Wow, the final chapter. I had intended for this to go a bit longer, but my brain had other plans and was raring to start a new story. So I decided to end this one. It did turn out quite good, I think! I hope you readers have enjoyed it, because that is my main goal. You guys are why I write! :)
Enjoy everyone. R & R pwease!
La Vita e Bella
(Life is Beautiful)
Seven – Finale
Word count ~ 2,161
My slumber was peaceful and dreamless. For the first time since I'd arrived in Volterra, I slept through the entire night. So when the sun drifted in through the ajar window, I was reluctant to leave such heavenly tranquility. Soon, however, movement from the body beside me roused me enough to open my eyes.
His skin glittered like a million diamonds in the soft sunlight. Mesmerized, I reached out to touch his jaw in wonder with gentle fingertips. His lips curved into a smile, and he pulled me against his strong body.
"Good morning to you too, Isabella."
Shutting my eyes, I buried my face in his shoulder, attempting to evade the busy world and return to my peaceful sleep. 'Just lie here, with him, forever. No Volturi. No duties. No robes.'
"Come now, Isabella, dear. We cannot stay in bed all day." He ran a hand through my hair, short nails gently scraping my scalp. I shuddered against him.
I felt him smile against my forehead. "I would love to stay. You know that. But I have far too much to attend to." Grudgingly, I raised my head. He tapped underneath my chin. "This place cannot run without me." His words coaxed a smile out of me, and I sighed, giving in to him.
He stood up, modestly covering himself with a robe as he tried to find the sleeves. With a yawn, I shifted into a stretch. A wince followed it. My nether regions ached in a way I'd never felt before. 'I feel dirty.'
Aro was scrutinizing me with a frown. "Are you sore?"
I nodded, adding, "I need a shower."
From beside the dresser, Aro nodded. "Certainly. Would you like me to join you?" With a blush, I nodded eagerly.
Our shower consisted of gentle touches, affectionate words, and soft kisses. The thick, steamy air mimicked last night's atmosphere, and brought back those sweet memories. The images were vague though, as if I'd been drunk with wanting. When we finally finished, I was saddened to say goodbye to him. "It will not be long," he'd murmured between the light touches of our lips. "I will come see you tonight, before you go to sleep."
So now I was lounging in a type of sitting room, trying hard not to think of him and focus on what Renata was saying. She sat opposite of me, long nails dark blue today and lips sporting a matching colour. Her red eyes gleamed as she babbled on about Jane's changing.
"She's the youngest ever to join the Volturi. Only seven minutes younger than Alec, mind you, but the youngest nonetheless. Master Aro changed her himself. Speaking of Aro…" She paused. "Has he claimed you as his yet?"
Suddenly all too aware of the conversation, I cleared my throat and blushed. "Huh?"
Renata's expression was difficult to read. "Do not be coy, Isabella. I see that mark on your neck. Has he made you his mate yet?"
My mouth was surprisingly dry. 'Has he? I guess he has…' I nodded, at a loss for a voice. Her eyes narrowed, and she looked down. "I see. He will be changing you soon, then." I gripped the arms of the couch, trying to figure out what emotion was etched on her face. 'She seems… Mad? Upset?' Puzzled, I decided to let it slide. 'Why would she be mad about that?' She began talking again, all trace of the former conversation gone from her face. I smiled and nodded.
The day dragged on. When the heat of the day finally gave way to the soft tranquility of the night, I retreated to my room with a less-than-interesting book and awaited Aro's return. Minutes were done away with; they became hours, and soon my eyelids began to droop. Glancing at the clock, I laid my book facedown on the sheets. 'It's nearly midnight…' I sat up, looking around my room. 'He's not coming.' Rejection began to wash over me, like the creamy glow from the candle beside my bed. 'Relax, Bella. He probably just got caught up doing something or talking to someone important. He didn't forget.'
I changed into the pajamas Jane had brought and laid back down after blowing out the candle. The sweet scent of the after-flame drifted throughout the pleasantly cool room. Still quite depressed, I closed my eyes tight and tried to get some sleep.
Her voice was clear, and somewhat less stoic. I was already awake. I'd been lying there, in the relatively quiet room, waiting for her to come. I heard the soft thump of porcelain on wood, and sat up quickly.
Her hand was on the doorknob, and for a moment, I feared she would leave anyway. After a few more torturous seconds, she turned around, obliging me. It bit my lip. 'Gotta find out. Come on, out with it.'
"Do you hate me because Aro cares for me?"
Jane's eyes seared into mine before she allowed her gaze to drift away. Her jaw clenched, and then loosened, to my relief. Then she spoke.
"I don't hate you, Bella. I resent you."
Dumbfounded, I stared at her. 'What possible reason could the beautiful, immortal girl have to be jealous of plain, clumsy me?' Finally, she continued.
"When I was changed, I developed romantic feelings for Aro. Unfortunately for me, he was already in love with someone else. Someone by the name of Isabella." My eyes widened. "When you died, I thought I'd have a chance at him. Sulpicia got in the way though. I was prepared to wait. When she died by… A tragic murder, I knew there was no one else. I could have him." She raised her eyes to mine again, a sort of sadness reflecting in them that made me feel a twinge of pity. "And then you came along again. You're staying forever this time. Aro will make sure of that." She looked away, her voice losing it's crispness and even trembling a bit. "I'll have to give up now, or forever have an unrequited love."
Biting my lip, I found myself at a loss for any meaningful words. Softly, I murmured, "I'm sorry."
Jane shook her head, standing. "It is not your fault. Besides this matter, and the fact that you can be quite ditzy at times, I rather like you, Bella." I smiled faintly, somehow satisfied by her approval. "Your largest flaw is not one to be frowned upon."
My smile fading, I furrowed my brows a bit. "What's my biggest flaw?"
To my shock, a hint of a smile formed on her lips. "You let your heart make all the decisions. You follow it, instead of your common sense." I let that sink in for a moment, and then I spoke.
"Jane, do you know where Aro is, by chance?"
She blinked. "He is in his study."
Hearing this both made anger surge through my veins and my heart sink. "He's been there all day?" She nodded. I looked down. "He was supposed to come see me last night, but I haven't seen him since yesterday morning. I figured he got caught up in something…"
She shook her blonde head. "I do not believe he was doing anything in particular last night. Go talk to him." She opened the oak door. "Come. I will escort you."
Standing up and slipping on some shoes, I followed her out of my cozy, dark room and into the grey, polished corridor.
Jane knocked twice on the heavy, dark brown door. I stood behind her, nervously chewing on my pinky nail. Finally, a voice came from inside.
"Yes? What is it?"
"Master Aro. It is Jane and Bella." She paused, but he was silent on the other side of the door. "I escorted Bella here to see you. She says you were going to meet her last night, and your absence worried her."
"Ah. Well, I was busy. As I am now. Relay my apologies, will you?" His voice was low, and seemingly on the edge of irritation. Jane sensed it too, because she grabbed my wrist and pulled me down the hall at a speed I could barely keep up with. 'Is he really that scary when he's angry?'
"Something is wrong."
I realized we had stopped. Raising my head, I met her eyes. I nodded slightly.
"He's never been like this. He was always overjoyed to see me, or spend time with me." A new, frightening thought clouded my mind, and I voiced it. "Does he not care anymore because he got what he wanted?"
Jane stared at me for a moment before comprehending my meaning. An amused smile curved her lips upwards, and I tried to force myself not to gawk. 'I've still gotta get used to that.'
"Bella, Aro's love for you runs much deeper than a single night of passion." She shook her head. "No, something is definitely wrong. He would not treat you this way…" She looked down, eyebrows knitting together. "Not willingly…"
Recognition dawned in her eyes as she looked up at me. "Emotion manipulation. Better yet, relationship manipulation."
I blinked. "Renata? Why would she do that?" I asked doubtfully.
Jane shook her head. "I will try to find out more. You talk to Master Aro. Try to bring him back to reality. Do not push him, though… I doubt he would inflict any wrath on you." She frowned. "Just be cautious." And with that, she was gone.
His face appeared around the shelf of books. Eyebrows slightly raised, he scrutinized me.
He disappeared once again. Saddened, I moved closer. He was returning his precious books to their places. I watched the quick, precise movements of his hands. 'Those hands….'
"Can I stay in your room tonight?"
The baited question was out before I could stop it. His movements ceased, and he turned his head to look at me disapprovingly.
"That would hardly be appropriate, Isabella."
My heart cracked in half. "Don't you wanna be with me? Don't you love me?"
Despite my trembling shout, he resumed shelving the books. "Isabella, although we may have had an intimate emotion tie in the past, I can tell you now that I do not feel that anymore."
His words made my throat tighten. Tears flooded my eyes as I turned and ran. I ran out of the library. I ran down the hall, around dizzying turn after turn. Heartbreak turned to fury. 'Damn her!'
Somehow, I ended up standing in the doorway of her bedroom. She whipped around, long black hair bouncing against her shoulders.
"I know what you did!"
I was breathless, yet my voice still held rage. My shoulders heaved. Renata's lips curved into a smug smirk.
"Whatever are you talking about, dear Isabella?"
My distraught emotions fed the fire of my anger. "Don't play dumb with me! I know you manipulated Aro so he wouldn't love me anymore!"
Renata dropped the act. Setting her perfume bottle down, she stood up. "You are smarter than you look." She smiled. "But do you know why?" My silence was as much of a no as the actual word. "Years ago, I knew you dear Edward. I will not bore you with details, but years ago, I loved him. Unfortunately, he was not willing to join the Volturi…" Her lips raised into the beginnings of a snarl. "You put him through the pain he is in now. It is your fault!" Advancing toward me, she laughed. "Yes, I did it! I want you to feel the pain you inflicted on him!"
The deep voice startled the both of us. Turning, I stared as Marcus glided in, followed by Jane. She wore a satisfied sneer.
"Manipulation is a powerful ability," Marcus murmured, brushing past me. "Obviously, too powerful for you."
Renata took a step back as Jane and Felix gathered on either side of her. "You are aware that any type of rebellion within our rankings is forbidden, especially towards our leader." Marcus's voice held a tone of distain. "You are also well aware that the penalty for such behavior is death." He paused, and then nodded. "Felix."
Quickly, I turned my head before I could watch Felix snap her neck. The sound was sickening. But relief filled my chest. 'It's over.'
Cool hands were on my cheeks. Opening my eyes, I gazed into all-too-familiar crimson orbs.
"Aro," I breathed.
"My Isabella," he whispered. I breathed in his scent. "I am so sorry. I apologize for my actions. I hope you know I will never treat you the way I did as long as I am in control of my own body." He raised a hand to brush a stray strand of hair from my face. "I love you."
I couldn't keep the overjoyed smile from my lips. 'La vita e bella.'
"I love you too."
Italian to English translations