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This is the promised future-take. For all of those wondering about Jessica and Marcus, this might explain some things.
Disclaimer: The Twilight series and its original characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just borrowing them for a while, making them British and making them do naughty things! This plot belongs to me, British-isms and all.
Just One Night
Jessica had married Marcus Volturi because he was rich, generous and would keep her in a lifestyle that she craved. She had found him fairly attractive, for guy fifteen years her senior, but that was a bonus. The one reason for which she had not married him was love. As she knelt by his gravestone, changing the flowers- her weekly routine since his death two months earlier- she considered the irony of falling so deeply in love with the man she had, at one time, intended to use for his money for as long as she could.
Loneliness pierced her soul. She would give back every penny of the fortune she had inherited following Marcus's death for just one more day with him.
So this is what a broken heart feels like. Funny, there was a time when it seemed like I didn't have one.
Flashback- twenty years ago (the day Jessica's divorce from Edward came through):
Jessica was tired, exhausted and furious. She had no husband, no boyfriend, no home, and had talked herself out of £50 grand and alimony. Where has all my luck gone? She walked along the River Thames and considered her options. She could go find Mike in Singapore, and hope that she wasn't too late to stop him from hooking up from some Far Eastern nymph. Or... she could take a risk and try to charm the pants off- and the money out of- Marcus Volturi.
That evening, after Jessica had decamped to a Holiday Inn and got dressed up, she ventured out to meet Marcus in the bar of his hotel, The Goring, an old-school luxury London hotel near Buckingham Palace. She ended up arriving early so ducked into the ladies' room to check her appearance. Whilst there she decided to do a bit of research, so she picked up her phone and pulled up Google to search for Marcus Volturi. As well as the homepage for Volturi Industries, a few pictures of him came up. She then clicked on the News tab.
Marcus Volturi donates $1 million to cancer charity:
Billionaire Marcus Volturi, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Palo Alto's biggest employer, Volturi Industries, donated $1 million to local charity California Cancer Care at their Black Tie Spring Gala last night, in the name of his late wife Didyme, who succumbed to breast cancer last year...
Jessica suddenly felt lucky again. Not a millionaire, but a billionaire. And a widower. No ex-wife hanging around. She picked up a tissue, wiped away her red lipstick and replaced it with pink gloss. She tied her loose shoulder-length blonde waves into a ponytail. She adjusted the neckline of her grey chiffon dress so it wasn't quite so low, and put on her cardigan. Lastly she took off all her jewellery, except the small St. Christopher pendant that her father had given her. She needed to look sweet and approachable. In the bottom of her purse, which Jessica had borrowed from Alice months and months earlier and not returned, she found a sample sized spray bottle of Thierry Mugler's Angel perfume, Alice's favourite. It was heavy on the vanilla, which Jessica usually hated, but it conveyed innocence and sweetness, the effect she was going for.
Marcus Volturi, meet the future second Mrs Volturi.
She strode into the bar confidently, where Marcus was stood at the bar itself. She went to stand next to him and cleared her throat subtly.
"Jessica! You look beautiful!" Marcus exclaimed.
"Thank you Marcus. It's not true, but you're always so sweet to me."
"Of course it's true! Now what would you like to drink?"
"Um... a Dark and Stormy please." She said in a quiet voice. Marcus signalled the bartender.
"A Tom Collins and a Dark and Stormy for the lady please."
Once they had their drinks, Marcus and Jessica went to sit down in one of the elegant seating areas. Jessica decided to remain quiet, to let him do more talking.
"Enjoying it?" Marcus asked after a minute, gesturing towards her drink.
"I chose it because it reflected my mood. It's OK." She replied.
"Your mood, or the drink?" Marcus asked. "Sorry that was forward of me." She smiled at him from under her lashes.
"It was, but I'm OK with people being forward." He smiled back at her. She seemed to him an enchanting little thing. So delicate. "I'm sorry I'm not so lively this evening."
"I had noticed. Is everything all right?"
"It's been a rather difficult day actually. You see, I was married, but my divorce came through today..." Jessica told him a tale of woe, of her emotionally distant ex-husband who bamboozled her out of alimony, stole her daughter and ran off with her sister.
"Oh, Jessica! How awful! You poor thing. And you're now all alone?"
"Yes. I don't really know what I'm going to do. I spent some time with my mother and Phil in California, but I'm a thirty-six year old woman. I can't move in with my mother! And London holds so many painful memories. It's such a difficult place to be when you're alone."
Marcus felt his heart go out to her. He held out his hand. Jessica touched her palm to his, and Marcus brought her hand to his lips.
"I think that our meeting was meant to be, Jessica." He breathed. Jessica fluttered her eyelashes in response and smiled sweetly before placing her hand on his knee lightly. "I think we could make each other happy, if you'd let me look after you."
"Oh Marcus, I completely agree."
Marcus had taught her kindness, compassion and responsibility; she had tried to walk all over him when they first got married, but he had been firm and strict without being punitive. He had made it clear that although he would never shout at her, yell at her or hit her, he was the one in charge.
When Jessica found out that her new husband's most esteemed business colleague was none other than her estranged sister, tried to insist that Marcus cease all dealings with Bella. Marcus told her calmly that he didn't care about any family disputes; his home life was one thing, but business was business, and contracting Isabella Swan and CSC Financial Services to run his company's yearly financial review was the best thing he'd done for the company in ten years. Jessica was furious but Marcus was resolute, and Jessica found herself losing against his iron will.
Whereas Edward, when married to Jessica, had responded to her apathy and disdain for responsibility by trying to give her things he thought she wanted and capture her attention, Marcus absolutely refused to entertain any tantrums. He found out the truth about Jessica's infidelity to Edward, and of her making a pass at Phil from Renee, and was determined that he would not be shown up or embarrassed in the same way. So even though part of him wanted to spoil her and make her happy, he also saw that Jessica needed discipline and boundaries.
If Jessica yelled at Marcus, he turned his back on her and walked away. If she disappeared off on a shopping trip or to a spa without telling him, he called her once. If she didn't call back to tell him where she was, he recalled her driver, changed the code to the electronic gates of their property and refused to let her in until she apologised. When he saw her flirting outrageously with a younger colleague, he reminded her that he loved her unconditionally, but that did not mean that he would tolerate being humiliated, and that he would not hesitate to kick her out with no money if she did not stop acting like a petulant teenager.
Jessica had been desperate to live the life of luxury associated with Marcus, so she agreed to sign a legally binding prenuptial agreement, despite being so burnt by the one she'd signed when she married Edward. Marcus would not marry her without it, and being Catholic, would not have her live in his house unless they were married either. The prenuptial agreement stated that Marcus could ask her to leave with minimal alimony if her behaviour did not reflect her status as the wife of one of California's most eminent businessmen.
Jessica, always one for taking the path of least resistance, soon realised that this path was actually to trust Marcus. He listened as she talked about her father Corin and about his love for her but also his indulgence of her whims. She told him about her anger at her mother and about growing up feeling like part of her was missing, which with Marcus's help and the help of a psychotherapist, she realised was, in large part, also down to the loss of her twin brother Alec at birth. Slowly the innate emptiness inside her dissipated, and was replaced with love, honour and respect for her husband during their twenty years together, and their nineteen years of marriage.
Marcus strongly encouraged Jessica to make contact with Alice again, but she didn't. For the first few years she remained very angry that Alice had so clearly favoured Edward. However, as she developed a better understanding of herself and admitted to herself, Marcus, Renee and Phil, that her past behaviour had been abominable, she felt so very guilty at how badly she had treated her only child. She decided Alice, who was thriving and happy in London, would be better off without her and kept her regret inside, allowing it to burn and sear her soul instead.
Jessica apologised to Renee and Phil for her behaviour, and they agreed that whilst things would never be the same again, they could stay on friendly terms. Jessica never asked the same of Renee. With the help of her therapist, she realised that Renee would never be able to admit her huge parenting mistakes. To do so would mean she would have to face the loss of Alec, something Renee was utterly incapable of doing without having a complete breakdown.
When she was finished at Marcus's grave, Jessica brushed down her simple black dress and walked to the parking lot of the cemetery where her car and driver were waiting for her. When they got back to the house, a spectacular mansion tucked into the North Californian hillside near Santa Cruz, overlooking Monterey Bay, she was greeted by her housekeeper, Mrs Jones.
"We managed to get the magazine you asked for, Mrs Volturi. I've placed it in your afternoon casual sitting room along with your tea and your usual stationery."
"Thank you Mrs Jones. Was it difficult to get hold of?"
"Afton managed to acquire a copy from a vendor in San Francisco."
"Please convey my gratitude to him? I could have read it online but there's something nice about reading a paper copy, don't you think?"
"Yes, Mrs Volturi."
Jessica went into the sitting room, kicked off her heels and poured herself some tea, before picking up the glossy imported magazine she had asked her staff to acquire.
Harper's Bazaar: UK Edition
On the front cover was Alice, dressed in a spectacular black feathered and diamond-encrusted costume, pouting at the camera.
'EXCLUSIVE! Alice Cullen: Tiaras, Ticking Clocks and Home Truths. The Royal Ballet's Lead Principal Dancer opens up to Harper's Bazaar UK.
Jessica flicked through the magazine straight to the article.
Alice Cullen: Tiaras, Ticking Clocks and Home Truths
By Maggie Burwell, Features Editor.
Alice Cullen's arrival for our interview over afternoon tea in the Garden Room at London's 5* Athenaeum Hotel is marked by the gasps and revered whispers of guests and staff alike. A little girl of five pushes past the security guards and tugs on Mrs Cullen's grey Philip Lim winter cape. In a demonstration of the warmth and grace for which she is famous, she swoops down so that she is eye level with the child, who shyly asks her for a photograph. Mrs Cullen obliges, and then asks her assistant to take one of her with the little girl on her iPhone.
Alice Cullen, 34, has been Lead Principal Dancer at the Royal Ballet for eight years. She became a household name two years later when she took on the lead role in The Dance of Death, Steven Soderbergh's critically acclaimed, highly stylised thriller about a ballet dancer who refuses to believe that the death of her mentor was accidental. An Academy Award nomination and worldwide recognition followed. Yet it has remained Mrs Cullen's only acting role to date. In this frank and revealing interview, she opens up to Harper's Bazaar UK about her life and her future.
MB: Good afternoon, Mrs Cullen. I must say, I was surprised that you asked for the interview to be conducted over such a rich afternoon tea. It's so decadent!
A waiter brings round a selection of delicate finger sandwiches and a huge teapot of Orange Pekoe tea. Alice doesn't stand on ceremony and, not waiting for the waiter to do it, pours us both cups of the fragrant beverage.
AC: Please, call me Alice. I'm not really into formality when it comes to these interview things! And as for the venue, who doesn't love afternoon tea? This place does one of the best in London. Scrummy sandwiches, fluffy scones, and amazing cakes! Yum!
MB: I guess I expected you, as a ballet dancer, to be very careful of what you eat.
AC: Food is a pleasure and food is fuel. I balance treats like this afternoon tea with healthy balanced meals. But I never, ever miss meals. It's a sure-fire way to perform sub-optimally. Not to mention that my mother would kill me!
MB: By 'mother' you mean... Bella Cullen? The entrepreneur? MD of the award-winning Clear Swan cafe chain and of CSC Financial Services?
Photograph 1: Alice with Bella Cullen (50), at the Business Enterprise Awards, where the latter won 'Woman of the Year,' and her father Edward (56), acclaimed composer and MD of Green Park Music, the largest online retailer of musical instruments in Europe.
AC: Yes. She is technically my stepmother, but she's most definitely my mother in the ways that count. She's been my biggest supporter and fan over the past twenty years.
MB: But biologically, Bella Cullen is your aunt.
Alice shifts in her chair, and tugs at her hair, currently its natural colour of strawberry-blonde, clearly a sensitive topic.
AC: Yes. She's my biological mother's half-sister. She and my father fell in love just as my parents' marriage hit the rocks.
MB: Do you have any contact with your biological mother, Jessica Volturi?
AC: No. Alice shakes her head sadly. She lives in California. She hasn't spoken to me since the day she and my father divorced when I was fourteen.
MB: Were you aware that your stepfather, Marcus Volturi (co-founder and CFO of multinational software manufacturing giants Volturi Industries), passed away recently after a massive stroke?
AC: Yes. Volturi Industries, and Marcus in particular, were business associates of one of our family companies, CSC Financial Services, and a card of condolence was sent. She crosses her arms and shrinks into her chair. Look, I'd really rather not talk about Jessica.
MB: Very well. Tell me more about Bella and your father Edward.
Alice's face lights up again.
AC: She and my father are still madly in love, after twenty years together. They are great role models. They always manage to find a positive in every negative. Mama B- that's what I call Bella- she is the most nurturing person I know. And Dad, he taught me about taking pride in what you do, about giving your endeavours 100% and about never giving up on dreams, whether they're big or small.
MB: Do you manage to see them often?
AC: Jasper and I bought the house next door three years ago so I see them all the time! My brothers and sisters spend as much time in my house as they do in theirs!
Photograph 2: Alice with her husband Jasper, parents Edward and Bella, and her siblings (l-r) Leo (20), Edward Jr. (Ned) (18), and twins Susanna Marie and Sophia Claire (14) at the Green Park Proms, the annual charity music event sponsored by The Cullen Family Arts Foundation. The Cullen Family Arts Foundation, a charitable organisation founded by Edward and Bella Cullen three years ago, is fronted by Alice and her pianist brother Leo.
MB: Your younger siblings are already quite the achievers themselves.
AC: Yes, Leo won the Leeds International Piano Competition last year, which of course got him instant recognition. He's currently doing a year-long worldwide circuit of recitals and performances. Ned's taking a year out from education to work on his charity donations apps business, the one he won the Princes' Trust award for, and to intern at CSC. And he's got a place at Cambridge next year to read mathematics.
MB: Wow. Talented boys. And so good-looking.
AC: She grins widely. They are indeed. The family phrase for them is 'The Handsome Little Heartbreakers', although they're both 6'2" like Dad, so they're not so little anymore! I'm so proud of them, and of my little sisters. Susie's probably going to go to medical school. Sophia's a very talented cook and baker, like Mama B, but if she doesn't do that, she wants to be a lawyer.
MB: They are beautiful girls. I'm surprised they're not models. Susanna's milky skin, green eyes, that wild auburn mane and those high cheekbones- she's like a young Lily Cole. And Sophia, with those deep dark eyes and long dark tresses- she almost looks like a pale Cleopatra.
AC: They would be very flattered to be described that way! I'll have to text them later to tell them! Seriously though, they've been approached a few times by scouts but they're not interested. Even if they were, my parents would never let them enter such a chaotic industry until they were at least eighteen.
The waiter clears our sandwich plates and brings round the fluffiest scones I've ever seen, along with lavender jam and Devon clotted cream.
MB: Your husband Jasper is a doctor, a psychiatrist at London's Maudsley Hospital. Between his long hours and yours, how do you make time to see each other?
AC: We just do. We've gotten very good at it in the fifteen years we've been married. It's lucky that we're both very organised and we have a PA, Quil, who's fab. There are times when my work has taken me away, and Jasper's taken sabbaticals or time out in order to be with me. There are also times when I've taken a break from my career path and followed him.
MB: Is it true that you auditioned for The Dance of Death just to kill some time whilst your husband was in New York doing a fellowship at Columbia?
AC: Actually, yes! It was a huge opportunity for my husband in their Psychiatry department. He just had to take it, but I couldn't be apart from him for more than a couple of days, let alone a year. So I took a sabbatical from The Royal Ballet and went with him. I got bored though, so when I heard about the auditions in Manhattan, I thought I could just do a bit of background dancing. But I got talking to Steven (Soderbergh) at the coffee cart and he asked me to audition for an acting role. I did just for a laugh! I never in a million years thought he'd give me the lead!
Photograph 3: Alice Cullen as Cecily Slade in The Dance of Death. The famous tiara from Asprey that features in the movie was worth £12 million and featured a rare canary-yellow diamond.
MB: Have you not been tempted to act again? Surely after the Oscar nomination, the offers must have come flooding in?
AC: I had a few, yes. But I am, first and foremost, a ballet dancer. It was an interesting foray, but acting is far harder work than dance in some ways.
MB: How so?
AC: As a dancer, you learn the choreography and you use the music to guide the emotions that you put into the part. As an actor, however, you don't have any such guide. You have to really work hard to draw out the emotion from within you, to put yourself in the situation of the character and then create the role. Charlotte, Jasper's sister, who used to be an actress, helped me loads but I still found that aspect of creating Cecily Slade the hardest.
MB: So we aren't going to see you treading the boards or gracing Hollywood anytime soon.
MB: Not even to wear such beautiful jewellery again?
AC: God, I hated that bloody tiara! It weighed a ton!
MB: So there's no truth in the rumour that Asprey gave you the tiara as a gift at the wrap party?
Alice guffaws out loud, coughing on a bit of scone in the process.
AC: Absolutely not! I have no idea what they did with it, but I certainly didn't get it! It's probably been sold to a private buyer. Besides, I would never have chosen a yellow diamond. It's so not my colour!
She twists her engagement ring absent-mindedly. It is beautiful- an amethyst surrounded by baguette-shaped sparkling white diamonds, set in gold.
MB: The last Lead Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet with as high a profile as you was Darcey Bussell. She retired from ballet at age thirty-seven. When do you see yourself retiring?
AC: Good question and the answer is, I don't know. I always thought that I would retire around the age thirty-two if I didn't make Lead Principal. Of course, I did, at twenty-six, so then I thought I'd retire when I had children. And then that didn't happen either!
MB: If you do retire, how do you think you would spend your time?
AC: I know exactly what I'd do. She claps excitedly. I would set up a dance school for kids from less advantaged backgrounds.
MB: Wow. That's ambitious.
AC: Well, it needs to be. Ballet has this image of being expensive and elitist. And it's not entirely without basis. Ballet's losing out to other forms of dance because it seems so inaccessible. There's a whole pool of talent out there that we are missing out on.
Photograph 4: Alice and Jasper Cullen with their twins, Isaac Carlisle and Kristen Esme, age two, taken by Steven Soderbergh, now a family friend of the Cullens.
MB: Your children are adorable. Both blond-haired and blue-eyed like their parents.
AC: I know, right! They are pure sunshine, even when they're being little devils. If it wasn't already obvious, twins run in the family! I have twin younger sisters. Jasper has twin older sisters who each have a set of twins, and then we had them too!
MB: Around the time of your Academy Award nomination, the newspapers were full of headlines about the fact that your husband Jasper is your cousin. That must have been incredibly stressful.
She bristles slightly and doesn't answer for a moment.
AC: Jasper is my second cousin. And yes, it was stressful. Nobody wanted to focus on the fact that we were in a happy, loving, strong relationship, one we'd been in for many years. Instead, they focussed on the fact that we were distantly related and that we had gotten married young, when I was nineteen and he was twenty. The media made some quite hurtful speculations and cast some terrible aspersions.
MB: How did your family react when they found out about your relationship?
AC: They were shocked, unsurprisingly, but once we explained how much in love we were and of our very careful plans for the future, they were supportive. Eventually they were accepting as well. Now, it's a complete non-issue. They defended us fiercely when we were tabloid fodder and we're all closer as a result.
We pause as a server brings round a fascinating array of perfect, tempting little cakes and tarts.
MB: Rumour has it that you were back on stage dancing three months after giving birth. Is that true?
AC: I was back on stage in Covent Garden within three months, but I started practising and training within six weeks. I danced throughout my pregnancy too, until I was six months' gone and simply too big to continue.
MB: That's dedication.
AC: It's what feels natural. I have danced and trained almost every day of my life since I was four years old.
MB: So you didn't feel pressure from The Royal Ballet to get back on stage?
AC: Not really. I probably put the pressure on myself more than they did. There are a lot of very talented dancers out there. I wasn't ready to give up my position. I feel like there's still so much I have left to give.
MB: Do you think that you'll have more children?
AC: Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, Jasper and I have a great work-life balance. We're both very much where we want to be in our careers, and we have enough time to spend with our children. All in all, our lives are pretty great the way they are. But if we do, I think I'd rather do it sooner rather than later. My younger sisters were born on Mama B, Bella's thirty-sixth birthday, and she said that having them then was harder work than when she had my brothers in her late twenties and early thirties.
MB: Alice Cullen, thank you so much for talking to Harper's Bazaar UK and for suggesting this wonderful place as a venue. You're right, the afternoon tea is delicious.
AC: I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for treating me!
Alice kisses me goodbye on both cheeks before grabbing a strawberry tart 'to munch on the way home' and gliding out of the door. I was surprised at her honesty whilst maintaining clear boundaries, floored by her warmth and mesmerised by her elegance. It's certainly going to go down as one of the best- and tastiest- interviews I've ever done.
Jessica put down the magazine and sighed to herself.
My one regret. I could have been part of her life. But instead, I'm an aside that she feels uncomfortable talking about.
Now I'm all alone. No Marcus. No Alice. Nobody but my staff and this big house.
Jessica picked up the pair of scissors that had been laid out for her and cut the article out of the magazine to stick in the display book she had kept for over ten years, full of articles and pictures of Alice and the rest of the Cullens. Next to the display book was a fountain pen, a pad of expensive vellum notepaper and envelopes. Jessica always asked for them to be laid out, but never used them.
Jessica turned round to see her housekeeper at the door.
"Sorry to bother you but Nurse Irina is here."
"It's that time again?"
"I'm afraid so."
"I'd better go change then. Please could you show her in to set things up?"
"Yes, Mrs Volturi."
"Oh and Mrs Jones?" The portly housekeeper turned round again. "Do you think you might be able to stay with me?" Because I have nobody else to ask. Renee can barely remember my name these days.
Four hours later, Nurse Irina detached the empty bag of toxic drugs from the port in Jessica's chest, and Mrs Jones helped her to the bathroom where she heaved and wretched into the toilet, a sign that the chemotherapy was having an effect on her body, keeping the finality of her cancer at bay for just a little longer.
"There, there. Better out than in, Mrs Volturi."
"Please call me Jessica. When I'm like this, I need you to call me Jessica." She choked out before crying out with pain and sorrow and weakness and exhaustion.
"I got you, Jessica. I got you." Mrs Jones held her as she sobbed.
"H-h-help me back to the sitting room?" Mrs Jones duly got her back to her favourite spot on the sofa, and left her to get her some chicken broth.
When she was all cried out, Jessica looked at the notepaper and pen on the coffee table. Alice. My time is running out. I need to tell her I'm sorry, before it's too late. Jessica felt a pang and placed her hand on her heart, her fingers automatically finding the angry raised mastectomy scar.
After what seemed like an age, she finally picked up the pen and notepaper for the first time and, with a shaking hand, began to apply the pen to the page.
She wrote the words 'Dear Alice' and then put the pen down, worried about what she was about to do.
Edward was right. All the money in the world means nothing, without love. I've learnt that the hard way.
She picked the pen up once again.
AN: So... all done.
I'm going to be publishing my new story in a week or so. It will be a change of writing style for me, but I hope you'll have a look and let me know what you think.