Disclaimer: All characters, settings, and anything recognizable belongs to Stephenie Meyer and their prospective owners. No copyright infringement is intended. In other words: Not my sandbox, just my sand castle.

I also want to Give a big thank you to Kam wuz here and Wendy 1969 for pre-reading this and correcting any of my mistakes.

Chapter 1

After I had been changed, nearly three thousand years ago, I became cold-hearted and cruel. My brothers say I'm merciless, and some of the Guard will tell you I'm arrogant and ruthless. I was angry with myself for feeling empty, alone, and lifeless. I am a vampire— undead, a soulless monster, if you will. However I've seen mated couples of our kind and they are full of life, love, and are inseparable. I, myself, have never felt what they share and often wondered if I ever would. That was until SHE entered the throne room and approached us where we sat upon the dais.

This beautiful, angelic creature walked in flanked by Felix and Demetri. Long mahogany waves cascading to her waist and deep chocolate eyes I thought I would drown in. She had a heart-shaped face and a slim, beautifully curved form. I sat in awe. She spoke, telling my brother, Aro, her name was Isabella. She asked that we call her Bella. A perfect name for this precious creature that stood before us.

I stared at her in shock then, stunned by this girl. All I could do was sit and watch her, rendered speechless by her behavior. How she spoke, how she held herself, baring her morals of self-preservation. Lack thereof. She was not afraid of us and all I could think was: Impossible. Humans generally shy away in fear, but not this one.

That's when my thoughts started running away from me.

All I wanted to do is take her and mark her as my own. I wanted this girl for myself. I longed to kiss her until she begged me to stop, love her throughout eternity, and sink into her moist heat until the end of all time. No children would come of this union, but I wanted her still.

No, I couldn't. Our laws said she must be changed or be destroyed.

The pull in my chest and the pleas of the beast inside tell me to fuck the law, she is a gentle, kind, and loving creature that has awakened you. She will love you forever. Don't let them harm her; she is your true soul mate.

I pulled myself from my thoughts and listened to her tell Aro she had no desire to see her former love, Edward Cullen. I looked at her pointedly and asked, "Why not? He is the reason you are here, is he not?"

She turned, looked me in the eye, and replied, "Well, Master Caius, when he left almost a year ago, he promised me I would never see him again and it would be as if he never existed. I came here with his 'sister' Alice to prevent him from committing suicide at your hands, because he thought me dead. As you can see, I am very much alive and human at this moment in time."

Unfathomable, that a human had walked in here of her own volition. The frustration made my tone harsher than I meant it to be. "Aro, you know the law proclaims her a liability and she needs to be changed or killed. She knows too much of our existence and so she is claimed by our laws."

Aro looked from Isabella to me and replied, "Calm down, brother. She has lived with our secret for many months and has not told a soul. But you are right. Alec, escort in Mr. Cullen and his sister please."

"Master Aro, is there somewhere else I may wait until your business with the Cullens is through? I don't wish to see him."

"Felix, Demetri, take Miss Swan to my office and see that she is comfortable and return here," Aro orderd. "Have Santiago guard her so no harm comes to her. Miss Swan, my brothers and I will join you shortly."

"Thank you, Master Aro," she replied with a sweet smile as she bowed her head in submission.

As I watched her leave with Felix and Demetri, I felt a pull like never before. I felt drawn to this girl; I wanted to protect her, and most of all I wanted to love her as I have never loved like this before. Sure I've had relations with other women and cared for a few but love was something I never allowed myself to feel. I have never felt this way for another in all of my existence. I instantly felt alive when she came in.

We waited as the two Cullens are led in. They walk up to the dais and stop. Aro steps to them and begins talking. Of course, I tune it out. I have no desire to listen to their excuses or their possible lies. I just think of the lovely girl in Aro's office.

I'm pulled from my thoughts as Alice Cullen asks where Bella is and I reply snidely, "That is no longer any concern of yours. However, she is safe and unharmed."

Then Edward has to chime in, "Bella is here? Where is she? She belongs with us!"

"Says the idiot who left her with the knowledge of our kind—in the woods of all places—and promised her it would be like you never existed!" I spat.

He recoiled, affected by my words. Good.

"Why did you leave her in the first place, Edward, especially if she belongs with you?" Aro asks kindly.

"When I told my family we were leaving, I thought I was protecting her from our kind, because I love her and believe she is my mate." He replied.

"MATE?" I snarled, leaning forward. "You believe she is your mate? HA! If she were your mate, you imbecile, you would never have been able to leave her. It would have killed her, as she is a human. Marcus, is Miss Swan Mr. Cullen's mate?"

"No, Caius, she is not. She is mate to someone here in Volterra!" he answers quietly and then states, "Then you already know this brother!"

"No! She is my mate. She can't be mated to anyone here!" Edward hisses.

"Edward, calm down. They are telling the truth. She is his mate!" Alice says.

"NO! She is mine!" he argues.

As they are quarreling amongst themselves, Aro says, "Jane, you and Alec are to escort them to a room. We have a matter to attend to and we shall pick this up later."

"Yes, master. Do you wish us to stand guard on them?" Jane replies.

"No, Jane, you and Alec can go about your business. I'm sure Felix will take care of this little problem and guard them until we sort this out or our dear Carlisle arrives."Aro states, as they leave the room.

I give Felix a stern look. "Under no circumstances are they to roam about the castle."

Felix replies with an evil gleam in his eyes, "Yes, master."

Aro: "Marcus, what are her lines to us?"

Marcus: "Her lines to Edward Cullen are broken beyond repair. She doesn't care anything for him any longer, not even familial feelings. She has a close bond to Alice, like that of a best friend or sister even. To us it is clearer. Her bond to Felix is like that of a brother as well as Demetri and Alec. Jane she sees as a sister of sorts, or a friend."

Aro: "But what are her bonds to the three of us?"

Marcus- "They are the strongest I've seen in many years. Aro, you are that of older brother, the one who will guide and protect her. I am more of a father type figure to her, a confidant and supporter. With Caius, she is his other half, his mate and one true love. They complete each other."

Caius: "How can this be? Athenodora, she was the one I cared most deeply for! Look what that got her."

Marcus- "Caius, we know you had deep feelings for her but she was playing you. Aro and I found her in the arms of a lower guard and they chose death rather than facing you. Isabella is much different. She loves you already and doesn't understand it."

Aro- "Brother, let the past go. Bella is here in the now. Reach for her. She will show you what you long for and will be at your side throughout eternity. I have to say this though, she is perfect for you. You are her exact opposite and complement each other perfectly…"

Marcus- "He's right, Caius. You and our new young friend complete one another."

I knew I felt something for her, but mate? I never dreamed I'd find my mate in a human. I always felt they were only good for sustenance or that of a toy to find pleasure in, only to rid myself of when I was through. But Bella is so much more. I have absolutely no desire to drain her or end her.

I pull myself from my thoughts as we approach Aro's office. We dismiss Santiago and enter the room. I look to the sofa where she lay sleeping and warmth spreads through me like never before. I longed to pick her up from the sofa and hold her to me. Instead I moved her hair from her face. I quietly call her name and caressed her cheek to awaken her. She opens her eyes and gasps.

Bella- "Your touch isn't cold to me. Why?"

Caius- "My brother's and I have a few things to discuss with you. We will answer all of your questions when we have finished."

Aro- "Isabella, from this moment on you will not to call us master ever again. Before you ask why, the answer is this… we are much more to you. Marcus?"

Marcus- "He is right, mia stella, you need to understand, I have a gift that sees the bonds of other's. All bonds and lines that connect others; including humans. You have heard of talented or gifted vampires, yes?"

Bella- "Yes, Edward can read the surface thoughts of minds, but not mine, Alice can see the future based on decisions it's subjective, and Jasper can feel and manipulate emotions. I assume there are a few here with gifts as well?"

Aro- "Yes, there are. I have the gift of tactile telepathy; I can read every thought anyone has ever had through one touch. Marcus senses bonds of people and can point out leaders of covens and detect the strength of any bond he sees. Caius has no known gift or ability but tends to just know things."

Bella- "What about the others that were in the other room with us or the man guarding the door, are they gifted?"

Caius- "Cara mia, many of us here have a gift or special talent. Jane can plant an illusion of pain into one's mind, and her brother Alec can remove all senses of someone rendering them useless. Chelsea can strengthen or weaken bonds between people and depending on the circumstances she can erase the memory of a person. Demetri is our resident tracker; he can track anyone through the essence of their mind. He can find anyone, anywhere at any time he is asked too."

Marcus- "Heidi has exceptional beauty and can lure anyone to her; we call her 'The Fisher'. Felix and Santiago have their strength. And then we have our little Renata, she can shield anyone she chooses at any given time, by touching them, and she is Aro's personal guard. Mine is Felix and Caius' is Demetri. Now that you are here one will be appointed to you and you are never to be without that guard until after you are changed."

Aro- "Now our main question is…Which of us, do you want to change you? The reason is whoever your sire is you will have a special bond with them and not even Chelsea would be able to break it. You will be closer to this person than any other."

Caius- "Cara, we will give you time to think this over, you don't have to answer us at the moment. You will have to decide quickly though."

Bella- "Before I decide, may I ask how old you were when you were changed?"

I couldn't help but chuckle as I watched her beautiful face turn the most delectable shade of crimson. I then wondered how far that blush went.

Marcus- "Piccola, you are a vision and have no reason to be embarrassed, you have the right to know. I was 31 when I was changed, Aro was 28, and Caius was 25."

Aro- "Sorella, you do not need to decide right now we will be more than happy for you to age a little before the change is required."

Caius- "Tesora, how old are you now?"

Bella- "19. Well…I will be in September, on the 13th."

Marcus- "How about we give you until you're 21to decide when and who will change you?"

Bella- "I already know who I want to do it. You, Caius."

I could have sworn my stone heart fluttered.

"As for when, I need to experience a few things first."

Caius- "Like what? Driving fast? Swimming in the ocean?"

Bella- "No, I've already done those. I want a real kiss, sex for the first time, and spend a week on an island. Where I can walk around naked if I wanted too."

To say we were awestruck would be an understatement. My mate has shocked us. Apparently the Cullen boy never gave into this temptress, my siren. I had to ask, "What do you mean Isabella? First real kiss, and sex for the first time?"

Bella- "When Edward would kiss me it was pecks on the cheek and closed mouth kisses. He would never go farther than that saying what I wanted could potentially get me killed. He wouldn't touch me unless it was to hold me as I slept or hug me close to him. There was never groping or acting like a sex crazed teen with him. He was always so proper and made me feel like I was a porcelain doll. I have needs like any normal hot blooded girl, I long to be desired and touched, not put on a pedestal so high that if I fall off I'll break."

We were speechless, our eyes were wide and mouths were open to the floor.

Bella- "Did I say something wrong? You three look stunned. You kind of remind me of a Venus fly trap waiting for its prey."

We chuckled at her snarky comment. When I decided to speak, I looked her in the eye and said, "Cara mia, you have nothing to worry about. Vampires and humans have been in love affairs for many years. They CAN have sexual relationships and DO NOT die as a result. As far as kissing goes, we just have to be careful, our teeth are razor sharp and that could be a disaster; unless of course, the vampire has exceptional control."

Bella- "How's your control? I mean you eat humans for the main course."

Aro- "Isabella, you have nothing to fear from us. We are your new family and will protect you at all costs."

Marcus- "Aro and Caius are correct, mia Stella. Our control is impeccable. As for Aro or I, kissing you would be out of the question. We have to leave that up to Caius."

Bella- "I don't understand; may I ask why?"

Marcus- "I feel for you what a father feels for his child."

Aro- "Sorella, You are like a sister to me and as for either Marcus or myself kissing you, that would just be wrong."

Bella- "What do you have to say, Caius?"

Caius- "I would like you to know me first, but I would not have a problem kissing you."

My brothers gawked at me as Isabella smirked. The little minx had no idea what she was awakening in me. My beast rattled his cage and purred at the prospect of kissing her, claiming her, and leaving my mark over her heart. Where I wanted nothing more than to taste the forbidden ambrosia of her lips and make love to her. I want to teach her how love between a man and woman really is and how feral it could be. The beast wanted to take her hard and fast; where the man in me longs to caress, kiss, and taste every inch of her. The Beast wants carnal desire and the man longs for sensuality and rapture.

As I was lost in my thoughts, Jane arrived and told us Bella's chambers were ready. Aro took the liberty of placing her in our wing where she would be guarded at all times. He explained to her my Chambers were next to hers and had an adjoining door.

The four of us made our way to our wing. Marcus went into his chambers and Aro went to find his wife. I took Isabella to mine, so we could talk privately and without interruption. I asked her questions of her life and how she came to know Carlisle and his dysfunctional lot. She explained how her mother was flighty and scatter brained which left her to deal with paying the bills, grocery shopping, and things they needed. She said when her mom remarried her step-father; she chose to go live with her dad, the police chief of Forks, WA.

She told me everything about school, meeting Carlisle's family, playing baseball with them, how they were interrupted by the Nomads and being attacked by one of them, her disastrous birthday party, Edward leaving her in the woods, her state of catatonia, and ultimately coming here. When she finished her story I was so angry, I wanted nothing more than to kill the boy who brought her into this world and practically handed her to me; with the help of his sister. She could tell I was enraged but approached me slowly and placed a hand on my arm. I stiffened but began to relax from her gentle touch. Her hand moved from my arm to my back, where she massaged circles causing me to relax more.

I turned to face her and looked her in the eye. I opened my mouth to say something, anything; but she beat me to the punch and asked with a statement, "Your eyes, their so black; like pools of onyx. Are you thirsty?"

"Our eyes turn black in anger, desire, and thirst. But I am not thirsty. I am, however, upset with all you have been through. I am angry at myself for being cold with you and calling you a liability. Isabella, I cannot deny the pull to you I am experiencing. I have never felt drawn to another like this. I don't know how to explain it."

"Caius, I feel it too. I feel like someone has wrapped a rope around my heart and tied it to you. It hurts to be away from you and I don't understand why. What would someone like you want someone like me? I'm plain and not at all pretty. You can have anyone, why me? Don't get me wrong; I'm glad you want me and your heart chose me but I am far from beautiful."

I could feel my anger rise as I turned to look her and snapped, "DO NOT SAY THAT! You are very beautiful! When you blush, I long to rip your clothes off just to see how far that blush goes. YOU, MY GIRL ARE EVERYTHING TO ME! NEVER SAY YOU ARE PLAIN AND NOT BEAUTIFUL AGAIN."

She stood there staring at me as I slowly began to regain control of my anger. I moved toward her and with every step I took, she took two back until her back was against the wall. I placed my hands on the wall behind her and pinned her to it with my body. Her warmth felt as though it were seeping into my very soul, warming my bones, and melting my stone cold heart. I leaned in and placed my marble lips against her soft pliable ones. It felt as if an electrical current flowed between us.

I pulled back with a gasp. She drew in a breath and asked, "Did you feel that? What was that?"

I quietly answered, "Yes, I did and I have no idea."

We looked into each other's eyes as she moved her hands up my arms and tangled in my hair drawing me into another kiss. I ran my tongue over the seam of her lips asking for entrance. She opened granting me access. Our tongues danced and stroked each other in a timeless dance of blooming desire. Never had I tasted something so intoxicating. After a few minutes we pulled apart for her to breathe.

We looked at one another spellbound before our lips crashed together and or tongues battled for dominance. I gently moved from her mouth across her cheek to her neck, kissing and nipping along the way. She moaned as I worked my way back to her swollen lips to capture them again. I was feeling like a starving man eating his first meal in many hours. When I pulled away again, she needed to have a human moment and I told her to change into the clothes Jane placed in the bathroom for her to sleep in.

I could hear the rustle of fabric as she changed, the water run as she brushed her teeth, and the sound of her running a brush through her hair. I removed my suit jacket and opened a few buttons of my shirt as she walked out of the bathroom. She wore a red silk night gown that reached the floor. I walked over to her, scooped her up into my arms, carried her to the bed, and gently placed her on it. I joined her of course, after pulling the blankets over her. I moved to hover over her and kissed her good night before rolling onto my side and pulling her into me so I could hold her as she slept.

Never had I felt like this. In a few moments this selfless creature, my beautiful Bella, had me completely and utterly in love with her. I watched her sleep peacefully as I thought back to our earlier conversation and realized one of her requirements before her change was met and checked off the list; her first real kiss.

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