A/N: This fun little AH O/S was originally written for Ninapolitan's Smut Mondays on Twilighted, but in honor of MANHUNT's release today, I thought I would dig it up and share it with you.

Once upon a time... God, no.

There once was a man... Jesus, what's wrong with me?

It was a dark and stormy night... Fuck! Who the fuck do I think I am? Snoopy?

I slammed the screen closed on my laptop with a lot more pressure than was really necessary. I would be lucky if it wasn't cracked later. If I ever opened it again. World renowned novelist, my ass. I have been cursed with the worst case of writer's block ever. It started the moment my gypsy, my muse, my belladonna left me.

It wasn't as though I didn't deserve it. I took and took and took and gave back very little. Unless you count orgasms, I was always very generous with those. But what she really wanted, I couldn't offer her. She wanted freedom, adventure, experiences. She believed I was the leading man in my books, the Indiana Jones meets James Bond with a touch of James Dean who would lead her on exciting escapades on the high seas, or take her to some exotic destination just to have dessert and coffee before hopping on his private jet to set off for the next surprise.

But as much as my belladonna inspired me to write about those things, as much as I dreamed about doing those things with her, it just wasn't who I was. Deep down, I was a traditionalist. I wanted the marriage, the house with the white picket fence, the dog, the 2.3 kids. It wasn't what my belladonna wanted, and after two years of begging me to compromise without success, she left. If only I had met her halfway, I would still have my muse. My days wouldn't be filled with increasingly displeased calls from my publisher and my nights wouldn't be filled with hugging pillows and crying myself to sleep.

After three months without a single phone call, email or text, I came to terms with the fact that my belladonna was not coming back to me. I sat on the couch that still smelled faintly of her dark vanilla perfume, mindlessly flipping through the plethora of travel brochures that she always had laying around. A picture of an ornate mask caught my attention. ViareggioCarnevale. Tuscany, Italy. I could almost hear the music, feel the gondola rocking beneath me, smell the food.

Perhaps she was right. Perhaps there was more to life than living vicariously through characters I create on a 17.5" screen. Perhaps I have been locked away in my own little world. Perhaps it was time to live a little, see the world for myself. It's not as though I can't afford it.

I hurried making the arrangements, afraid I would talk myself out of it if I hesitated too long. One last call to my publisher to let him know that I was going to Italy for two weeks for 'research' and I was gone. I'd barely even packed anything. My belladonna said it was always more fun that way, finding what you needed when you got there. Part of the experience, she'd enthused.

Once I got on the plane, I closed my eyes and thought of her once again. Her beautiful chestnut hair, her expressive, twinkling eyes, her infectious smile. I wondered what she would be thinking if she saw me. Would she be proud of me? Impressed that I was taking a chance, throwing caution to the wind? Or would she just be disappointed that I didn't have this epiphany until it was too late to matter to her? That thought saddened me more than any other. If only I'd have realized sooner.

But there was nothing to be done about it now. I had no way to contact her, and she had not attempted to contact me. All I could do was take the lessons I learned from her and try to embrace life, live it a little fuller thanks to her.

I arrived in town just in time to watch the paper mache floats and masked court jesters as they made their way through the town, filling the streets with delicate, colorful beauty and an undeniable energy that instantly revitalized my soul. I stood outside my hotel and watched it go by. I couldn't help but smile to myself as I checked into the hotel. I thanked the gods for the Rosetta Stone program I had used to teach myself Italian a few years back when my alter-ego had to travel to the Pantheon to rescue the damsel in distress.

The girl behind the desk was quite beautiful, not like my belladonna, but striking nonetheless, and I felt a warmth invade my chest when she smiled at me. She was kind enough to answer all my questions, and gave me an itinerary of all the festival events going on. There was one that caught my eye more than any other. A masquerade ball. When I looked back up at the clerk, she smiled a knowing smile at me, and pointed to the concierge, who was more than happy to arrange a ticket for me, as well as suggest a few stores in the area that would help me acquire a costume.

My suite was amazing, all white and lacquer and gold, ornate mouldings and marble statues, but here, in this setting, it wasn't tacky in the slightest. It was perfect.

I let the gentleman at the shoppe pick out my costume, black tights with a purple and black checked top, ruffled hem on the sleeves, and a black mask with a long, pointed nose and a few small feathers tickling my temple on one side. I didn't think I would be able to pull it off, no matter how well built I am, but surprisingly it worked. The colors went well with my crazy bronze hair and surprisingly, I didn't feel emasculated at all. In fact, it felt slightly erotic, the way the outfit accented my muscles. All my muscles. There would be no doubt in the minds of anyone who saw me tonight how well endowed I was. My face flushed red and I was thankful for the mask. I could almost hear my belladonna laughing playfully in the background.

The scenery at the manor the ball was held in was simply exquisite. Topiaries with twinkling white lights guided the driver's way, where a valet dressed in tights like myself, but all in white with gold stitching and a white wig, opened the door for me with a bow and sweep of his hand, leading my eyes to the marble stairs leading to the grand entrance. A heralder in similar clothing to the valet announced my entrance into the ball.

The wine and champagne flowed freely as the waitstaff, the men dressed like the other two, the women wearing complementing white dresses with gold stitching and wide hoops, carried silver trays with many delicacies. I have never been one to eat something without knowing what it was first, but tonight was about a transformation. This was not the Edward my belladonna knew. This Edward would try new things. This Edward would not be afraid of anything. This Edward tasted every delicacy offered to him and drank so many different types of wine that he lost count of how many he'd tried. He had gotten so drunk and giddy from the energy of the party that he'd started talking about himself in the third person, so far removed from his normal comfort zone that it was as if he was talking about someone else. Sheesh, Edward, pull yourself together. Belladonna would really be laughing at you now. In fact, I could swear I heard her laughing just then. I shook my head to clear the effects of the champagne.

A four piece string quartet played in the background. Each piece was electric, even the violin and cello, and I had never heard classical music played quite like that before. The arrangements were modern, conducive to contemporary dancing, and yet still clearly recognizable to their traditional counterparts. I loved it. I wished my belladonna was with me. I would twirl her around the marble dance floor into the wee hours of the morning and make love to her in a dark hallway beneath a Picasso painting just to say we did. She was breathtaking when she was dancing. But, alas, my muse has left me.

I smelled a whiff of dark vanilla and I searched, my eyes frantically flitting back and forth across the crowd. My belladonna. No, now I am not only hearing things, I am smelling things. This cannot bode well for me.

A warm hand envelops mine, and I look up to see a petite brunette in a gorgeous purple brocade dress that matches my outfit perfectly. She says not a word as she walks, leading me to the dance floor. I stop. Hesitate. It feels wrong, somehow, to dance with someone who is not her. The girl smiles at me, cocks her head to the side a bit and tugs my hand again. Why not? I ask myself. My belladonna is gone. I promised her, and myself, that I would live life to the fullest, and right now dancing with this beautiful lady would be a step towards keeping that promise.

I followed the girl to the dance floor and place one hand on her hip. Her waist is cinched so tightly that I could practically wrap my fingers around her and have them touch by her spine, and her breasts are spilling beautifully from behind the ruffled lace on her neckline, pressed up and inwards in a most delicious way. I can almost picture myself licking her nipples, imagining them to be small, pink, and perfect...like my Bella's. I flush with embarrassment as the girl coughs to get my attention and draw my eyes away from her cleavage.

The next song begins and we dance. The alcohol is settling into my system and the spinning makes me feel dizzy. Euphoric. I can still smell the dark vanilla and I decide to quit questioning it as we twirled. This girl's lips are so full and I feel an urge to kiss her, it is so strong that I have to bite the inside of my cheek to stop myself.

We say not a word as we dance to another song. I find myself wondering who she is, this beauty in my arms. She seemed familiar, somehow. Perhaps the clerk at the hotel? I didn't have much time to linger on that thought, though, because the moment the second song ended, my masked beauty took my hand and was leading me silently off the dance floor. She stopped a waiter to take a piece of...something, I had no idea what, but it looked very strange... off his tray, then turned to me with a smirk as she held it to my lips, waiting patiently for me to try it. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and opened my mouth for her to pop the morsel in. I caught the very tip of her finger as I closed my lips and couldn't resist licking it. The girl moaned a little when I did. I smiled as I bit into the appetizer. It was mouthwatering and I hummed in appreciation. The girl actually squealed a little and jumped for joy when I swallowed it before dragging me yet again.

She led me down twisting corridors, making several turns until the hallways became darker and the music all but disappeared in the background. The breath left me in a gasp as she pushed me against the wall and crashed her lips against mine, kissing me demandingly. Her hands were all over my chest as she forced her tongue into my mouth. It took me a second before I finally convinced myself to submit to her, to simply enjoy whatever this was for as long as I could. My hands took on a life of their own, running from her waist up the front of her corseted chest to rest over the bare curve of her breast, caressing her collarbone with my thumb while my fingers curled around her silky shoulder. The scent of dark vanilla invaded my senses. Perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me again. Perhaps this girl wore the same perfume as my belladonna. I couldn't think straight enough to care anymore. This warm, succulent beauty had completely overtaken my senses, and I gladly let her.

When we both broke away for air, I finally opened my eyes and saw a Picasso on the wall across from us. Is this a dream? Perhaps it is just a figment of my imagination, my belladonna and me on a dream adventure, the very type I would create in my fantasy world for my books. Well, if it was a dream, I was going to let it play out the way I wanted it to. At least I would have something to write about when I woke up.

I took my dream girl by her shoulders and walked forward, pushing her backwards until her back hit the wall, smiling down at her before capturing her lips again. This time I took control of the kiss, a lion finally free of his cage, a starving man hungry for the feast before me. My hands roamed to her back and I untied the ribbon, loosening her bonds. Her breasts sprung forth a moment later, bouncing over the top of her dress and pressing it down. They gave me the impression they were thankful to me for releasing them from their torture. Her nipples were hard as nails, and just as tiny and pink as my Bella's. I sucked one into my mouth greedily while I pinched and teased the other. I had never been this forceful with my Bella and now I couldn't tell you why for the life of me. I had always held such a tight control on my passion, and now I was face to face with what I had been missing.

The girl arched her back, pushing her breasts further against me. I would not deny her. I would not deny myself ever again. She moaned and ran her fingers through my hair, grabbing handfuls and pulling it hard as she pushed out her hips, trying to grind against me through too many layers of fabric. I kicked her feet apart, then placed one leg between her own. I grabbed handful of her skirt after handful, slowly inching up the hem until it rested in my hand before pushing my thigh against her core, rubbing against her moist heat and giving her the friction she seemed to so desperately need.

"Ugh..." she moaned as I pushed her lace undergarment to the side and wasted no time in thrusting two fingers deep inside of her. She immediately started rocking her hips in time with my strokes, urging me on, telling me with her body language that she needed it harder. Deeper. Faster.

I would deny her nothing. I added a third finger and curled them inside of her, caressing her from the inside out while I pressed almost ruthlessly on her clit with my thumb. She came apart, her muscles convulsing around me, her hands finally releasing my hair to hold onto my shoulders, needing to stabilize herself so she could stay upright.

She hadn't even caught her breath yet when one hand flew straight into my tights, which were almost painful now that I was so aroused. She stroked me hard and fast and if she had done it a moment longer, I would have released all over her perfectly manicured fingers. Instead she flipped us around, pushing me against the wall, my head bumping the thick wooden frame of the Picasso as she did. She helped me awkwardly wiggle out of my tights just enough for her to free me before lifting the front of her skirts again, surrounding me with them almost like a blanket before impaling herself on me.

We met in the middle, thrust for thrust, working each other into a frenzy. I took her breasts into my hands, kissing in between them as I let myself get lost in her. She was so warm, and wet, and tight. She felt every bit as good as my Bella, perhaps even better. Then again, that could have just been the thrill from the very real possibility of getting caught by any of the several hundred guests. Or the fact that I didn't even know her name. I sucked her nipple into my mouth and bit down on it gently before releasing it and blowing on it the way my Bella always liked. The girl moaned and instantly orgasmed again. I guess she liked it, too. Her fluttering walls milking me sent me over the edge and I felt myself swell, making her even tighter. A couple of frantic strokes later, I exploded deep within her.

"Oh, Edward!" she screamed as she came, her head falling on my shoulder as my arms wrapped instinctively around her. I took in another deep breath of dark vanilla and let it soothe me before pulling back to look questioningly at the girl I had just had the best sex of my life with. Her eyes twinkled at me from behind the mask. I pulled it over her head quickly, careful not to let the string catch on her earrings...

"Bella?" I questioned, still unsure if this was all a dream, a cruel, wonderful figment of my imagination. She nodded, biting her lip nervously.

"Bella!" I shouted, exalted in her presence. She smiled now, that infectious smile that I don't know how I ever lived without. "Thank the gods it's you!" I hugged her to me and vowed in that moment never to let her go again. "But how?" I asked, never loosening my grip for fear she would disappear.

"I would know that hair anywhere," she teased, leaning back to ruffle it in her fingers. We hear a giggling woman and a man shushing her. They come around the bend, holding hands and clearly looking for the same type of privacy we had, for they turned around with a blush the moment they saw us and disappeared down another hall.

Bella straightened her skirts and turned her back to me so I could retighten her corset. She took my hand and we walked together in silence back to the ball. I stopped just before we got there and turned her to look at me.

"Stay with me, my belladonna. I can't live without you. I'll follow you to the four corners of the globe. I'll buy a boat and take you sailing around the world. I'll give you anything you want, just please, stay with me." I realize I am begging, but I can't help myself.

"Anything I want?" she questioned, a teasing tone in her voice. I wondered if I should be scared of what she'll ask of me, but I know now that I can deny her nothing.

"Anything," I state with conviction.

"Even if what I want is to marry you? Settle down with you, have kids with you? Plan our jet setting adventures around school breaks and birthday parties?" My jaw fell slack for a moment and Bella laughed, releasing my hand to grab two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter. She handed me one with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. "I can't live without you, either. I was going to make my way home to you tomorrow." She holds up her glass to toast. "To new beginnings?"

I clink my glass against hers and watch as she poises it by her lips to drink. Already I'm making plans to take her back to my suite to ravish her properly. "To us."