Hello everyone! This is my o/s for the "A Picture Says It All" contest. I used image #4. Thanks to all of you who took the time to read the entire collection of entries and voted. There were a lot of really, really great stories.
Also, thank you to ShearEnvy and KhariZZmatiK for hosting this contest. I had a lot of fun with it! I hope you enjoy it too. Happy reading!
AN: I do not own Twilight!
Pen Name: Isannah
Image # Used: 4
Title: A Summer of Dreams
Summary: Do you believe in love that transcends time and space? Madame Esme does and by the end of the summer, she'll have Bella believing too…maybe.
"Don't play coy with me, Isabella." He was standing so close I could feel the heat radiating off of his skin even through his clothes. He was dangerous. Every natural instinct I had told me I had to get out there, yet I couldn't move.
"You can bloody go to hell. I wish I never laid eyes on the likes of you." Lie, total lie.
"Now we both know that isn't true. Your body betrays you, Isabella. It's very telling."
"You have no idea what you are talking about."
"Don't I? The way you blush when I look at you. The way your eyes darken at the sound of my voice." He moved closer and dragged his finger down my arm. It made me shake with desire. "The way you shiver when I touch you. All of these things tell me that you crave me as much as I do you." He spoke the absolute truth, but I wasn't about to admit it.
"You think I crave you? You are sadly mistaken, sir. I crave freedom for me and my family and nothing more. If you want something from me then you are going to have to take it, because I won't give it to you willingly." More lies. I would give him anything he wanted and I was powerless to fight it.
"You will get your freedom when your indenture is fulfilled. Until then, you are to service me in anyway I deem appropriate, or have you forgotten that you and your family signed a contract and are in America because of me?"
"No, I have not forgotten, sir." My voice was laced with as much venom as I could muster, but it wasn't nearly as much as I had intended it to be. For all intensive purposes he was my family's master. I was grateful for the opportunity to live in America and prepared to serve him in order to achieve freedom, but I wasn't prepared to find myself so attracted to the man who I was to call master for the next seven years. I knew what my responsibilities were and they did not include being a whore, but the pull to him was so great I was finding it difficult not to care.
"Then give in, Isabella. Give in to me and I promise you won't regret it." He slowly reached his hand to my face and moved in to kiss me. All I could see were his lips getting closer and closer. Everything was telling me to resist. I had planned to resist, but when his soft lips molded into mine so lovingly, so tender, my resolve crumbled and I melted into him.
With my acceptance, his mouth became more frantic and his hands began to roam my body. I had never before felt the type of heat that was radiating from the most intimate of places. It was warm, tingly, and exhilarating. I wanted more and began to explore him as well.
"Oh, Isabella. I have waited long for this day. You captivated me the minute I saw you. Please, let me make you feel good." The tea I was instructed to bring to him was long forgotten as he pulled me into him chamber and led me to the bed. Slowly, painstakingly slowly he began to undress me. I should have been embarrassed for being so indecent, but he looked at me with such adoring eyes I couldn't help but feel beautiful.
He seemed experienced, where I was not. I wasn't sure what to do, so I did nothing and let him have his way with me. It must have been what he wanted because he kissed me everywhere before he settled between my legs and kissed me…
"Uhhhhgg!" I screamed as I bucked my hips wildly. He was doing maddening things to me and my body was acting on its own accord. I couldn't control the intense feelings I was having. My declaration only spurned him on even more as he continued to work me into oblivion. The feelings that were bubbling up in my body were ready to explode. It was like he could sense it because he bit down and lightning flashed before my eyes as wave after wave of pleasure coursed through my body.
"That's it, Isabella. Let go, my darling."
My body convulsed and withered as my master continued to work me with his glorious mouth. I was blinded and paralyzed at the same time by the intense gratification my master was giving me… "Oh my God…"
Bang! Bang! Bang!
"For God's sake, wake up Bella." A female's voice and a loud, persistent knocking boomed in my head. The sound of the door swooshing open jolted me awake.
What….who…? Where am I?
"What the fuck, Bella? I am not going to be able to deal with hearing you orgasm in your fucking sleep all summer long and I'm sure Alice won't either. These walls are paper thin. You're going to need to control yourself."
Shit, Rosalie. It's the twenty-first century and I'm with Rosalie.
I shook my head back and forth to clear it. "I'm…sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me." And I truly didn't. For a year now I had been having the same three dream scenarios. The dialogue or activities may waver a bit, but it was always the same three circumstances. At first they came on randomly and infrequently, but lately I was having one just about every time I went to sleep. This one was during a fucking nap.
"Whatever, bitch. I'm just jealous as hell. Which one was it this time?"
"Indentured servant in colonial America. My master went down on me." I tried to say nonchalantly.
"And?" I knew what she was looking for.
"And yes, it was him. I still have yet to see his face, but that voice…I'd recognize that voice anywhere." I sighed a little at the mesmerizing voice that had wrapped around me like silk and velvet every night since these reoccurring dreams began to plague me. It was only this week that it gotten to the point of me screaming in ecstasy.
"Damn, Bella. This is just so weird. A Confederate soldier and a plantation owner's daughter, an Italian noble and a lady betrothed to someone else, and of course this one. You can't make this shit up. That's one vivid imagination you got there."
"I think I'm just stressed. Finals really did a number on me. Now that we're here, I now it will get better." Yeah, I knew shit, but it sounded good.
"God I hope so. I hate to think you're getting off with your dream lover more than I am with my actual one."
"I highly doubt that would ever happen." I gave her a smirk and a slight blush crept up her face. Rosalie and Emmett had been dating for almost a year after they met at a car show. I had never seen her so taken by anyone before and he was just as smitten with her. He was her yin to his yang, her Harry to his Sally, her peanut butter to his jelly. You get my drift.
"Well Emmett and I may need to step it up a notch if this continues." I made a face and cringed at just the mere thought of that happening. As it was now, they fucked more than bunnies and let's just say my poor ears had been scarred for life as a result.
"I just need the beach. The beach cures all." I said trying to make myself believe it more than anyone. Rosalie nodded emphatically.
Rosalie, Alice, and I met our freshmen year at UDub when we were assigned to room together. We were instantly fast friends and have been ever since. As our freshmen year came to and end, the idea of going home and working in some boring job all summer didn't appeal to any of us. Alice suggested we go somewhere warm to work and have a little fun. Being the energetic little pixie she was, she arranged for us to come here, Santa Cruz, California. She had worked out the best fucking deal ever. The three of us rented a small condo and shared the expenses. Our days would be spent anyway we wanted them to be, usually at the beach, and at night we would work at the boardwalk until closing doing various tasks. I have operated the Ferris wheel, sold tickets, ran the goblet game, and made funnel cakes. The jobs were mundane but the people watching was truly insane.
Not enough time in the day to even scrape the surface on that one. Maybe I should write a book.
We had so much fun that first summer, we've been doing it ever since. We even picked up a couple of extras on the way. Two years ago Alice met Jasper, the love of her life, and he came with us that next summer. As much as we loved Jasper and he loved us, we all decided that living with us had not been the greatest idea. Alice, Rosalie and I felt like it infringed on our girl bonding time and Jasper claimed that living with us had emasculated him. I'll never forget the time he had wakened up and went to brush his teeth. He was still half asleep and accidently grabbed a tampon out of the medicine cabinet instead of his toothbrush. We laughed so hard as he ran around screaming and holding his hand like it was on fire. That was some serious fucking funny shit. Jasper has yet to recover from it, especially since we never let him forget.
At the end of that summer we decided, with Jasper's blessing of course, that from then on our condo would be strictly girls only. Any respective boyfriends who wanted to join us would have to figure out their own living arrangements. Luckily, it wasn't long before Rosalie met Emmett. He fit in perfectly with our little group and became fast friends with Jasper. This summer they were sharing their own condo six doors down which was perfect. It meant I wouldn't have to listen to the copious amount of sex that both couples were sure to be having.
Rose had retreated to her room to unpack and I was taking care of my own things when the door to our condo swung open and Alice bounded in. That girl had so much energy that I found out real quick that you needed to just watch her, because trying to keep up was impossible. We had yet to be here a full day and she already had done a major cleaning, been to the store and stocked our fridge, and unpacked all of her things. She was on fire today.
"Hey girls, I got our assignments." She called out. Oh, and add pick up our boardwalk assignments for next week at the employees office to the list. Alice Brandon was an enigma.
Rose and I shuffled out of our rooms and met Alice in the living room where she was holding our three envelopes. We each took ours and got ready to complete our first annual tradition. We always opened our envelopes together at the same time. "Okay, let's do it." Rose said and we all opened them up.
"Information booth." Alice said with a smile.
"Bumper cars." I read. I was happy with that. I had operated the bumper cars before and it always proved to be entertaining, especially at the time of night I would be working. People drunk off their ass trying to prove that they were alright to drive.
That's right, because being able to drive a bumper car clearly shows that you're able to operate a motor vehicle. Like I said, entertaining.
"Fun House. Motherfucker." Rose scowled at the piece of paper in front of her. She was not pleased…at all. "I hate the fun house. I spend more time chasing out people trying to do the nasty in there. It's fucking…nasty." I knew what she was talking about. I had witnessed more than my share of compromising situations in the Fun House that I had to break up and move on. Distorting mirrors and too many of them. Need I say more?
"Well just think. You get it over with early and then you won't have to deal with it for the rest of the summer." I tried to comfort her.
"Yeah, I guess. But I swear, the first time I'm surrounded by fifty images of the same penis I'm going to smash every mirror with a sledgehammer until I hit the real fucking thing" Alice and I both laughed but knew deep down that Rosalie was as serious as a heart attack.
We spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and just getting situated. By dinner time we were famished. We decided to hit the boardwalk for some food before performing our second annual tradition. The warm, salty air invigorated me as we walked the length of the boardwalk. Twilight had always been my favorite part of the day here. The magnificent sunset across the Pacific Ocean would cast a soft glow of pinks and oranges, getting deeper as the sun slipped over the horizon. It would be then that the boardwalk would awaken. One by one the brightly colored lights would replace the radiance of the sun and call friends and lovers to come and enjoy everything the boardwalk had to offer and in turn, each other. It was beautiful in its own unique way.
All filled up on pizza and the most awesome fries ever made, we headed to our next destination. From the outside it seemed like it wasn't even open and I was unsurprised that it looked the same as it did last year and the year before that. Hell, it probably looked the same as it did when it opened so many years ago. The black curtains draping the entrance were mysterious and the promise of finding out the future made even the nonbelievers a bit curious. We pushed our way past the heavy fabric.
"Madame Esme? Madame Esme? Are you here?" Alice called out. We had accidently stumbled on Madame Esme while exploring the boardwalk when we arrived for our first summer. She was a fortune teller that had been here for years and was the sweetest, kindest women ever. Just for the hell of it we let her read our palms and tell us what she thought the future held for us. It was so much fun and we instantly fell in love with Madame Esme. After that, we made it a point to visit her every year before we started working. Alice took everything she said at full value. She believed every word. Rosalie and I were a little bit on the more skeptical side, but enjoyed it none the less. It was after all, tradition.
Just then a small woman with caramel hair appeared out of nowhere. She was always so lavishly dressed and looked the part of a stereotypical fortune teller. Long, colorful dress, hair flowing from underneath a silk scarf tied neatly around her head, lots of beaded jewelry including a large pair of hoop earrings, and a thick accent. I had asked her once where she was from and she had said that Hungary was her native homeland.
"Ah, girls, girls. Come in. It is so good to see you. Lemme take a look at you." Madame Esme made huge gestures with her arms as she moved in to hug each one of us. The she pulled away to appraise us. "Too skinny, all of you. Need more meat on those bones." She scowled with disapproval.
"Oh, Madame Esme. We've missed you." Alice hugged her again. "We brought you something."
"For me? Ah, you girls. You too good to me." She said as she eyed the brown paper bag Alice was holding out to her. Her eyes sparkled as she took the bag knowing full well what was inside. The shape gave it away but she pulled out the contents anyway to confirm that we had brought her a rather large bottle of Black Velvet. "This…" she said as she held the bottle reverently. "…this is so nice of you. Thank you, darlings. You shouldn't have."
"Nonsense, Madame Esme. We're just so glad to see you again." Rosalie chimed in. We all loved Madame Esme.
"Okay, we get down to business now. Alice, you first." She commanded as she sat down at a table covered in red velvet with gold fringe around the edges. Alice sat opposite and held out her hand which Madame Esme took and inspected. "Ah, Alice. So full of life. You still with boy? Jisper?" Rosalie and I both chuckled at her obvious mistake. We would definitely have to pull that out later when we saw him.
"Yes, Jaaasper and I are as happy as ever."
"Well, that makes sense then. I see a very big commitment coming your way." She continued to calmly rub her fingers over Alice's palm. Alice, on the other hand, was immediately bouncing in her seat. We all knew where her mind instantly raced to as the word commitment rolled off Madame Esme's lips. She gave Alice's hand a pat and then released it.
"Thank you, Madame Esme. Thank you so much." Alice was beaming as she jumped up out of the seat. I didn't understand why Alice just ate this up so easily. She and Jasper had been together for years and were so in love. Madame Esme didn't tell her anything she didn't deep down know already. Commitment for them was inevitable.
It doesn't matter what she says. It's tradition, Bella.
"Rosalie, darling, sit down." Rosalie complied and held out her hands. Madame Esme went through the same process of looking at them and tracing patterns along different lines. "An opportunity. No, two very different opportunities will present themselves. Your choice will determine the path your life will take. Don't take the decision lightly. Choose wisely, Rosalie." It was a little bit less predictable than Alice's fortune, but it was still vague. Rosalie was intrigued, but I could tell she was a bit skeptical as she got up from the table and thanked Madame Esme.
"Last but not least, Isabella. Let's see what is in store for you, my dear." I took my place at the table and extended my hand. As soon as Madame Esme came into contact with it she quickly retracted her hand and started to rub it with her other one. I had no idea how what could have happened, but I was afraid I had hurt her none the less.
"I'm sorry, Madame. I didn't mean…" A weak smile came to her face as she cut me off.
"You didn't do anything wrong, child. It's just…your energy…it's so strong. I wasn't prepared for it." I wasn't sure what that meant so I just looked down at my hand and shrugged. "Let's try that again." She took my hand again and didn't pull away this time. Instead she closed her eyes and furrowed her brow as she focused. She continued to do this longer than she had with Alice and Rosalie put together and I was about to ask what was wrong before she spoke. "It's coming for you, Isabella."
This was getting just the slightest bit freaky. "What exactly is coming for me?" I asked shakily.
"Well, true love of course. Don't you feel it within you, Isabella?" The panic that had been slowly building dissipated completely as it was replaced with relief. I hadn't meant to, but a loud snort escaped my mouth as I tried not to laugh. I had had a few boyfriends, if that's what you want to call it, and I was definitely far from a being a virgin. But true love? It never seemed to be in the cards for me and I had accepted that for now.
"What, do you not believe me?" Madame Esme looked a little offended and I immediately felt guilty for my response.
"I'm sorry Madame Esme. I mean absolutely no disrespect, but I am probably the world's unluckiest person when it comes to that aspect of my life. Right girls?" I asked Rosalie and Alice who completely concurred.
"It's true, Madame Esme. I won't go into the gory details, but let's just say she's hopeless." As much as I was looking for a little agreement, that was a little harsh. There's a difference between unlucky and hopeless. At least I hoped I wasn't hopeless.
Thanks for the support, Alice.
"That's because the timing hasn't been right. Don't worry, it won't be long now." Madame Esme said with absolute certainty. I smiled, still not convinced, but ready to get the hell out of there. Something about the whole thing didn't sit well with me. I knew it was all in fun, but it kept me thinking and almost hoping, I guess.
"May I have this dance, my lady?" I looked around to see that no one was paying attention to me before I nodded behind my mask. It was a masquerade ball in celebration of my engagement to Demitri Volturi, the only heir to one of the most prominent families in Venice. I didn't want to be here and I was thankful that my mask could hide the anguish in my heart and the remnants of my tears. I didn't know Demitri and I certainly did not love him. I was positive the feeling was mutual every time his cold eyes washed over me in disgust. My parents were so happy that our families were to be united, but at what cost? Being separated from the man who stood before me now would be the price I would pay for the rest of my life.
He placed his one hand in mine and the other on the small of my back. Even through the layers of clothing my skin instantaneously tingled and ached to be closer to his. To anyone else watching we were just sharing an innocent dance. To us, it was the only way to be near one another without drawing suspicion. His own mask covered his face but the piercing green eyes that could set my soul on fire never left mine.
I had longed to be in his arms for so long, and yet this was not enough. Every second our dance continued, we got closer to the end and he would have to leave me again. My heart fractured as the final notes lingered in the air. Looking at each other a beat too long, I lowered my face and curtseyed to keep up the pretense. When I was upright once more, he brought my hand up to his face and kissed my knuckles. And then he whispered into them softly so no one would hear.
"L'amore domina senza regole.Ci sarà insieme. Non dare fino a noi, anima mia." And then he was gone….
I woke up to tears running down my face and staining my pillow case. The heaviness on my heart was very real even if the dream wasn't. And what the hell was with the Italian? I don't even know any Italian and yet I dreamed this man was speaking it to me in full sentences.
How is that even possible?
"What the fuck is wrong with me?" I groaned as I threw the pillow over my face. These dreams were going to be the death of me. Yeah, the sex dreams were pretty amazing, but these others…they were just too much. I felt like I was living every emotional and physical second of these dreams. Speaking of which…I scrambled out of bed to grab a pen and a scrap piece of paper. I wrote down what I could remember about what the man in my dream said. I'm sure it wasn't accurate for shit because I had no idea what I was even writing down. Alice was studying fashion design and had taken a couple of Italian classes in the hopes that one day she would go to Italy on fashion business. I would have her try to make some sense out of it.
I walked out of my room and knocked on Alice's door. It was only eight thirty, but even in the summer Alice was an early riser. It drove Jasper literally crazy. All he wanted to do was sleep in and she'd be up, dressed, and into some major project by seven.
"Come in." She called, bright and chipper as always. I pushed the door open and went to flop on her bed. It was one of the rare mornings that Jasper wasn't with her. "Hey you. You're up early."
"Yeah, couldn't sleep. Um…do you think you could translate some Italian into English for me?" I took the crinkled piece of paper and handed it out to her.
"Sure, no problem. Can I ask why?"
"How about you tell me what it says and then I'll tell you why."
"Fair enough. But don't even think about backing out on me." She gave me a pointed look before focusing on the piece of paper. "Bella, what the hell is this? I can barely make out any of it."
"Well I wrote it from memory and I didn't even know what I was writing. I know it's horrible, but could you give it a try. It's…important." The look of desperation on my face must have convinced her.
"Fine, but I want a full explanation afterwards." She grabbed a pencil off her dresser and started making some corrections. She worked on it silence for about fifteen minutes. When she was finished she had a grin on her face and a look of accomplishment. "I think I got it." She handed the piece of paper back to me with all of her corrections, plus what it said in English.
"Love rules without rules. We will be together. Don't give up on us, my soul." I tentatively read, growing more and more emotional with each word. A tear escaped down my face. I couldn't help but feel it was a promise that had been made to me personally.
This is getting so crazy.
"It's one of those dreams, isn't it? Time to spill, Bella." So I did. I told her everything I could remember about the dream. The reason for the ball, the dance, the mysterious face with the green eyes, his beautiful words.
"It's not just this dream. It's this one plus all the others. I thought it was stress, but they're not letting up. Instead they're getting stronger, more detailed, more real. I don't know what to do."
"Maybe Madame Esme is right. True love is coming for you. These are just the signs." It had been three weeks since our visit to Madame Esme and I had almost completely forgotten about it. We all had gotten caught up in our routine of hanging out with each other during the day and working at the boardwalk at night. I just didn't think about it.
"Alice, I love Madame Esme, but you know as well as I do that she is not exactly…authentic. It's tradition and it's fun, but I've never believed her predictions. They're always so vague; anyone can do what she does." Alice's face twisted up and her eyes narrowed at me.
"Bella Swan, the only reason her predictions never come true for you is because you refuse to open your damn eyes. If you see it, you will have to admit that you believe it. Now, you may not want to acknowledge it, but she said true love is coming for you and you're intimately dreaming about a man you've never met. And he's speaking to you in a different language that you don't even know a lick about. If that's not a sign, I don't know what is." She had her hands on her hips and didn't give any indication that she was going to back down one bit. I shrugged and walked out saying that I had some thinking to do.
I decided to take a walk on the boardwalk to clear my head. I loved everything about this place. During the day the warm breeze blew off the ocean making the smells of the different foods waft all around. The sounds of the boardwalk, the arcade, the numerous people, and the rides, mixed with the roar of the ocean relaxed me. But I also loved it even now, when it was too early for anything to be open. The sounds of the occasional exerciser and the seagulls were peaceful.
I walked the entire length of the wooden planks and didn't even realize I had stopped in front of Madame Esme's place until I was looking at the daunting, black curtains. I needed answers. I was still skeptical that she would be able to provide them, but at this point I would try anything. Besides, I still felt bad from the bitch slapping I got from Alice.
A little bell rang indicating that someone had walked in and Madame Esme rounded the corner. "Isabella, come in dear." She motioned for me to sit at the velvet covered table and I obliged. "I can't say I'm surprised to see you here."
"You are confused and you want answers, no?" She spoke like she knew exactly what was on my mind.
But how could she?
"Well, yes. It's complicated. I'm not really sure where to start." I said reluctantly. I still wasn't all that sure she was for real. And let's face it, these dreams had me so tightly wound that I didn't think I could handle any false hope or wacky shit.
"Why don't you start at the beginning, my dear?" Her eyes held nothing but sincerity in them and the serious tone of her voice confirmed it. It made me feel at ease.
"Okay. Let's see…Well, I've been kind of having these dreams. They're very…intense and I always wake up feeling utterly exhausted." At this point the flood gates opened and I told her everything. I described the three scenarios and the different variations on those scenarios. I told her what I knew about the man in my dreams, that I could see vaguely what he looked like but had never seen his entire face. I told her about this man speaking in perfect Italian to me even though the only word I know in the language is ciao. I even, God help me, told her about the sex dreams. I wanted desperately for her to tell me that she understood what was going on and she could help me get some answers. However, I realized that there was a very good chance that she was just as perplexed as I was. If that were the case, at least I was able to get everything off my chest and feel some relief.
She listened to every word I had to say without interruption. She nodded from time to time but said absolutely nothing until I was finished.
"I think I can help you understand, Isabella." She said several minutes after I had finished.
"Yes, but you are going to have to be open minded. I know you don't really believe in what I do and that is okay, Isabella. There are many nonbelievers in the world. But in order for me to explain what I think is happening, you have to have a little trust in my abilities." I immediately felt like shit for not taking her seriously all this time. I didn't think I had been that obvious about it, but apparently she knew.
Of course she knew. She's a fucking psychic, you ass.
She waited for me to acknowledge that I would try to have an open mind before she began.
"Some people in this world are lucky enough to find their one true love during their life time. They find each other, have a beautiful life together, but when they die, their love dies as well. Alice and Rosalie have found this type of love. It's strong and it's real, but when it's gone, it's gone. But you, Isabella, you are one of those rare people who at some point found a love so pure and so powerful that it doesn't adhere to the boundaries of time and space. That type of love does not cease to exist. When the couple dies, their love searches aimlessly for its other half and won't give up until it finds it, even if it's in another lifetime." My head was spinning.
"I'm not sure I understand…"
"These dreams you are having are not from an overactive imagination, dear. You are having flashbacks, Isabella, flashbacks of past lives and things you experienced in those past lives. This man you dream of, he is your soul mate. He has found you several times before, and he will find you again. It's fate."
"So what am I supposed to do? Should I not date anyone else? Do I look for him? How will I know when he finds me? What if he doesn't? Will I be alone for the rest of my life?" The questions rambled out of my mouth one right after another. This was all so very outside of my comfort zone and I was starting to feel the panic well up inside.
"Isabella, calm down. You don't have to do anything except be observant and be open to the possibility to what I say might be true. Just live your life. This kind of love is persistent. It will find you, regardless of the choices you make. In due time you will see, my child. In the meantime, don't ignore your dreams, embrace them. They are the memories of your soul. It's a precious gift that only a very few get to experience." Madame Esme gave me a sheepish smile as she patted my hand.
I left there feeling more confused than I did before listening to Madame Esme's thoughts. In theory, everything she said made sense…that is if you believe in this kind of thing. I had never been one accept that there was any legitimacy to it. That is until now. Now I was starting to doubt everything that I had believed to be true, and it was scaring the fuck right out of me.
Walking back to the condo, I decided that I could at least give Madame Esme's advice a try. What did I have to lose? I would try to embrace the dreams and just live my life as normally as I could. I used a spiral notebook to record the details of my dreams. It helped me to remember them accurately and I found that writing them down helped me to accept them and move on. I also stopped scouring for green eyes and bronze sex hair everywhere I went and wondering every second when he was going to show up. Instead I focused on enjoying everything I loved: the beach, the boardwalk, and the time with my friends. This was probably going to be one of our last summers here and I wanted to treasure every second of it. As the weeks went on a sense of relaxation replaced the anxiety I had been feeling. For the first time in months I felt in control and it felt good.
I was nervous. Of that there was no doubt. But the overwhelming feelings of anticipation, curiosity, and longing were currently winning out.
Today is my wedding day and I am about to become one with the love of my life.
I watched as he closed he door behind us and turned around to face me. The soft glow cast from the oil lamp that set on the armoire allowed me to bask in his features. Stunning green eyes, chiseled jaw, slightly untamed hair that was the color of bronze. And he was mine.
He swallowed hard and I knew that he had many of the same feelings. After a lingering moment, he slowly walked over to where I was standing by the bed. His hands came up to caress my face as he placed a gentle kiss on my lips.
"My Bellamarie." He let out in a heavy breath that he probably didn't even realize he was holding. I loved the way his name rolled off my lips. He began to ever so gently pull the pins out of my hair causing it to spill down my back in soft curls. "So, so beautiful. You have truly made me the happiest man alive today. I can't wait to spend the rest of my life as you're devoted husband. I will not let a single day pass without showing you the depth of my love for you, Mrs. Masen."
I shuddered at the use of my newly acquired name. It only fueled my desire to give this man, this beautiful man, the one thing I would give no other, ever. "Please, I need you to make me yours, in every way."
Never breaking eye contact, my husband methodically undid all the buttons down the length of my back until my lace wedding dress fell to the floor. His hands were shaking as he held on to my waist so I could step out of it. Picking it up, he reverently laid it across the velvet chaise and gave it one more thoughtful look before turning his attention back to me. In the same slow careful manner, he peeled off every layer of clothing until I was standing completely exposed before him. I might have felt embarrassed of my naked form, but the loving and dare I say, lustful look he was giving me told me that this was so very right.
"Are you nervous?" He asked as he ran his fingers down the length of my arms. I shivered.
"Not about being with you, only about pleasing you." I said honestly.
"There is nothing to be nervous about, darling. Tonight there is just you and me." His words relieved me and I felt the tension leave my body. I had to remind myself that this was new for both of us, but we were husband and wife. What we were about to do was acceptable, expected, and natural. With that thought I stopped being timid and just allowed myself to feel.
Every touch, every stroke, every kiss awakened feelings within me that I never knew existed. We took our time exploring each other, allowing us to find out together what made each other come alive. When he finally entered me, I felt discomfort at first, but it gave way to a feeling of wholeness. In mind, body, and soul we became one as he moved inside me and I had never felt so complete.
"Oh, God…" I couldn't help crying out to a higher power. The intense sensations coursing through my body, the love in my heart, and the dark thoughts in my mind of the uncertain future came together and I shattered right under the warmth and weight of my husband. Tears pricked my eyes as he soon followed with his own climax.
"Unhhgg, Bellamarie!" He collapsed and wrapped his arms around me until his breathing slowed. "That was...there are just no words. You are my life, you have been since the first time my eyes saw you. You know that, don't you, love?"
"I do know because you show me at every chance. I treasure the life that we will have together." We shifted so that we were both lying on our sides with him pressed up against my back. Without allowing an inch of space between us, we held each other for what seemed like hours. Neither of us spoke fearing the reality of what loomed ahead would ruin our current bliss. Today had been the best day of my life. Tomorrow, when he leaves, it could very well be the worst.
"Promise me." It hadn't been my intention to be the first one to break the silence, but I was desperate for him to ease my fears. "Promise me that you'll be safe. That you'll come back to me." I wasn't being fair. It wasn't a promise he could make, but I didn't care. I needed to hear it.
"I promise." He whispered after a momentary hesitation. "I love you, Mrs. Masen.
"I love you, Lieutenant Anthony Edward Masen.
I woke with a start and looked around. It took me a minute to realize just exactly where I was. Once I recognized my surroundings, the details of my dream came flooding back to me. A wedding day. My wedding day.
My wedding day to the most beautiful man inside and out.
I saw his face.
I said his name.
The significance of the information I remembered shocked me into jumping off my bed. I stood in the middle of the room, shaking my hands, not really knowing what to do. This was big, that I knew. But what to do about it, I had no idea.
My eyes scanned the room and caught sight of the laptop sitting at my desk. Without reservation, I woke up the screen, got on the internet, and Googled his name.
The results were endless so I just went down the list, clicking and scanning, clicking and scanning. Everything seemed like a dead end and I was about to just forget it, but then something caught my eye and I could feel all the color drain from my face. There on the screen was a picture from an image of an old looking newspaper.
It was a wedding photo. The man was finely dressed in a military uniform and was sitting in a chair. His hair was calm for the moment but you could see that it was fighting a tendency to fly wildly out of place. His smile was tight, a sign of a time when sitting for photos was a lengthy process, but his eyes shined brightly with love. The woman stood next to him and had her gloved hand resting on his shoulder. She held a bouquet of roses in front of her with the other hand. Her upswept hair was covered in a lace veil that reached the floor. It was embellished with embroidered roses that matched the ones on the full skirt of her dress.
I stared at it. I couldn't look away because, fuck, it was so familiar. Too familiar.
It was him…and me.
I couldn't make out all of the physical details because the picture was old and the woman in it was covered almost from head to toe in lace. But the face, the face was most definitely mine. The only difference was that my eyes probably registered shock and hers held nothing but irrevocable and unconditional love.
After forcing my gaze away from the eyes that mirrored my own, I scanned the page for any possible information. The caption said it all.
Lieutenant Anthony Edward Masen of the 15th Georgia Infantry Regiment and Miss Bellamarie Dwyer of Richmond Hill, Georgia were married on the 27th day of April, 1863. The Reverend Samuel Uley performed the ceremony at the estate of the bride's father, Mr. Phillip Dwyer.
Even though it was right there in front of me I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Madame Esme had said my dreams were really flashbacks, but what the hell? I was having a flashback of my wedding day? In eighteen-sixty-fucking-three?
I was like a heroin addict looking for her next fix. I had to know more. I needed to know everything. I started searching every possible link I could think of. Most of it ended up with nothing, but when I searched Anthony's regiment, I was once again stunned with what I found. Another newspaper clipping, except this wasn't a wedding announcement. It was something entirely different, a list of sorts. I read the words over fifty times to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me.
July 1863 - Lieutenant Anthony Edward Masen, 15th Georgia Infantry Regiment, died of wounds he received in battle, at Gettysburg
Two months. They got married, he left for war, and was killed only two fucking months later. The sadness filled my chest so fast that it almost knocked all the air out of me. I had been doing so well at keeping these dreams in perspective but this one knocked me on my ass and hurt me to the core. It felt like I was living Bellamarie's pain first hand and I just couldn't bare one more second of it. The thought of learning anymore physically made nauseous. I backed away from the desk until I hit the wall and slid down it. I hugged my knees and rocked back and forth while I just stared at the screen from across the room.
I don't know how long I stayed that way. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours. I wasn't sure but when Alice and Rosalie came in looking for me, I completely lost all control over my emotions and broke down. I had been telling them about my dreams all along as a way to get them out of my head. Usually Rosalie was supportive but didn't try to analyze them. Alice, on the other hand would break it down to death and swoon over the romance of it all. When I told them about this dream and what I had found on the internet to go along with it, neither of them had anything to say. They were just as taken aback as I was. Instead, they dressed me up like a hooker, brought me to a club, and got me sloppy drunk. Therapy, I think they called it. It had been exactly what I needed at the moment.
Thank you, doctors. You're brilliant.
After that night, I never said anything else about that dream and they never asked. I was done and wanted nothing more than to just forget all of it, at least for awhile. It was a lot easier to do than I expected because the dreams started to become less frequent and disjointed. I would get little snippets here and there, but nothing concrete and nothing as epic as that last one.
The last two weeks in California were peaceful and for that I was extremely grateful. Our summer at the boardwalk was ending. On our final day, Rosalie, Alice, and I stood on the beach arm in arm and watched the sunset as we promised each other that we would come back for one final summer after graduation. I silently wondered if I would still be alone next year.
Back at UDub for my senior year I was resigned to finish out strong. I was convinced that there was no soul mate for me. If there had, I would have found him by now. The dreams had almost stopped completely and it was easy for me to go back to thinking that Madame Esme was off her freakin' rocker and while I had been sucked into that way of thinking for a bit, I knew deep down that her mumbo jumbo was just that, mumbo fucking jumbo.
Yeah, a little denial never hurt anyone.
I was on my way to my photography class. My major required me to take one art class and I had knowingly put it off as long as possible. There wasn't an artistic bone in my entire body. When I was in high school, one of my good friends created what she called Craft Club. It was just a group of our friends that would gather at someone's house to socialize while putting together some project that had been pre-decided on. After the first two meetings I had affectionately renamed it Crap Club because that's the only thing I ever created in it, pure crap. Knowing I had this requirement hanging over my head, I enrolled in this photography class because it didn't involve any painting, drawing, or sculpting. Taking pictures didn't seem too bad. I could deal with it.
I had been running late because I had left finding my pathetic digital camera to the last minute. I didn't even have time to pack my backpack and settled on balancing in my arms the camera, the huge ass book I was required to buy, a spiral notebook, and a pen. It was hardly ideal but I didn't want to be late. Running into the classroom, my toe caught the seventies gold commercial carpet on the way in and I fell forward, catching myself with my hands but losing everything they had been holding.
Fucking freak. Can't even walk right.
I started gathering my things as I heard the snickers that were already filling the room. Sure I was embarrassed, but little did they know that this was nothing. I had been through a lot worse. In my attempt to pick my things up as quickly as possible I hadn't noticed the pair of Chucks that came into view.
"Here, let me help you with that." I wasn't sure why, but that voice made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I could sense him bending down to help me pick up the only thing I had yet to retrieve, the big ass textbook.
We grabbed it at the same time.
"That's okay." My eyes followed him from the ground up. Loose fitting dark wash jeans….form fitting black t-shirt with a red backpack slung over the shoulder…strong jaw with the slightest hint of stubble… "I'm used to being a …" Deep, consuming green eyes. "…klutz…" I trailed off as I took in the sight before me. It was him.
It. Was. Him.
We didn't break eye contact as we stood up, both of us still holding one end of the book. Time stood still as I realized that this was not the first time I had gazed into these hypnotizing green eyes. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he spoke.
"Bellamarie?" He let out in a low breath of air that he had been holding. That name. Did he see me in his dreams too? He hesitantly reached up with his free hand and cupped my face. Normally I would flinch at that kind of action from a stranger, but I didn't. For some reason I felt completely comfortable and I instantly closed my eyes. His warm touch forced a flood of images to assault my mind. Some I had seen before, some were new.
Giving in to a much needed desire as a requested cup of tea goes cold and forgotten.
Laying in a meadow with his head on my lap, reading poetry out loud as he plays with my hand and places chaste kisses on my palm and knuckles.
Dancing with him at the masquerade ball wondering if this would be the last time I would see him.
Italian words that whispered love, promise, and assurance.
Laughing and smiling while being pushed on a swing hanging from a willow tree, feeling so carefree.
Promising my life to him as I recite my wedding vows in front of friends and family.
Collapsing to the ground in devastation after hearing the news of his death.
I leaned into his touch, opened my eyes, and smiled. I may not have known anything about him during this life time. His likes and dislikes, his friends and family, his goals and plans for the future were all a mystery to me. I didn't even know his current name, yet deep down I knew there was no one in the world that was more perfect for me. He felt like home. He was my home.
Just as Madame Esme predicted, the love that we had shared in previous times found us again and brought us together. I had been utterly frustrated and confused for a long time. I wasn't sure if he had experienced something similar, but the astonishment on his face and the relief in his eyes told me that he might have.
"Is it really you?" He asked as he wiped a stray tear with his thumb. His voice, the same one that I had heard in all of my dreams washed any doubt. I nodded to assure him that I was indeed who he thought I was.
"It's me, Anthony." I said the name so softly I wasn't sure he heard me, but the low gasp that escaped his lips told me that he had and knew its significance.
"I've really found you." His eyes became glassy with filled with extra moisture and I realized that he had been waiting for this moment as much as I had. I reached my hand up and placed it over the one that he still had rested on my face. Even as peopled moved their way around us to get in the classroom, we were the only two people in our world. He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes.
"You have." I whispered. "And I've found you…finally."
I won't do anything until For the Love of Alice is finished, but I can't lie – I'm thinking about continuing this to see where it goes. There's a lot left unanswered and Edward is itching to tell his story. Let me know if you're interested in reading it.