Chapter 1

Dear old-timers,

Yes, I'm back. *Accepts applause* Well, first off, if you are just joining me, don't. Go read the previous to this story, Masquerade, which I've been told is very good. By many, many people. Seriously, I have no idea how it got that big, it has like 200 fucking reviews. No idea I was that good at writing. But I've had a lot of requests and stuff to get this sequel on the roll, not to mention that my other Altaïr story is dying a slow death via plot deficiency. Hence the sequel to Masq.

Much thanks to xoxo Lucifer's Daughter for giving me the final push for writing this. Well, enjoy, and leave a review!

Sincerely,

AF

Disclaimer: Oh, yeah, that shit. Yadda yadda, I don't own Assassin's Creed or its characters, the only things that belong to me are Anna, Emily, Leah, and Mary-Alice. Now go away, Disclaimer Fairy.

Song: Sweet Escape, Gwen Stefani ft. Akon

"If I could escape, I would, but first of all let me say

I must apologize for acting, stinking, treating you this way,

'Cause I've been acting like sour milk fell on the floor;

It's your fault, you didn't shut the refrigerator—maybe that's

The reason I've been acting so cold. If I could escape,

And re-create a place as my own world, then I could be your favorite girl,

Forever, perfectly together. And tell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet?"

Previously in the Masquerade world . . .

Blinking furiously, I looked around, almost giving myself whiplash trying to get a take on everything. Cobbled streets. A wheelbarrow of rose petals next to me.

"Oh, no . . ." I whispered.

It looked like I could do it, after all.

Oh, God. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph . . . and every other religious name I can think of; which aren't many. Lord, what was I going to do? Where the fuck was Ezio? And for the love of all that is holy, can someone please tell me that the man that just walked past me wasn't wearing tights. Really tight tights. Tights that should be illegal for men. And that gaudy feather . . .

I pressed the palms of my hands against my eyes, not believing what I was seeing. Here I was, in my black and neon-spattered My Chemical Romance T-shirt and gray skinnies, three fourths of the way through the fifteenth century. It was just . . . just so fucking surreal. It was like your first trip on acid. This had to be a figment of my much-overworked imagination. Mentally slapping the author side of me, I thought simply, Anna, this is just the continuation of your series kicking in. Any second now, you're going to wake up, realize you fell asleep at your computer, and go get some Starbucks. Yeah . . . coffee. That's helped your writer's block before, it can help again. Especially since you need to wake up now. Wake up.

Deciding to test this theory, I stumbled to my feet and staggered dizzily to the bale of rose petals, stubbing my toe on the wooden wheel and releasing some of my choicest swears. Smiling sweetly and flipping the bird to any onlookers, I hefted myself into the bale of fragrant flowers, my Sharpie-infected Converses scraping some of the old wood off of the edge. The petals were silky and way too pink for my taste, but once I was completely submerged in the flowers, it felt relaxing, like taking a bath in the essence of girly-ness.

Sighing, I nuzzled further into the petals, closing my eyes and breathing in the heady rose perfume; and before I knew it, I was asleep in a wheelbarrow, in the past.

[…]

My rude awakening was getting my head slammed against the side of the cart. Swearing sleepily, I felt a slight case of déjà vu as I remembered the first time I had met Ezio, when he was holding a knife to my throat in my bedroom. Despite my still-groggy state, my heart jumped. I missed him, but . . . I still wasn't sure. I wasn't sure about anything, about Ezio, or what time I was in, or how I had—

I gasped, jolting straight up in my temporary bed. Where's the Apple? Oh, Lord, if some random Joe off the street picked up the most powerful object humanity has ever come in contact with, then God, we were screwed. I hadn't bothered to look around for it when I came here; maybe it was still out there. Was it even with me? I was holding it when I left . . . it had to have come with.

Ouch, why was my head hurting again? Oh, yeah . . . why was it slammed into the side of that wheelbarrow, again? I let my hands roam blindly through the soft petals, feeling for anything that didn't feel like roses. My hands hit the bottom of the cart, so I went out and up from where I was in the bottom corner. Nothing, nothing, nothing . . . what the hell had happened? I couldn't see anything but the pink directly in front of my eyes, and I couldn't hear anything except my own breathing, and . . . oh, shit, what was that? I swear to God, if some sort of rabid animal had crawled in here with me . . .

I searched further into the bale of flowers. It seemed like nothing was there at first, but then my fingers touched something rougher than the satin petals, something that didn't rip apart if I moved it an awkward angle with my fingers. It was a white cloth, oddly cut, and if I didn't know better, I would have thought it was the tip of a cape.

My eye twitched slightly. What. It couldn't be . . . more déjà vu. Distinct, this time. Only eight months ago, I had been in a similar position, clawing at Ezio's cape for an embrace after . . . no. Not now. That's somewhere that is strictly off-limits. It was somewhere confusing, and sad, and frustrating . . . because it made me wonder if I made the right choice.

A hand gripped my wrist tightly, and I gasped at the sudden movement. Before I knew it, I was inches away from a familiar face and scarred lips. Swallowing, my eyes slid upwards to see molten bronze staring me down.

"E . . . Ezio?" I choked out.

"Bella." Was the reply.