum, paid bi-monthly. I have already arranged for your signing bonus equal to one year's salary." He paused while I sunk in my chair.
He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a red plastic credit card with a picture of Castle Volterra on the front. In large block letters it read, 'Banca di Volterra'.
Bank of Volterra.
My name appeared in golden embossed letters below the picture,
Gianna Natale Ricci.
One hundred and fifty thousand Euros in my name. Right here. Right now, and all I have to do is accept this awesome job.
And leave everything else behind.
"Once you've signed the contract, you may begin drawing from your account immediately." He placed the card on top of the papers in front of me.
So, this was it. The offer was literally on the table. I tried to see through the haze.
Surely this is too good to be true. Two million to my parents and Matty.
Plus I can send them money throughout the year if they need it. Cosima can go to college. She can go to U Pisa and take Vinnie with her.
And, 150,000 Euros right now? As in, right in front of me on that shiny new red card.
The one with my name on it.
He cleared his throat, and I was once again brought out of my daydream.
"This is a one-time offer, Miss Ricci. A position of a lifetime for yourself, but perhaps more importantly, you will change the lives of everyone who is near and dear to you. That's quite a legacy, wouldn't you agree?" He paused, rose from his seat, and leaned across the table, stilling just inches from my face.
"Last chance. Do you wish to accept the position or don't you, Miss Ricci?" His breath was so close and so sweet. I couldn't quite place it. Mint? Grapes maybe? His scent continued to assault my senses. I felt drawn to him, as if I couldn't say no. As if nothing else mattered.
Leave them all behind.
Sever all ties.
But, leave a legacy by helping them all.
Would he forgive me? Would he still love me?
"Miss Ricci? Your answer, if you please?" He ran his tongue across his lips.
Once again, I was swimming in his delicious scent "Y,yes," I stammered. "I accept your offer."
"You understand, don't you, that once you've signed and activated your card, that your commitment is sealed? Just so we're clear, Ms. Ricci, there is no going back." He said, matter-of-factly.
But all I could focus on were those hypnotizing violet eyes of his. And, of course, his delicious ruby lips.
I licked my own in reflex. "Uh huh. I mean, yes. I understand."
"Welcome, then, Gianna. You'll make a wonderful addition to our staff at Castle Volterra. Please, sign here." He handed me a black Monte Blanc and I signed beside the "x" at the bottom of the page.
"Shall we toast our contract? Perhaps a bottle of your father's wine?" He looked at me for affirmation, while signaling the server.
"The car will be by your home to collect you at eight o'clock tomorrow evening. You may bring one box of personal items with you." He said as he stood up and released his gaze.
"Only one box?" I stammered.
"Gianna." He said, as his violet eyes met mine, and his cold hand gripped my arm. "You will be provided with a complete wardrobe, a vehicle, and a fully furnished flat. All of your needs will be attended to in accordance to our agreement. It is through our bounty that we are extending you this most generous offer, wouldn't you agree?"
His face was just inches from mine, his other hand rested on my shoulder.
To hell with the wine, I was already drunk from his mere proximity.
"Of course, thank you. Tomorrow, eight o'clock." Somehow, I couldn't take my eyes off of this flawless man.
"I look forward to working with you, er, Mister…?" My voice shook.
"Call me Felix. We will be seeing a lot more of each other, I'm sure." His voice was a mix of threat, baritone, and silk.
"A bottle of 'Una Vigna Bella Di Vita'. Rosso di Montepulciano, 2005, if you have it." He ordered my father's most popular red wine.
My father named his winery, 'A Beautiful Life Vineyards', in honor of his wife, my mother, Sophia. He said she made his life beautiful every day.
And now fate has afforded me the opportunity to save that vineyard.
Matty can have the kind of marina he's always wanted. Maybe it will be so large that cruise ships will add Cecina to their ports of call.
The server brought the bottle to our table and opened it. He poured a taste into my goblet. It was perfect, just like I'd remembered.
And I remembered that day in 2005 like it was yesterday. Matty and his brother, Vincenzo, and my sister Co Co and myself, stomped those very grapes.
We found ourselves laughing hysterically at the mess we'd made of our clothes and skin. We were splattered red from head to toe.
The waiter looked toward me for affirmation. "Miss? Com'è il vino?"
How's the wine?
"The wine? Oh. Yes. It's fine." I swallowed, and then I set down my goblet.
The server poured the deep red wine into our glasses.
"Shall I offer a toast then?" He raised his glass.
"To a thousand tomorrows, and not a single yesterday!" His crystal goblet rang true against mine.
And we drank.
A single drop of red wine slipped from my mouth and stained the signed contract below.
"Let me get that." He smiled a cold smile and scooped up the papers, folded them in half lengthways, and placed them inside his suit pocket.
I gulped the rest of my wine and picked up the shimmery red card with my name emblazoned.
The server arrived with the check, and stood by our table. "Would you care to put this on your card, Miss?"
"Yes, please." Anxious to see if it would really work, I handed over the ruby red card to our server. He returned in no time.
I added the tip and filled in the total. Twenty-one Euros.
Twenty-one. The same as my age.
I signed my name and placed the check into the slim, black leather portfolio.
The server quickly collected it. "Will there be anything else?"
"No, we're finished here." Felix replied as his eyes grew black as coal.
"Until tomorrow, then?" He said, as he kissed first my right cheek, and then my left.
I watched him walk out the terrace doors of the Hotel Tornese, which is arguably the nicest hotel in Cecina.
And then it hit me.
"What have I done?"
Tears streamed down my face as the reality of it all crashed down on me. I was still in my seat in the terrace restaurant, staring out at the brilliant turquoise ocean, blinking through my tears.
My phone. I've got to call him.
I reached down underneath the wooden chair and retrieved my purse. I pulled out my mobile phone and hit number one on speed dial.
"Hello, Sweetheart. Miss me?" His voice sang to me like an angel.
"Matty. I. I need to see you. Can you get away for a while?" My voice was hesitant, shaky.
"Gi Gi! What is wrong? Are you crying? Is everything all right?" He sounded panicked.
"Yes…No…I just need to see you. Right away. Can you meet me at the pier?" I was trying to sound brave.
"Gianna, amore mio. You've got me scared half to death. What is wrong?" Now his voice was breaking.
Oh, my love.
"Matteo. Matty. Please. I just need to see you. I'm walking there right now. Be there in fifteen, okay?" I held my mobile to my ear with my left hand, while I attempted to wipe my eyes with the wrist of my right.
Black smudges streaked my hand.
"I'm leaving the marina now. Hold on a sec, Gi." He said in a rush.
Then I overheard him talking to his brother. "Vinnie! Vincenzo? I need to leave. It's Gi Gi. No. I think she's okay, but I need to get to her. You got everything here, right?"
He continued, "I'm back. Gianna, innamorato? Are you still there? I'm running there now. Be there in five. Gianna? Gi Gi, are you there?"
Sweetheart. He'd called me his sweetheart.
And, it was his heart that I was going to break.
"Kay." It was all I could force my breath to utter. I hung up the phone and continued walking on the pristine, white sandy beach.
I could see him up ahead. He was standing in the shadows underneath the pier. The second he saw me he starting sprinting towards me. I took some deep, long breaths, but couldn't get my legs to go any faster than the snail's pace I was on from the hotel.
It was if I was walking to my execution.
An hour ago we had our future ahead of us. But, now, what I would have to tell him would surely kill us both.
It's for the best. I can save them all.
The winery. The marina. Cosima's university tuition. Everyone can continue with their lives. They'll live comfortably.
If I said it enough, I might start to believe it myself.
Then all the air whooshed out of my lungs as Matty's strong, tanned arms scooped me off of my feet in what could only be described as a desperate embrace.
His dark brown hair was disheveled and his cobalt blue eyes searched for hope as he met my empty green ones that served only to betray us both.
His pulled me in tightly, while his lips crushed mine. I kissed him back with all of my soul.
My feet finally touched down, but neither one of us was willing to break the kiss. Somehow he could sense it was goodbye.
I knew it would be forever.
Inevitably, our kiss ended, and with our hands gripped tightly together, we walked slowly toward his boat.
"Tell me, Gi Gi. What is the matter, mi amore?" His eyes were filled with worry.
Matty, my love.
"Matteo. I'm leaving. I have accepted a position in Volterra. I leave tomorrow night." My voice was hesitant.
"Gianna, please, no! Non posso vivere senza voi."
I can't live without you.
He continued franticly. "Marry me, Gianna. I already have your ring. It's…it's on my boat. I was going to propose this weekend. Oh, Gianna, nonlo lasci prego."
Please don't leave me. He cried.
I couldn't breathe.
He dropped to both knees and placed his hands over mine. "Gianna. I love you with all of my heart. All of my soul. I have loved you since the very first day we met. I will spend eternity loving you, and I promise to adore you and take care of you. We'll have lots of babies. We'll sail every ocean. Gianna, please, be my wife?"
I sobbed uncontrollably into my hands and his. "Matty. Matty. It's too late. I've already signed. They've already wired the money. It's a lifetime commitment, Matty. There's no turning back." I hung my head.
"Oh, my God, Matty. What have I done? I am so sorry." I cried.
"Sweetheart. Just call the man and tell him you changed your mind. We don't need their money. We've got each other." His piercing blue eyes were impossibly brighter.
"No, Matty." I continued. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, running down my face, my neck and even flowing into the valley between my breasts.
"They've already wired the money. Into my parents account. Into your account. The man…he…gave me a bank card. I signed, Matty. I signed a lifetime contract."
"Okay. Just calm down, Gi Gi. I know a little about contracts. There's got to be a window when you can rescind. Just call the man and tell him that none of us want their money." He seemed calmer and so sure of his plan.
"You're right. I'll call my dad and tell him to have his bank decline the transfer. You can do the same. I'll call the man back. I'll…. Oh, my God, Matty. I already used my card. I already accepted the money."
"Gianna, it's never too late. Just call the man." Matty kissed me on my hands.
"The document clearly stated that if I signed the contract, and if I activated the card, my commitment was sealed. I used the card! It's too late for us, Matty. I am so, so sorry!" I buried my face in his chest and cried.
"Non è mai troppo tardi." He whispered in my ear.
It's never too late.
"But it is. The man from Volterra…he…he wanted to toast the fact that I'd accepted their offer. I thought he was being nice. He even ordered a bottle of my father's wine." I shook my head. He tricked me.
"Let's get married, Gianna. I'll move with you to Volterra. I can get a job there, and…." He was trying to work it all out, but I had to make him stop.
He kissed my hands and began to work his way up my arms to my neck and then found my lips.
I broke the kiss. "You can't come with me. The man, Felix, he said that I had to leave you all behind. The position requires complete secrecy."
"But you haven't learned any secrets yet? It's not like you've got anything to tell. Surely they…" He saw my resolve and stopped in mind-sentence.
"I used the card, Matty. It was a test. And, ultimately, I failed. I failed you." My words came out with a staccato sound.
"You already spent the money? You did it for money, Gianna? How much was our relationship worth to you?" He actually looked cold. Distant even.
But, I knew he didn't mean it.
"I declined the offer at first. I told him I loved you. But, he said he knew all about you. He knew about your marina. He knew about my dad's winery. He gave me an offer that seemed too good to be true. He said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity." I remembered his words exactly.
I continued, "The signing package included what they called a "severance" package. It was a lump sum meant to make the transition easier for my family. For you."
Realization hit, and, suddenly, the offer actually did seem too good to be true.
"How much, Gianna? How much did he give you to sever your ties with your family and me?" He was crying now.
"I wasn't trying to sell us out. I thought I was saving you. Well, you and my parents, too. They wired one million Euros to my parents account. And, one million to yours. You'll be set for life, Matty."
"Set for life? Set for life! I have no life without you, Gianna." He looked like I felt.
Both of us. Broken in two.
He took me by the hand and we started walking toward the marina.
"Let's just go. We can take my boat. We can leave Italy." His eyes were pleading.
And I remembered the drop of red wine that splashed on the contract.
My blood. Matty's blood.
I signed that contract in our blood.
"They are among the most powerful people in the world. They would kill us both." It was the first time I'd thought of them in this realistic, malicious way.
We both knew that what I'd said was true. We knew we were defeated.
"I won't give up on us, Gianna. They may physically take you away, but…." Suddenly, a look of determination crossed his eyes.
"Ti amo con tutto il mio cuore. Sposilo. Questo pomeriggio. Sposilo, Gianna." He had dropped to one knee and held my hands in his.
I love you with all of my heart. Marry me. Right now. Marry me, Gianna."
He just asked me to marry him. I hung my head and cried. "Please. You've got to let me go, Matty. You have your whole life ahead of you."
"I can love no other. Il mio cuore vive soltanto con voi." He kissed me passionately.
My heart only lives with you.
We walked hand in hand along the boardwalk and came to a stop next to his boat. I waited dockside while he ran in for a moment.
He came back outside and dropped to one knee as we stood on the marina.
"You are my life, Gianna. And though distance may claim us, you will always live in my heart. Marry me so I will always live in yours." He waited for my answer.
I had wanted to marry Matteo ever since the first day I laid eyes on him my very first day of school. Fifteen years ago.
I had practiced writing my name Mrs. Gianna Esposito in the margins of countless school papers.
Gianna loves Matty.
Matty loves Gianna.
Now, a nightmare had clawed its way into my dreams of living happily ever after.
"Gianna, nothing else matters. Live within me. Marry me." He pleaded, his hands locked with mine.
Nothing else matters. We'll live in each other's hearts.
"Yes, Matty. Yes, I will marry you!" I was the happiest woman alive.
We walked hand in hand to the government center and received our marriage permit on the spot. Matty knew the clerk and called in some favors so we could bypass the usual regulations.
His friend stood as a witness for us, while Mayor Paolo Pucini performed our marriage ceremony
Matty placed the most beautiful emerald and diamond ring on my finger. I gasped in awe.
I removed the gold signet ring from my right thumb and placed it on his left ring finger.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride." The mayor had a smile in his voice, and he seemed as if he had known us our whole lives.
Matty pulled me in a tight embrace and his warm lips met mine in a kiss that was a mixture of love, desire, desperation and finality.
He held me close as we walked back to his boat. We talked about growing up together. We talked about how ironic it was that my sister, Cosima and his brother Vincenzo were now dating each other.
We talked about the upcoming election in Cecina, and how we hoped the mayor would get re-elected, especially since he bended the rules a bit in marrying us without the proper waiting period.
We didn't dare mention what tomorrow would bring.
We walked to the marina and boarded his boat.
"It's our wedding night, my beautiful wife. I know the perfect place to anchor." He started the engine and we pulled away from the shore.
I stood behind him, wrapping my arms around his waist as he took the wheel. The waves were calm, and our trip took just over an hour. He anchored the boat perhaps one hundred meters from the beach, but we were far away from the city lights.
It was completely dark outside, with just a sliver of moon, but the sky was ablaze with a million stars that shined down just for us.
Yes, this night was made for us.
Our desperation in wanting a lifetime but having just one night to give.
"Wait here. I'll be just a moment." He said as he gave me a quick kiss and disappeared into the bowels of the boat.
He came up from the galley with a blanket draped over his right elbow. He balanced two wine glasses and a bottle of white wine in his right hand and a basket with bread and cheese in the other.
He filled our glasses and held his goblet next to my lips. "I love you, Gianna, my dear wife. As long as the stars shine above, we will have each other. Though we may be forced apart, my heart will always live within you."
He placed his glass upon my lips and I drank.
"Matteo, my husband, my very soul exists within you. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, know you can look into mine and see that I am yours now and forever. When you look at the stars above, know they are my eyes shining down on you." I placed my glass to his lips and he drank.
Matty spread the blanket down on the starboard fore quarter of the boat.
We removed our shoes, stood expectantly in the middle of the blanket, and kissed. This kiss was gentle and slow, and in direct contrast with the frantic kiss when we were under the pier.
His lips were soft on mine. I felt his lips part and I copied his motion. The kiss was tender, cautious even, and filled with desire. Our tongues met and danced in perfect synchronization..
His skilled hands felt like feathers through the material of my blouse, and I yearned for his touch against my skin. As if he could read my mind, he began unbuttoning my blouse. His lips left mine, then traveled down my neck. With every button that came undone, his lips drifted further down my chest, a shadow to his touch.
I remained standing, while Matteo dropped to his knees. He gently pulled my blouse away from my shoulders and the fabric puddled onto the blanket below.
He traced the outlines of my nipples, and even through the lace of my bra, I could feel my breasts warm to his touch. He ran his fingers over the lace design, burning the rose images onto my ivory flesh. The heat suddenly mixed with chill as he removed my bra and the cool breeze caused chill bumps to spread across my exposed flesh.
I felt his mouth as he suckled my right breast, while his right hand massaged my other breast. We both dropped to our knees, and I felt his hand as he reached under my skirt and underneath my silk panties. My head fell back, and I arched forward into his touch. I felt his fingers tracing the outside of my entrance. I was wet already, and I wanted nothing more than to feel him inside me.
He inserted one finger and then another as his thumb rubbed purposefully on my swollen clit. I told him I loved him and he told me we had forever. He called me his wife.
I was flushed from head to toe with desire, yet his cool lips and breath, coupled with the night air brought shivers on top of the heat.
The feeling was like none other as he thrust his fingers faster and deeper inside of me. His thumb pushed down harder as the friction caused my clit to pulsate violently. I screamed out his name and came around his fingers.
He brought his lips to my mouth and our kiss evolved into a more frenetic pace. I ran my fingers through his silky hair, while he removed his shirt, trousers and boxers. He was completely naked before me and I feasted my eyes on his perfectly sculpted body.
He laid me down on the blanket and removed my skirt and panties, then told me to remain perfectly still.
"I want to memorize you, and burn every inch of your beautiful body into my memory. When I close my eyes, it will be you I see behind my lids." He started with the soles of my feet.
He caressed every valley, every peak and every centimeter of my body.
Inside and out he feasted on my flesh.
I felt his hands as they clasped mine. He brought our arms and hands over my head, and held them in just one of his.
He used his other hand as balance as he hovered over top of me, his body nearly touching mine.
"Please. I need you, Matty." I pleaded. My words held a deeper meaning than my primal desire to have him and keep him and never let him go.
"You have me, Gianna. Forever and always." He promised.
Then he gently lowered himself into my depths, filling me completely.
His motions were like gentle waves at first as he rocked back and forth, echoing the glass waters outside of our boat.
He released his grip on my hands, and I brought them to his back, softly massaging his shoulders and neck. Both of his hands were on my breasts now, alternating between kneading my mounds and twisting and pulling my nipples.
He thrust harder and deeper into me. I arched my hips into his and we alternated our motions as he reached further inside of me and hit that sweet spot at the very back of my core.
He sucked my left breast, pulling my nipple deep into his mouth. His teeth grazed my flesh and the sensation was wonderful. I felt his mouth all over my left breast and then my right.
He grazed and nipped and bit and licked and kissed and caressed.
He marked me as his own. Just like I wanted. Just like I needed. Always his. Forever his.
The waves came in higher and faster as he thrust ever deeper inside of me. He bucked faster and I felt his fingers rub my clit in rapid, circular motions.
Deeper, faster, harder. Thrusting, pounding. I felt my climax forming. It began as a slow rumble. Like a sound wave when it dances across the water.
Harder. Deeper. Faster.
The waves were higher. I began to call his name. "Matty. Oh, oh, oh. Mat…oh, oh."
Then the tidal wave hit, and I shuddered uncontrollably as my walls milked his cock as he continued to pound inside of me. My hips were frozen in motion, while at the same time they shook on their own volition.
He rolled us over. I was on top now, and I looked down into his eyes. I longed to have him always. I needed him to imprint his very soul into my mind. I would always carry his scent, his touch, his kiss, his taste. I would always feel him, filling me completely.
Mind, body and soul.
I impaled myself onto him. I was straddling him, and this position caused him to reach to the very depth of my soul. He held me at my waist and I bounced up and down, his cock thrusting into me.
Again and again.
The feeling was one of unity. Love, passion trust, desire, fear, loss, completeness. All of those emotions.
He lifted his hips into me, thrusting again, deep and hard. I came again, clenching wildly around his pulsating cock. I felt him explode within me. Once, twice. He filled me.
I felt an urgency to absorb his juices. To keep them with me. I still needed him inside. He felt my desire and continued his thrusts.
He rolled us over again.
Gentle now. Adoring, calming, filling. He rocked and I countered his movements. Our lips met and our tongues danced. Tasting, swallowing, absorbing.
I felt my orgasm coming once again. It was the same slow rumble as before. Calm, peaceful as it started. Then the rumble became an earthquake, and I screamed his name as I came and my entire body shook.
As I clenched down onto his cock, I felt his climax spill inside me once again.
He kissed me gently, preparing me as he pulled out. I thought I would feel the loss, but it was if he was still inside of me. I felt complete.
I was solid, whole.
I was marked as his.
We fell asleep in each other's arms and awoke to the sounds of seagulls screeching above us.
We went to the small bathroom below deck and squeezed into the shower. The water was lukewarm, but perfect. We took our time as we washed each other.
As we worshiped each other.
We put our clothes on, then he started the boat.
Neither one of us made mention of what was looming over us. Last night we lived a lifetime.
He drove us back to the marina. My arms were once again around his waist, my face nuzzled against his back.
The ride back to the marina was silent, but so much was said. We tied up the boat, and walked to his car.
It was lunchtime by the time we reached my parents home, situated within the vineyard grounds. My mother, father, Cosima and Vincenzo were eating at the kitchen table.
Matty and I told them about my new job, and about the fact that I would have to pack up and leave that very night. We told them about the money that was most likely already sitting in their bank accounts.
They made no comment about their sudden wealth.
"So, you'll get to live there? Guess you're taking some kind of secret oath or something. I've always wanted to take a private tour of that castle. I hear it's harder to get in there than the Vatican." My dad laughed.
I didn't think it was funny.
"I just thought of something, Gi Gi. You know what this all reminds me of? It sounds like the nuns and the bishops in the Vatican. My daughter's going to be a nun!" My dad patted me on the back, looking very much the part of a proud papa.
Nun? Far from it. Not when I ultimately sacrificed my life for a measly twenty-one Euros.
I had to end this line of questioning.
"There's something else we need to tell you - something far more important than my job. "I paused, gathering my thoughts.
"Matty and I got married yesterday. We've loved each other our whole lives, and we wanted the world to know that we'd be together forever. We'll make it work. I know we will." And, somehow, I knew it would all turn out all right.
Matty nodded at me in agreement, squeezed my hand, and kissed me.
Everyone jumped up from the table and ran to congratulate us. Matty's brother kissed me and called me his sister. My family kissed and hugged Matteo, and I thought they'd never let him go.
"Mom, Dad, there's still the subject of the money. We need to talk about the million Euros sitting in your bank account." I said.
"Now, Honey," My dad said. "I wasn't going to say anything about accepting that money. You'll only be two hours away. You spend that money as you see fit. We'll come and visit you, there. Maybe you can show us around."
My heart broke in two.
"Mom, Dad, you need to promise me a few things. First, you must never come and visit me. I am under strict orders to maintain their privacy, and I just can't risk your coming to visit me there." I paused and they barely nodded their heads.
"Second, promise me you'll spend that money on your winery; send Co Co and Vinnie to college. Spend it on yourselves. Just, please, spend the money." I continued.
"Finally, you've got to promise that you'll take good care of Matty. He's your son now, you know." I spoke with urgency.
"I'll visit you when I can. I'll let you know once I get settled in."
I hugged them all.
Matty clasped my hand in his and he led me to my room to pack my box.
* * *
Within the Castle Walls
It had been two and a half years since I sold my life away. Two and a half years since I made love to my husband on our wedding night.
Once I entered the gates of Volterra, all ties were severed.
We had the stars. I could see him in the twinkling night sky, and I felt his eyes looking down upon me with love and yearning. I hoped he saw my soul in the heavens.
Only, I wasn't worthy of his love.
I was a murderess.
As much a monster as the rest of them.
I was not worthy of breathing the same air as the thousands of innocent souls who passed by me, returning my smiles as they walked to their executions.
"Welcome to Volterra," I chimed to our guests in their native dialects. Years of practice made my siren song sickly sweet as I greeted the guests for their own private tours.
Better them than me.
"Please make me one of you." Had been my mantra from the second I realized what they were. I didn't want to die that way – drained and ripped apart.
Flushed into the sewage.
I deserved it, though.
Becoming a vampire was the only way I would make it out alive. I would live the rest of my existence trying to make it up to humanity. I would earn back my soul – the very soul that I had sold.
The very soul that was just as guilty of murder as the very vampires that drank the blood of our guests.
The very guests with whom I could converse fluently and offer a warm, "Welcome to Volterra" in any of thirteen different languages.
Italian. English. French. German. Japanese. Spanish. Mandarin. Korean. Russian. Polish. Greek. Finnish. Norwegian.
I smiled as I greeted each person, forcing myself to look into the eyes of each of them when they walked by me on their death march. I offered silent prayers that God would receive their spirits into Heaven.
I signed their death warrants. The least I could do was give their last rites
I dreamed of being a good vampire, one worthy of friendship and redemption. I would live like the ones with the golden eyes.
Sulpicia, Aro's mate, had told me about them. One of them, Carlisle Cullen, had been a member of the guard, perhaps a few hundred years ago. He had a coven of his own in America.
Two members of his coven visited Volterra approximately six months ago. They brought a human girl with them. She was the only human that I had ever witnessed that lived to walk away from here, although she clearly was in on our little secret.
Those two with the golden eyes were the only vampires that were sentenced to death, and whom Aro had given a reprieve.
They were the vampires I longed to join.
They lived differently than others of their kind. They apparently lived on animal blood.
If I were ever initiated into this life, I would never taste human blood. Of that I was certain. I would go to Matty and I would protect him.
Like Licia protects me.
But, I wouldn't change him. No, I wouldn't take Matty's innocent life just because I was selfish, and I wanted him for eternity.
I yearned for him every day. I felt his touch. I sensed his presence. His memory was indeed imprinted in my mind.
Sulpicia knew I was married and that I was still very much in love. She gave me a mark of protection so that the males wouldn't force their way upon me.
She was my only friend. Although she drank human blood, she wasn't cruel about it like the others.
Licia's order of protection didn't extend to the Royals or their key henchmen. But, even though they were at times cruel, none of them dared touch me sexually.
Of that I was eternally grateful. I belonged only to Matteo.
But, Felix took every opportunity he could to torment me.
He would tease me that he was willing to change me.
He would nuzzle my neck. Then he would bite, pull, drink and drain.
But before the venom could spread, he would suck it out.
Then he would lick and seal the wound, saving me, to savor another day.
"Perhaps another time," He said over and over again.
Another day had come. As always.
It's the job of a lifetime, after all.
"Welcome to Volterra." I sang my song, as I lived to die another day, perishing in the eyes of the countless souls who walked by my mahogany desk.
I squeezed my eyes when they came into my sight in a haze. "No. Please, no." It can't be.
Cosima ran up to my desk and wrapped her arms around me.
"You're going to be an auntie!" She cried out, as she showed me her wedding ring and caressed her protruding belly.
Vincenzo walked up and kissed me on the cheek. "Hey there, sis! I'm the only Esposito brother here today. Matteo is out on the water; he took a group out fishing, I think. Sorry I couldn't reach him. This was so last minute, though."
"That lady," he pointed to Heidi, "just showed up at the vineyard and said she had a few spots available for a private tour."
Spinning. My head was spinning.
This can't be happening.
Mom and Dad walked up to the desk in unison and they both showered me with hugs and kisses.
"Don't go on the tour! It's not a good day today. Please. Come back another time." I begged.
"It's been too long, sweetie. And, despite our letters, you've not once offered to show us around. That nice lady over there came by the winery today and said she had openings for a private tour. So, here we are!" Mom glowed with excitement.
"Oh, she's waving us on in, Hon. We'll have to be on our way." Dad pointed again at the death angel.
"Stay here with me. Keep me company." I pleaded with them.
All four of them looked at me with disbelief.
Heidi walked over to my desk and shot me a look of warning. My father was clearly impressed with her poise and beauty. Her blonde hair and violet eyes would ensnare even a blind man.
She addressed my parents, "Come, the private tour is about to start. We can't begin until all of the party is accounted for."
My parents walked away, turning back to wave at me. "No time like the present!"
"Co Co, please stay with me. The tour. It's too much for a woman in your condition." My voice hitched.
Heidi approached my desk again. Her violet eyes bore into mine.
"Miss Heidi, if you please. My sister, she's pregnant. Please Heidi. The tour will be too much for her." I begged.
She placed her frozen hand on my bare shoulder. "All of our guests are important to us, Gianna. We have made accommodations for each of them, and all are expected on the tour. I'll make sure your sister takes a more…direct route."
"Please, come this way." Heidi motioned to Vincenzo.
Vincenzo kissed his wife and hurried to catch up with the group. "I'll meet you inside." He called out to Cosima.
"The private tour. It's too dangerous. The stairs. They are too narrow. Too steep. Please stay with me Cosima?" I hoped she would listen.
Heidi remained still.
"Please, Heidi. Surely you won't miss just one? My sister. She is going to have a baby. The tour. The tour will be too much for her! Please!" I pleaded my case once again.
"The reservation calls for one more, Gianna. The tour is about to commence. Unless, oh, of course! You've never seen that part of castle. Perhaps you'd like to take your sisters place? Or join her even?"
Only one human has ever come out alive. And, she was protected by the two vampires with the golden eyes.
I looked at my sister with my cold, dead heart. "I've misjudged. I've delayed your tour long enough. I can go anytime, but they can't start without you. Go ahead, Co Co. Enjoy your private tour."
My sister walked to the end of the hall, disappeared behind the solid steal doors, and walked straight into the arms of monsters.
My shift ended at five o'clock and when I returned home to my brownstone, Felix was waiting for me. All six foot seven inches of him. His black hair was wild and untamed. His clothes were speckled with blood.
"You risked our secrecy today, Gianna. The penalty of such an indiscretion is death." His voice was haunting.
"I died two and half years ago when I sold my life to you. I gave my soul to my husband and thought I had nothing else to lose. But, I died a thousand lifetimes as I murdered thousands of innocent people. I will walk into the gates of hell because I stood by today and allowed my family to walk to their own executions. So, I thank you, Felix. I welcome the peace." All I felt was calm.
The torment lasted for days, as I was tied, tortured and terrorized.
Bit. Drained. Replenished.
Bled from every crevice.
He always sucked the venom out.
He was saving me for the sole purpose of sustaining himself.
I was aware when Felix approached me as I lay motionless on the marble floor. I watched as his eyes changed from bright crimson to pitch black. He kissed my neck and I felt his breath as he hovered over my carotid artery.
"Goodbye, Gianna." He whispered.
He kissed my neck and then he clenched his teeth deep inside of me.
And, he drained me.
He pulled and he pulled. I heard him as he swallowed.
I felt my life slipping away.
"God, forgive me." I prayed silently. "Forgive me for looking the other way as thousands of innocent souls lost their lives at the hands of evil."
"Forgive me for wanting evil myself, and for the deaths of my mom, my dad, my sister Cosima. Vincenzo. Their baby. Oh, God, I am so sorry, please. Pl…."
I drifted off to sleep.
Warm arms embraced me and I was blinded with light. It was so bright, as if I was looking directly into the sun. My legs felt so light, I was propelled forward without any effort. Soon, my eyes adjusted to the light, and I began to see people ahead.
It was so very peaceful when I saw them.
Just a little bit further ahead.
Mom was motioning me forward with her right hand. Dad smiled at me.
"Co Co! Cosima, is it you?" I yelled ahead. It had to be her. She was holding a baby in her arms. A boy. A beautiful, brown-haired boy with emerald eyes. Just like mine.
Then, I felt myself drifting backwards. My father was blurring right before my eyes.
I heard him speak, "It's not your time, Gianna. Take care of Matty. Love him. Hold onto him for all of eternity. Just as we will always love you both."
In an instant, I fell into a raging fire, burning alive. Flames lapped at my limbs, and every cell in my body was ablaze.
It was happening.
What I'd begged for countless times these last few years.
What I'd learned to despise had come back and stolen me from Heaven.
I was becoming a vampire.
"Let me die! Suck it out, please suck it out. I want to die." I screamed at Felix to make it stop.
"Gianna? Is that you, Gianna?" I heard a familiar voice.
Matty? No, please, don't let that be Matty. He'll kill him.
"Release him." The sweet voice ordered.
* * *
I opened my eyes and everything was in Technicolor. Like when Dorothy landed in the Land of Oz. It was as if a film was taken from my eyes and I could suddenly see clearly.
Sulpicia? Was that Sulpicia?
"Gianna, my sweet. You look lovely. Just stunning." She said.
My throat throbbed. A dull ache scorched my throat and it felt as if not even a gallon of water would quench my thirst.
I asked Sulpicia what happened. I didn't tell her that I was kicked out of Heaven.
Sulpicia told me that Matteo came to Volterra looking for my family and me. He had tried for days to reach my parents, my sister and his brother, but to no avail.
He assumed the worst, that they had come to Volterra to see me. And, he was right.
Matty found my apartment and pounded on my door. That must have been at the exact time that Felix had planned to drain me completely.
Matty tried in vain to run and save me. He had picked me up in his arms and began rocking me in his lap. He kissed my cheeks as I thrashed underneath him, and as my blood continued to seep out of the gash on my neck.
Felix laughed, and that was enough to fuel Matty's resolve. He sat me down on the sofa and ran full speed toward Felix.
Matty was no match. Felix smashed Matty's head into the marble floor. Then he picked Matty up and bit down into his flesh and began to drink.
Sulpicia ran into my apartment and tore Felix off of Matty.
Sulpicia saved us both - my mate and I.
We woke up three days later to enhanced senses and a severe burn in our throats.
But, the overwhelming emotion was love. Love for the man standing before me. The man who loved me so much he brought me back from death.
The man who was so brave, that he challenged a towering vampire, and almost won.
When I realized that Matty was a vampire like me, and I realized we had forever at our fingertips, I felt as if I had hope.
My love for my husband had only deepened. I couldn't help but feel unworthy of his love. I had murdered thousands, and here I was daring to embrace the pure, innocent man in front of me.
"Gianna, my dear wife, I love you. There is nothing to forgive." And he lifted my chin up and kissed me. It had been years, but the current was still there between us.
He could tell I was feeling unworthy, and tried to reassure me that I couldn't have done anything differently. He told me it was all going to be ok.
He kissed me. Years of pent up passion smoldered on his lips as they met mine.
It was a kiss of passion, love, happiness, desire and forgiveness.
Sulpicia was still there with Matty and me. She told us she wouldn't leave our sides until it was safe. With Matty as my mate, she swore protection over him as well.
I told Sulpicia that we didn't want to drink human blood. Surprisingly, she knew exactly how to mentor us in this regard.
During his stay, Carlisle Cullen apparently had tried to teach the Volturi about vegetarian ways. No one was interested, but at least the Royalty would know there was another option.
We lived for months as Sulpicia's guests in her private quarters. Matty and I learned how to control our thirst and live among humans without devouring them.
I still had the overwhelming desire to give back. Redeem myself. Earn the right to make love with my mate.
I ached to be a part of a family that held similar values. I ached for my family.
Sulpicia was wonderful to us, really. Aro didn't understand, and he never accepted us. This deeply hurt Sulpicia, as she truly loved us as her children.
It had been approximately eight months since the change, when Sulpicia handed us plane tickets.
"Seattle, Washington, in the United States? What in the world, for, Licia? Not that we aren't grateful." I smiled at her.
"The Cullen's. It's where they live. They share the same values as you two. There are others in his coven with similar ages. You'll have a lot in common…." Sulpicia had to catch her breath.
She sobbed into her hands. "It's just that I'll miss you terribly. I want you to spread your wings and fly. I want you to truly live. You have each other. Now, go out there and earn the gift of forever."
Matty and I packed a suitcase each.
The plane ride was surprisingly tolerable, what with the close proximity to humans and all."
We hired a taxi to drive us to the Cullen's home in Forks. The anticipation was so thick. We worried they wouldn't like us or accept us into their coven.
But, we'd heard so many wonderful things about this family. Surely they would give us a chance. At the very least, Matty deserved that chance.
We knocked on the front door of their 'house in the woods'.
A bouncy woman with spiky black hair and golden eyes welcomed us. She hugged me first, then Matteo.
"We've been waiting for you! Come on inside!" She talked a mile a minute. "I'm Alice. Let me introduce you to everyone."
She gestured for us to join her in the large family room. She introduced them as our new family. They greeted us with smiles, handshakes, and some even offered an embrace.
Within the comfort of Matty's arms and with my new family by my side, I was finally home.
Carlisle and Esme. Alice and Jasper. Rose and Emmett. Bella and Edward. Our family.
Matty and I thanked them for their warm welcome. They had accepted us with no questions asked.
"Maybe I could freshen up a bit?" I asked.
Alice bounced out of her chair and was by my side in an instant. She was so full of life.
Sulpicia had told me that Alice risked her own life to save her brother's. It was Alice, Edward and Bella that I had met that day in Volterra. Bella was a human then, but she was a gorgeous golden-eyed vampire now.
"We're going to be such great friends, Gianna! I am so glad you came. I've already got yours and Matty's room ready!" Then she reached out for my hand and began to guide Matteo and me up the stairs.
And then she said something that brought me back from the fairytale, back from my happily ever after.
Something so innocent, but something that reminded me that it would take eternity to deserve their love.
"How about a private tour?"