Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Characterizations, plot lines, backgrounds and details of this story are mine. No copying or reproduction without my permission.
NOTE: This story is purposely told at times in first person and at times in third person. Sections that are noted as Bella's or Edward's POV are told in first person. Sections without any note of a special POV are told in third person.
Here we go…
I'll be your man
Do my best to take good care of you
Yes I will
You'll be my queen
I'll be your king
And I'll be your lover, too
Yes, I will
Derry down green
Color of my dream
A dream that's daily coming true
I'll tell ya
When day is through
I will come to you
And tell you of your many charms
And you'll look at me
With eyes that see
And melt into each other's arms
And so I come
To be the one
Who's always standing next to you
Umm, reach out for me
So I can be alright
The one who's always reaching out for you
Yes I will, yes I will
You'll be my queen
I'll be your king
And I'll be your lover, too.
I'll Be Your Lover, Too ~ Van Morrison
**Sunday, November 8, 2009; 10:30 a.m.**
**Seattle; Cullen home; Edward & Bella's Bedroom**
Since Bella and I returned home from Volterra, we had stayed mostly sequestered up in our room. In fact, the rest of the family had been very much focused on appreciating what we had and how very close we were to losing everything. It wasn't the material things either, we had plenty of that, but the thought of losing any of my family was sobering, especially to a group of immortals.
I heard Bella's breathless whisper and she drew me out of my internal musings and back to her. And that's where I needed to be – here, present with her.
"So, tell me what you did that last morning in Italy?" Bella asked, rolling to her side and propping her head in one hand while her other hand traced circles and patterns on my chest. She was gloriously naked and I couldn't resist reaching out a finger and softly trailing it over the sloping curves of her hip, over her waist, to rest at her sweet breast. She hummed and closed her eyes in appreciation, then spoke softly. "You know just how to touch me, don't you?"
"Would you like for me to repeat what I did just an hour ago?" My finger teased circles around her nipple making it stand out, begging me to lick and tease it with my teeth.
"You are trying to distract me and doing a very… ah… lovely job, but I want to know what Maurizio had to say."
"Maybe I want you to tell me about your adventures in the vault with Marinella?" I leaned over and softly kissed her lovely nipple and then bit it tenderly, before I began to lave and nibble in earnest.
"Mmmmm… I've already told you some of it." Her fingers threaded through my hair, gently pulling. "I …. Ahhhh… It was exhilarating… All those books… all that history… Edward..."
"I knew you loved it." I stopped kissing her and put my finger under her chin. "Your face was lit up when you returned; you were joyous." She smiled, a duplicate of the one she wore when she returned from her hours in the vaults.
"What? Why are you just staring with a goofy smile on your face?"
"Because, love, you are glowing, just like you did when you came back to town hall. And why is that?" I now mirrored her pose with my head on my hand, but my face held a smirk.
"I had reason to glow, both then and now. I was in Italy, my first home. We were safe, so I took the opportunity to be happy and absorb all Marinella told me. It was the most amazing surprise! You know, she told me I could come back whenever I wanted to and visit." There was just the faintest trace of a squeal in her excited voice.
She gave me an impish grin before she spoke again. "You silly man. I am with you, my last home." Her hand reached out, her fingers trailing over my jaw.
"So, Isabella love, do you want to know what Maurizio and I talked about?" She nodded emphatically. "Okay, I'll tell you before I ravish you again." I winked.
"Alright, I'm ready."
"So, after you went off with Marinella, I walked down to my meeting with Maurizio…"
**Friday, November 6, 2009; 10:45 a.m.**
**Volterra, Italy; City Hall**
"So what am I going to do while you're talking to Maurizio?" Bella asked as she hugged my arm.
"Oh, I'm sure that there are some books in the Town Hall that you can find and devour while you're waiting for me. This is Volterra, love! I'm sure there are thousands upon thousands of secrets buried in each and every corner of each and every building."
I heard Marinella before I saw her in the lobby. Her thoughts were bubbling with excitement as she nearly skipped across the room.
"Bella, there's someone I would like for you to meet." Both confusion and excitement were plain on her face. "Over here."
Marinella was a tiny thing, but her personality was big enough for everyone in that room. One look and there was no doubt that she was related to Maurizio. The thoughts zipping through her head reminded me of the conversation we'd had with him the day before yesterday. Her raven hair curled softly around a face that held a beautiful, bright smile that traveled all the way up to her deep blue eyes. Her hands were clasped tightly together near a sweet Cupid's bow mouth. I was afraid that she may literally burst with her enthusiasm.
I nodded slightly and she danced towards us. "Edward?"
"Yes, you must be Marinella," I said and extended my hand. She grabbed it and then quickly placed a kiss on each cheek. "It's very nice to meet you."
She turned to Bella next, who had actually started bouncing on her toes. "Isabella, yes?"
"Yes, I am. Edward, what's all this?"
"Bella, this is Marinella, Maurizio's grandniece. She is training to be the town historian and she is going to take you on a tour of the vaults."
Bella's eyes grew wide and her mouth gaped open. "You're kidding!" She grabbed my arm, almost a little too hard.
"Ow, Bella! Ease up," I exclaimed and chuckled as I pried her fingers from my forearm. "Yes, Maurizio arranged for it yesterday."
"I know everything Bella," she said with a knowing look. She then took a step forward and as she too kissed Bella's cheek in greeting, I heard her whisper, "Do not worry Isabella, your secret is safe with me."
Bella looked to Marinella and then back to me. I nodded.
"Thank you," she whispered and then flew into my arms and hugged me.
"You're welcome." I kissed her forehead and pushed a few strands of hair behind her ear. "Come back to me, okay?"
"Edward, please don't worry, I will take very good care of your Isabella. Now, you and go speak with my Nonno; he is waiting for you."
"Your grandfather? I thought…" I asked.
"Oh, he's not my actual grandfather, but I've called him that as long as I can remember. He is simply my Nonno," she replied with a shrug.
Before Marinella could run off with Bella, I took her hand and pulled her to me for a kiss. I kissed her softly and sweetly, but made her feel the undercurrent of desire that continued to run through me. Her hand snaked up to my hair, weaving it through her fingers, the slightest pressure that pulled me to her. When I reluctantly pulled away, the fire in her green eyes burned and swirled.
"I love you."
She looked at me, her eyes trying to tell me something. With a quick move, she gave me a quick kiss, whispering on my lips. "Forever."
Marinella took her hand and they walked away from me giggling and talking, like two long lost friends. Before I turned to go to Maurizio, Bella had lapsed into Italian mid-sentence. I smiled. This would be a perfect way for her to spend today after the events of last night.
I walked down the hallway towards Maurizio's office. My footsteps seemed to be the only thing that resonated through every corner of the ancient building. I wondered why exactly Maurizio wanted to see me today. How could he have possibly known for certain that we would survive the encounter with Aro and Requiem?
Before I placed my hand on the doorknob to Maurizio's office, I heard his voice.
"Come in, Edward."
I opened the door to see the old man sitting casually behind his ancient desk. It was just as littered with documents and paraphernalia as it was the day before. There was a cagey smile on the man's face.
"Good morning, Maurizio."
"Edward, good morning. Please sit down. I'd offer you a cup of coffee, but something tells me that you will just politely decline."
I chuckled. "Yes, thank you for being thoughtful, but no thank you."
He returned to his desk chair while I settled myself in the chair I occupied previously. We took measure of each other in that moment; the vampire and the man that keeps all the vampires' secrets – amber eyes observing brown, forever young looking into worldly and wise.
He was still able to keep me out!
I smiled inwardly, letting it go; I would not try to pursue.
Maurizio took a deep breath and then leaned back in his chair. "Edward, I know you are most curious to know why I asked you to be here this morning."
"Yes sir, I am. You do an excellent job of secret keeping."
He smiled and then scolded me playfully. "Edward, please call me Maurizio."
I nodded, a little ashamed of forgetting.
"So, last night. Aro and Requiem are gone."
The old man raised one bushy eyebrow. "Edward, did you think that I wouldn't hear of this?"
"Point taken," I replied, smiling.
"So, clearly you and Isabella are unscathed. What of Carlisle and your family?"
"Well, after Bella, Seth and I left the Receiving Chamber, we went directly to the rooms where Carlisle and everyone else was. They were waiting under the presumption that there was to be a gathering thrown in our honor of our rekindled 'friendship.' Had you heard about that party?"
"There was quite a bit of activity happening in the castle and outside the vault just before you arrived. There was talk of something big happening, but I don't recall them talking of anything like a party." Maurizio opened his journal and begin writing. "Please continue, what happened before?"
I took a deep breath and gave him the run down on what had happened, that Aro had seemingly forgiven all and was going to celebrate. I explained how Aro sent us to Bella's old chambers to shock me into a breakdown and how closely he came to succeeding. And then how he revealed his duplicitous intent upon summoning Bella and me back to the Receiving Chamber. I recounted the fight, having mostly to focus on my part as I didn't get to see much of Bella fighting once I was afflicted with my anxiety-induced illusions and Requiem appeared.
"So Isabella has the ability of a shield and she can not only protect you with it, but you can make it rebound against someone. That is truly remarkable." He began scribbling it down in great detail, asking me questions of how her shield developed. He seemed to get younger as his giddiness in this new knowledge filled his brain and his pages.
"Now, go back to Carlisle. What happened when you came to collect him?"
"When he opened the door, Esme flew into my arms, as she had been frightened that when they had smelled the unique smoke it meant that Bella and I were dead. We told them what had happened and what Marcus said about leaving Volterra. We left the castle right after that and returned to our respective hotel rooms. They booked flights out today and Bella and I will leave tomorrow."
Maurizio continued writing in silence, occasionally shaking his head and chuckling from time to time. When he had finally slowed the furious activity of his pen, I decided to ask him a question.
"Is my wrap up of what happened why you wanted to talk to me this evening? Did you need to record this in one of your journals?"
"Now that you mention it, I will add your recollection to my notes today after you leave. But to answer your question, this was not the reason I called you here today."
I tried to lead him. "And?"
"Let me get right to it. I noticed that there was no ring on Isabella's finger."
"Well…uh…" I stammered a bit at this question that I had been pondering a lot lately.
"Oh dear, I hope I'm not being too presumptuous!"
"Maurizio, no not at all. Bella and I haven't formalized anything yet. So much has happened in such a whirlwind. And honestly, I think we have been focused on just making it through last night."
He nodded thoughtfully at me, but said nothing more. The silence in the air felt leaden. Was he expecting me to say more?
"Um, now that the future lies endless before us, I think I would like to do something for her. She has told me that she would like to travel and visit some of the places she lived in lives past. I will take her wherever she wants to go."
A twinkle appeared in his eyes as Maurizio rubbed his hands together gleefully. "Excellent! Excellent! I have something then I would like to show you."
I tossed some ideas around my head, wondering what he could possibly have to show me and not Bella, but eventually gave up. This man had been a complete surprise from the moment I met him yesterday. I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
Maurizio opened a lower desk drawer and from it, removed a small, square, leather box and placed it in the center of the desk. The box looked nearly pristine, like it had never been used, but at the same time looked dusty, like it had been sitting in that drawer just taking up space. He looked at me and smiled, then patted the top of the box. "This," he said. "This, I have been saving and holding for many years for you."
I looked from the small box on his desk to his face and didn't know what to say. No one other than Bella had the talent to surprise me so well.
"I see I've left you speechless," he chuckled, as his eyes twinkled.
"Indeed you have Maurizio. You have done so much for Bella and me already; I can't imagine what else you could do for me."
"Ah, but Edward, it is what you have done for me! You have given back to me such a thrill to meet you and your Isabella. I can now at long last close a chapter of my life. I feel that I can truly relax and enjoy the remaining years of my life."
When he finished speaking, he clasped his hands together on his desk, looking very pleased with himself.
"So, would you like to see what's in this box?" He seriously looked so giddy that he would soon burst with anticipation.
I nodded, not knowing what else to do.
He lifted the small box and opened it revealing a stunning ring of diamonds and amethysts. He held it out before me.
"Maurizio, I must tell you that I'm deeply flattered by your offer, but my heart belongs to Bella." I finished with my hand on my heart.
The spry old man laughed and slapped his hand repeatedly on the desk. "I'm glad to see you still have your sense of humor after all that has happened to you." He coughed as his laughs died down. "Let me tell you a little story, Edward. When my Renata became ill, I found ways to try to keep up her spirits through her chemotherapy and hospital visits. So, I began to tell her vampire stories. One was the story of the Singer and the Visitor; it quickly became her favorite. She asked me to tell it to her again and again.
"One rainy afternoon, she became terribly ill after one of her treatments. It was so dire, the doctor pulled me aside and told me I needed to prepare myself for the worst. I was truly afraid I would lose her that day." He paused and his eyes misted a bit. He sighed heavily and continued. "So, I confessed to her that my stories were more than stories, that they were true – vampires existed. Her frail hand squeezed mine and she and told me she knew." He chuckled, but then he reached into his drawer to remove a tissue and dabbed at his eyes. "All those years Edward, all those years I thought that I had successfully kept the 'secret' part of my profession from her, but Renata told me she pieced too much together. When I began to tell her the stories it, how do you say? Sealed the deal."
I was overwhelmed by what he had told me, I didn't even begin to know what to say. Thankfully, he continued, albeit with a sniffle.
"My wife was so touched and enamored with what happened to you and Isabella, that she had me commission this ring for you to give to Isabella." He paused and sighed. "You were her supernatural Romeo and Juliet. She made me swear that I would give this to you if I ever met you. You must know that I would deny my beloved Renata nothing." He paused and pulled another tissue from a drawer and wiped his eyes. "Oh, please forgive a foolish old man his sentiment."
"Of course, Maurizio. It's clear how much you cherished your wife. I'm sure you understand how I feel about my Isabella." I picked up the box and removed the ring. The center stone looked to be a four carat cushion cut diamond, with two smaller cushion cut amethysts on either side. The entire setting was encircled with tiny diamonds. Not only was the metal 24k gold, but the diamonds and amethysts were flawless or nearly so. I was utterly overcome by his generosity. "Maurizio, this ring is exquisite. And far too expensive, how did you-"
"How did I come up with the money to pay for such a ring?" he chuckled, while I nodded, a little bit ashamed. "My Renata had a very large trust fund from her wealthy family. As we never had children, she used that money to buy gifts for me, for us, for others. Many of the lovely pieces here in my office and in my home are gifts from her, or items we procured together. So, the money was not a problem. And my Renata was quite single-minded once she decided what she wanted to do. She made sure that the ring was designed as she wanted and to her standards and specifications."
"I'm sorry Maurizio, I don't wish to belabor the point, but Renata had to know that the chances that we would ever meet you were nearly impossible. This curse was to be unbreakable."
"But Edward, here you sit before me."
I opened my mouth to speak, and then closed it again.
"My Renata believed that you two would come together, as much as she believed in our love. Who am I to guess what destiny has in store for each and every one of us?" I nodded, contemplating this entirely unexpected turn of events. "She told me to tell you that she prayed every night that you two would find each other, and that you would love your Isabella as I loved my Renata."
I stared in awe at the ring. "This ring is a perfect match to the necklace I bought for Bella. I couldn't have designed or picked anything more right."
"Of course Renata had Bella's necklace in mind when she designed this."
"I wish I had been able to meet her. She must have been a unique woman."
"Yes, she was." His eyes were misty again.
"Thank you for telling me that story. I pray you believe me when I say I promise you that I will cherish my Isabella as you did your Renata."
His eyes cleared, and sparkled again with hope. "So, you will give it to her?"
"Of course I will. How could I refuse? And I am certain that Bella will be touched to her Renata's story. Thank you. Thank you for everything you have done for us."
He merely nodded at me as if he did this kind of thing every day.
"And what will you do now?"
"Oh Edward, I still have many years ahead of me here. And then of course, I must train my replacement." He leaned forward and whispered. "We need to keep you all safe, you know."
"I think things will remain calm now with Aro and Requiem gone." He nodded in agreement. "My best to you Maurizio. I wish you a good life." I stood and leaned forward to shake his hand.
"Thank you Edward. You and Isabella are more than welcome to visit me any time you wish."
**Sunday, November 8, 2009; 11:47 a.m.**
**Seattle; Cullen home; Edward & Bella's Bedroom**
When I finished my tale, Bella quickly moved from lying on my chest to straddling my lap.
"I think I may love Maurizio," she whispered, kissing me.
"What about me?" I jutted out my lower lip in a mock pout.
Bella sat back and crossed her arms.
With my lower lip still sticking out, I continued, "What, this is not good enough pouting?"
I rolled over and retrieved the ring box I had hidden between the bed and my night table. I rolled back and when Bella returned to her place in my lap and I placed a quick kiss to her nose.
Her fingertips covered her lips as she looked from me to the brown leather box in my hands. I opened it and revealed the ring that Renata had made for us. The ring that was a perfect match to the necklace encircling my love's neck.
I took it from the box, and wordlessly, she allowed my trembling hands to slip the ring on her finger, where it sparkled with a white-hot fire, like our love. It was a love we had fought hundreds of years for and I knew it would last forever.
I took a deep breath, gaining my courage and then looked into the eyes of the woman who owned me heart and soul.
"Bella, for a very long time I was broken without you. My mind and my spirit may have been to the point where I was afraid that my soul was broken as well." Her fingers traced my lips, my jaw, before she gently held my face. I closed my eyes and sighed. "But now, you're here with me forever, and I'm not broken any more. Marry me, Bella."
~oooOooo~ ~oooOooo~ ~oooOooo~
This final addition to the TS&TS playlist is:
I'll Be Your Lover, Too ~ Van Morrison (my preferred version is sung by Rob Pattinson)
So there you have it. My first completed fic. I truly hope that you enjoyed it.
My thanks to everyone that has read even a chapter or two of this and supported me in that way.
If you left a review, thank you so very much – it really is a nice thing to see that "review" email in your inbox.
My thanks to the hands down, absolute best betas that are out there – stuff4ang and Jennybird32. There's no one better than you ladies.
My thanks also to the very best pre-readers I could ask for. It's no surprise that this fic took special pre-reading to make sure I was letting the right hints out when and where and that ultimately each chapter made sense with respect to itself and to the tale overall. So, huge thanks to ADM_01 and LeslieHeartsRob.
My thanks to RaumTweet who helped me with everything Italian and Volterra.
If you would like to see more from my triumvirate of Edward, Bella and Seth, then consider making a donation to Fandoms4ME. Fandoms4Me is a fandom fundraiser to bring awareness to Myalgic Encephalopathy (commonly known as ME or CFS) and aid research, run by SweetLovinCullen & TwiLucy_UK. There is a direct link on my profile page.
The future take of The Singer and The Sorrow is called Sanctuary Song. A link for the beautiful banner created by the amazing TKegl is also on my profile page.
Thank you all.