This story is an entry for the Carlisle and Esme Summer Citrus Contest. To see the other entries for this contest, please visit tiickledpink's Community at the following address: ht tp: / /www. fanfiction. net /community/Carlisle_and_Esme_Summer_Citrus_Contest/93193/.

Title: Le Mascherata

Author: MelissaMargaret

Rating: M

Summary: For months he watched her from afar, waiting for the night she would finally be his. Will she be able to see past the monster to the true man inside? A different kind of fairytale. AU.

Word Count: 5,946

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective owners. The author of this story in no way profits from its use or distribution.

Thank you to the usual suspects as well as December_lenoir and Blood Of Your Lips for several of the translations.

Please suspend all disbelief and leave any desire for vegetarian vampires at the door.

The moon hung low in the sky over Volterra, even though the city buzzed with excitement. It was considered a great honor to receive an invitation to the annual masquerade held by the reclusive Volturi family, and the evening of the event always brought the city to life.

Esme hurried along the cobblestone streets, her dear friend Isabella at her side. The beautiful red and white dress she had chosen just for the occasion flowed out behind her as they walked through the city. The elaborate beading shone in the moonlight, casting a somewhat ethereal glow around her in spite of the tempting darkness the dress held. She knew her choice would raise several eyebrows, but the thought only made her smile.

The somewhat dangerous allure of the rich red and the pure innocence of the white, combined with the low neckline and cinched waist had drawn her to the dress as a moth is drawn to a flame. She could not answer as to why she wanted this one particular dress so much. Perhaps it was the desire to play into the whole idea of the masquerade. She could be someone else for one night.

The elaborately beaded mask she wore only enhanced the whole mystique. No one would dare guess that it was her behind the mask, although the entire town knew she would be in attendance.

Esme thought the appeal of such mystery was most likely in the invitation itself. The Volturi family lived in the grandest castle in the city. No one she knew had ever seen any of them, but their annual masquerade was a greatly sought after invitation not only in Volterra but in the surrounding villages as well.

It was rumored that the family had many wealthy friends and acquaintances who attended the masquerade in order to seek out potential mates. All the most beautiful young ladies in Volterra were invited each year.

Esme had long prayed for this night and now it was here.

She had been thrilled when Isabella also received an invitation, and they had spent weeks preparing.

Esme brimmed with excitement now that they were walking through the piazza, past the glorious fountain to the illustrious entrance to the castle. It was decorated in flowing gold and black banners and the glow of thousands of candles was visible beyond the entrance.

They walked through the gaping archway and into the side courtyard, where dozens of beautifully dressed people mingled, holding goblets of wine and hiding behind artful masks.

She had heard talk of how the masquerades could be, but Esme never imagined the rumors to be true. Everywhere she looked there were couples standing in shadow, unable to part from each other despite the continuous stream of new patrons. She found it curious that these unearthly beautiful men seemed to hold their partners under a spell. They were able to make the most overtly sexual displays and the women only seemed to urge them on.

They walked through the courtyard, admiring the beauty that surrounded them before coming to the castle's entrance.

The beauty of the main hall took Esme's breath away. The marble floor gleamed in the light cast by the candles that stood throughout the room. The ceilings were as high as the building itself and held up by massive stone columns. Music wafted from the other end of the room, where a small quartet stood in the corner.

There were dozens more men and woman in here, dancing closer and more provocatively than she had ever witnessed before.

It seemed every whispered word she had heard about the Volturi masquerades was true.

As she and Bella walked around the edge of the large room, Esme found that many women were giving her sidelong glances of distaste, just as she had suspected they would. The white and red of her dress certainly stood out against the dark colors of so many of the other gowns.

Instead of shrinking away and trying to disappear into her surroundings, the attention made Esme stand a little straighter, hold her head a little higher. She grinned confidently as men danced by, glancing in her direction with obvious desire to hold her instead of their partners.

As she made her way through the crowd, Esme noticed several couples openly kissing and touching each other. This was certainly nothing like any gathering she had ever attended, but she was undeniably intrigued by the intensely sexual displays that were all around her. She thought she might even like to experience such a thing before the night was over.

Even behind the masks Esme could tell that many of these men looked much the same. They were all deathly pale, many of them had brown or black hair, and they all had the same dark eyes.

She was not particularly captivated by any of them.

They all watched her, though. They were fascinated by the young woman bold enough to wear such colors in such a place. Of course, knowing nothing of the mysterious Volturi family, she could not know what was so daring about her choice.

She did not know the red in her dress made them all want to see the red of her blood as it spilled from her neck and onto the white marble floor.

Just as she reached the center of the room, Esme saw a flash of gold from the corner of her eye that did not seem to come from anyone's mask. She turned suddenly, coming face to face with a man of such ethereal beauty that it nearly pained her to look at him.

He was tall – at least a head taller than herself. His face was as smooth as the stone column that stood behind him, and his hair was the color of pale wheat. He had the same dark eyes as every other man she had seen but his held so much depth and mystery. She found herself unable to look away from them.

He gave her a saccharine smile that positively dripped of sex and sent a shiver down her spine. His eyes were intense and left her feeling exposed and vulnerable before him, but she had never felt more alive than she did in his presence. This nameless man shifted something inside her, and she found herself loving the way his gaze made her feel.

Her heart began to race and some unknown sensation that was almost alarm prickled at the edges of her consciousness. She found the fear to be exciting, though, and allowed it to pull her towards him.

He extended his hand, silently offering to lead her in a dance. She closed her eyes and relished in the way his arms closed around her. She had never been so close to a man before, but she was unafraid, reckless even, in the things she wanted from him. Things that went far beyond the dance they shared.

She thought she might want a different sort of dance with this man.

Her hands traveled over the muscles of his arms as he led her around the dance floor, close enough to be considered risqué, but further apart than many of the other couples. She marveled at the hardness of his body as he watched her in amusement.

They never spoke, but many things went unsaid between them.

All too soon their dance was over and she found herself whisked into the arms of another man – a man who held none of the somewhat dangerous appeal of her previous fair-haired partner. His hands on her waist did not excite her, his gaze did not thrill her, and nothing about him made her heart race.

She couldn't wait to escape these arms and find him once again.

What Esme did not realize was the intense dark eyes that had made her feel so desired were tracking her every movement across the room in the arms of another man. She did not how his jealousy and rage grew with every note of the song and with every move she made. She could not see the way his eyes slid over the curve of her dress, across the top where her breasts were pushed together by the corset, and down the slender length of her legs.

His desire for her grew with every passing moment. He wanted her – needed her even. Not only to be inside her, but to consume her. He longed for her body, but he needed her blood.

Esme floated around the room, in the arms of a man she felt nothing for, never knowing of the effect she had on her nameless angel.

Just when she thought she could bare it no longer, a strong pale hand gripped her shoulder while another pushed her partner back several steps. She looked up into the steely gaze of the man who inspired such conflict within her.

The man who had trapped her in an undesired dance cowered under the icy glare of her rescuer.

And then he spoke.

His voice was smooth like satin, but hard like stone as he begged forgiveness for interrupting.

He led Esme away without asking for the permission she would have easily given him. She turned her head to see her former partner still standing there, dumbstruck, but visibly afraid of whoever this amazing man was.

This time when he pulled her into his arms they were much closer than before. She heard the rustle of her dress against his legs and she could feel the muscles beneath his coat as he spun her across the floor.

They danced in a large circle around the edge of the room. When they reached the back corner, away from the door, Esme saw something that sent a thrill of excitement through her.

A couple stood in the shadow behind the nearest column. The man held the woman close, and her leg was hitched over his hip while his hand played beneath her skirt. Her head was tilted to the side, resting against his shoulder, and her face was contorted in pleasure.

Esme gasped softly but did not look away until a finger under her chin brought her gaze back to her mysterious partner who she so badly wanted to take her that way.

He smirked and pulled her even closer as they continued to dance. His voice was a low and sensual when he brushed his lips against her ear. "Is that something you think you would enjoy?"

She nodded as she brushed against him. She could feel how desperately he wanted her.

And while she was unable to form the words for all that she wanted from him, she thought he might know anyway.

His hands slid lower on her waist till they rested on her hips as he pulled her more firmly against him. She moaned softly at the contact and slipped her hands around his neck, instinctively leaning her head back as his lips skimmed down her throat.

Nothing existed to Esme in that moment but the two of them. It didn't matter that they were in a crowded room or that she didn't even know this man. Every fleeting concern she had felt that evening fled the moment his lips connected with hers.

He trailed his hands up her arms as they kissed. He brushed his fingertips across her jaw and down her neck, pulling back enough to watch his own exploration of her skin. His eyes darkened as he rubbed his thumb over the vein through which so much of her blood flowed.

Esme's entire body ached with need as he looked at her, never knowing that he was imagining how sweet it would be to bite into her supple skin and let her delicious blood soothe the burn in his throat.

He led her to a place beyond where the musicians stood, a small alcove completely shrouded in shadow. It was private enough for Esme to completely forget all her inhibitions, and still public enough to be thrilling in its danger.

He leaned her back against the wall and ran his hand over the fabric of her dress and down her thigh. Her heart pounded in her chest as she took the lead, lifting her foot and running it up the length of his leg.

He groaned and closed his eyes as her leg wrapped around the back of his thigh. This human would be the death of him if he let her have too much control.

He placed his hand on her ankle and dragged it up her leg under her dress. His hand was shockingly cold against her skin, but it felt incredible. He pressed himself against her and gently slid the shoulder of her dress down.

His mouth left feather light kisses across her shoulder as he ghosted his fingers over her sensitive skin. She shivered when he dipped one finger inside her and brought his mouth to hers. He placed his free hand on her hip, holding her in place while he rubbed circles on the fabric with his thumb.

The sensation of his ice-cold finger inside her, teasing her with long, steady strokes, combined with his tongue sliding across her bottom lip made her head spin.

He added a second finger and pressed his thumb to the skin above his hand as the kiss became more heated, matching the pace his fingers set. The hand on her hip slid up the side of her dress to cup her jaw when he broke the kiss.

His eyes were intense as he stared into hers. She couldn't have looked away if she wanted too.

He thrust his fingers into her harder and smirked as her breaths came faster. He assured her that no one in the hall could hear her and to just let go and feel.

He released her jaw and trailed his fingers along the top of her dress and back up to her neck. His lips followed the same path, and he scraped his teeth lightly over her skin just as she came.

He held her in his arms as she caught her breath, and ran his fingers through her curls, thinking of nothing more than how fragile she was and how delicious her blood would be.

He had known from the moment she entered the hall this beautiful young woman would be his choice for the evening. After all, the masquerade may have been a grand ball to the humans, but for the vampires it was more like an annual feast.

It was something they had always done and always would do. No one dared to raise questions when several beautiful young women went missing. The Volturi were generous to a fault to the people of Volterra, but they still inspired fear in them.

Some questions were better left unanswered.

He had chosen the most stunning women in the room every year since arriving in Volterra, and never had a problem convincing them to go to bed with him. It was all part of the appeal of such an evening.

The blood always tasted so much sweeter after sex.

This human was different, though. He had sensed that about her immediately, but the challenge thrilled him. She thrilled him. He had never encountered a human so enticing before.

He turned her in his arms so that her back rested against his chest. His hands roamed freely over the front her dress while he placed light kisses over the shell of her ear.

"Will you come to my chambers?" His whispered words made Esme shiver in his arms. She was completely relaxed but she still wanted more from him.

"Si. Portarmi a letto."

He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it before slipping his arm around her waist and leading her out of the main hall through a side door.

This part of the castle was so different from what she had seen so far, Esme thought. They were in a long, dark corridor that was lit only by torches. There was none of the beauty or warmth of the hall in here. This was simply a secret passageway.

They came to the end where a heavy door led to a larger, more public hallway that contained a long staircase.

They ascended the steps to a second corridor with a series of doors. Esme imagined these were the sleeping chambers of those who lived in the castle. She had never imagined her mysterious suitor might live here, but he clearly did. Was he possibly one of the Volturi brothers?

She did not know what any of them looked like, but she had heard stories. There was always gossip in the streets and among the servants in her father's house. They said the Volturi were able to convince women to do anything. There was something about them that made women fall at their feet and do things they usually wouldn't.

She had already experienced enough to confirm the rumors were true, and now she was taking it even further.

He led her into a large room at the end of the hall. The first thing she noticed was the large bed. It was draped in rich dark reds, nearly matching her dress, and dominated the room in its grandeur.

She turned around slowly. He was standing in front of the closed door, watching her. He reached out his hand and she took it willingly, allowing herself to be led to the bed.

Her heart pounded in her chest as he laid her down against the duvet. His eyes darkened as he listened to the blood rush through her veins, and he unconsciously licked his lips.

"Do you fear me?"

She shook her head. "No."

"I can hear your heart beating."

She wondered how that was possible, but she had no time to dwell on it before his fingers were stroking the skin of her cheek, just beneath her mask. She was already the most beautiful human he had ever seen, but he wanted to look upon her face with nothing in the way.

"May I remove your mask?"

Esme quite liked the thought of leaving it on, of being with this man in complete disguise, of him never knowing anything more about her than the gifts her body gave him.

She shook her head. "Leave it on."

He grinned in spite of himself. She was a feisty little human. Too feisty in fact. It would be a shame to kill this one, he thought. She was too beautiful. Too spirited. Too strong.

She was meant to be a vampire.

Most humans he brought to his bed were terrified. They were captivated by him and desperately wanted him, but once they were in his bed the natural fear that humans felt when near him took over.

They were weak.

This one showed no fear, though. She was nothing but pure sex, spread before him like the perfect vampire feast, and she did not fear him at all.

She was no ordinary human. He knew she would make an incredible vampire.

He trailed a finger down her neck all the way to the top of her dress. She grinned and arched into his touch, loving the sensation of his icy fingers against her heated skin.

She rubbed his arm with her palm. "Why is your skin cold?"

He smirked. He couldn't put anything past this human. She was sharp.

He chose not to answer and leaned forward to taste her neck once more. She turned her head to give him better access. He scraped his teeth along her skin and moved his hand to cup her breast. She gasped as his teeth slid down her neck.

He moved his mouth to hers as he brought her into his arms and sat up with her in his lap. She reached up to cup his face. "You are not human."

It was a statement of fact, and it took him by surprise. "Does that frighten you?"

"No. I do not fear you, though I know I should."

That's right, he thought. You should.

Suddenly Esme found herself lifted high in his arms. Her hair was swept off her shoulder as he lowered his head to the front of her neck. She felt a gentle pressure on her throat before a thin line of blood flowed down her chest.

She watched in rapt fascination as he dipped his tongue into the front of her dress and licked a path up to her throat, following the blood.

He slowly swept his tongue over the wound, reveling in the intensely sensual act and the sweet taste of her blood. The need to have all of it nearly overwhelmed him.

Her voice was quiet when she spoke. "I shouldn't believe that you exist. You are the stuff of legends."

"All legend has some basis in reality."

She smiled as she stroked his cheek. She could hardly wrap her mind about her new discovery, but in light of everything she had seen that night it didn't seem impossible.


She knew the moment he bit into her neck. The more she thought about their interaction the more she knew it to be true.

Looking into his eyes, she could now see that they were not simply a dark brown as she had originally thought. They were red – a rich, deep red that nearly bordered on black. The smoothness of his skin was unnatural, and his icy touch was impossible.

He was meant to kill her, and yet she felt no fear. She felt nothing more than the intense need for him to consume her in a different way.

She brought her mouth to his and kissed him hard. His hands found their way into her hair as she moved closer in his lap. She could feel the prominent effect she was having on him. It only increased the intense lust that flowed between them.

He turned quickly and pulled her beneath him, pulling both shoulders of her dress down to expose as much of her chest as possible.

She fisted her hand in his hair as he kissed the skin above her dress, alternating small bites with lingering kisses. The combination made Esme's head spin. The rough texture of his mask scraped against her skin when he abruptly pulled back. She uttered a soft 'no' in protest and reached for his hand.

"Sit up," he said, moving behind her.

He slowly undid each button on her dress, placing soft kisses along the back of her neck while he worked. He grinned against her skin when she shifted restlessly. She knew he was torturing her with his pace.

He pushed the dress down so it pooled around her waist and undid the lacings on her corset more quickly. Once he had the corset pushed forward he dragged his fingertips up her back. Esme shivered and turned her head to glance behind her.

"I wouldn't have taken you for being so gentle."

"Is this not what you expected?"

She shook her head, and he leaned in to kiss her. "I could kill you so easily if I am not careful."

"Isn't that why I'm here?" Her voice was calm as she spoke, but Esme couldn't help the small prickle of fear that shot down her spine.

"No," he said. "You are much too perfect for me to let any harm come to you."

She turned in his arms and pulled the corset away from her body, tossing it to the floor. Aside from the skirts she still wore she was essentially bare before him. She took his hand in hers and brought it to her neck, using his finger to gently trace her collarbone. Her skin pebbled under his icy touch and he closed his eyes, inhaling deeply.

"How can you resist my blood?" she asked.

"I can resist your blood because I want you more."

He stood and undid each button on his coat while Esme slid her skirts down, letting them fall to the floor. She leaned back against the pillows and watched him, her need for him growing with every achingly slow move he made.

He hated that she was not like him as he watched her, spread across his bed waiting for him. She grinned as he finished disrobing. It amazed him that she was so unafraid. She was strong, yet so fragile – so breakable. He would have to be so gentle with her.

He climbed onto the bed and hovered over her, lowering his head to take one perfect breast into his mouth. He swirled his tongue around her nipple, causing her to gasp and arch her back, desperate for more.

"Do you know how badly I want you?"

"You have me," she replied.

"I don't." He moved his mouth to hers while he rolled her nipple between his fingers. "Not in the way I want."

Esme's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

He dropped his head to her shoulder and placed a soft kiss to her skin. "I mean I want to take you hard." Esme gasped and murmured a soft "yes". He shook his head. "No. I cannot risk your safety."

She reached up and stroked his cheek, smiling. "Thank you for that, but I want you anyway you choose."

"You're going to be the death of me," he said, bringing their lips together once more.

Esme brought her arms around his shoulders as he positioned himself at her entrance. He groaned as he pushed forward. She felt more incredible than he ever imagined. He moved slowly at first, savoring the feeling of being inside her. It wasn't long before Esme's breaths were coming in short gasps as she begged him for more.

She leaned her head back so he could taste her skin where she knew he wanted to most. His icy lips ghosted over her throat and Esme held her breath as she felt the sharp sting of his teeth. Instead of being painful the pressure his bite created only heightened every other sensation.

She felt the brief trickle of blood before his tongue swept it from her skin. She opened her eyes in time to see him lick a single drop from the corner of his mouth as he continued to pound into her, harder than before.

She cried out when his pace quickened and automatically wrapped her legs around his waist. He looked down at her, his eyes pitch black and his gaze intense.

"Do you have any idea what you do to me?" His voice was hard and it only made her want him more.

"I need more," she whimpered.

"What do you need, bellisima? Tell me."

She pulled his mouth down to hers and kissed him hard, running her tongue over his bottom lip. She could taste her own blood on his lips. She moaned into his mouth and fisted her hand in his hair, pulling him even closer.

She was breathless when the kiss ended and his lips moved back to her throat.

"I want you to bite me," she said.

His hips thrust forward quickly at her words. She cried out again, relishing in his near loss of control. She knew he could stop himself. She believed he wouldn't forget her safety. And this was something she wanted desperately. She wanted to feel the reckless vampire that resided within him – the animal he couldn't control.

He groaned against her neck. "I have never come across a human quite like you. You tempt me with your blood instead of running away."

Esme ran her hand soothingly down his back as their pace slowed. "I trust you," she whispered as she licked the shell of his ear.

He did not know what about this human was so different from the others, but he knew he would not harm her.

She trusted him.

Every woman he had brought to his bed before tried to run away in terror when he finally let his thirst take over… That was, if they even survived that long. But this one had taken his hardest thrusts and only begged for more. She wanted everything he could give her and more. Now she wanted to give him the one thing she had to offer. She wanted him to drink from her.

Esme watched him as he licked his lips, his eyes raking over the porcelain skin of her neck, while their hips rocked slowly.

Almost without warning he thrust forward and dipped his head to her neck, sinking his teeth into her skin, careful not to let any venom seep into her vein.

Her blood flowed into his waiting mouth and down his throat like the smoothest red wine. He shuddered as she screamed and then moaned, softly whispering "yes" as he drank from her.

Her nails dug into his shoulders as he slammed into her while her blood flowed into his body.

It felt to Esme as though mere seconds had passed when his mouth released her neck and his tongue swept out to seal the wound.

"Restassi con me, bellissima." His whispered words sent a chill down her spine, and only moments later she fell apart in his arms, gasping as she came.

He continued his pace, seeking his own release, while Esme's breathing calmed beneath him. They erratic rhythm of her heart spurred him on as she whispered in his ear and placed gentle kisses along his jaw. It was mere minutes before he finally came, groaning as she ran her fingers through his hair.

He collapsed onto the bed beside her, and Esme immediately propped herself up on her elbow and placed her hand over his heart.

He looked at her and smiled, covering her hand with his own. "Does it surprise you that it doesn't beat?"

She shook her head. "I'm afraid nothing will surprise me again after tonight."

He laughed before turning serious again. He lifted his hand to her cheek and rubbed her jaw with his thumb. He moved his finger higher so that it brushed the bottom of her mask. "May I remove it now?"

She nodded. "You may."

He slowly lifted the mask from her face and tossed it behind her. "Bellissima," he whispered. "You are too beautiful."

She leaned in and placed a kiss to his perfect lips before removing his mask as well.

"May I know your name?"

He studied her for a moment. No human had ever known his name before. No one had ever asked it, and after a while it had become something sacred to him – Something that was only for him, and those in his own world who knew him best.

But this was no ordinary human. She was his intended, his bellissima.

The name felt odd on his tongue as he gazed at her. "Carlisle," he said. "My name is Carlisle."

She smiled. "It's perfect."

"And yours is Esme," he continued.

She gasped. "How do you know that? I think I would recall if I had told you."

He smirked and lifted a tendril of her hair. The disarray of soft curls served as a reminder of the evening they shared. He imagined what it would be like to see her hair in such a state every day.

"I've watched you for some time, Esme. Your father is a rather affluent man. I knew it was only a matter of time before you received an invitation to our little masquerade."

"And you chose to make me your conquest for the evening?"

"Yes," he admitted, knowing he would never be able to lie to her. "I have desired you for some time."

She lifted her hand to her neck and fingers the slightly raised marks that marked where his teeth had entered her. "Both my body and my blood?"

He nodded. "You are divine, Esme. I cannot express how much I enjoyed all that you gave me tonight."

She rested her head against his shoulder and wrapped her leg over his.

"I want you to have me again, Carlisle. I never wish to stop."

He ran his fingers through her hair and sighed. "I know, bellissima. I don't want to stop either, but you must rest. I have never known a human to survive what you did tonight."

Esme rolled onto her back and Carlisle sat up beside her. His hands explored her body while he leaned in to suck on the soft skin of her neck.

"Your body was made for me, Esme." His words went straight down her spine. She moaned as his hand reached her breast. He squeezed her nipple gently before his fingers continued on their path to her throat.

"I want you to drink from me again."

Carlisle closed his eyes and groaned. "I want to. Oh, how I want to. But your body needs to replenish itself. I don't want to drain you."

Esme moved her hand to cup his cheek. "What happens to us now?"

"I don't know." He sighed. "The brothers will not be pleased. No humans who enter our rooms are supposed to leave."

Esme nodded. "I am not meant to know you exist."

"We can leave," he said. "We can slip out tonight and never be heard from again."

"You would really leave your home? Your friends?"

"You are all that matters now. If they discover you here they'll have you killed." He shuddered. "And that would… That would seal my own fate."

Esme didn't need him to explain. She knew. A bond had been formed between them that was now unbreakable. In just a few short hours their fates had become tied. Neither could survive without the other.

They had only one option.

She reached up to cup his cheek and smiled before kissing him softly. "How soon should we leave?"

He placed his hand over hers. "As soon as possible. The sun will rise in no time. We must be gone by then."

Esme leaned in to kiss him one last time before moving around the room to gather her clothes, putting them back on while Carlisle did the same. He also grabbed several stacks of paper from a desk in the corner, and tucked them into his coat.

He smiled as Esme watched him curiously. "I am not without my own resources," he explained. "I never allowed myself to depend on anyone in this place."

After one final glance around the room, Carlisle reached for Esme's hand, and they fled the room. It seemed like mere seconds later they were walking through a long underground passageway that led from the castle into the countryside.

He explained to her that it was often used to bring prey into the castle, but would be empty because of the masquerade. It was their safest means of escape. Esme held Carlisle's hand as they walked, rubbing soothing circles in his palm.

She knew the decision she made was dangerous. She knew she was leaving behind her home, her family, and her friends. But none of that mattered anymore. Her destiny was tied to this striking vampire who pulled her entirely into his world with only one look and one dance.

They emerged into the basement of an abandoned church, just as the sky on the horizon began to change from a deep black to a pale blue.

They stood together in the dilapidated chapel gazing toward the city of Volterra for the last time.

Esme turned to her lover with a smile and kissed him under the crystalline rays of sunlight cast by the intricate stained glass above them.

"Ti amo, bellissima," he whispered against her lips. "Sempre."

~ La fine

Si. Portarmi a letto. – Yes. Take me to bed.

Restassi con me. – Stay with me.

Ti amo. – I love you.

Sempre – Always

Bellissima – Very beautiful (it is frequently used as a term of endearment)