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Little Flame

By Lindsay Kelly

Horror / Fantasy

Little Flame: The Complete Story

Prologue

The year was 1349. The Black Death had arrived in the town of London. The dirty streets became deserted as people hid themselves away or succumbed to the Grim Reaper. This was medieval life in the 14th century. I was the daughter of a wealthy cloth merchant called Jeremiah Taylor. My name was Victoria. I was named after the Roman Goddess of victory. I was eighteen years old and my darling little sister Elizabeth was my best friend and confidante. She was six years my junior. My Mother and Father had arranged a marriage for me to an equally wealthy young man whose family was in construction. There was unrest and disease in the city. My heart was filled with fear at the thought of leaving my family for a new life with my soon to be husband. Little did I know my life as I knew it was about to change utterly and indescribably. The plague had killed thousands upon thousands of people; my family was spared the horror as we lived in luxury compared to most Londoners. How was I supposed to know what other horrors lurked in the shadows waiting to pounce, waiting to destroy my family and life as I knew it?

PART ONE: THE AWAKENING

CHAPTER ONE

I brushed my tangled fiery red hair vigorously with anger and betrayal running through my veins. My unruly curls would not succumb to my frenzied brushing and my hair made a static red halo around my head. My Father had set up a meeting with my betrothed and his parents today. Yes, Benedict Brickenden was a handsome and intelligent young man, but I didn't want to become his wife and bear his children. I wanted to be someone. I wanted to make a difference in the world. Instead I was to become a dutiful wife and help out in his Father's construction business which would become his and mine one day. I would hopefully have sons who would carry his name and carry on the family business. This was all expected of me. I didn't want to disobey or disappoint my Father, but inside I was dying to just be myself, not what other's expected me to be. In the fourteenth century women did not think for themselves, we were supposed to obey our elders, obey our husband's and carry out our duties in all areas to perfection.

My darling sister Lizzie (as I called her) would be expected to do the same in a few years. For now she was still a child. Lucky Lizzie. I loved my little sister so much. She was a ray of sunshine in these dark times. She called me "little flame" due to my bright red curly hair. She said I would set the world alight one day. I hoped she was right. I gazed at my reflection in the mirror with a petulant scowl. It was time to face Benedict and his overbearing fat Mother. His Father was pencil thin with a drooping moustache which gave him a permanent sad expression. Their son was pleasing to look at and he was clever but he was oh so dull. I had absolutely nothing in common with him. That didn't matter to my Father though; the Brickendens were an upstanding and wealthy family. No one cared what I thought. Why should they?

I made my way downstairs to greet my future husband and in laws. Maybe death by plague would be better than this? I chided myself for having such dark thoughts. The Black Death was an unforgiving terrible disease which had ravaged Europe for a year now. Rumour has it that it originated in China and made its way by ship down the Silk Road. It relentlessly halved London's population in a year. Father had made plans for us to travel soon if things got worse. Of course he wanted me married off first. I rolled my eyes and sighed heavily as I made my way into our parlour. Benedict quickly stood up and bowed with a flourish as I entered the room, his floppy brown hair falling into his blue eyes. I curtsied politely as he brushed his lips chastely against my outstretched hand. My Father and Mother observed my every move, whilst my future in laws smiled politely. I wanted to scream. Lizzie winked cheekily at me from behind our buxom maid Florrie.

We lived on Thread Needle Street, obviously. All the cloth merchants and tailors lived here. Our house was luxurious compared to most of the London city dwellers. I believe this was the main reason why the events of that day: October 22nd 1349 happened. I believe that the plague ravaged underclass were jealous and enraged at our superior position in society. We were enjoying afternoon tea, served by our loyal maid Florrie. Benedict was gazing shyly at me through his long fringe, his blue eyes assessing my face and my slim figure which was shown off to perfection in an emerald silk dress. Green complimented my red hair, so my Mother said. Who would have expected three filthy diseased ridden men to burst into the sanctity of our middle class home?

They defiled us with their words; they hurt us with their fists and feet. They killed our men with knives, stabbing into their hearts with deadly surprise and intent. Then they turned their attention to the females in the room. My Mother and Mother in law to be were quickly dispatched with a cold precise blade. Poor Florrie was next. Then attentions turned to me and my sister. I finally found my voice and I screamed in protest and horror as their dirty hands grabbed my precious Lizzie. I flailed my useless limbs at their brute strength but strong hands held me down as I watched my sister be defiled by them. I cried and screamed in protest but I could not escape the strong arms which pinned me down. Cruel laughter rang in my ears as I struggled to be free. I screamed in pure unadulterated anguish as the monsters ran their blade into my angelic sister's pure and loving heart. Her deep violet eyes pleaded with me to save her as her sweet life ebbed away before me. Her once lustrous blonde hair lay in a tangled untidy mess around her poor deathly pale face.

My scream echoed painfully around this room of blood and death. One of the men grabbed my hair roughly from behind so I fell backwards against him. I felt his fetid warm breath on my cold cold skin as he licked my face in a lascivious manner. His hands worked their way under my dress; his fingers roughly invaded me in a most improper way. Bitter salty tears of pain and shame tracked down my face. I shut my eyes as I tried to block out the horror of this reality. I took my secret self away into a dark quiet room in my mind to hide away as the men all took turns to abuse me. It was horrific and it was degrading. My family and the Brickendens lay all around me; dead and lifeless, their life blood seeping from their veins onto our parlour floor. My hair was sticky with their spilled blood. My body was torn and ravaged. My mind was broken and bowed.

The last man to leave laughed as he slid the cool metal blade into my chest. He was careless. He missed my heart. I dragged my poor abused body away from the horrors of the parlour. I managed to stagger out onto Thread Needle Street, but I took a wrong turn and I ended up on Poultry. It was dirty and polluted. Prostitutes and criminals rubbed shoulders with the lower class. I blindly ran along the down trodden streets my breathing ragged and my wounded side hurting madly. I did not know where I was going or what I was doing. I just knew I had to escape. My wound slowed me down with its incessant throbbing and bleeding. I stopped in a narrow dark alleyway to catch my breath. I knew I should still the bleeding but I couldn't remember how to. I gasped fearfully as the shadows of the evening closed in. My mind was jumbled and confused from shock and blood loss. The walls seemed to close in on me as I succumbed to the cold wet cobbles.

I drifted in and out of consciousness, fleeting images flowing past my closed eyes. I think I wished for Death. I felt strong hard arms encircle me and carry me away from the narrow street. I briefly came to and opened my eyes. I was in a room, it was lit with candles, it was cold and it was dark. I heard rustling, then I felt a presence close to me, its aura was positively terrifying. I gasped aloud in fear as I felt cold long fingers brush my cheek and trail down my neck to my collarbone. Not again, I prayed. The thing sighed and its cold as the grave lips grazed my hair and cheek as I tensed in fear under its scrutiny.

"Interesting scent young one," it whispered against my hair.

 I felt the presence leave me and suddenly the lamps were lit and I gazed into scarlet red eyes. His face was pale and young, but his eyes betrayed his age. Frighteningly red and very old. I gasped in shock as he pinned me with his intent gaze.

"I am Aro," he rasped.



CHAPTER TWO

I couldn't tear my horrified gaze away from those scarlet eyes as he pinned me with his intense stare. His face was deathly white and his black hair was long and straight. He had fine sculptured features, but oh he was frightening! He stared at me with fascination and something else. Hunger. He smiled benignly at me as he lightly dragged one long fingernail down my clammy pale cheek.

"You are quite beautiful," he said in a deep throaty voice.

Fear tightened around my chest in a vise like grip, making me gasp. I had forgotten about the knife wound in my side for now. My whole universe had suddenly shrunk to this one truly horrific moment in time.

"I think a young lady like you would make an ideal addition to my coven," he rasped with a gleeful smile. Coven? What?

I felt sheer panic and self-preservation rise in my rapidly beating heart at last. I screamed loudly as I pummelled my small ineffective fists against his hard as marble chest. What was he? Certainly not human!

"Shhh my dearest," he whispered as he held my hands in his. "I am a vampire, sweet girl. A very powerful vampire, created by the original one who was created in mysterious circumstances. No one knows who he is or where he came from or who indeed changed him! But he chose me! I became Immortal in 1200 and have led my coven, The Volturi since 1212. My maker was the same vampire who supposedly turned the other two Volturi leaders, Marcus and Caius. He was very old and very powerful once upon a time, but when he found me that fateful night he was weakened and desperate for someone to continue vampirism. "

He stopped his tirade to register my reaction. I just gaped at him in wonder. Such creatures existed in this world? Aro nodded and smiled as if he heard my thoughts. "Yes, I can read every thought you have ever had, my child," he boasted with a wicked grin.

I did not have any energy to fight him; I was beginning to feel weak and dizzy. I guessed it was loss of blood and the shocks I had experienced in this most terrible of days.

Aro nodded again in agreement, "You are dying my beautiful one. You have lost blood, you are infected with the Black Death, your human life will end soon," he remarked with no trace of compassion.

I shuddered against his chest where I was helplessly pinned. A solitaire tear tracked its way down my cheek. What did I care if Death should claim me? I had nothing left to live for.

"On the contrary my dear I believe you will be a great asset to me. I will change you into one of us, naturally, " he said with a predatory smile playing over his thin ruby lips.

I bucked and writhed with all my strength, but unfortunately I did not possess much anymore and the pitiful reserves I had at my disposal would never defeat this monster. "Me, Aro a monster? No, my sweet one. The men who defiled you and your sister were monsters. The animals who killed and robbed your family, they are the undesirables, not I. Aro can offer you power and strength beyond your wildest dreams my child! We will welcome you with open arms in Volterra; you will be our latest acquisition. So beautiful! So fiery! We will be your new family! " he exclaimed joyfully.

My heart clenched in terror. Aro smiled at me in a most devilishly angelic way. He was a mass of contradictions. Cruel yet compassionate. Evil but kind. Ugly yet beautiful.

"What is your name precious one?" he inquired of me.

I stubbornly shook my head in defiance, but his long fingers gripped my temples. "Little flame? Elizabeth called you this? He asked.

I nodded, unable to put up any resistance now. I was fading fast. I thought of my Lizzie as my eyes became cloudy and I teetered on the edge of consciousness. Her violet eyes were always full of smiles when I had brushed her long blonde hair before bedtime.

"Ah! You are Victoria! A most noble and beautiful name," he cried happily.

I was losing all my senses one by one as I began to feel so light and insubstantial.

"Yes, that's it my dearest Victoria. Drift into unconsciousness. You will not feel the sting of my bite nor the burning in your veins as my venom rushes in to replace your blood. You will die here tonight my sweetness, in this shabby place, but you will be reborn as a glorious vampire!" he crowed with delight.

I succumbed to the darkness gladly as Aro's eager mouth descended upon the pale exposed skin of my throat.



CHAPTER THREE

Heat and pain. Fire and death. Time had no meaning. Then a cool calm descended. I opened my eyes to a brand new world. Everything leaped out at me in minute, glorious detail. I gazed around the room with awe. My eyes finally settled on Aro, who stood by the door hesitantly. I had found him terrifying and strange before, now he fascinated and beguiled me. His pale face was chiselled and perfect. His red eyes shone in the lamplight like rubies. His long black hair was like a raven's wing against his white skin, which was flawless. I was mesmerised by him. I wondered what it would be like to touch him. Before I could comprehend what had happened I was before him. I only had to think a movement and my new body performed it in an instant. I marvelled at my new strength and agility. I was graceful and lithe. I was like a coiled spring, waiting to pounce. I reached out to touch Aro's pale cheek with my finger. His skin was cold and smooth like marble. His red eyes softened slightly at my touch. I wanted to kiss him. So I did. He tasted of honey and spice. Most intoxicating.

Aro gently pushed me away from him. I sighed reluctantly. "Sweet Victoria, it is perfectly acceptable for you to have these feelings. I am your Maker, but we are not destined to be lovers. I will guide you and protect you my child. Come to the mirror now! You must observe yourself as a vampire. Most magnificent! I made the right choice," he boasted smugly.

I stared and stared at the strange girl in the mirror. Her red hair was long and lustrous; it hung in long perfect waves over her shoulders. Her skin was luminous and flawless. She was simply beautiful. "You are beautiful. You must believe it Victoria. This is the new you; a perfect and strong vampire," Aro whispered against my hair as he breathed in my scent.

Yes, it was true. I was a vampire. It was so strange not to need air, to not feel my chest rise and fall, to realise my heart was as still as a stone.

"We must leave here, sweet child. You will soon feel an uncontrollable thirst for blood steal over you. It will consume you until you slake it. I will show you what to do, "Aro said sagely.

I nodded, my eyes still riveted on the girl in the mirror. Was she really me? "You will also feel a terrible rage sweep over you. It will abate but you will have to abide it for a few months. Do not be frightened of it Victoria. Embrace it, for it is part of your vampiric nature," he added.

I nodded again, still entranced by my reflection.

Aro's long white fingers reached out to curl a lock of my hair around his fist. He pulled on it slightly making me gasp with surprise. "Obey me and learn from me my child and we will make you a trusted and valued member of the Volturi," he whispered seductively in my ear, making my insides turn to jelly.

I wasn't used to feeling sexual attraction. I was an inexperienced virgin. Those men hadn't taken their abuse that far, thankfully. I supposed my first time would have been with Benedict, although I hadn't thought about him at all in that way. I'd tried not to dwell on thoughts of our wedding night. But now I was feeling all my pent up sexuality ooze out from every pore. I was a vampire and I had all these new feelings and emotions. It was like I'd been set free.

A small smile played over Aro's thin red lips, "Ah child you have so much more to discover!" he smirked knowingly. I wished I could kiss him again. Those feelings of heady desire and infatuation were addictive to me already.

Aro shook his head at me and raised a long white finger to his lips, "Shhh, Victoria. It will pass."

We left the room Aro had rented in Bread Street and made our way to Pall Mall. He was cool calm and collected, I was a mass of nervous energy. I felt light headed and strange. There was a feeling inside me which was building in intensity. "Thirst," Aro whispered as he held my hand and guided me along the dark, dirty streets of this diseased city. We stopped at a tavern; my finely attuned ears could hear the voices of everyone inside. Men laughing raucously and drinking heavily. Women of disrepute joined them in their drunken mirth.

"The men who invaded your home are in there Victoria. They are about to leave. When they do, we will follow them," he commanded, his red eyes glittering dangerously in the light of the full moon which hung low in the night sky above us. My nerves tingled and jangled in anticipation. The men spilled out of the pub into the cold autumnal night, their grim faces jarring my senses. Aro and I quickly and deftly slipped behind them unnoticed. They took a short cut up a narrow dark alley. Silly men. My rage and hunger for blood had been building quickly as we stealthily followed them. Aro squeezed my hand as we slid closer to them.

"Watch me," he whispered.

Lightning quick pale arms shot out pinning the youngest man to the damp dank wall of this dirty alley. Aro beamed at him before sinking his teeth into the boy's filthy neck. I watched fascinated as the victim first struggled against his deadly embrace and then succumbed to the bite of the vampire. It looked like the boy had swooned in Aro's arms. This had all happened in a split second. The other two men drunkenly staggered on up the alley, not knowing or caring that their companion was dying directly behind them. My all-consuming thirst and rage reached its ultimate peak as I reached out with my new found strength. I swiftly kicked both of the monsters in their heads as I launched myself up and over them. I came to a halt in front of them.

"Good evening gentlemen," I said politely with a bow as they both rubbed their bruised skulls in confusion.

Their faces were a picture as they took in my appearance. My red eyes immediately sobered them up. I licked my lips in anticipation. Then I pounced. I ripped out the first man's throat in an instant. I felt glorious. The blood pulsed thick and hard into my mouth from his ruined artery. It tasted so good despite coming from a drunken diseased rat of a human being. I flung his desiccated body away from me impatiently.

The second man was inching back up the alley with a look of complete horror and fear on his ugly face. "Yes! Fear me! I am Victoria, sister of Elizabeth, the sweetest girl who ever lived. YOU killed her! Now I will kill YOU!" I raged gleefully.

I drank my fill of his blood as Aro gazed at the scene with immense pride on his pale face. Once I was sated he came to stand by my side.

"How do you feel, Little Flame?" he inquired tenderly.

"Better," I stated with a smile.

Aro clapped his hands with joy. "I knew you would make a perfect vampire! Oh yes I knew it! "He crowed happily.

I knew I was dead but I felt more alive than I had ever felt. Does that make sense? I felt power surge through my veins and strength flow through my limbs. The sexual chemistry sparked between Aro and me again, but now it was even stronger and much harder to resist. The blood of my victims had rendered me even more inhuman. I had lost my humanity easily in my revenge, like a snake sloughing off its dead skin. I was as I should be. I felt lustful desires course through my new perfect body and I couldn't help myself. I launched myself at my Maker most improperly. We landed on the damp dirty ground, me on top of him, my body pressed against his in a most unladylike fashion.

"I forgot how strong new-borns are!" he gasped in surprise.

I used his surprise to my advantage as I brought my eager lips down on his in a wholly passionate kiss.Our lips moulded together perfectly as one for a few momentous precious seconds before he tore his away with a lusty moan.

"Victoria! What am I going to do with you?" he spoke most delightfully against my pale trembling throat.



CHAPTER FOUR

I gazed over the vast expanse of deep dark ocean with my sharp red eyes. The moon was a small crescent hanging in the night sky as the boat carrying us to Volterra moved slowly through the deep waters. Aro stood beside me, our cold bodies were close, much too close for his liking, but he suffered it for now. I sighed softly as I gazed at him in awe. He must have only been around twenty-one years old when he was changed. His marble face was not conventionally handsome, instead it was interesting and charming. He had sculpted cheekbones and bow-shaped lips which were ruby-red. His long black hair shone like silk and captured the light wonderfully. He had stolen my silent still heart in every way. He said it was because I was his Maker. He said it would pass, but for now we would both have to deal with my fledgling infatuation. I had never felt these strong feelings of passionate love before, even as a human. It was quite overwhelming. I imagined our pale marble skin sliding together as we lay in sheets of pure red silk, our bodies joining together in a delicious forbidden union. I tried to press myself closer to him but he moved slightly so there was a small gap between us. I sighed again.

Aro turned to me with a wry smile, "Now now Victoria, hush my child. Your thoughts are most impure for one so young!" he chided.

I smiled sadly at him, hoping he would hold me close. His arms stayed by his side though, much to my disappointment. "You are so cruel, my Master," I sighed again.

"My sweet child, listen to me for I know best. I love you but I cannot stray down that forbidden path, although you are most beguiling and quite beautiful," he added in his raspy voice which made me shiver inside.

"But, why?" I questioned like a small child would.

Aro ran his forefinger down my cheek slowly and softly. Teasingly seductive. He smiled again, "Your thoughts are particularly unclean today Victoria," he whispered.

I inhaled sharply as his cool lips brushed my ear. He had long ago given up the pretence of breathing, for me it still felt natural and I couldn't help my gasping longing sighs. His touch sent me into a frenzy of lustful thoughts. He saw them all in his mind. This was his special vampire power. It drove me mad that he should see what I am thinking and feeling, yet he would not act upon it! He desired me, of that I was sure. "Yes I do desire you Victoria, very much" he uttered against my neck as his cold lips slowly trailed a path down towards my collar-bone. Every nerve in my quivering body sang out for his touch, for his kiss, for a release of this pent-up passion I had inside me.

My head hung loosely to the side, my red curls a curtain of fire as they trailed down over my shoulder. Aro's lips travelled further down so they came to rest on the swelling of my breasts, which were almost bared in this tight bodice I wore. He licked my skin slowly and teasingly as my breath hitched in my throat. He was driving me insane with desire. His long pale hands now gripped my hips as his kisses became more frantic. My smooth flawless marble skin was so enticing to him. I wished he would kiss me now. His lips, tongue and teeth continued to work on the delicate sensitive skin of my cleavage. My moans were louder now as my passion rose. He lifted his head to gaze into my eyes, my bodice was fit to burst as I gasped and moaned with pleasure, my hips rising to meet him as his hands pinned me there.

"Aro, kiss me," I sighed longingly, all reason chased away by my all-consuming desire for him. Red eyes gazed into red eyes, fires burning within their depths. I almost burst into flames with the heat of my emotions. He clasped my face with both hands as his lips roughly descended upon mine with a desperate hunger. I clung to him as our mouths devoured and explored ravenously. At last. Oh he knew exactly how I wanted to be kissed. Mind reading had its advantages. I concentrated on every part of his mouth as we fell into a deeper and deeper kiss. How naïve I'd been as a human. I did not know such pleasure existed and this was only a drop in the ocean. Behind my closed eyes I saw bright colours bloom and burst into rainbows as I gave myself up to this utmost bliss.

I was a strong newborn vampire but I felt as light as a feather as I swooned in my Maker's arms. The whole universe centred on us and us only. Nothing else mattered at all. I do not know how long we would have kissed or where it would have led to if a couple of humans hadn't strayed onto the top deck. Aro and I turned to look at them, our desire turning swiftly to hunger.

"Oh apologies, Sir, Madam," the sandy-haired young man said with a gracious bow.

"We did not know anyone was up here," his dark-haired young lady friend giggled. "It's a wonderful night for romance though isn't it?" she added as she grabbed her beau's hand excitedly.

He grinned back at her, their eyes full of the excitement and joy of young love. They were so full of life. It was infectious. It made me thirsty. Aro nodded at me imperceptibly as we pounced on our victims with hungry glee. My Maker took the girl swiftly, his teeth tearing her throat viciously. It both excited me and spurned me on as I drank greedily from the young man's wrist, his earlier excitement making me dizzy with desire for his blood. He looked at me in amazed confusion. Then he watched as Aro tossed his love into the sea.

"Poor baby," I crooned as I brought my teeth down quickly and savagely into the soft salty skin of his neck.

Oh the blood was thick and red and pulsing. He tasted so good. I moaned as I drained him. Aro watched me with a predatory smile. Once the boy was also dispatched into the waves, we stood arm in arm gazing out into the dark night. There was a storm approaching, I could sense it and feel it in the air. The sea was beating at the side of the boat furiously as we stood in silence for a time.

"Victoria, you must stop bewitching me, my child. It is draining me!" Aro spoke quietly, breaking the silence.

I rested my head on his strong arm, revelling in the scent of him.

"I can't help it!" I protested.

He shook his head, "Well we must try my sweet. Soon we will arrive on Italian shores, where we will make our way to Volterra. I am a Volturi leader and I must conduct myself so," he stated solemnly.

I sighed with frustration, "Surely you must be able to do as you please then?" I questioned.

Aro shook his head, "I cannot let desire for you make my mind soft and my body weak Victoria! I must not let Marcus and Caius see any hint of vulnerability in me! I am the strongest and the best vampire to rule over the Volturi!" he said proudly with a hint of smugness.

I snuggled closer to him, his scent taking me over and making me desire him again. I loved when he acted omnipotent, it was a heady drug which fuelled my lust for him even more.

Aro sighed impatiently, "Stop it Victoria!"he chided.

I decided I would kiss him again, make him fall under my spell. He quickly turned and held me at arm's length as he strongly pinned me against the side of the boat. "You must obey me child!" he roared. The waves pounded the boat in fury as the wind began to blow hard. The storm was approaching swiftly. I didn't flinch, I wasn't afraid of him in the slightest.

"I love you Aro," I exclaimed.

He groaned with desire as he crushed his lips onto mine, unsuccessfully resisting me once again. I melted in his arms once again. He spoke hoarsely against my cheek, his cool lips burning my cold but fevered skin.

"You cannot! You shouldn't! Oh Victoria! " He moaned as I molded my eager body to his. His cold lips travelled across my cheek to bury themselves in my wild red curls. He sighed, then uttered the worst, most terrible words in my new world.

"My child, my sweet girl, I am married!"



CHAPTER FIVE

We finally reached Volterra after three long days. The ship had provided food for us though in the shape of different humans who strayed onto our path. Blood and death were second nature to me now. I tried to seduce Aro many times on our journey, I wasn't successful although he had succumbed to my kisses and my fiery touch. I couldn't make him completely mine though which angered and infuriated me. I was an obsessed new-born. Obsessed with blood. Obsessed with my Maker. I burned with unrequited love and passionate infatuation. It thrilled me, it haunted me and it drove me to the edge of sanity. I couldn't even find solace in sleep, vampires could never rest. We could go into a trance but never would I slumber again. Never would I dream again.

When we arrived at the gates which would lead us to the Volturi's underground hideaway,I found myself petrified with utmost dread and fear. I held on tightly to Aro's cold hand with a vice-like grip. He smiled wryly at me as a dark hulking figure approached the gates. I gasped in sheer terror as I spun away from my Maker into the grey early morning mist which hung over this pretty city. Aro found me hiding in a narrow alley way.

"Victoria? Do not be afraid my child. That is Felix, the gate-keeper of the Volturi's home. "

I shrugged as I gazed into the red voluminous depths of his eyes. "I didn't consciously run, Aro!" I exclaimed curiously.

He raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow at me, as he grasped my hand, causing little electric shocks to run through my venom filled veins.

"Enhanced self-preservation is the power to sense and escape any danger. You own this power, Victoria! I knew you would be a worthwhile and valued addition to the coven!" he crowed happily.

I frowned at him in confusion. I had a special power? Just like Aro did? Was this true for all vampires? Aro nodded at me with a smile.

"Most of us do have elevated abilities, my sweet. It stems from hidden talents when we were mortal. Now we are vampires the power is multiplied a thousand fold! Isn't it amazing?" he asked, his pale features animated with joy.

I nodded

"Come," Aro beckoned as he pulled me away from the alley and back towards the gates.

Felix nodded in greeting to me as I resisted the urge to run again. I didn't like this feeling. We descended down into the dark depths under the city. The Volturi headquarters were accessed via the tunnels and drains which ran under the city like veins travelling to the heart. I felt that indescribable panic grip my still as stone heart again but I quelled my fears and let Aro lead me into his dominion.

Suddenly we arrived at an almighty large cavern which was lit by hundreds of church candles. The atmosphere was tense and brooding. I was scared. Two imposing male vampires stood in front of the small crowd who sat on pews behind them. They did not smile as we entered. Their pale faces were immovable as granite but their red eyes stared right into my very being.

"So, Aro, this is our new addition?" one of them asked in a soft, yet frighteningly powerful voice.

Aro nodded as he pushed me forward, "Marcus, Caius, meet Victoria. My latest acquisition, which I am sure you will agree is a fine one," he bragged loudly.

I gazed into the other two Volturi leaders eyes with trepidation.

"Hello." I stuttered.

Then in a whirl of red velvet cloak and long golden hair a woman appeared in front of me. She looked me up and down like I was a bug under a microscope.

Aro spoke quietly, "This is Sulpicia. My wife, " he added.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. She was beautiful. Stunningly so. Her red eyes bore into me with savage intensity. I withered under her punishing gaze as my urge to run became unbearable.

"No, Victoria," Aro said as he held my arm roughly.

Sulpicia nodded at her husband with a small smile playing over her full lips. "Victoria," she breathed huskily, "How delightful to meet you, I hope you will be happy with us," she added with a beatific icy smile as she reached out to take my trembling hand in hers.

I felt like I was rushing down a long dark tunnel. I couldn't see or hear or speak. She let her power wash over me, taking me further into a downward spiral. I fell to my knees in surrender. Then it was over and I opened my eyes to find her radiant smile beaming down at me. Aro was trying to look disinterested as he stood by her side, but I knew he was fuming inside, I could read his eyes so well.

"Leave her be, my dearest," Aro smiled at his wife angelically. She narrowed her eyes at him with evil intent.

"Please forgive Sulpicia, she likes to show off to newcomers. Her gift is the power of confusion, much like another coven member Renata can, but in a different way, " Aro explained with a kindly smile.

I wanted to scream and pummel my small fists against him furiously. Didn't he remember our nights of passion on the stormy seas? Our bodies and mouths pressed up against each other as we kissed with passionate abandonment. My eyes pleaded with him, but to no avail. Sulpicia ordered a young vampire girl to show me to my quarters and I was escorted away with not so much as a glance from the object of my affections ( obsessions! )

I was abandoned in a dark dank cellar. If I could've cried I would have certainly done so. I had never felt so alone, so desperately afraid and uncertain. I wanted Aro's arms around me, making me feel safe in this strange new world. But he was most probably lying in the arms of the wicked golden-haired witch as they made up for lost time apart. It sickened me that she should be the one to hold and kiss him tonight. I let my new-born rage flow through me as I pummelled the hard stone walls of my room. When I was sated I fell to the floor with a sigh. What did this coven expect of me? What was my purpose here? I'd been so caught up with my infatuation of Aro that I'd never given our destination a second thought. I had assumed I was his now. Until he'd broken the news that he was married and shattered my romantic illusions so cruelly. Now what was I to do?

My silent heart clenched in fear and apprehension as I fought the almighty new-born rage which threatened to engulf me and this place in one fell swoop.



CHAPTER SIX

Days melded into one as I lived my new strange life. I was given the task of being Sulpicia's maid, a job which I loathed intensely. She may have been beautiful on the outside but inside she was cruel and sadistic. I hated her with a passion. Of course I also detested her relationship with Aro, this was the one thing which destroyed my vampire heart the most. I wondered what he saw in her? She rarely showed him affection or love, unless they were different in private? Marcus's wife Didyme had died so Sulpicia only had Athenodora for company, who was Caius's partner. They had never married. Aro married Sulpicia when she was human and then he changed her into a vampire before their wedding night was through. He had chosen her because she was dying of a broken heart. Her Mother was a widow and very poor, Aro had inadvertently fed from the woman one night and killed her. He had not known that the victim had a daughter who was now all alone in this world with no brother or sisters or Father to care for her. Aro was rich, he was a vampire, his plan had made perfect sense to him at the time. Athenodora had imparted this knowledge to me one night when my mistress had sent me to wash her hair due to her maid Corin being indisposed. Aro had obviously felt sorry for the young woman, but why he had to marry her and make her a vampire I do not know!

I swept the stone floor of Sulpicia's quarter's viciously, my mind a whirling torment of emotions. I would need to feed soon. The guard brought humans down below for us to feed on. I missed the chase and the hunt. I missed the satisfaction of choosing and killing my own victims. Most of all, I missed Aro. We had not spent any time together at all since I came here. Months had passed in a blur and I craved his company so badly. Didn't he miss me? I missed him so badly that it became an ache inside me. I wished I was the one he had married then changed. Oh how I wished! I also thought of my sweet sister Lizzie often with a deep sadness in my still heart. My mistress suddenly swept into the room in a blaze of energy and flowing blonde locks.

"Victoria! Why are you still sweeping the floor? I asked you to visit with me in Athenodora's chambers as quickly as possible! You really are an entirely useless being aren't you? " she sneered as she viciously lashed out, her hand stinging my face as she slapped me hard.

I growled unconsciously, my new-born rage rising to the surface very rapidly. I was getting better at controlling it, but Sulpicia brought out the very worst in me.

"Did you dare to growl at me child?" she roared, as she swiftly kicked me in the ribs, breaking one or two in the process.

I bent over double as the pain overcame me. She cackled with mirth as she stood mercilessly above me, but the venom was quickly healing my broken bones so I rushed upwards and grabbed her long tresses of golden hair with surprising speed and strength. She let out a shocked snarl as I swung her around by the hair viciously. She struggled against my small hands, her long nails ripping and clawing my skin, but I didn't feel it as I knocked her against the stone walls with wicked evilness running through my vampire heart. She was like a rag doll in my strong new-born hands. I threw her down with disgust, a sneer of contempt on my face. I knew I'd gone too far, but I was prepared to go further. Such a terrible rage ran through my veins like an all consuming fire. I couldn't stop myself.

"Don't ever touch me again Sulpicia!" I screamed in her shocked face, my red eyes full of murderous rage. "I will inform Aro of your behaviour, I will tell him how you beat me and punish me very day with your fists and words!" I spat out furiously.

She gazed up at me in horrified shock as blood poured from her torn scalp and purple bruises bloomed on her pale skin.

"Aro will take me away from here! He loves me, oh yes dearest Sulpicia, Aro and I have shared many passionate moments! He will be mine. I intend to take him from you! You don't deserve him, you evil witch!" I continued, my lust for revenge and pain giving me strength and courage.

For too long I'd let this vampire push me around, degrade me and belittle me in front of the guard!

Sulpicia gave a snort of indignation, her pale beautiful face clouded with anger and hate. Her bruises were fading and her venom blood was clotting as I stood above her. I roughly pinned her down with my foot, crushing her chest with all my might. She pulled at my foot roughly, her strength returning quickly. I might be a relatively new vampire but she was very old which gave her the advantage. The bones crumpled like sand under her claw-like hand as I screamed in pain. I fell to the floor in agony, our positions now reversed. She sat on my chest and pinned my arms down with her knees. She laughed mirthlessly and loudly as I writhed under her.

"You think my husband loves you child?" she spat in my face, her features frighteningly contorted with utmost fury. "He pities you, you little fool! He made you but he doesn't love you! He will never be yours, you silly stupid girl!" she laughed spitefully as she slapped my face viciously.

"How could he ever prefer you over me? I am majestic whilst you are pitiful!" she cackled insanely. "Look! Look at my luscious curves, my long golden hair, my perfect features and luminous skin!" she bragged as she grabbed my face in both hands, her nails ripping into my scalp.

"Then go to the nearest mirror Victoria! Look at yourself! Your hair is a pathetic red colour, your body is much too slim, you have no light and no energy to dazzle anyone, let alone my powerful husband!" she taunted me.

I gazed into the pitiless red depths of her soulless eyes, my overwhelming urge to run now sapping my furious rage from me. I was trapped beneath her helplessly like a butterfly stuck to a pin. Her eyes burned even redder as she directed all of her special power into me and I fell spinning into a dark hole where no light penetrated. I was blind, I felt nothing, just oblivion and intense pain curling around my devastated still heart. But still I heard her. She laughed and laughed, a sound so purely evil I could drown in it. I truly believed right at that moment that I would never re-surface. Then I heard a sound, a wondrous sound.

"Get off her Sulpicia!" Aro roared furiously.

The pressure around my chest subsided as I felt strong arms lift me from the cold floor. Oh thank goodness, my Maker was here and he wanted to protect me!

"Aro," I breathed weakly.

My eyes fluttered open to see his perfect marble face etched with worry for me. Sulpicia was wrong, he did care!

"Do not look at her like that, husband!" Sulpicia shrieked. "She attacked me! Her own mistress! She took me by surprise, my beloved! She must be locked in the lower levels immediately! I will not tolerate such behaviour! She is a wicked evil child and must be punished or I will take this to Marcus and Caius!" she added with venom.

Aro simply ignored his screeching wife as he turned away with me still cradled in his arms. I rested my head against his shoulder, breathing in his special unique scent. Oh how I had missed him! My foot was already healing, the bones knitting together again as if nothing had happened. He took me away, into the night streets of Volterra, where music played and people sang and danced. It was a lively city, cleaner by far than London. There was no plague here. Instead there were lots of luscious blood filled humans just waiting to fall under the vampire's spell. Aro and I hunted together, we fed together and later, inevitably, we fell into each other's arms with glorious passionate desire. Aro had a secret hideaway in the city, a small modest town-house nestled in a quiet square. It was perfect for clandestine lovers to give into their desires away from prying eyes. Aro held me close to him, his lips devouring mine as he unbuttoned my dress all the way down the back. His hands touched my bare skin and I gasped against his mouth as little electric shocks ran up and down my spine. He read my mind and he delved into my soul as we fell onto his ornate gold bed; with no thought for anyone else except our two bodies entwining together as one at last.

My heart no longer beat but it felt as though it might lift out of my chest with sheer joy. Aro smiled against my pale throat as he kissed me there most seductively.

"Your pure heart is mine, my sweet Victoria," he breathed lovingly.

I had already given him my human life, my heart , my soul, now I gave him my body. It was perfect and beautiful. The best moment of my immortal life so far. Later, much later, we held each other, our pale bodies shining like the full moon lighting up Aro's room.

"How I love you, Aro, my Maker, my lover, my everything," I whispered as my lips brushed his pale marble cheek.

His red eyes locked onto mine, softer now his passion was sated.

"As I do you, Victoria, my fledgling, my child, my heart," he softly said.

I wished we could stay here like this forever.

"We can't, my sweet. I have responsibilities which I must adhere to. The one who made me, his name was Desiderius. He came to this life in 888, no-one knows who changed him, but he is known as the "first" vampire to us. His past is shrouded in mystery. He lives alone in an old gothic castle, rumoured to be situated just outside Rome. What I am trying to say is I promised my Maker that I would help Marcus and Caius rule over the largest known coven in Italy! I take my promises seriously, my love, " he said sagely.

I sighed and wished reality hadn't come knocking on our door.

Aro kissed my forehead sweetly, "We have a few more hours Victoria, let's not dwell on mundane matters. Kiss me," he commanded powerfully.

My lips eagerly sought his as I gave myself up once again to the all consuming flames of desire. Our bliss was interrupted by a loud knocking at the door. We froze in surprise as we heard a loud crash, then two imposing dark figures appeared before us. It was Felix and Demetri! Behind them stood Sulpicia, her features darkened with furious anger. She gave me a withering hateful look and I tensed myself for her power to strike me again. I longed to flee but Aro held his body in front of mine protectively.

"Betrayer! Liar! You lay with this vampire whore, how could you Aro!?"



CHAPTER SEVEN

A furiously angry Sulpicia ordered Aro and I to get dressed whilst she dismissed Felix and Demetri. The two vampires would wait outside for her, the wife of a Volturi leader was not expected to walk through the city alone. Aro gave me a loving look whilst Sulpicia glared at us with malicious intent. I didn't feel any remorse, I loved Aro, and he loved me. It was black and white, simple and true. My lover gave me a sultry glance when I shyly gazed at him with adoring eyes.

Sulpicia laughed out loud and shook her head with a vicious snarl, "You think he loves you, Victoria? You think he wants you?" she sneered.

I kept my steady gaze on Aro, he was all that mattered to me, always and forever. "I love Victoria. I truly love her. I saw something beneath the human façade the night I found her dying in the gutter, something magnificent, something special," Aro softly said as his red eyes fixed on mine, with love, pride and desire.

Sulpicia gasped in shock and horror. "You are mine Aro! How dare you let some gutter rat come between us! We have been together for years and years! How can you say you love her?" she demanded venomously.

Aro turned to his wife with a sophomoric smile, "I felt sorry for you Sulpicia. I killed your Mother. I felt I had to act with propriety and mercy. I thought you were a sweet lonely abandoned child! How wrong I was! You have an evil streak my dear and over time it has gotten worse. Yes, I realise that I have fuelled that by changing you into a vampire, but I cannot bear to live with you a moment longer!" my lover exclaimed, much to my delight.

Sulpicia caught my triumphant look and swiftly raised a hand to strike me down, but Aro was faster and he moved like lightning to protect me from her blow. She growled with deep menace as Aro pinned her arms behind her back painfully. "You didn't ever mention that you killed my Mother, husband dearest!" she laughed with glee. "I hated the old witch with a passion, knowing that would have made me love you more! I longed for someone to take me away from that old hag's clutches. There you were! Handsome and altogether other-worldly! Ha! There is no way I am giving up this life of power for some diseased street urchin!" she bellowed as she struggled to be free, her poisonous venom directed right at me.

Aro threw his wife away in disgust and held out his powerful marble arms to me. I gladly ran into his strong embrace, my still heart joyous and full of love. "Come here my sweet, let me hold you," he whispered against my hair.

I almost swooned with adoration and desire for my Maker. Sulpicia sat on the bed, twirling a lock of golden hair around her finger, a look of disgust on her face. I couldn't believe Aro wanted me and not her. Was it true? Could it be? Aro and I together, in love for evermore? I barely had time to contemplate this heavenly fact before Sulpicia raised her head and directed her red gaze onto us with pure hate and cool fury.

"You may think Aro is your perfect hero, Victoria. You may also be dwelling on the fact that he is your world, your everything. But listen to me Victoria, for I know all of his deep dark secrets! Not only did he kill my Mother, he also murdered one of our kind! Yes, your dear Aro, my spineless husband, killed Didyme, Marcus's beloved and revered wife!" she retorted with glee.

I gasped in surprise as I gazed up at Aro. His eyebrows raised slightly and his frown darkened as he cooly held Sulpicia's gaze, giving away nothing at all. Aro took a moment to compose himself carefully before delivering his retort. "Yes, you are correct, dearest wife," he uttered his voice dripping with malice.

My red eyes glazed in shock as I stiffened in his arms. Why? How? He was cruel and sadistic when he had to be, but surely my lover was not a vampire killer?

Aro's arms tightened around me, "Hush, child. I can explain," he whispered against my scarlet red locks. His lips sent delicious electric currents through my veins.

"Go ahead then husband, explain your actions to your little whore!" Sulpicia snorted derisively.

Aro ignored her taunt as he stroked my hair lovingly. I swooned under his touch, not even his evil witch of a wife could affect me when my lover was close. "Didyme was my sister. A decade and a half after I was made by Desiderius, I transformed her into one as well, hoping she would show a useful talent similar to Marcus's. He possesses the gift of relationship identification, allowing him to see the emotional ties between individuals. However, my sister's gift was simply to make those around her incredibly happy. This notwithstanding, I still planned to put such a power to use. Because of the aura of happiness, many people fell in love with her. However, she only ever reciprocated those of Marcus, my most trusted partner. The pair became incredibly happy together, and to such an end they no longer cared much about my plans to gain control of the vampire world. After eons with the Volturi, the pair made plans to leave.I had to pretend to give my blessing, and then I murdered Didyme so that Marcus would stay. His talent was so useful to me in my quest to become the one true leader of the Volturi!" Aro sighed as he finally finished his story. ( authors note: adapted from Twilight wiki site )

Sulpicia watched my face for any reaction. I found myself totally in shock. I stared at Aro uncomprehendingly. The witch laughed evilly.

If you want to know what my husband is really like then listen carefully, Victoria! A key part of his personality is the ability to destroy even what he loves in order to further his ambitions. Marcus never found out that Aro was responsible for Didyme's death. He became an empty man. Aro used Chelsea's gift to keep Marcus loyal to the Volturi, though not even Chelsea's gift could make Marcus show any enthusiasm for it. So do you still love him, Victoria?" she enquired with happy venom. 

Aro snarled at Sulpicia viciously as he disentangled himself from me and stalked towards her menancingly. She didn't flee, she just stood up and faced him mockingly. "Do your worst husband, I don't care anymore! If you decide to be with Victoria, I will tell Marcus and Caius the heinous crime you committed against your own sister! They will banish you from Volterra forever! You will have no power in this coven ever again! That's if they don't destroy you!" she shrieked manically.

Time stood still as I waited for Aro to tell Sulpicia that he loved me, that he wanted to be with me and that he didn't care about her or the Volturi any more. His next words drove straight into my heart and left me reeling.

" I apologise to you my darling wife for my indiscretion with Victoria. She bewitched and enthralled me, my love! I was feeling a little weak and she used our maker/fledgling bond to rapture me! You know I will always love you! I will never leave you, my sweet wife," he exclaimed as he fell at her feet in suppliance.

The pain that lanced through me almost knocked me to my feet, such was its intensity. I had been so happy, so fulfilled, so in love with my Maker. Now he had discarded me like rubbish on the street. How could I live now? Oh Lizzie, what shall I do now? I sobbed inside. Sulpicia grasped her errant husband to her in a passionate embrace. I watched in horror as their lips met hungrily.

"Oh Aro! You do like to test my patience, my husband!" she breathed huskily against his mouth.

I felt my overwhelming desire to flee rush over me and pull me under like quick-sand. Before I could run Sulpicia was in front of me, her hands on her curvy hips defiantly. "You will be taken back to head-quarters Victoria, where you will be incarcerated in the deep dungeons, where not even rats dare to go! You will not be allowed to feed, you will be left to starve and go mad until you are a dessicated husk of a vampire! You will still be conscious though and you will suffer immensely! This is the punishment I give to you as wife of Aro, leader of the Volturi coven!" she announced victoriously.

Then she unleashed her full power on me and I was left unable to move in the utter complete darkness, my eyes refused to see and my limbs were deadened and useless. I could hear though and my ears were assaulted by the sounds of Sulpicia and Aro's passionate reunion. I was tortured and heartbroken as I realised I was only a silly inconsequential pawn in their age old games.

Oh little flame! How could you be so unbelievably stupid?



CHAPTER EIGHT

My punishment of imprisonment was terrible and frightening, but nothing could compare to the pain of Aro denouncing his love for me. That was so much worse than this dark insidious place which Felix and Demetri had left me in to starve. I was hungry for blood and I was ravenous for Aro's touch. I didn't know how long I had been here for, but it seemed a long time already. I was weak, my body was limp but my mind refused to still. I went over every detail of my last day in the light again and again. Images of Aro and I coming together sweetly in a passionate union plagued my thoughts. The feel of his cool lips and hands on my skin making me shiver with delight would not leave my tortured mind. He was always there, behind my eyes, taunting me, loving me, bewitching me over and over. Sulpicia's laugh had echoed around this dark chamber for hours after she left me here. She had won a glorious victory over me, her helpless slave and adversary in matters of the heart. I just couldn't find it in my stone heart to feel any pity for her. She had driven Aro into my arms by her sheer cruelty and lack of compassion in the first place. But had the roles been reversed I would have killed her for stealing my lover from me!

To a vampire, blood was food, it was sustenance and it was imperative to our strength and survival. Yes, we were immortal, but without blood we were nothing! Mere husks of our former glorious selves. I was weakening rapidly now. I could feel all my strength slowly being sapped from every cell in my new-born body. I lay in the dark, alone, with not even a rat for company. If one had happened to scurry past I would have found the strength to drink its blood willingly, but not even an insect shared my prison with me. I was completely alone. As I said, my body was now a shadow of its former self but my mind was still sharp and it would give me no peace as I suffered this torment. Hours, moments, days dragged on until I thought I would surely go insane. How long could I survive without blood? Would I soon become a dried out paper thin shell of myself? I wished I could sleep. I wanted to dream of Aro's arms around me, his pale marble body against mine as he led me into the deep depths of his red eyes. I wanted to dream of his lips devouring mine with lustful intent as he took me to places I'd never been before. I wanted him. I missed him. Most of all, I loved him. Still.

Maybe a few more days went by, a week perhaps? Now I felt as though my body had disappeared and all that was left was my poor mind which was slowly but surely staring into a deep pit of black madness. I spoke to my dear Lizzie in my head, as I imagined she held my poor weak hands in hers. "Do not despair Little Flame." she whispered to me over and over, her shimmering violet eyes full of love for me. She never stayed for long though and it was back to deep despair and anguish for me as my mind conjured up Aro's pure face, his lips, his eyes and his long silky black hair. His mouth would deliciously incline slowly to mine. When our lips finally met I would see and feel the colours bloom and burst in my head with ecstasy. I would be happy for a short while, then the pain would whip through my dessicated body sharply with no mercy. It was unrelenting. It was hell.

I thought I imagined a voice whispering close to my ear, "Oh Victoria, my sweet child! What have they done to you?" the voice spoke tenderly.

The words were like nectar to my poor starving body. When an open wrist was offered to my parched lips I gladly and desperately drank the precious fluid greedily. It was purely divine. The blood filled up my dry veins and made my body sing with electricity. This blood was heaven sent, it was no ordinary human blood. This was his venom laced blood. Finally Aro prised my hungry mouth from his wrist. He picked me up tenderly and carried me out of my prison.

"I know a secret door out of here, my love," he whispered against my cheek. I clung to him gratefully. His blood flowed through me, giving me strength and life. "Can you walk now, Victoria?" he asked after a little while. I nodded, still too shocked and stunned to speak. Aro placed me down onto my feet very gently whilst he held my arms to steady me. His eyes probed mine, looking for signs of madness, illness or something else? I gazed up at him as I always did, with utmost adoration and love. He clasped me to his strong marble chest with a cry of pain. "Oh my love, I am so sorry!" he wailed. I clung to him as if he was a raft on a stormy ocean of tears and pain. "Please forgive me!", he cried against my hair in sorrowful anguish. His hands gently cupped my face as his lips softly met mine in a sweet heart-breaking kiss. I was over-powered with need and desire for him. It swept over me quickly in a tidal wave of passion as my strength returned. My lips hungrily devoured his as I forgot about everything else. there was only this moment, this kiss between us.

Our lips reluctantly parted after some time, both of us sighing with desire and relief to have found each other again. Aro held me to him once more and I prayed he would never let go this time. Could we have a happy ending after all? Despite his lies, his murderous past and his evil wife? I fervently wished it could be so.

"Victoria, I am so sorry I did not rescue you sooner, my dearest. Sulpicia's is the only power which can render me helpless, that's why she is such a powerful addition to the Volturi. She stopped me from discovering where you had been incarcerated. Only she knows of this place! But she couldn't outwit me completely, my sweet!" he crowed with a smile. "I placated her eventually with promises of my utmost devotion to her once again. It took days, but I won't trouble you with the sordid details, my angel. I divulged the information from her private thoughts whilst her mind was at it's most unguarded. Again I will not inform you how I managed it. Centuries of a loveless marriage have made me cruel and uncompromising, my darling. I am sorry that you have learned this in the hardest, worst way. I only changed Sulpicia out of sympathy, never love. I love you Victoria, but I cannot be with you!" he finished his speech sadly.

"But why Aro? Is it because your wife is blackmailing you over Didyme's death? I abhor your reasons for killing your own sister! I will never be able to understand why you ended her immortal life. To me it is incomprehensible! It is truly terrible and awful. I loved my sister so! But, I love you too Aro, so utterly and completely! Because of my utmost love for you I can forgive you anything," I said as I threw my arms around him, wanting to feel his body next to me again.

We held each other in silence for awhile, just revelling in being close again. "I didn't amount to much in my human life Victoria. My family abandoned me because they couldn't afford to keep me. I was their last born child. Desiderius gave me something more than Immortality, he gave me self respect and a purpose. I belong with the Volturi, I am a great and powerful leader. Sulpicia could destroy that all with her words! " he candidly revealed, his lips against my cheek, his hands coiled in my hair.

I hated the witch with a passion and I wished she was gone, forever. "Ah Victoria! I cannot destroy my wife! I know you are wondering how I could kill my own sister, yet let my wife live? Didyme was sweet and kind and even as a vampire she radiated utter goodness. Sulpicia was jealous of my love for Didyme. She hated my sister with a passion! When Marcus and Didyme fell in love, my wife was incensed with envy. She wanted the perfect adoring husband too, but all she had was me. I could never love her that way. I didn't think I could ever love anyone that way. Then I met you my sweet Victoria!" Aro exclaimed passionately as he kissed me again.

Oh but how I had missed this closeness! I wanted to talk though so I reluctantly pulled my eager lips away from his.

"Aro, you must tell me the whole story! If you love me like you say then I deserve to know the truth!" I demanded, my red eyes glittering with determination.

Aro sighed as he led me out of the tunnels and into the city of Volterra. "Come child, we will go to another of my houses," he said as we flew along the night streets at great speed. Another town-house, another bedroom, another ornate bed. Aro shushed me and laughed when he caught my impure thoughts regarding the bed with it's dark satin sheets.

"Not now, Victoria, you deserve an explanation," he said sombrely as he briefly kissed my lips. We sat on the bed together and he began to pour his heart out to me. "Didyme and Marcus were so giddily happy together, they only needed each other, no one else mattered. As I told you Sulpicia was insanely jealous of my beautiful and good natured sister. She hated my relationship with her too. My wife wanted to feel such love and happiness too and she knew it wasn't going to be me who made her feel those things! Victoria, I am afraid my wife did a terrible thing! She made an Immortal child! The most heinous crime a vampire can commit!" he divulged to a very shocked me.

I gasped aloud in surprise.

"She tried to hide this from the coven, but Didyme discovered this poor child by accident one night. The desperate thing was feeding on rats from the sewers because Sulpicia had forgotten to bring him a victim! The boy was only seven years old when my wife cruelly changed him into one of us. His name was Noah and he was a beautiful child. His poor parents went out of their minds with grief when he was taken," Aro said shaking his head with sadness. "So, to cut a long story short, Sulpicia was mortified to be confronted by Didyme about Noah. My sister told her that Marcus and she were leaving the Volturi and would take the vampire child with them! She did not want me to be vilified along with my wife when the news of Noah's presence was confirmed to the coven. Of course, Sulpicia went crazy with fury when my sister told her this. Sulpicia killed Didyme to prevent her leaving with Noah. Sulpicia is the murderer not I! But, she has turned it around in her mind that I am the evil one, Victoria! I could never kill my sister, I loved her!" he exclaimed with passion.

My mind was whirling with all his words. Sulpicia made an Immortal child and she killed her sister-in-law? I could actually believe it was true as I knew how evil she could be, but why oh why did Aro feel beholden to her? Couldn't he just tell Marcus and Caius what had happened? Aro gazed at me sadly as he held my small hand in his. I gazed into his sorrowful red eyes and gave his hand a little squeeze.

"Ah Victoria, I wish I could be as noble as you think I am! I only have such power within the Volturi because of Sulpicia! You have witnessed her almighty power for yourself! I banished Noah to a sealed tomb where he could never be discovered. My wife raged and tortured me for days, but I will never reveal his whereabouts to her, in exchange she gives me the power to overwhelm the guard, making them believe I am their most trustworthy leader! She killed my beloved sister so I took her precious boy. We will never be free of each other, don't you see Victoria? We could destroy the other with the information we have, but neither of us wants to relinquish our power! So we feed off each other, we hate each other and we thrive off each other in a strange way. If I leave here with you, she will hunt us down, she will kill you! She can never dispatch of me because only I know where Noah is!"

I simply stared at my lover in shocked silence. What a tangled web of malice and deceit!

"Yes, my love, I should never have brought you here to this city. I was selfish, I wanted you near to me, but Sulpicia poisons everything and everyone. I promised Desiderius that I would bring the world's vampires together in the greatest coven ever known in our history! He was like a Father to me, the only one I really had. I can't leave the Volturi in Sulpicia's hands. I just can't. I must let you go, sweet girl, for your own safety. I must set you free from my heart and mind! I love you so, my darling Victoria. I have never had these feelings of such utter love before. I cannot tell you how happy you have made me, my dearest," he said with a sigh as he brought my hand up to his sweet mouth.

His lips grazed my cool skin causing icy fires to dance below my skin. This was sad beyond belief, he should have left me to rot in the dark place! "No! No, don't say that Victoria!" he cried out, his red eyes full of sadness and regret.

Our lips were like magnets and found each other with pent up desire. We clung to each other desperately as our clothes seemed to dissolve and we glided together, cold skin on cold skin, ice and fire, love and despair colliding. This would be my last encounter with my maker. It filled my still heart with utter despair, but I loved him so intensely that cold dark night, I loved him so fiercely that both of us would never be the same again.

I engraved our last night on my heart and mind forever as my body gave in completely to his in a bitter-sweet perfect union.



PART TWO: THE CHANGELING

CHAPTER NINE

It is now the year 1549, two hundred years have passed by so quickly. I could not believe just how old I was sometimes. It was a crisp autumnal day in England, where I had made a home for the past thirty years. Edward VI was King, he was Henry VIII's son with his third wife Jane Seymour, but he was only a young boy so his uncle the Earl of Somerset ruled over this land. The country was rife with rebellion, riots and unrest. This was Tudor England and the reformation of the Church had began, with the introduction of "The Book Of Common Prayer". Of course none of these human concerns bothered me. I lived in an old country mansion in deepest Kent, I kept myself to myself and lived a quiet simple life. The owners had "mysteriously" passed away in the night, so I had pretended I was a long lost relative. I found I could be most chameleon-like when I needed to be, adapting to any given situation readily. I had to become this way or I would not have survived these last two hundred years. There was an old couple who lived in the small cottage on the grounds who attended to general duties around the place. They looked upon me as a strange and eccentric lady who was not to be spoken to unless I spoke first. It suited me perfectly. I hunted alone, I lived alone and I learned to enjoy my own company. Most of the time.

There were nights when I let my mind drift to my human life which seemed so long ago now. I still pictured my beautiful sister Lizzie in my mind's eye. I could conjure her up easily and hold such animated conversations with her in my head. Vampires had amazing memories, we could remember every single detail as if it only just occurred. It was a blessing. It was also a curse, because I still felt Aro's arms around me, his cool kisses and his encompassing love penetrating my very soul. You may wonder how I could still feel this way after two hundred years? Well my vampire heart still loved Aro and only Aro. I truly believed I always would, until eternity. I hated to think that far into the future. It frightened me. That great expanse of time stretching out in front of me with no one to share it with. But still, why did I crave Aro so? I had to have my fix, just like any addict, so it came to pass that my lover and I met up every three or four decades or so. He was insanely in love with me too. It wasn't an ideal situation, but we made it work. Sometimes vampires and humans are not so different when it comes to relationships. The main difference is that we love deeper and we hurt more because our emotions and senses run at a much higher frequency. We have more time to cultivate and nurture our relationships, so we become more attached and much more intimate.

I sighed as I remembered my last passionate encounter with Aro. It was forty years ago. We met in Paris, an obvious human romantic choice, but we both loved the city so dearly. We walked by moonlight along the banks of The Siene, lost in each other completely as we talked and kissed like young lovers. Much later, we lay wrapped in each other's arms in a beautiful four poster bed in our hotel room. Hotel de Buci was a luxury hotel in Des Pres Paris, right in the heart of Saint-Germain Des Prés area. The streets of this neighborhood brimmed with intellectual life and attractions as well as cafes where some of the great thinkers gathered and exchanged ideas about existentialism, art and literature. It was perfect. We made love every night with ferocious passion and ultimate lustful desire. His body pressed close to mine; thrilling me as much as the very first time. I decided that Paris was my new favourite place. When Aro returned to the Volturi and Sulpicia I made up my mind that the city of romance would be my new home. When Aro and I first parted way back in Volterra in 1350, I had been absolutely devastated with the belief that I would never see him again. His revelations had shocked me to my vampire core. I was young and naive then. Now, I see events differently. But then I was only a fledgling vampire, and I was new to this strange, wonderful, and sometimes terrifyingly lonely life.

Aro and Sulpicia still ruled the Volturi with an iron resolution. He was the face of the coven whilst she manipulated the background. They still collected vampires who had special talents, it was an obsession which never seemed to abate. Aro would never leave her, I had accepted that now. He still kept the poor desiccated husk of Sulpicia's immortal son Noah hidden away in a secret tomb somewhere in the world. Even I didn't know his whereabouts and I didn't want to. My still as stone heart was filled with sadness for that little boy. He was alive but hardly so. He lived but he was trapped in a weak useless dried up husk of a body. His mind would still function to some degree but hopefully he would be in some sort of inert coma-like state. It made me shudder because that could have been me. Sulpicia had ordered Felix and Demetri to incarcerate me in the Volturi dungeons, where nothing lived except blackness and decaying damp. Aro saved me, then he set me free. He was frightened Sulpicia would kill me. I completely believed she would and could destroy me for ever. She had killed Didyme, Aro's sister and she had taken a poor innocent child away from his family, turning him into an immortal child. No vampire was allowed to make a child into a vampire. It was an unspoken, extremely forbidden law. Sulpicia believed she was above the law. Only the three of us had known about the existence of Noah. Didyme had found out, so Sulpicia erased her forever.

I apologise, I am veering away from the subject at hand completely now. I was explaining that I had decided to make Paris my new home. After leaving Volterra I had wandered the Italian countryside for a few years before travelling all over Europe. I sometimes came across other vampires, but I didn't interact with them. I was too frightened. My only other reference on vampires was the Volturi and look how that had turned out! Aro tracked me down many years later using one of his talented coven members. I couldn't resist meeting him again, it was as if we'd never parted. Such love I had for my maker, such adoration and unwavering loyalty. So after wandering aimlessly without a purpose for years,it was lovely to finally decide on a place I could call home. I lived in Paris for ten years before visiting England one day. I sneaked onto a boat at night and in no time I was approaching the white cliffs on the English coast. I found it strange to be back in my own country. I avoided London though, I couldn't bear to go back to my human home. I found myself in the countryside, it was tranquil and peaceful, which suited my lonesome mood perfectly. I came upon the unfortunate owners of the mansion as they played croquet on their lovely lawn. I was thirsty after my boat trip, they were there, right in front of me, their veins pulsing with the thick red blood I craved so badly. It was all too easy to take them and then pretend I was a heir and relative. No-one questioned me at all. It was a stroke of luck that the couple I killed had no living relations. I believed it was fate.

I made England my second home. I could easily get to the market town of Dover to take a boat over to France. There were plenty of victims to feast on when at sea, and the bodies were so easily disposed of! It always made me think of Aro and I's journey to Volterra and I would get melancholy as I stared out over the English Channel. After an encounter with Aro, it would take me at least a decade to get over our meeting. You see, I had to go through the devastation of losing him all over again each time we parted. It was awfully and terribly heart-breaking but I would rather smash my heart to pieces a thousand times over than never see him again. The pain was worth the reward. I alternated between Paris and here, depending on my mood. When my lover wanted to communicate with me, he would send a letter written on the most beautiful parchment. His quill was a swan feather and the ink he used as black as coal to convey in delicate calligraphy the extent of his love for me. I would quiver with excitement whenever a letter arrived. Since I acquired my house in Paris he always sent the letter there as it had less miles to travel. Of course we wrote to each other in between our secret meetings. We sent intricate love letters full of longing desire and hope that we would soon be together again. It was enough to keep us going until we saw each other again. It had to be.

I loved Paris in the Winter and Spring and I adored England in the Summer and Fall. November was nearly over and I was due to return to Paris. I had decided I would leave tonight. I gazed out into the acres of garden surrounding this beautiful mansion and prayed to whomever might listen that a letter might be waiting for me in Saint Germain. Forty years had flown by since I last saw him. Usually we managed to meet up before four decades whizzed by lightning fast. My last delicious encounter with Aro had been Christmas Eve in 1509. I had unwrapped him greedily as if he were the most wondrous gift ever given. A few decades did nothing to dampen our ardour, in fact it flamed the fires of our lust and desire to boiling point and when we finally melded together as one it was completely and wholly animalistic. I shivered inside and out at the memories and emotions that last time evoked in me. To let him go after the times we spent was just about more than I could bear. But bear it I must, for he was and always would be my universe. He surely must be feeling as desperately love sick as I was by now. Forty years was a long time to a human, to my vampire mind it was no time at all, but it was still too long since I had felt my lover's hands and mouth on me. I craved him, insanely so.

Aro, my lover, please come back to me, I need you, I love you, always and for evermore.



CHAPTER TEN

It was blustery and cold on the first day of December 1549 when I arrived back in Paris. The golden dead leaves had gathered around the door to my French apartment. I lived on the top floor of a typical 16th century Gothic style house, nothing too expensive as I didn't wish to draw attention to myself. It was easy to procure money as a vampire, you either stole it, glamoured it or acquired it from lying profusely. I had committed all three of those crimes in my acquisition of riches! Was I proud of it? Well, yes I was. Annoyingly virtuous human traits had left me long ago. I now had vampire morals, and I had discovered just how different they were to mortals. My neighbours consisted of an young male artist called Olivier who lived on the middle floor and a grumpy old widow named Blanche who lived on the ground floor. I did sometimes wonder what they thought of their fiery headed neighbour who lived alone above them. I didn't particularly care if they liked me or not, I kept my own company and only nodded a greeting to my neighbours if I passed them in the building or on the street. Typically I went out between dusk and dawn for the obvious reasons. A little sunshine and I would sparkle with glittering diamond rainbows. My red eyes were hard to disguise from humans. My very appearance was luminescent and alien to mortals, so it was not a good idea to flaunt myself by mingling amongst them too conspicuously.

I flew up the stairs to my apartment six steps at a time. My stomach was clenched into knots with apprehension and expectation. Was there a letter waiting for me? I delved eagerly into my little gold ornate post box which sat outside my door. Oh joy of joys! I smiled widely revealing perfect white teeth as I grasped Aro's much anticipated letter to my chest gratefully. I rolled my eyes heavenwards and profusely thanked whomever had listened to my prayers. It was an old human habit, because I didn't really believe God would listen to an Immortal like me, we went against nature, why should He? I unlocked the door to my Paris home and swiftly threw myself onto the chaise longue impatiently. I broke the wax seal eagerly so Aro's beautiful parchment letter revealed itself to me. I brought the paper up to my sensitive nose trying to find a trace of his scent, it was there, very faint , but oh it was there! Cinnamon spice mixed with delicate nuances of the sea, salty and sweet. unmistakably Aro.

If I'd been a human girl tears would have fallen in rivers down my pale cheeks as I read his deepest innermost thoughts and feelings. All for me.

"My dearest Victoria,

I trust my letter finds you happy and well, my sweet.

I remain as always; I carry on living this strange life, but inside I weep for you. I miss you terribly, my red-haired angel. I wish to hold your divine naked body close to mine as I kiss you seductively.

I dream of my mouth on yours, our tongues touching intimately as we give in to our desires. I trail my icy lips along your cheek to your neck, one of the most beautiful parts of you, of which there are too many to name, my love!

My mouth travels downwards to taste the smooth skin of your cleavage, as my hands cup your perfect breasts.

Oh how I miss your skin, your taste, your very essence Victoria!

I need to let you possess me again, it's been so long.

I will travel to Paris to be with you on December 2nd of this year 1549.

I cannot contain my excitement at the thought of seeing you, it gives my existence sparkle and meaning.

I know you love to return to Paris in the Winter, so I pray this letter finds you soon.

If you aren't there I will wait for you for four days, my love, then I must travel back to Volterra.

Sulpicia and the Volturi believe I am visiting France to acquire an interesting new vampire with amazing talents.

No-one knows the truth Victoria, no-one knows how I burn inside at the thought of you and I making love with ardent desire on your apartment floor.

I love you with all my vampire heart, little flame.

Yours fervently wishing and hoping,

Aro

Oh but his words could lance my heart and body with their intensity! I radiated pure love as I sat re-reading his letter over and over again. My body reacted to his vivid descriptions of us together excitedly. Vampires felt love and sexual feelings much more strongly than humans ever did. We thrived on the power of lust and desire, it was heady and potent and I wanted my lover right here right now. I threw back my head with a lustful growl, my hair trailing onto the intricate Oriental rug I had laid on the wooden floor. I ran my hands through my hair as I imagined my lover's hands there. I sighed with pent up passion as I trailed my cool long fingers down the sensitive nape of my neck, imagining his lips there. I ran my hands seductively over my marble body,imagining his strong arms pinning me down as fiery lustful desires overtook us both. Tomorrow he would be with me! It was so hard to contain my excitement! I needed some air before I spontaneously combusted. I jumped up and opened my balcony doors so I could breathe in the cold frosty Parisian night. Such a silly trait of mine;  I no longer needed to breathe but it was nice sometimes to inhale air into my vampire lungs. The moon and stars were out and I smiled happily as I imagined Aro looking out into the same sky as his boat brought him closer to me.

I must prepare! I lit the fire and heated some water in a large kettle. I poured it into my own copper bath and added some lavender oil. I was lucky to be able to afford my own bath, I obviously couldn't use the public ones! Vampire skin did not require washing or anything else, but I loved to make my luminous skin shine and reflect the light even more using oils in warm water. Aro's hands would marvel at the softness of my body as his fingers glided over me. I shivered again with anticipation. Once we had sated our lust, we would talk and perhaps walk down to the Montparnasse area of Paris, on the Seine's left bank. It was a cultural and liberal place and not many humans batted an eye at the two wondrous creatures amongst them. I loved to walk with Aro, his strong arm around my slim waist as he held me possessively. I felt as if nothing could harm me as long as he was by my side. I had to revel in every single detail of his time with me, as I did not know how long it would be until we saw each other again. So I would memorize every single moment to my vampire mind for safe-keeping. I could recall these precious memories any time I wanted. Sometimes they made me ecstatically happy, other times they made me wallow in deep sadness. But, I had them for all eternity, they were mine. I lay in the warm scented water and dreamed of Aro, his face, his lips, his eyes and his hands. His voice, his desire filled erotic whispers, his vampire heart which burned with pure love for me.

Oh hurry up time! Let it be tomorrow quickly, let the hands of the clock turn with merciful speed so I can be in my lover's arms once more!



CHAPTER ELEVEN

I could sense his presence before I heard the knock at my door. I could taste his scent in the air as he flew up the stairs towards my home. His speed, his strength, all of his power I could feel acutely as he came to me. My nervous anticipation was almost over. I flung open the oak wood door and there he was. A vision. He was dressed head to toe in black and his long raven hair was tied back neatly from his face. Oh my! His face! How I had missed him! His red eyes took in every inch of me as time seemed to stand still. I had decided to be bold and I greeted my lover only in my underwear. This consisted of an emerald green chemise edged with pretty lace, a corset in the same colour with white silk stockings held up by a beautifully embroidered red garter. The green colour suited my red hair and pale skin to perfection. My hair hung loose in long ringlets down my back, and flowed over my shoulders to just about cover my exposed cleavage, much pronounced by my tight corset. "Little flame! Cover yourself up!" I could hear Lizzie's laughter in my head as Aro stared transfixed at me, his red eyes full of lustful longing.

He reached out with his pale long index finger and ran it softly down my cheekbone, his eyes staring deep into mine. "Beautiful as ever, if not more so," he whispered huskily, his voice filled with desire. I couldn't stand the wait any longer, I needed to feel the coolness of his mouth on mine, so I pulled him close to me by the collar of his coat and brought my eager lips to his in a frantic swift movement. Aro's mouth moved hungrily against mine with a burning passion, ice and fire once again. He kicked the door shut and scooped me up into his strong arms, our lips still locked together in a long deep kiss which set every nerve ending in my body alight with lust. His tongue touched mine and my head swam with his taste and scent, it was so alluring, so dazzling. We daringly explored each other's mouths with our lips, tongues and teeth. Licking and biting, kissing and devouring with utmost pleasure. Aro carried me to the bedroom where he passionately threw me down onto the bed. The silk sheets felt divine against the parts of my skin which were bare; I longed to be free of my underwear, so I could revel in the feeling of Aro's skin and the silk against me at the same time.

He stood above me, gazing down at me in complete adoration. He took off his coat, then his silk shirt exposing his pale strong chest to me. Oh he was like a marble sculpture! So wondrous were the lines and defined shape of his torso. He was perfection to me. I gasped ( still an old human trait of mine! ), as he swooped down on top of me, his eyes burning like red fires as he began to slowly trail his lips down my cheek, to my neck and onto my cleavage. I growled with pent up desire as his tongue and lips teased my pale skin so delightfully. His hands went around my back to pull on the ribbon of my corset, I lifted myself up to let him undo me. His hips pressed into mine with urgency. I moaned lustfully as he removed my garments one by one, his eyes taking in every inch of my skin. Then his mouth was on me once again, trailing cool icy kisses over every part of me, making me wild with love and desire for him. I arched up to meet him, every nerve in my body aching for sweet release of this tense passion inside me. I won't divulge any more, some things are not meant to be shared with others. I will only say that our love-making was completely and utterly divine. My lover, my first and only lover, makes me feel so special and alive. To be with him again like this was astoundingly good after a forty year absence. Much, much later we finally lay sated in each other's pale arms. I think a whole night and day has passed us by as we made up for lost time. It was wonderful to see him and I clung to him as if I would never let go.

Aro broke the comfortable silence between us, "Victoria, my love. How I have missed you, my sweet. I love you with every fibre of my being. I hope I showed you just how much I truly do!" he exclaimed as his lips gently moved through my tangled hair.

I nodded against his chest, still too overwhelmed to talk. There was no need for words as he gently brought his lips to mine and we lost ourselves in a long slow kiss which echoed through every part of me. This time we had together was worth all the painful lonely years apart. "Oh Aro", I sighed as his lips left mine. "How I love you! I have missed you so much, I thought I might truly die from starvation of your touch! Now you are here, in my bed, we belong together Aro, for all eternity!" I exclaimed passionately.

He laughed low and deep against my cheek as he held me even tighter to him. Reluctantly we disentangled ourselves from each other eventually. We decided to take a walk into the frosty night together. Paris was ours to explore when darkness fell. It was excitingly devilish to walk amongst the unsuspecting mortals. If they stared too long at us we simply glamoured them with our red eyes. Our passionate love-making left us feeling very thirsty so we hunted and fed together in this city of romance. To watch Aro feed on his victim's blood whilst I did the same was such a rush of intense emotions. It was erotic and sensual and it made me want him again right here right now. His eyes told me he was feeling the same. We ran together until we reached Jardin des Tuileries, a wonderful botanic garden situated in the heart of Paris.

There under a weeping willow in the bright moonlight my lover took me quickly and savagely as I gasped and writhed beneath him in sheer ecstasy. When Aro was with me I was transformed from a quiet, lonely vampire into a wanton harlot who could not get enough of her lover's touch. He brought me out of the hard shell I had constructed to protect me from a life which was quite difficult most of the time. The irony of it wasn't lost on me, Aro took me bleeding and dying from the pavement and changed me into a vampire. He made me this way, everything that had happened since then was because of him. But, without him what would have happened to me? I would have died for sure, alone and heart-broken for my poor murdered family. I would never have known this all consuming passionate desire nor experienced a lover. My little short human life would have been snuffed out like a light. Aro saved me, he changed me and now two hundred years later I was finally feeling like I belonged in this second skin of mine.

Luckily our wildly passionate encounter had gone un-noticed and we slipped out of the gardens and into the night together once again, our hearts free and our smiles wide. I tried not to dwell on the fact that Aro would be leaving me again soon. I had to concentrate on the here and now and enjoy every precious second we spent together. But oh it was hard not to let those sad thoughts pervade my happiness. Could I stand another four decades of not being with him? Maybe we would meet up sooner the next time. This encounter had been long overdue but I knew not to question Volturi business. Was I going to be content to exist like this for another century? Even though I was focusing intently on Aro, these unbidden thoughts plagued my mind relentlessly. Back in my bed, safe in his arms after another bout of intense passion, I worriedly asked myself how I was going to carry on without him here.

"Victoria, hush my child, do not think of such things," he scolded me gently, his lips tantalizingly close to mine. His cinnamon scent enveloped me, dazzled me and made me want him again. I struggled against the tide of passion which rose again so quickly in me. "Don't fight it, my love. Give in to it, give yourself to me Victoria," he whispered as his lips brushed feather-like against the pale smooth skin of my throat. His teeth gently nipped my neck causing me to moan and forget my train of thought. No Victoria! Concentrate! I silently chided myself.

"Aro, my love, I must speak with you," I said decisively as I moved away from him reluctantly.

His red eyes gazed into mine with surprise. Usually he could use his persuasive powers on me with just a kiss.

"Aro, when we are together I am insanely happy. I adore you completely and I just exist to see your face again. My life is nothing without you, and even though we write to each other, it's just not enough anymore! I cannot wait another four decades to see you again! I want to be with you all the time!" I wailed, letting my innermost thoughts come spilling out.

Aro raised his eyebrows at me in a most delicious way. Obviously he read my thoughts before I even spoke the words but I needed to say them out loud. I needed to declare my feelings to him honestly and passionately.

"I know you have your duty to the Volturi and you honour your promises sincerely, but couldn't we find some way to make it work? Sulpicia doesn't love you! Not the way I do.I know you think she will use her power and lies against you, but how can she? Only you know the whereabouts of Noah, her immortal child. You can use that against her, my love! Use it to bring you and I together, we could rule the Volturi together. I would give up everything to be at your side!" I proclaimed emotionally.

Aro sighed and smiled at me sadly as he twirled a lock of my red hair around one long finger.

"Sulpicia would never allow it, my sweet. Do you think she would just give up her power over me, her power over the coven whilst fading discreetly into the background, letting you and I rule together and be together as lovers? If so,then you are severely mistaken, my angel!" he snorted indignantly.

I sighed at his retort, knowing deep down it was true but hoping we could find a way to be together all the same.

"She would kill you, my darling. She would twist and pervert Marcus and Caius's minds to believe I killed Didyme. I never told you this but she forced my sister to write a letter telling the Volturi that I was planning to kill her because I didn't want Marcus to leave the coven! She will never tell me where that letter is hidden and since I saved you from the dungeons she won't ever make the mistake again of letting me glean information from her! As you know Victoria I had to use my charm to wheedle your whereabouts from her last time, at least I don't have to repeat that loathsome act again!" he said with a shudder of revulsion.

We stared at each other hopelessly in the low candlelight of my room. How truly awful our situation was. I loved him. He loved me. We should be together for all eternity. How I wished we'd met as humans, fallen in love and had a wonderful long life together, perhaps with a family too. Aro looked like he might cry if only he could.

"Oh Victoria!" he sighed as he pulled me towards him, our lips finding each other's like strong magnets. "I would have loved that," he whispered softly against my eager willing mouth.

My still heart leapt in my chest as I dreamed of the day we could be as one. I knew he could read my thoughts, but I didn't care any more. I wanted him to know the secrets I held within me.

Oh Aro, I need to be with you my love. Will you ever renounce Sulpicia and the Volturi for me, for us?



CHAPTER TWELVE

How did you stalk a vampire who was centuries old? Who could read your mind at the slightest touch? Who had an evil killer for a wife and who was the head of the largest ever known coven in the world? Simple, you didn't even try. That's if you had any sense. I was done with being sensible long ago. I couldn't carry on my half existence any longer. If I couldn't be close to Aro then nothing really mattered. Not my house and land in England, nor my beautiful home in Paris. Material possessions and riches meant nothing to me without love. My still heart may no longer beat but it did feel and love deeper than I ever thought possible. I imagined vampires to be cold and hard, just the way the Volturi were, but I melted inside whenever I thought of my lover. I wanted to be with him, I wanted to love him and protect him always. No different to a mortals love for their husband or wife, except mine was infinitely deeper and more passionate. I wanted to be his completely.

I stood on the deck of the boat in the biting cold wind of this December evening. I gazed up at the twinkling stars which sat like bright jewels in the deep blue canopy of the dusk sky. Aro would be gazing up at the same stars. Of course I was on another boat an hour or two behind him as I couldn't possibly risk discovery. He would have found me if I'd been tempted to travel on the same boat, he would smell my scent and sense my presence, such was the acutely sharp and strong bond we shared. My mind drifted to the days and nights we had just spent together. Passion filled moments of pure pleasure as we talked and made love endlessly. Still there was no solution to our age old problem. We couldn't be together,it was decided again as it always was. I had ached all over in every cell of my vampire body when he had left me. Such pain! I didn't know how I endured it once again. Separation from my lover, my maker, my everything, was the worst, most painful emotion ever bestowed on me. It hurt like biting cold, like the sting of a venom laced bite, like the sharpest knife stabbed into your heart.

I clung to him desperately when he was walking out of my door. Our kisses were bitter-sweet and full of desperate longing. When would we see each other again? I decided as soon as he left that I couldn't be without him any more. I had no definite plan but I decided to follow him back to Volterra. At least I would be close to him. He would be angry when I finally revealed myself to him, but I couldn't stand this half-life any longer. I was just letting events happen to me instead of taking charge! Oh what a change in you, Victoria! I heard Lizzie exclaim. My darling sister was correct. For two hundred years I'd tried to forge a life for myself as a vampire. I had eventually found some peace and somewhere to belong, but without Aro nothing had true meaning. So, here I was on my quest, bravely going out into the unknown to find a way to make my lover mine for all eternity. Yes, I was afraid and yes I didn't know how he would react or what might happen. But I was determined and I was full of bravado spurred on by the pure adoration and love I felt for Aro.

I needed to feed quite badly. I hadn't hunted since the night Aro and I killed together. I shivered with desire at the erotic thoughts flooding my mind when I recalled that part. By luck a young man happened to wander onto the deck beside me. I knew he was gazing sideways at me, appraising my appearance, instantly dazzled and bewitched by me as all humans were. Oh didn't they see the beast behind the beauty! The wolf in sheep's clothing! "Lovely sky isn't it Miss?" he remarked with a friendly English voice. In fact, he sounded like a Londoner, which made me smile with sad fondness.

"Quite dazzling," I replied with a predatory smile as I focused the full force of my red eyes onto his surprised blue ones.

He visibly gulped as he stared at me. He couldn't look away from my intense gaze. Ah it was so easy to dazzle humans! I always felt a little bit sorry for my victims, it must be frightening to see me in all my glory with my sharp teeth ready to strike. I decided to glamour this boy, make it easier for him to accept the absolute horror of the real me.

"Come here," I breathed huskily as I beckoned for him to move closer.

His eyes lit up like glittering sapphires as he approached me. I pulled him close to me, my red eyes misty with sheer thirst. I directed my piercing gaze right into his astounded one.

"You will let me do as I wish, you won't struggle, you will feel only a rush of pleasure."

I let my fingers run through his hair, pulling his head back roughly so his neck was exposed. He shuddered and moaned with pleasure as I brought my lips down onto his neck eagerly. I licked his skin, tasting human sweat and the sea. He groaned and writhed as my strong arms pinned him to me. My teeth slid through his skin like a knife through melted butter. I shook with sheer ecstasy and ultimate pleasure as the blood filled my mouth and throat. Oh, was there anything like this? Yes a little voice spoke up in my head, there is Aro. I pictured my lover in my mind as I fed on my victim's blood hungrily. I drank much too quickly and greedily from the boy and soon he was slumped unconscious against me. I hoped he hadn't suffered. His blood tasted of wine and honey tinged with fear and despair, with a delicious undercurrent of sexual longing. It was heavenly.

I held up his limp wrist to my cheek feeling for a pulse. It was rapid and weak. He was still defiantly clinging to life. If I left him here he would be discovered by other humans. If he survived he would surely turn to madness, if he died a slow death there would be an outcry and an investigation. It was more merciful this way I told myself as I swiftly broke his neck and flung his dead body overboard. Now I felt vibrant and powerful as my victim's blood ran through me. I was filled with certainty that I was following the right path. No more sitting around waiting for my lover to return. I was actively seeking to change my life and it felt good. Aro loved me, we should be together. I couldn't imagine a long eternity spent without him, I would rather bring my true death upon myself somehow than live in a world devoid of his love. How infatuated I was! How completely and utterly in love with him! The one thing, above all, which stood in our way of everlasting happiness was her, Sulpicia, his wife. If she wasn't around how different things might be! If she didn't exist, how happy I would be! Would I dare think such a thing? Would I dare to act upon my dark thoughts?

My lover and I would be free to love each other and be wholly together for ever if she ceased to exist.

How wicked, how evil, how despicable, but it was the absolute complete truth.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN

How strange it was to be back in the city of Volterra. The streets teemed with thousands of humans with their heartbeats and blood rushing through their veins. It was noisy and overwhelming making me claustrophobic and slightly frightened. I was used to my peaceful home in the English countryside and even Paris seemed tame compared to this throng. Maybe because it was still daylight, the dusk was perhaps an hour away. Or maybe it was because my nerves were taut with apprehension. So I scurried quickly along the busy streets with my head down and a hooded cape covering my face. I couldn't risk discovery, especially here of all places! The Volturi would swoop on me and Sulpicia would love nothing more than capturing me again. I now wondered why I had decided to follow my risky plan to come back here. It now seemed rather foolish to place myself in extreme danger. The coven might sense my presence or I may run into one of the guard by accident. I ran as fast as I could manage without raising suspicion. Twilight was approaching quickly now, I sighed thankfully as I made my way to a small inconspicuous guest house in a quieter part of town.

I managed to avoid the landlord's gaze as he showed me to a small quiet room on the ground floor. He must have thought I was a strange character indeed with my hooded cloak and my silence, but human's opinions on me didn't really matter, as long as they didn't discover my true nature. Unless they were one of my victims, they would never know what I truly was. I pulled off the black hooded cloak and ran my fingers through my unruly curls. My face was ghostly pale and my red eyes were a much deeper scarlet as I needed to feed very soon. The young man on the boat had sustained me for a few days, but now the thirst was becoming a sharp ache in my throat. I would have to leave this sanctuary soon, but I would wait until complete darkness fell over the city. Hopefully I wouldn't have to hunt for long. I must be careful though, if the Volturi knew I was here there would be trouble! I shuddered as I thought of the dark place. I couldn't and I wouldn't go back there! What would Aro do if he discovered me here? I hoped he would be delighted to see me, but I knew he would be extremely angry too. I was desperate to see him, to touch him and to kiss him. I ached with longing for him. I must wait a little longer though. I needed to plan my next steps before I revealed myself to him. I must be patient! I felt my desire to flee rise up strongly in me, it took all my strength not to run away from here and back to the port. Home would be safe, and familiar, but he wasn't there.

Night soon enveloped the city. It was a cold night with no moon or stars visible in the sky. This suited me perfectly. I could go out into the streets to feed knowing I was somewhat invisible to humans. Vampires would sense and smell me before they saw me. I had to be careful! Once again I questioned my own sanity, was this trip really necessary? Aro and I would have resumed our long distance love affair by letter. We could have made an effort to let less time pass between our meetings if we wished. Nothing would have changed, I would be safe from harm and he would still adore me as always. I was being reckless and spontaneous, most unlike myself. The one constant truth drove me on and that was my undying, uncompromising love for Aro. I had come to the point in our relationship, in my existence, which cried out for more. I needed him like humans need air and water. I had to be closer to him and I also had to convince him that we could be together properly. For ever. This couldn't be achieved when I was miles away from my lover. If I lost him because of my rash actions, then so be it. At least I had tried! Oh Victoria! You are fooling yourself, little flame! Lizzie spoke up suddenly in my mind. I shook my head and denied her accusation vehemently.

The mist billowed around me as I walked purposefully through the frosty cold streets. It was a perfect night for hunting. My prey couldn't see me but even through the fog I could see everything as clearly and sharply as ever. I took to the quiet lonely back streets of the town, where tramps and rats shared a home. I operated on pure vampire instinct when I hunted. I let my acute senses and my subconscious lead me to a suitable victim and decide on whom I would feed from. Tonight, I came across the scent of a young female as she walked alone through the mist, she was lost in a world of her own, the poor thing. She looked into my eyes with horror and shock when I appeared in front of her from out of nowhere. I nodded and smiled as I gazed into her scared face. "Please don't hurt me!" she stammered with fear.

I smiled again with an angelic look on my pale face. "Don't worry my dear girl, I need something important from you, once I take it you will be fine," I smiled as I clasped her head in my hands firmly.

Her blood was sweet, honey and clover flowing in a crimson tide on my eager tongue. I could have drank her dry but I had to stop myself. I didn't want to try to dispose of a body in this city, not with the Volturi's omnipresence looming over me like a dark shadow. I let the girl go back into the cold night, dazed, confused and weak with loss of blood. She might survive, but she would be touched by the madness that a vampire bite could bring. I needed to survive though and the consequences did not trouble me in the slightest. Why should they? Humans were prey to me now, nothing more.

With my thirst sated and my body back to its glorious powerful self I felt imbibed with bravery. I skirted close to the Volturi headquarter gates, with a mixture of fear and excitement deep inside me. He was within. My lover, my maker, my everything. The familiar pull of lust and the longing ache welled up inside me as I stood in the dark cold street, just staring at the foreboding gates. I still couldn't believe I was actually here. My love for Aro had brought me back to this nightmarish place, the place I feared most in the whole world. I shivered involuntarily as I remembered the sheer desperation of that dark place Sulpicia banished me to. I felt that I should go back to the guest house right away, I had chanced my good luck long enough. Plus, there was a seed of an idea beginning to form in my head and I wanted to sit quietly and let it grow to maturity. I flew back to my rented room swiftly, just a hazy blur passing by the people of Volterra, leaving only a gentle breeze in my wake.

I sat on the bed just staring at my perfect reflection in the mirror. My eyes were a light red luminous colour now, much softer and more flattering. My skin was still pale but a soft rosy glow permeated it delightfully. I was made beautiful at the expense of the girl's blood. I shrugged and smiled at myself in the mirror. Perfect white deadly teeth glinted back at me. I ran the tip of my pink tongue over one sharp point, revelling in the little pin prick of pain. I tasted my own blood. My flavour was tangy and rich with a hint of vanilla. Aro loved my taste and scent, and sometimes he drew my blood into his mouth when we reached the peak of ecstasy together during our love-making. I shivered with desire again, as I let my mind drift. I sharply brought myself back to the matter in hand. My plan. It was formulating nicely. I must put it into action as soon as possible. There was no time to waste. Oh Victoria! Please don't do this! Lizzie demanded in my head.

For once in my existence I chose not to listen to my darling sister's voice as she begged and pleaded to me within my troubled mind.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN

I clutched the letter in my trembling hand as I once again approached the gates which led down into the Volturi's territory. I was almost paralysed with fear and the need to run, run far far away from here. I steadied my nerves slightly so I could deal with the task I had set myself. I had to deliver this letter and I had to make sure the addressee received it. I had been trying to make this delivery for a day or so now. I either lost my nerve completely or I ran when I saw a member of the guard approaching the gates. Tonight, it was quiet and I decided I would not let my fear overtake me. I had to do this! I had composed the letter many times before I settled on the final draft. The words within were directed to Marcus and this is what they said:

Marcus,

You and I have met before, it was two hundred years ago when Aro brought me from London to Volterra after my family were slain by murdering thieves. He changed me into a vampire and became my whole world.

I was taken away by Sulpicia to become her slave, a position which I loathed and soon rebelled against. There was no love lost between my mistress and I and I found myself locked away in a deep dark level of the Volturi home because I stood up to her evil ways. Aro saved me.

I learned a few truths when I was set free; your precious wife Didyme was murdered by her sister in law! I know you assumed Aro had killed her to stop you leaving, but it wasn't true Marcus! Sulpicia commanded Aro to make Chelsea strengthen your bonds with Aro and Caius so you would never leave!

The worst yet is Sulpicia's dark secret. She harboured an Immortal child, a boy called Noah. Didyme discovered this vampire child by accident, so Sulpicia destroyed her so she would not take Noah away with her when you and your wife left the coven! Aro banished the boy to a sealed tomb where Sulpicia will never find him. Aro told me about the fate of the vampire Sasha and the other one and only Immortal child ever made, Vasili. They were executed!

Sulpicia also made Didyme write a letter stating Aro was going to kill her because he couldn't stand to lose you from the coven and he believed it was his sister's fault you were leaving! Of course she has hidden the letter to use as leverage over Aro. They both hurt each other and hate each other so much. Aro loves me, he has since he first laid eyes on me bleeding and dying in the gutter.

Marcus, I am sorry to tell you this but you must know the truth! I hope the information I have imparted to you will make you angry enough to lift your apathy and renounce Sulpicia! She is evil! Aro and I should be together, I am sure you have already sensed our relationship using your gift. We share an unbreakable bond.

I hope this letter has made it's way to you without falling into the wrong hands. My immortal existence would be in grave danger should Sulpicia know what I have told you. She will kill me just because she can. She does not know that Aro and I have maintained a relationship since he helped me to escape from her two centuries ago! Is that not true love?

Please help me Marcus, I beg of you. All I want is for the truth to be revealed, for Sulpicia to loosen her grip on Aro, and for my lover and I to be reunited as one, for evermore.

I will wait at this address for two days and two nights.

If I do not hear a thing I will assume the worst; you didn't receive my letter or that you do not care about getting revenge for poor Didyme's death. Aro has described her as a beautiful soul.

Yours hopefully

Victoria Taylor

Guest Hotel San Lino

Room Three

San Lino 26, Volterra

Tuscany

I was being as stealthy as I possibly could as I quietly crept through the night shadows until I was at the iron gates. There was no one around, so I decided I would leave the letter in the brass post box which hung on the wall just through the gates. I tried not to think about how I would have to climb over those high gates and deposit the letter quickly and quietly. I was scared stiff to re-enter Volturi ground. I shivered with fear and wished I could banish it from my mind and body. I had to do this and do it swiftly before I was discovered. The letter was sealed in an envelope so I prayed no-one else would read it but Marcus. The situation wasn't ideal, but on whom could I rely upon within these walls? Sadly, I couldn't ask Aro to renounce Sulpicia and let the coven know all about her evil doings. He loved me, but he wouldn't do that. Yes, it caused me much dismay and pain that he couldn't and wouldn't show the Volturi just how terribly evil and manipulative she was, but I loved him intensely so I forgave him anything.

I crouched down as I made ready to spring up and over the heavy iron gates which led to my lover, my destiny or my destruction? Before I could jump a figure suddenly appeared from nowhere. I gasped in shock and made to flee, but a soothing voice spoke to me and held me prisoner there, although she had no special powers of her own. It was Athenodora, Caius's partner. She was very, very old. Aro had told me she existed before the Volturi and that she may have known Desiderius, the "first" vampire quite well. Athenodora did neither deny nor admit this, she was a quiet waif-like vampire who hardly spoke to the other members of the guard. She had been kind to me when I was Sulpicia's maid though and I knew her own maid Corin loved her so.

"Victoria? Is that you, my dear?" she asked in wonderment as I stepped shyly out of the dark shadows.

I nodded with a nervous smile.

"Come here, child, let me see you! It has been awhile has it not?" she asked, her red eyes glowing keenly in the dull street lamps.

I made my way towards her, my still heart filled with trepidation still. Should I trust her? She was Caius's other half after all. She beckoned me to her, I stifled my utter desire to flee as I took her thin paper-like hand. Her eyes bore into me with curiosity.

"What brings you back here, my child?" she asked of me. I told her I needed to convey a letter of much importance to Marcus immediately. "Well, do come in Victoria. I am sure everyone will be delighted to see you!" she said with a blissfully ignorant smile.

Obviously she was also under Sulpicia's spell. Did no-one know what had happened to me here? I didn't want to explain events to Athenodora whilst standing here brazenly outside my enemy's gates. I had to leave. I had to disappear from here.

"Athenodora, how kind of you to remember me with such fondness. I have always held you in high regard, you were kind to me during my stay here and I have not forgotten that! Maybe you would do one little thing for me now? Could you deliver this letter straight into Marcus's hands? Would you be so kind?" I asked politely, all the while praying inside that she would accept so I could run as fast as the wind back to my sanctuary.

"Of course my dear, it would be a pleasure, but won't you come visit with us? Heidi has procured some delightful tourists for us to feed on tonight!" Athenodora said pleasantly.

I shivered again with fear because I had broken Volturi law many times. Most recently I had hunted in the town which was gravely forbidden. Usually I did not care much for the rules Aro had laid down when I was first changed. He was my lover so that gave me some leeway I had assumed, but breaking the Volturi laws whilst in Volterra was extremely reckless of me. Needs must.

"Thank you for your kind invitation, but I am only passing through. If I could also impose another request on you I would be forever in your debt, Athenodora," I smiled with what I hoped was sincerity and honesty.

She nodded and smiled at me kindly again.

"Would you perhaps be so good as to not tell anyone you have seen me tonight? I do not wish to appear rude by not visiting the coven! I only have some important information for Marcus's eyes only." I replied, keeping my voice even and steady. Inside I was a quivering mass of taut nervous energy. Did she believe me? I fervently hoped and prayed she would.

"Of course, my dear Victoria! You must promise to visit soon though!" she exclaimed happily as she clasped my hand to hers tightly.

I handed over the letter and gave my false promises to her. When I was safely back in the shadows I breathed out a long sigh of relief and tension. Funny how, even after two centuries, I should need to do something so humanI needed to feed again, my nerves had brought the aching thirst on quicker than usual. I had to risk feeding on another Volterra resident, but I must be so careful, I must not kill my victim! The other night with the girl had been touch and go. Her sweet blood had made me swoon with desire for more and I had very nearly killed her. It was against my nature to let my prey live, but I must try to remain undiscovered whilst I was so close to the Volturi and their list of laws!

I discovered a delicious young male with long black flowing hair and warm spicy tasting blood down an alleyway searching for his pet dog. He found me instead. Oh how I loved to see the fear in their eyes, it made their skin taste saltier and it made me growl with lust, much like sexual desire. His hair was silky and dark just like Aro's and as I sipped from the wound in his neck I ran my hands through his locks languorously as if he was my lover. Oh such power his life fluid gave to me! I stopped myself in time and sent him off into the night with words of love in his ears and delirious confusion in his head as he stumbled down the cobbles most unsteadily. I didn't linger. I made my way back to my room where I would patiently await word from Marcus. What would he think? What would he do? Oh I longed for Sulpicia's execution just like Sasha had endured! Would he force Aro to divulge the whereabouts of Noah? I didn't particularly want the boy destroyed, I felt sorry for him. What would happen within those gates as a consequence of my bold words?

I lay down on the bed, my head spinning with thoughts of Aro and how I couldn't wait to fall into the deep red depths of his eyes as I drowned in pure love and desire once again.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN

I wandered aimlessly through the streets of Volterra, cloaked in darkness and disguised by my attire. I was going a little mad within the confines of my small room back at the guest house. I didn't need to hunt but I needed to clear my mind. A day had passed since I gave the letter intended for Marcus to Athenodora at the Volturi gates. I wondered what was happening within those secret walls. I hoped Athenodora hadn't been tempted to read my letter. I didn't think she would, I truly believed she liked and respected me. The feelings were reciprocated, I had found her to be most motherly in the short time I had known her. What would Marcus do? I didn't like to upset him, but he had to know the truth. In the grand scheme of things, was I really concerned about his feelings? I shook my head and muttered to myself as I strode through the night. I must have made some sight. Luckily there were not many humans about and those that were went about their business privately.

So, imagine my surprise when a strong hand suddenly gripped my arm forcefully.

"Got you!" a voice rasped in my ear, making me gasp out loud.

I wondered when I would stop this human trait? I had no need for air so gasping really was futile! The figure spun me round so we were face to face. Oh how I had missed that wondrous perfect visage! His red eyes glowed in the waxy light shining down from the full moon hanging in the night sky. I reached out to claim his lips with mine, but he refused to kiss me. "We need to talk Victoria!" he hissed angrily.

Oh dear. He was furious. I smiled up at him with what I hoped was a dazzling grin. But his face remained stony and somber.

"Come!" he demanded as he dragged me along the street roughly. I was so pleased to see him that I didn't much care about having my arm almost dismembered. He was more attractive when he was angry!

We ended up at the very house from which we'd said our goodbyes all those years ago, when Aro had saved me from the dark place. He closed the door with a loud bang and turned to face me, his face a seething mass of rage.

"Victoria! Do you wonder how I knew you were here? Imagine my surprise to catch your scent in the heart of the Volturi chambers. Imagine how it felt to inhale that wonderful aroma which is your beautiful essence. Then imagine my horror when I convinced myself that you had been captured and perhaps destroyed! I was beside myself with grief and remorse! Then, Marcus approached me, with a letter. From you! That was the source of your scent ! Now, imagine my complete disbelief that you could be so stupid, so disobedient and so utterly, utterly bent on self destruction! " He spat out at me as I cowered away from his rage. His anger frightened me and I felt myself backing into a corner, desperate to flee. I knew he would be angry though so I didn't know why I was surprised. It was just much scarier in reality actually having to witness that anger first hand.

My eyes must have betrayed me, he must have seen my fear and desperation because in one swift move his strong arms enveloped me and pressed my body oh so close to his. His hands loosened their strong grip on me as they moved up to cup my face.

"Victoria, you have been very silly, but forget that for now, I am so relieved to see you, to touch you, I have missed you, young one," he whispered his voice racked with emotion.

His eyes were liquid pools of fire, burning with intense love for me. Oh how addictive he was! His lips inched towards mine slowly and purposefully. I sighed gratefully causing Aro to inhale my scent. Suddenly his movements were anything but controlled as his mouth met mine hungrily. He devoured and overwhelmed me, making my nerves sing and my acute vampire senses overload on his scent, taste and touch. This attraction between us was vastly immense. He moaned against my mouth as the tip of my tongue touched his. Electricity flowed between us as our eager hands explored each other and our kisses became deeper than ever.

"Aro, take me now, make me yours again, my lover. I will explain everything to you, but firstly I need you so desperately," I sighed against his pale cheek as my body rubbed against his seductively. I wished for no barriers between us and like magic our bodies were gliding together effortlessly unclothed. I wished for Aro to possess me again and again, leaving no inch of me undiscovered in his quest. He read my mind as he usually did, so our love making was perfectly synchronised and beautifully choreographed. If I was human would I feel this intensity during the act? If it was with Aro, then surely I would? But no human would mate with a vampire, would they? Aro laughed deeply as he kissed the hollow of my throat.

"Your mind is so inquisitive, Victoria! Even in the throes of passion you question every feeling, every nuance and emotion. I love that about you!" he exclaimed, his mouth trailing exquisite icy but fiery kisses up and down my skin.

"What else do you love about me, Aro?" I gasped as his body moved with mine in lustful abandonment. Oh, was there ever anything in the universe as intense as this?

"I love how you gasp for breath, even when you do not need to breathe, I love how I can make you do this when I kiss you and touch you," he moaned against my skin.

I gasped against his pale cheek, sending him wild with my unique scent.

"I love how you can make me forget myself when we kiss, your sweet mouth yields to me wholly and completely. I feel the love we share in those deep kisses more than anything," he whispered shyly in my ear.

Oh I loved when he was coy!

"Oh you do?" he laughed quietly.

I swiftly switched our position, so I was now on top of him. I felt so powerful and so utterly female as I gazed down at my lover. He looked magnificent as he stared up at me in awe. He was centuries older than me, he was experienced and worldly wise but oh how he gazed up at me as if I was a Goddess!

"You are!" he exclaimed as he ran his hands over my pale marble skin, his touch seductively electric.

"Oh Aro!" I sighed, my body instinctively reacting to his, matching his slow fluid movements, our red gaze never wavering, never faltering, never leaving the others stare.

Now I was totally lost in our possession of each other, as we climbed higher and higher toward the peak of passion, as one forever more. My mind was blank from ordinary thoughts. All that remained was a consuming fire that burned me from the inside out. It was not unlike the burning heat of the change. Aro awakened in me the basest desires, but the most complex emotions. We fell into the flames together, joyfully, endlessly and in each other we finally found release. Would I ever tire of this, of him, of our special connection? No, I wouldn't, I couldn't and that is why I sent the letter to Marcus, because I loved this vampire of mine with all my still stone heart!

Aro held me close, my head on his marble chest, his hands stroking my red curls soothingly as we lay in the afterglow of our passion.

"Oh Victoria! I love you as you love me! My position is much different from yours though, as I have explained many times. Marcus is heartbroken about Didyme, all over again, perhaps much worse than the first time. Your letter did wash his apathy away, but Chelsea soon fixed him again. You cannot dabble in Volturi matters, my darling, no matter how deep our feelings for each other run!" he scolded.

I sat up indignantly, my red eyes fiery with sudden anger. "Sulpicia deserves to be removed from the Volturi for her crimes! Two of the most unspeakable crimes I might add! She doesn't love you Aro! She controls you! If you love me as much as you say then you would renounce her and be with me!" I cried.

"If only you could read my mind, my sweet! You would see the unfathomable depth of my adoration for you. Sulpicia will kill you if she finds out about that letter. I don't know if I can protect you Victoria! Even if we banish her from the coven she will find you, she will probably destroy us both! If Marcus tells the guard about Sulpicia's crimes there will be a revolt and disruption in the ranks! The Volturi will be in trouble, I need to keep us all together, we have amassed so much power now and acquired so many talented assets!" he exclaimed proudly.

I just stared at him incredulously. How could he put power above our love? He was insane with the idea of controlling a vast powerful coven, all because his maker commanded him to do so! I understood the bond they shared, because of how I felt about Aro, but it felt like I was second best. Aro stroked my hand and shook his head vehemently.

"No, my darling, never think that! I hold you up high on the greatest pedestal!" he exclaimed as he kissed the smooth skin of my hand with his cool enticing lips.

Oh he could enthrall me so!

I fell back into his arms eagerly, aching to be intimately close to him once again. It was impossible to have too much of a good thing where Aro was concerned. If I wasn't so dazzled by him I would say he used his body to wield power over me. He laughed at my thoughts again and just kissed and loved me harder than ever, making my head spin and rainbows dance behind my closed eyes. This situation would never be resolved.

Much later, he took me back to my little room. We held each other desperately as he made to depart. Dawn was approaching, the sky was tinged with a deep pink as the sun started to rise.

"I must go back, Victoria. Sulpicia will suspect something is amiss if I dally," he whispered against my hair.

I sighed and squeezed him tighter, hating to let go once more.

"Ah little flame, it is only for awhile. Let's meet in a few days to discuss a plan I have about you moving to Italy! I trust that would make you happy?"

I sighed and shook my head with frustration. All I wanted was Aro to be mine completely.

"Hush, sweet girl. I am yours no matter what else happens. You must be patient. Promise me you won't do anything rash again?" he pleaded.

I nodded my head, but did not speak. I disentangled myself reluctantly from him. He couldn't read my thoughts then. Our goodbye kiss was long and slow and full of deep longing. I kept my thoughts only on his mouth and the sensations he produced in me. That way I could try to keep my secrets hidden. Finally, he left just as the dawn was breaking. My still heart was breaking too. I came here to reveal my true intentions towards him, to set the record straight and to hopefully entice him into being mine, at last. My plan had failed, our dire situation remained the same. Our passion could conquer all at the time but when he was gone all I had was my black lonely thoughts for company.

It was torture and pain being his lover. But the pleasure he gave me made it up for it when I was in his arms. Oh the futile anguish of being in love with someone who wasn't free to be completely yours! I lay on the bed in my small room and pounded the mattress with my small angry fists until I was exhausted with heartbreak and despair. No solution would come to me that made any sense.

What could I do, what should I do to make Aro see he belonged with me? My mind whirled with evil thoughts of murder and deception. I would ultimately do anything to be with my lover.

Could I, should I, destroy the one thing that stood in my way of happiness?



CHAPTER SIXTEEN

It was now February the nineteenth,of the year 1550, the cold biting wind threatened to blow me from the high parapet as I gazed out over the Tuscan landscape. Aro had meant every word he said about having me closer to him, so why did I still feel so alone and disheartened? I wasn't surprised to find that he had a castle, Aro was very rich and powerful. The beautiful medieval building was situated in a panoramic location in the hills surrounding Campiglia Marittima. The village itself was small and quaint but was near to San Vicenzo and further afield was Livorno and Florence, so I wasn't completely isolated. I had never craved the company of others of my kind. I preferred to live and hunt alone. Of course the obvious exception was Aro, my beloved maker, whom I couldn't exist without, it seemed. At least he could visit me quite often, as Volterra wasn't far away. The castle was dark and bleak but it suited me fine, I liked being the mistress of all I surveyed. I missed Paris though. Usually I spent Winter there, but faced with the choice of my French home or Aro, I would of course choose my lover every time.

I hated how he made me so weak! He had me under his spell and I would never be free. Did I want to be? Quite simply, no.

I made my way down the spiral staircase back into my chambers. Aro had furnished the castle magnificently. It was opulent with dark velvet colours and ornate furnishings. My four poster bed was dark oak, with red luxurious velvet curtains. I was encased in the colour of rich blood whenever I lay there. Aro and I had spent many hours giving and receiving pleasure with each other in this bed. I threw myself down onto the furs and sighed with longing. It had been two weeks now, a minute drop in the ocean compared to the decades we'd been apart, but the more I had him, the more I wanted him. He was my drug, my opium fix and I was craving him badly. He truly had such magnificent power over me, I felt so helpless against the tide of his love and desire for me. Did Sulpicia wield the same power over him? She loved him, but in a sick insane way. I loved him uncompromisingly. He said they didn't make love, he said they never had, he told me it had only ever been about power, never love only sex. He told me they didn't even perform the sexual act any longer. They were never affectionate or intimate with each other. He could read her ugly thoughts and it made him sick to his stomach. But I knew if he wanted information out of her, the act was the only way he could get her to drop her guard. I shivered with horror when I imagined them entwined together. I didn't want her evil twisted hands on him at all! Did I believe everything he told me? Yes, I had to or I would drive myself over the edge of sanity!

I was surprised to hear a loud knocking upon the castle door. Who could be calling on me here? Aro never knocked, he usually tried to creep up behind me so he could enthrall and overcome me with his welcome kiss before I had a chance to catch his scent. Sometimes it worked and I had no clue he had arrived until I felt his icy lips on the nape of my neck and I would moan with unbridled lust at his surprise entry. Other times, I could sense him before he even got through the castle walls. Today, I tuned into a cold dark presence outside the heavy oak doors. It felt cool like a diamond within my mind and just as I flung the door open, the unique scent came to me sharply. It was Athenodora! She smiled at me pleasantly as I beckoned for her to come in. "Do come in, what a lovely surprise," I smiled back. Of course, I didn't really want to let her in, I had a knot of nerves deep in my stomach. What did she want from me? This was certainly a surprise.

I showed her into the great hall and indicated for her to sit on the chaise lounge. She daintily sat down and clasped her small white hands together primly. She was so old fashioned, but then she was ancient! To be honest, although I had been grateful of her presence in Volterra, both when I lived there and on the night I gave her the letter, she still frightened me somewhat.

"Victoria, please, won't you sit? This is your home is it not?" she asked me.

Her tone was pleasant but I sensed an undercurrent there. Maybe because she was old and respected, I did as she asked.

"It is not my home as such, it is Aro's home, I am a guest here, Athenodora," I replied with an equally even tone.

She nodded and smiled again, it was definitely predatory this time. I felt a small flicker of fear dance through my veins and I desperately wanted to flee.

"I read your letter Victoria, my it was fascinating!" she laughed, the sound hollow and brittle.

Oh my, I had been discovered. Now, I knew this was not a friendly visit. Would I have to fight this strong centuries old vampire? I shivered with fear and felt completely out of my depth. I decided silence was the best reply in this situation.

"So, you fancy yourself to be in love with Aro? You plan to use information against his wife so you can have him all to yourself, hmmm?" she asked, her crocodile smile becoming wider and more vicious.

I shook my head in denial.

"Has your secret lover ever told you about my past?" she enquired, her red eyes pinning me with their hypnotizing stare.

I shook my head again, still too scared to speak.

"I was a slave girl in Ancient Rome, my family were Carthaginians, they were murdered by Roman soldiers. I was saved so I could become a slave to Romulus Augustulus, the current emperor of Rome. The year was 475 AD Victoria, a turbulent time for the Romans as they were losing their grip on their vast empire slowly but surely. Romulus was a beast, he raped me on a daily basis. One night after a particularly brutal attack, I lay crying in the vestibule, broken and homesick. I prayed for strength and enlightenment. One of my Master's prized gladiator's found me on the floor. He always had a soft spot for me. He said he would take me away from Rome, as long as I stayed with him and became his wife. I would have agreed to anything at that point Victoria!" she exclaimed.

I was rooted to the spot as I listened in fascination to her tale.

"My brave gladiator was called Quintus and he was strong and handsome. He took me through the underground tunnels below Romulus's villa, where he assumed we would escape. There was something down there Victoria, something ancient and evil! We couldn't go forward and we couldn't go back, we were trapped there in the dark with something unspeakable. It ripped Quintus's head right off his shoulders in one swift movement. It then turned its attentions to me. I was lifted off my feet and I felt the pain of two needles lance through my neck. It drank my blood and it made me drink from an open wound in its wrist. I burned and burned with intense fire for days down in that black hole. I am sure you can guess what had happened, Victoria?" she asked, her red eyes burning with fiery intensity.

I was too stunned to speak. Athenodora was older than Desiderius! She had been changed in 475 AD, centuries and centuries ago. That made her technically the "first" vampire. Aro had assumed wrong!

"Who or what was the creature who changed you?" I asked, finally finding my voice.

"I do not know, Victoria. It was dark and I could only see a mass of blackness, a deep dark hole of screaming whirling energy with sharp teeth and red eyes. I didn't see it again. I woke up and I was a vampire. I was fascinated with my new found strength and speed. I killed everyone who dwelled in the villa. I especially took my time with Romulus!" she laughed, girlish and high.

Oh but she now seemed evilly insane and not motherly like I had first thought. How could I have got it so wrong? Oh little flame! I told you to be careful! Lizzie wailed in my mind.

"I found Desiderius 400 years later, he was originally a priest. I corrupted his mind, body and soul. He was a perfect vampire, I loved him for a long time. I decided to use him to make a powerful coven, he was useful at first but he became quite insane so I made him comfortable in a castle near Rome. Sound familiar dear?" she asked with raised eyebrows.

I chose to ignore her snide remark.

"I wanted to make sure that I had a family again and I needed to protect that family. I am the power behind the Volturi, Victoria! My Caius, Aro and Sulpicia are all my soldiers. Marcus used to be of some use, but the death of Didyme affected him badly. They procure vampires with special powers for me. I want to build a most powerful and unbreakable coven which will rule the vampire world for always!" she gloated.

" I hand-picked most of the guard myself, but I let Aro change them. I didn't want to be anyone's maker ever again. Caius was already a vampire when I met him. We fell in love and he has been at my side ever since," she smiled beautifully.

I was completely shocked by her words. I would never have guessed that Athenodora was the puppet master behind the scenes of the Volturi! I was so wrong about her. Now, here she was, the ancient powerful "first" vampire, and I was visibly shaking with fear. What did she want with me?

"Why did you come here today?" I asked her, not sure that I wanted to hear the answer.

"Victoria, I cannot have you trying to cause revolt in the ranks. How dare you presume to tear the very fabric of my coven apart at the seams! Sulpicia will be punished of course for her two indiscretions. Killing your own kind is not too heinous, especially when they are simpering useless vampires like Didyme, but Immortal children will not be tolerated. Aro will be punished too for hiding the child. My vampire children know I love them intensely but they also know I will not tolerate insubordination. Never let others know how much power you have at your disposal, Victoria. It makes you weak! Aro believes Desiderius is the true powerful one whom he must be faithful to. I let him hold fast to his beliefs. He has made hundreds of vampires for me. My bloodline is strong and very long and now includes you, my dear!" she said with a poisonous grin.

Why did I never see beyond her facade before?

"You tried to bring down the coven, you silly girl! You tried to lure Aro away from me and his devoted wife! You shall leave here tonight. If you are not gone by daybreak I shall destroy you. I will tell Aro you have left because you do not want to be his mistress any longer. I cannot believe he let some slip of a girl get to him! Sulpicia is much more a match for him, I should know, I chose her myself. Stay away from the Volturi. Don't ever come back. You aren't welcome here," she spoke with finality as she lunged at me with vicious intent.

Her long nails scratched down my face as she pinned me up against the wall. Her sharp teeth sunk into my neck viciously as she drank my venom laced blood greedily. I felt my strength being sapped away drop by drop. Oh this was a horrible sensation! Did my poor victims feel this way?

Athenodora left me on the castle floor, broken and humiliated. I wished for tears, but of course I couldn't cry. I must get up from the cold stone and prepare to flee. I felt like I had been drained of more than my blood. My very essence felt tainted and hollow. I realised that the powerful female had drank in my aura too. How horrific. Aro couldn't save me. No one could, except myself. I should never have come here. He didn't love me enough to betray the coven. He would never be mine, it was time to face up to the facts. I howled in anguish, but my heart hardened and became less like stone and more like steel. If this is what love did to you then I wanted no part in it.

My weakness dissipated after a few hours and just before the sun came up I fled the castle without a backwards glance. I didn't know where I would go but my first stop was the port, so I could escape Italy for good. Once on the ship I took victim after victim until I felt my old strength return in full force. But there was something missing. I didn't know what it was, but Athenodora had taken something from me, a vital part which I would never replace. I gazed out over the stormy sea and was once again reminded of Aro. His face would forever haunt and torment me. I would always love him.

Oh little flame, my darling Lizzie whispered in my ear. I sighed dramatically with utter sadness, heartbreak and lonely black despair. I was alone, once more.

"There's no use in weeping,
Though we are condemned to part:
There's such a thing as keeping,
A remembrance in one's heart..."

(Charlotte BronteParting)



PART THREE: THE POSSESSING

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Seventy years have passed and gone by in lightning quick time.

When I first left Italy, I made my way back to Paris, but the city of romance had lost all its glamour and hold on me. I was a sad and lonely recluse who pined over Aro immensely. Athenodora had promised she would tell him I had fled and she didn't lie. I received a letter from Aro after I had been in Paris for nearly six months. He begged me to return to the castle, he said he missed me, he loved me, and he promised me the Earth as he always did. Not one mention of leaving Volterra to find me and be with me. He said the Volturi was going through change and sufferance. I guessed Athenodora has meted out harsh punishments to Aro and his wife for betraying Volturi laws. He said he would come to me as soon as he could. He adored me, he wanted me, I was the love of his existence! Blah blah! I was bitter and twisted about our affair now. I saw it for what it was.

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it's better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. ( A/N: quote from author unknown ) I waited and waited for him, but in the end all I did was wait, that's not real love. I wished I could cry, I would cry a river and I may feel better. But I would never cry again.

Days after Aro's letter appeared another found its way to my post box. It was from Sulpicia! I opened it with dread and a little bit of scared excitement.

Dearest slave,

How dare you have a lurid affair with my husband! Especially after I personally warned you off! He doesn't love you Victoria, you are a distraction for him, a means to an end. He may be a centuries old vampire but he is still male! They have such base desires, Victoria! Do you really believe Aro and I have ceased marital relations between us? If so, then you are much stupider than you look! He will never leave me, Victoria! I am bound to my maker and husband in ways you will never fathom.

Yes, he was tempted by you, yes he may even have told you he loves you but in reality he would never leave me or the coven! Act like a slut and you will be treated like one! Athenodora and I communicate daily and we have no secrets between us. I know everything Victoria! Aro also confides in her, she is all seeing and all knowing.

My mistress has given out fair punishment to me for my crimes. She wishes me to leave Volterra for a month, something which makes me sick to my immortal stomach, but on the upside - she wants me to chase you from Europe and banish you forever! I begged for her to let me destroy you but she forbade me from killing another vampire. Athenodora, my beloved mistress believes you will run from your Paris home like the rat you are! I on the other hand pray that you will stay to greet my arrival with a fight. I would love nothing more than hurting you badly!

Aro knows nothing of Athenodora's punishment for me, if you tell him I WILL kill you!

If I don't succeed then my mistress will find you and destroy you. Part of my punishment is to be apart from Aro, something which pains me greatly. His punishment is to burn all evidence and legacies of you! No one in the Volturi must ever utter your name. You are dead to us here in Italy. I will hunt you down Victoria, you better run now because I am coming for you, whore! Run, run , run!

I had felt icy fingers of fear trace their way up and down my spine. Letters from Volterra took around a week to arrive in Paris. By careful deducing that meant that Sulpicia would be arriving here very soon! I was utterly betrayed by Aro, he had given the two evil witches my address, Oh Aro! Why? Would he see me gone, my immortal existence snuffed out like a candle in the wind? I wasn't staying around here, waiting for Sulpicia to arrive. Why would I want to put myself through that? I would rather flee, it was built in to me, this time I wouldn't fight it. I would rather leave the country for pastures unknown than face that evil witch. Yes, she scared me, I admit it. Although part of me wanted to face her, let her destroy me, it would be better than the anguish and pain of losing Aro. But in a strange way I embraced my heartbreak, I let it wash through me and make me stronger than ever.

I had fled that night, swiftly and invisibly. When I had reached the white cliffs of Dover once again, I leapt on the first boat leaving England. After many, many long days at sea, I finally arrived in Canada. Montreal to be precise. I made my home there, it was far far away from Italy, no-one could find me here! My talent for evasion had never been put to such good use before!

French citizens began arriving in Canada to make a new life in the 17th century. I lived in seclusion in Montreal but I had acquired houses in other places too. I won't go into details, but I used my vampire glamour and instinct. I lived a lonely life, I still craved Aro, my steel heart betrayed me time and time again where he was concerned. I decided it was time to add another to my bleak existence. Could I be so bold as to make one like me? He would love me, he would obey me and most of all he would share this strange half life with me.

I had been a vampire for almost three hundred years! It was now 1620. I found a young beautiful male, drunk on life and intoxicated with liquor departing a tavern one night. He was celebrating becoming French-Canadian. I dragged him willingly up a dark alleyway where I kissed his full ruby lips passionately, my first kiss since Aro. He had shoulder length dark curls which I ran my hands through enticingly. Oh it was easy to beguile and bewitch him. He hardly felt my stinging bite as he swooned in my arms. I took him home with me and I became a maker. How powerful I felt, how divinely god-like. He was mine.

Etienne Lucier was his name and I loved him intensely as soon as he opened his red eyes to this new world.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

I gazed at Etienne's face in fascination as he sunk his sharp teeth into the young girl's neck. I would never tire from watching him feed. We brought victims to our New Orleans mansion regularly. I enjoyed torturing them before we killed them. It was my idea of sport. Etienne did as I told him to do, which was fine at first but I soon got tired of being his Mistress. I wanted him to love me back as an equal! The first decade after I made him was insanely good. He was enthralled of me, I beguiled and bewitched him endlessly. I loved him intensely, much different than the love I had felt for Aro. I tried not to dwell on thoughts of my maker, but they would creep insidiously into my mind on stealthy feet, whispering memories to me which would make me feel terribly melancholy.

But, Athenodora had stolen a vital part of my essence forever when she attacked me, so my feelings and emotions were now hard and brittle. Yes, I remembered the warmth and love I had shared with Aro, but I didn't feel the intensity any more. Etienne was here, he was all I needed. Although, our relationship was nothing like the passionate wild one I had shared with Aro. As vampires, we had our base desires which demanded complete fulfilment. I enjoyed possessing Etienne's perfect marble body very much but I honestly couldn't say that he reciprocated those feelings. It had been entertaining to take him in hand and show him how I liked to be made love to. He was a willing pupil! He had only experienced one act of love when he was human, before his parents moved to Canada, with his childhood friend Suzette whom he'd left behind in France. I missed having a lover who could read my mind. With Etienne it was all about showing him how magnificent the power I held over him was. He was mine to do with as I saw fit, but I knew deep down that he didn't love me, not the all consuming head over heels love that I had found with Aro. My fledgling loved me as his maker, but not as his lover, his everything. I couldn't make him love me, but I could make him be my loyal companion forever!

Etienne tossed the girl's drained body aside with a casual air as he approached me. I held out my arms for him eagerly. As always, watching him with his victim stirred sexual feelings of longing in my stomach and I needed release. I lunged at him, my lips tasting the girl's blood as I kissed him fervently. I ran my hands through his dark shoulder-length curls greedily as I pressed my body against him with salacious intent. He wanted me too! Oh the sweet exquisite pain of longing inside me grew until I could stand it no longer. We tumbled together on the floor, eager hands and lips devouring the other hungrily. I didn't care if Etienne loved me or not at these special times. I just needed to feel his cold skin against mine as we scaled the heights of passion together. This was part of our killing ritual. Every time we tortured and killed a human we ended up entwined together lustfully. Tonight, the large pale moon shone in the mansion window as we gave in to our desires. Blood and lust, fire and ice, I possessed my boy vampire over and over until we were sated.

Afterwards my young lover always looked ashamed and horrified at the events which had occurred. I fondly thought of Etienne as much younger than me, although in human terms we were both eternally eighteen. I, of course had been a vampire since 1349, nearly four hundred years ago! Etienne had been with me for a whole century now, it was the year 1720 and we had come to this new place because it was colonised by the French. It somehow made Etienne feel at home and I had always loved France myself so it made sense to come here to this city which was only founded two years ago. It was all dazzling new and we loved it here, for now. As a vampire it was prudent not to stay in one place too long, in case of discovery. I had commissioned the building of the mansion on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain, it was secluded and private, perfect for our killing games. We had a large cellar where I often held our victims for a day or so, teasing them with release but ultimately bringing them death. Yes, I was a cruel vampire now. Events had shaped me this way. Long gone was the innocent girl. Little flame was no more and I rarely heard my sister's voice talking to me now. I thought of her sometimes but they were only fleeting thoughts and images. This was my life now. No point in thinking of the past. It was long gone, a hazy distant memory of the human girl I used to be.

Etienne had tried to persuade me to hunt in the streets of New Orleans, but I preferred my method of procuring victims. We played out a different charade each time we needed to slake my violent thirst. We would pretend and play games to attract our victims. Sometimes we would make believe Etienne was a common thief trying to steal the rich lady's jewels, other times we would seduce a lonely human whilst they drowned their sorrows in alcohol within the dark taverns. All of our games were designed to attract a kind human who would wish only to help us, or talk to us or even to kiss our icy lips. They were such easy prey! I loved the thrill of the chase, so much more interesting than merely hunting for food. I liked to break our victims so they begged for life. Why did they beg so? A pathetic short life with no wonder nor enchantment! Why did they seek mercy from me? Didn't they see my fiery red hair, my glittering ruby eyes and my pale skin? Was I not a Goddess to them? A perfect unmerciful powerful deity who could snatch their pathetic existence away in a human heart beat!

In Montreal I had began to hunt and feed this way, but only since moving to this new city had I developed my preferred method precisely. Etienne drove me mad sometimes with his incessant need to be good! Even as a human he had sought out goodness and not evil. As a vampire I demanded that he needed to embrace his dark side. I argued with him constantly about this aspect. Of course, his over-riding need for blood usually won the argument every time. I had great power over him and there was no denying I was his maker. He liked to debate with me but it always ended up with his obedience. It was just another game really! As I dressed I gazed down in eternal amazement at my beautiful boy with his red eyes, his sculpted cheekbones, and his dark curls laying against the marble skin of his face. He could be a chiseled statue or an intricate oil painting. He was so perfect and still. How glad I was to have found him. I had no doubts my existence would have been so much worse off without him. Long lonely centuries had stretched out before me the day I left Italy. Even worse was the slow passing of time in Paris pining over my lost love. When I had fled to Montreal I had lived in fear of Sulpicia finding me, but she never did. I didn't know if she had followed me to Paris or not. I tried not to think of her or her evil leader. Both of those women had tried to destroy me, but they didn't succeed. I hated to think of Aro with his wife, living together in Volterra, being controlled by Athenodora. They thought they were powerful and untouchable! What a myth!

I banished thoughts of my old life from my mind as I beckoned for Etienne to help me dispose of the girl's lifeless corpse. She had been beautiful, long blond hair and the bluest cornflower eyes. Now she was drained of blood and life. No longer animated and alive. We had tortured her for a day or so before I instructed Etienne to feed. My poor boy was almost delirious with thirst by then. I was more controlled now, I had centuries of practice over him. The death and dying was more enchanting to me now than the actual blood. I loved to watch the light fade from their eyes. I had also learnt to drink in human auras, just like Athenodora could. The life force could give you so much more strength and power than mere blood! Of course, my poor Etienne hated for me to do this. He abhorred the act and took no pleasure from it. I even offered to teach him how to steal auras, but he wanted nothing to do with it. I really had to toughen my boy up, but then again I did take pleasure in his soft tender side, it made me think of Aro which was painful but welcomed at times. I wished Etienne would look at me, even only once, with an overwhelming lustful stare that would lead him to take me forcefully and mercilessly with unrestrained and wholly untameable desire. Just like Aro used to do. I wanted him to want me so desperately like that, but there was something missing and I could not make him feel something that didn't exist.

So we went on with our life together, a whole one hundred years had passed and gone by since I lured Etienne up that alleyway. All in all I was pleased with our existence together. It definitely beat being alone. Volterra was far away in body and mind, there was no threat nor danger here. We existed, we fed, we lay together, we tortured some innocent humans for fun, life was good. How was I to know that all that would change in the blink of an eye? I should be used to having my illusions shattered after four hundred years, but nothing prepared me for the shock of what would happen in a few days time. Even as I sit here alone, writing my long story, I feel a shiver of disbelief and horror run up my spine. I will reveal all soon, but first let us go back to the night we disposed of the body in Lake Pontchartrain. The moon was still hanging like a big lantern in the deep dark New Orleans sky when Etienne turned to me with a smile so wide it lit a burning raging fire deep within my black still heart.

"Victoria, I absolutely do love you!" he exclaimed sweetly as he grasped my cold hand in his.

My heart, although stone, leaped in my breast with dizzy excitement! He finally admitted his love for me after a century of self denial. Oh how powerful and magnificent I felt at that moment! I was drunk on his words as his red gaze penetrated my soul. His lips found mine, oh so sweetly. But I didn't want to be kissed sweetly, I wanted dark desire so I growled low in my throat as I held him possessively to me with all my might. He pulled my head back roughly and began to ravage my neck with his sharp teeth, oh this was more my style! He finally got it after a century of my wishing and hoping he would be the lover I dreamt of! Oh bliss!

"I will take you right here, right now with utmost passion, my beautiful maker, if you promise me that this will be the last victim we throw into the Lake!" he exclaimed as his hands ran under my bodice seductively.

Oh he was persuasive now too! Was there no end to this change in him tonight? I moaned with desire against his dark curls as his teeth hungrily ripped apart the silky material of my bodice revealing my pale breasts in the moonlight. His cool mouth descended onto my skin deliciously. I writhed with passion against him as his icy lips and tongue kissed and licked me voraciously. Oh my! I would promise him the earth right now. I had waited a long time for my love and passion to be returned. My patience had paid off at last.

"Oh Etienne, my fledgling boy, my lover, my life! For you, I will promise to try but let's not speak any longer. Love me! Take me!" I gasped my voice hoarse with passion.

The moon watched the two perfect marble creatures come together as one, the maker overjoyed to finally be loved completely and the young one deliriously happy to have found the tiniest small chink in her armour.



CHAPTER NINETEEN

Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Carnival, is an annual festival marking the final day before the Christian fast of Lent, a 40-day period of self-denial and abstinence from merrymaking. Mardi Gras is the last opportunity for revelry and indulgence in food and drink before the temperance of Lent. The term Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday". The date of Mardi Gras varies from year to year, always falling between February 3 and March 9.On Mardi Gras Day, many ordinary people dress in costume and wander through the city. Revellers jam the narrow streets of the city's oldest neighbourhood, known as the French Quarter. The atmosphere in the French Quarter is marked by drunken euphoria and general abandon.

The squeals of human delight and laughter assaulted my vampire ears as Etienne and I soaked up the giddy atmosphere of Mardi Gras, here in our new home town. The euphoric scent of mortals carried away by alcohol and lowered inhibitions was infectious to me and my young lover. Their excited heart beats and delicious rushing blood were music to our finely attuned senses. We smiled knowingly at each other as we walked among the warm pulsing crowd. Etienne's hand was resting on the base of my spine possessively, sending icy chills of desire racing up my spine. Oh last night on the shores of the moonlit lake had been wondrous with him! He finally became the lover I desired and needed. It was as if a switch had been flicked on inside of his mind. After a whole century he finally became what I wanted. I shivered imperceptibly when I brought up the image of his icy mouth on my neck and breasts. His cool kisses had become even bolder before the night was through. I took him home after the first encounter by the lake and in our hand carved oak bed I possessed him completely. He had groaned strangled words of love in my ear as we reached the pinnacle of our desire. Oh I was deliriously happy today!

I whispered to Etienne that I liked the look of a young girl standing alone by the street light. He raised his eyebrows to me delightfully! He nodded and smiled, "We can follow her Victoria, lure her away from the crowd into our waiting arms!"

I shook my head angrily, causing my carnival mask to slip from my red eyes. I impatiently fastened it again as I glared at my lover. His eyes were ruby pools as they shone through his own mask. We probably could have gotten away without disguise, as these New Orleans natives were high on delirium, alcohol and other substances no doubt.

"No Etienne! We shall take her back to the mansion where we can have some fun with her. She is very pretty don't you agree?" I asked as I villainously eyed up the lovely young girl who stood holding her flambeaux high.

She had waist length ebony curls, smooth alabaster skin and emerald green eyes. So stunningly perfect that she could have been an immortal one. I reached out with my mind to sense her aura, it was all vibrant with reds and golds threaded with silver. Delicious! The pulse at her neck beat faster with delirious excitement. I wanted to sink my teeth into the creamy skin at her throat. I knew her blood would be laced with fear and lustful desires which would make it just as sweet as honey. Etienne was frowning at me as he watched me salaciously eye up my prey.

"Victoria! You promised me! No more victims!" he snarled in my ear. Oh but he was very desirable when he was demanding! I liked this new Etienne immensely!

"Oh my love, when will you learn? I decide what happens, have you not deduced that yet?" I laughed as I pulled him along the street towards the beautiful girl. " I promised not to throw any more bodies into the lake, did I not?" I asked him sweetly.

My young lover growled angrily, making me want to swoon with desire. I wanted him so badly right now, but the thought of the wonderful prey in front of me kept my resolve strong. How perfectly pretty and desirable she would look spread-eagled and chained to my bed. I licked my pouting red lips wickedly and lasciviously as aching hunger sang through my veins. Oh I wanted to taste her skin, her blood and her essence so much! Etienne stared at me with a strange expression, could he not sense my lust for this girl, did he not feel such desire to take her too?

"I obviously did not make myself clear last night, Victoria. I did not intend to ever bring a victim back to the mansion again. I intend to hunt in the streets of this town, cleanly and quickly! We do not need to be cruel creatures, do we?" he spoke quietly as we approached the girl.

She stared at us in awe, as was the usual response of humans. Etienne didn't need to glamour her, women regularly gazed at him and fell instantly in love. It made my venom blood boil with jealousy. I liked to command Etienne to touch and kiss other girls when we chose our victims. I liked to watch curiously as he made them swoon under his sensual touch, but I became incensed if they dared to lay a mortal hand on his perfect white skin. He was mine. I stroked my index finger down my potential prey's soft cheek, letting it trail down her throat and between her pert breasts which were unashamedly on show in the black velvet corset she wore so well. I gave a low growl filled with pent up lust. My stomach flipped over as I imagined what I could do to her.

"For you Etienne, I will make this tasty morsel my last treat. It is Lent tomorrow after all!" I laughed girlishly.

My lover looked extremely annoyed with me, but his baser desires were overcoming any anger he felt. He nodded at me with salacity shining in those deep red eyes. He stealthily made his way around the girl and lifted up her long curls so his lips could kiss her neck seductively.

"Hello sweetness, aren't you a sight for sore eyes," he whispered against her shell like ear, causing her to swoon against him.

His arms caught her around her tiny waist, his hands splaying out to rest on the underside of her perfect breasts. I watched the scene with fervent adoration. How I loved to watch my fledgling become seducer! His long fingers stroked the velvet material of her corset slowly and lovingly as his mouth traced little feathery kisses on the smooth skin of her throat. She gasped at his intimate touch and writhed a little against him. His red eyes were darkening with passion and thirst. He would have to be sated soon I thought to myself, excitement brimming underneath my skin delightfully. I gazed deep into the girls emerald eyes, watching her emotions flicker and change lightning fast. She was scared but curious. She was overwhelmed but excited. She was frightened but enamoured.

"Do not be afraid beautiful one, we only aim to give you pleasure on this most wonderful of Cajun nights! Would you like to see our mansion? We have food and wine in abundance. We have music to bring such joy to your ears! We can dance, celebrate and drink as we make love under the stars in our beautiful home! We are rich, oh very rich! We would love for you to join us, dear girl. Won't you come?"

Of course, she had no choice. It was all a game, an elaborate game! I loved the charade, I loved the deception, I most of all loved the moment when she would realise what we truly were and death claimed her. Etienne asked do we need to be cruel? I think it is part of the inherent make up of a vampire's soul, if we indeed have souls. To me, cruelty was a natural part of what I was. Etienne had struggled with his internal demons for a century now. Wasn't it time he embraced his true nature? I wished and prayed he would very soon. He had given me his devotion at last, maybe the time had come for acceptance too.

The girl left the colours and sounds of the Mardi Gras behind willingly. This was a night for humans to forget their inhibitions and morals. One night of the year when nothing was frowned upon and secret desires were made real. Back at the mansion we indulged our every fantasy and whim. The girl turned out to be a perfect victim. She gave and demanded passion in equal measures. Etienne was most delighted with her, as was I. Her skin, her scent and taste, her sighs and moans of pain mixed with pleasure were simply exquisite and I hoped we could make this experience last a long while. Killing her would bring even greater fulfillment and pleasurable lusts.

We played our cat and mouse games with her through the night, into the next day and beyond. When night fell once more, I instructed Etienne to let me drink in her complete aura before we both fed on her. He turned to me with such a look, I didn't even recognise my lover's face behind that mask of pure hatred.

"I will not do as you say Victoria! I have had enough of your sadistic nature, you are evil to the core! Go into the cellar now! Lock yourself in and do not come out!" he spat out at me with pure unadulterated venom.

The shock of his betrayal brought me to a complete standstill. His eyes bore into mine and his words seeped into my brain powerfully. I found myself obeying his command! How could this be? My limbs betrayed me, they walked to the cellar door and I found myself on the other side in the dark, shock and confusion running through me like ice. He spoke to me from beyond the door, his voice cold and unrecognisable.

"You have pushed me into this Victoria! I wanted to love you but your cruel nature makes it impossible! Just because we are vampires it does not mean we must be monsters! I cannot believe it! I will not believe it! I didn't ask for this life, I didn't want it! You took me away from my human life, my family and any chance I had of a normal decent existence! All because you were lonely! All because you pine for your maker, whomever he is. You have never spoken about him, could it be that he is the reason for the way you are? I do not know, all I know is that I cannot bear to be around you a second longer! I cannot be a monster like you! "

Was this true? Did my vampire boy hate me so? Oh I cannot bear it!

"Victoria, I had an inkling that I too had a special power. It took me a while to discover it, but once I did I honed and sharpened it until I knew I was ready to unleash it! I had to gain your complete trust and compliance. I knew that if I pretended to fully love and desire you that I could gain the upper hand one day soon. Tonight you have pushed me to the edge and my mind control came into being with virtually no command from me! You will remain in the cellar for the remainder of the night. When dawn comes you have permission to enter the house again, but I will not be here, I will be far away from here, from you! You will never try to find me! You will leave me be, do you hear me Victoria? Leave me be! " Etienne spat out venomously from behind the door.

Oh I bet he was dangerous and wholly addictive looking at this moment in time. His anger only fuelled my lust for him and I tried to move but found I was rooted to the spot by an unseen force!

"Do not speak to me Victoria, I do not wish to hear your false words and promises! I do not wish to hear your voice, you will only try to bewitch and beguile me! I need you to stay in the cellar in complete silence!"

I could only comply with his wishes, I had no choice.

I heard him mutter to himself quietly, "I really can control minds? Especially a mind as powerful and strong as my maker's? Wonders will never cease to amaze me! I will use this power only for the good, I will not become an evil monster. I will find a way to feed without hurting mortals! I will live a secluded peaceful life alone. Victoria will be a distant nightmare!" he whispered under his breath as I heard him untie the girl.

She was sobbing quietly, the sound reverberating through my mind, making me want to snap her neck in two. She was meant to die tonight! Did Etienne mean to kill her himself?

Unfortunately not, so it seemed, as I heard him speak to her in his slow hypnotising voice designed for intense glamouring. I guessed he could also go that one step further and control her mind now too. How convenient! I listened intently to his words from my dark prison.

"I am so sorry we hurt you dear girl. You will leave here now and return to your home. You will assume your cuts and bruises are due to too much merriment during the carnival. You will return to your human life and forget all about the two creatures you encountered tonight! You will be fine, I promise. Now, go, run back to town!" he instructed.

I heard the girl's footsteps receding out into the courtyard and away down the drive into the woods beyond. She was gone. I wanted to scream and rage but I couldn't make any sound at all. I sensed Etienne leaving soon after. I was alone in the dark, immobile and silent. How horrid this was! Did I truly deserve this? Both men, I had given my vampire heart too had let me down badly! Yet,I was considered the evil one, the betrayer, the cold hearted creature! All I wanted was someone to love me, someone for me to love, someone like Aro! Would I ever find such love? Or was I destined to wander this Earth alone and unloved for all eternity?

I cried inside with deep anguish "Oh Lizzie, help me! Your Little Flame is so despairingly lost and alone once more!"



CHAPTER TWENTY

Another century or so has gone by in the blink of an eye. Another one hundred years or so of solitude. Mostly, I didn't mind being lonely, I had learnt that the company of other vampires could only lead to sadness, despair and heartbreak. I had loved Aro with all my heart, and to be completely honest I still did. Etienne was a pleasant distraction, but I will never make another like me! If he couldn't be a loving loyal companion, who could?

I had moved to a different town, New Orleans held nothing over me now and I had no desire to return to Paris or England. I still feared Sulpicia! But even more so, I feared Athenodora, the wolf in sheep's clothing! Her heart truly was a deep soulless pit of darkness, her soul an icy vast wasteland. I shivered when I remembered how it had felt when she had fed from me. She didn't take only my blood, she took an essential part of me too. I had lost something vital that day and once it had gone it was replaced with a dark cruelty. I accepted the changes, what else could I do? Only Aro could thaw my heart of ice. Only his touch could restore my soul. Did he ever think of me at all?

I walked through the dark, dark streets, no moon shone down upon me on this frosty November night. The year was 1890 and my choice of abode was now this town. I lived in a modest townhouse in a quiet area. I hunted and fed on my victims away from my home. I had no desire to bring humans back to my lair and torture my poor victims any more. I only wanted to feed and keep myself to myself. Let me describe to you the place I chose to live in; it lies on a narrow strip of land between the salt waters of Puget Sound and the fresh waters of Lake Washington. Beyond the waters lie two rugged mountain ranges, the Olympics to the west and the Cascades to the east. It is a city built on hills and around water, in a mild marine climate that encourages prolific vegetation and abundant natural resources.

Can you guess where I am in the world? Seattle! It was close to Alaska, where I loved to go when I was feeling particularly sombre. Alaska was vast, lonely and ice cold which suited my black moods perfectly. Seattle was vibrant, and new, teeming with lots of blood filled humans just waiting to fall under my deathly spell. It was a good enough place to call home for now. When the need to flee overtook me I would move on with no regrets. I only had myself to answer to, it was better that way. So I let the years slip past me quickly and uneventfully. I didn't let myself become enamoured of my victims, nor did I seek out other vampires, although I knew they existed. I had no desire for any contact with them. Lately something strange had been occurring, something which made me want to hide away in the house. I had felt a presence around me, it had a unique scent, it was always invisible to me, even with my attuned senses. Whenever I sensed this entity my stomach would clench into knots and I would want to run. I was fed up of fleeing and I tried to suppress my natural evasion instinct.

Tonight I had that feeling again as I walked through the Seattle night. The air was cold with the promise of a hard Winter. I turned around sharply to scan the area behind and around me. I couldn't make out a definite shape but I knew someone or something was there. Oh goodness, had Athenodora came for me? Had she sent the ruthless Sulpicia to find me? My mind cried out in fear as I stood rooted to the spot with nervous anxiety. My body finally obeyed me and I took off at high speed. A blur of movement whizzing through the night, away from the city and out into the deep dark forest. Still in panic mode I scaled a high conifer, my feet sure and swift as I climbed higher and higher. I reached the top of the tree in seconds. I surveyed the area all around me, looking for signs of the entity. What was it? What did it want? My whole being hummed with electricity and fear of the unknown. It was quite exhilarating but also most disconcerting. The more I tried to talk myself out of my irrational fears, the worse I became!

"I am a powerful strong vampire for pity's sake!" I chided myself.

I was caught in a web of indecision. Should I stay here or should I run? I chose to run, it was definitely more of a natural choice to me. I felt the cold dark aura of the presence surround me. I leapt and jumped over branches and fallen trees like a gazelle. I concentrated completely on evading my pursuer. The trees zoomed past me as I ran, startled animals fled and the moon came out from behind a cloud to shine down on this terrified vampire as I ran with all the speed and agility I could muster. My mind was focused and my body was strong, but my nerves sang out keenly with fear and trepidation. Although part of me was enthralled by the chase. A small hidden part was enjoying this break from the mundane routine my existence had become. Would my stalker kill me? Would they end my long long existence? Would I finally stare true death in the face?

I came to a sudden stop at the top of a raging inferno of cascading water. The waterfall was high and wide with rocks framing the peak and sides. Rocks could break my bones and render me incapable of fleeing for a little while. I couldn't afford injury, not now, not when there was a presence very close behind me. I decided I would have to jump this great canyon. I had to escape! It was imperative or I may not survive. I thought I was sick of this existence, but my survival instinct had kicked in loud and clear. I did something I hadn't done in awhile, I took a mighty big breath of air into my lungs. Such an old human trait. Then I launched myself up and out into nothingness. The water crashed and foamed beneath me as I flew through the moonlit sky. I silently prayed that I would land on solid ground. I closed my eyes and willed my vampire body to do as it should. Suddenly I was on the other side. I flew to the ground, tumbling and falling, as my feet skidded on the wet earth. I had made it! Oh how joyous I felt at that moment.

My relieved happiness soon dissipated when I felt a strong hand grab me around my ankle. I kicked ferociously as I tried to dislodge the thing's hold on me. I writhed and struggled but to no avail. I could not free myself. I shrieked and screamed in sheer frustration and anger. I felt a body pin me down beneath it, it's strength overwhelming me. I had no will to fight left so I succumbed to it's power. If it was time to die then so be it. When I finally stopped trying to fight I saw my stalker clearly. Red eyes gazed down into mine intensely. A handsome pale face, with full pouting lips and strawberry blonde short cropped hair. He was beautiful and so obviously a vampire. I almost sighed with relief. I had convinced myself that either of my two female enemies were after me. I wasn't expecting this!

The handsome face smiled at me showing perfect white even teeth.

"I have you at last! You are definitely a hard one to find, Victoria! I have searched many continents for you, eventually finding you here!" he spoke in a voice like melting honey.

I gazed up into those red eyes with complete amazement and befuddlement.

"Why would you desire to find me?" I asked, confusion lacing my question.

He smiled down at me again, "I am a tracker Victoria. I was sent to find you. No vampire nor mortal can ever evade me for long, but you certainly put up a good fight!"

Oh my! Did my enemies send him here to find me and bring me back to them for punishment? I shivered with fear.

"Who sent you?" I asked him, my voice stuttering slightly with nerves. Why did I feel so weak. I was strong! His body was pressing down onto mine in a most delicious way, causing little sparks of electricity to run through me. It had been too long since I had felt another so close to me.

"My Maker sent me. In fact he made me with this sole purpose in mind. He knew I had the ability in my human life, so it made sense that it would be much magnified now I am Immortal! I am a new-born, Victoria. You can feel my strength, can't you? I love this existence! I was glad to be changed! I have a purpose now, a new meaning!" he laughed delightfully.

Oh it was fantastical to see such youth and exuberance! How I missed the feelings and emotions of being completely alive in my undeadness! For years I had wandered lost and alone. My emotions and desires suppressed leaving me hollow and empty. Now, beneath this new-born vampire, so full of life and passion, I felt a renewed energy rush into the empty spaces of my being. Under the full moon and upon the dirty ground I felt a desire to live again run strongly through my veins. But I was curious beyond curious to know why this vampire was here!

"Who sent you? Who are you?" I asked with new found vigour.

He leapt up and pulled me to my feet, his red eyes boring into mine with a great intensity.

"You are more beautiful than I ever could have imagined!" he exclaimed as he gazed admiringly at me.

"Well thank you, but you still haven't answered my questions!" I said impatiently.

He brought my hand up to his cool lips, gently kissing my marble skin.

"I am James, pleased to meet you at last. Aro sent me, your maker and mine. He wants you back Victoria! I have come to take you to Volterra. We leave tonight!" he revealed with another perfect smile.

I just about fell off the cliff and down into the savage rocks and swirling water in utmost shock. I gasped as James held onto my shoulders with a vice like grip. His red eyes and perfect face swam before me as I tried to take it all in.

My first lover, my maker, my everything wants me back? Aro wants me back! Oh my!


Chapter 21: Chapter 21


CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

James was a sadistic and cruel vampire who was very strong and powerful. Qualities I admired immensely in a mate. He may have been stronger than me physically but mentally I was far superior. We were a good team. I fell back into my torturing ways with ease. How delightful to have found a companion who shared my tastes in killing victims! Despite James insisting we leave for Volterra the night we met, six months have passed and we are still here in Seattle. We became caught up in each other most easily. James adored me and I found him to be good company. I didn't love him but I was attracted to his devious personality and his strength. He was beautiful and luminous as all vampires are but his physical attributes were not to my taste, he was far too blonde and rugged. I loved my men dark, broody and mysterious. Like Aro.

You would think I would be clamouring with anticipation and curiosity over Aro's claim he wanted to see me. I was obviously desperate to see him, but I was wary and afraid too. James and I had spent the first night we met talking intently about our existences and experiences. He told me how Aro had hand-picked him for his tracking abilities which he had already honed to perfection when human. He said Aro was desperate to find me but he didn't say why. I confessed to James the history I shared with my maker and I told him of the deep love we once shared. I asked him if he had been to the Volturi headquarters, but James told me Aro had always came to him. He was Aro's new pet, his new toy, a fantastic acquisition to add to his prized guard. James knew nothing of Sulpicia or Athenodora, he had been dispatched to search for me quite quickly after being turned into a vampire by Aro. We shared the same maker, we shared a bloodline, but there was no intense passion between us like there was between a maker and fledgling. Aro and I had had it in abundance, Etienne and I shared a fraction of it, although more on my side than his. With James there was no rush of emotion or lust. He made me feel safe though and I treasured that after years and years of being alone.

James would like there to be sexual relations between us, but so far I have declined. Often he becomes so determined that I have to fight him off, our encounters becoming quite violent at times. His unwanted affections make me run and I successfully evade him for awhile, but he always finds me. We have such games of hide and seek! I am a master evader and he is a master tracker! Perfect! I was too cautious to fall into another soul and heart destroying relationship. Lust and desire only caused harm, I should avoid it completely! I let James kiss me sometimes, mainly as a reward for catching me or for satisfying my demands when we took a victim. James loved to run his large hands coarsely up and down my slim figure, sometimes daring to touch the exposed bare skin of my shoulder or back. I sometimes enjoyed his cool lips on mine, he was rough and insensitive which was fine with me. I didn't want tenderness. It reminded me of Aro and I didn't like to dredge up those long forgotten forbidden memories of the hours and days we spent completely entranced with each other. Long nights in my lover's arms, intoxicated on his scent and taste, our kisses cool but feverish, our bodies crying out with unbridled passion as we came together as one in glorious abandonment. No, those thoughts must stay hidden!

Etienne sometimes ran through my mind, but because he had used mind control on me the thoughts were diluted and hazy. I knew I had loved him but I didn't dwell on our time together much. James protected me, he looked after me and he was loyal. That was all I needed for now. I persuaded him that we should wait before he brought me to Aro. He was so devoted to me that he agreed instantly. He wasn't that intelligent, but he knew if he had any chance of winning me he must please me first. I didn't think I would ever give in to his desire for me, but it made things interesting. I had a companion, we shared the same blood lusts and we played fun games together. I was happy, yes I really was quite happy. Even with the thought of seeing Aro again looming over me, I managed to just enjoy the moments I shared with James for now. All these thoughts went through my mind as I sat before my vanity table, pinning up my long red hair. I was waiting for James to return so we could hunt for a victim together. I had set up a torture room in my home specifically for our use. James was no Etienne, there was no thread of goodness running through his black heart! So like me! The exquisite thrill and excitement I obtained from torturing and killing my prey replaced any other desires I may have had. I hear James now, flying through the door of my home and bounding up the wooden staircase swiftly.

He murmurs appreciation and growls low in his throat when he sees me with my hair piled high on my head. His red eyes are lustfully staring at the smooth white marble skin of my exposed neck and cleavage. Oh such power I wield over this young one!

"Victoria, I should like very much to sink my teeth into your hard flesh," he growled with pent-up desire.

I laughed daintily as I beckoned for him to come closer.

"You will not dare to suggest such an outrageous thing to me James!" I snarl, my red eyes dark and dangerous. "But you may give me a chaste kiss, if you like," I add coquettishly.

He is by my side in a split second, his cool lips upon me in a flash. He roughly moulds his mouth to mine with greedy hunger. "I want you Victoria, won't you yield yourself to me, beautiful one?" he begs of me, as his lips slide down my cheek to my neck.

I pull away sharply and he sighs in frustration, "One day I will just take you Victoria, I have the strength and the power to overwhelm you! I could make you moan with pleasure, if you give me the chance! I will banish thoughts of your first love from your mind, my most desirable friend!" he boasts dramatically.

I raise my eyebrows at him quizzically, "Do not presume to know me James. I am complex and demanding, I am unyielding and uncompromising! I do not wish to enter into a relationship like that with you. I still crave my maker, that is a truth which will never abate. I enjoy your company, I enjoy our games and I do enjoy our short intimate moments. But there will never be anything more between us and you need to understand that!" I stated passionately.

James smiled at me and placed my hand on his strong hard chest, where his still heart lay. "Ah Victoria, I will never give up trying to win your affections! I hope when we make it to Volterra that you will change your mind. I really hope Aro doesn't love you any more. Then maybe you will consider becoming mine!" he exclaimed.

I wondered again why Aro had sent James to find me, just what was so important? He'd had centuries to find me but he decided now was the time? I didn't understand. I kept putting my visit to Volterra off, but I knew I would go with James sooner or later. The pull was too strong, my mind was too curious and I have already confessed that I still love Aro. My love for him would never change. Seasons could come and go but my heart, body and soul would remain his, as always. As I mentioned, James was a pleasant distraction from my boring existence. I was very fond of him, but I would never ever fall in love with him.

Another few years tumbled past so speedily, the 20th century arrived and I finally decided it was time to face Aro. Times had changed so dramatically since our last meeting. Had we also changed? I knew I had, Athenodora had seen to that. I was both terrified and elated at the thought of returning to Italy and my maker. My curiosity was at bursting point and I reckoned I had made Aro wait long enough. James and I had been together for thirty years now, the year was 1920. A World War had already shook this Earth to its foundations, but none of those human concerns bothered my mate and I. James took my delicate small pale hands in his large ones as he gazed deep into my scarlet eyes.

"Victoria, finally we leave for Volterra and I am feeling rather melancholy and lost, my sweetest," he remarked sadly.

I was also consumed by emotions. Trepidation and anxiety. Excitement and longing. My stomach clenched with nerves when I thought of seeing Aro's face again. I stroked James's pale cheek with my index finger, "Do not be sad, James. I won't leave you, we will still be together. I need to know why Aro wants me to return. Don't leave me though, I couldn't bear it! Oh James, I'm frightened and I need you!" I wailed, leaving all pretence of bravado behind.

James stroked my red hair away from my face as he spoke quietly and gently to me.

"I won't let you come to any harm Victoria, no matter what happens!" he exclaimed.

Oh but I felt so adored and loved right now! It clouded my sensibilities as I reached out for James. He enfolded me in his strong arms, his lips in my hair as he groaned my name.

"Oh Victoria! I love how you are strong and fearless but underneath you are a lost little girl! It is a very desirable combination!" he whispered in my ear.I clung to him willingly, letting his body comfort me.

His lips made their way to mine, meeting in a sweet forlorn kiss. Maybe I should have stopped him in his tracks like I always did but I needed to be close to him tonight. As his lips moved against mine more boldly I responded with equal fervour. Oh it was good to be desired! I had suppressed my longing for it far too long. I loved to be wanted! It was part of who I was. James had me in a vice-like grip as his mouth claimed mine completely. Vampire kisses were something else entirely, dazzling and enticing. A vampire was so hard to resist, I swooned slightly as I became intoxicated with his passion for me. His hands delved deep into my unruly red curls as he devoured me intensely. I let myself be swept away on a tide of lustful feelings.

"How I want you Victoria!" he moaned against my mouth as his tongue made intricate patterns on mine.

Electricity sang through my veins as I gave myself up to his desire. But oh how evil I was! All the time his lips and hands were on me I thought of Aro and how truly delicious our lovemaking had been. It was enough to break the connection between James and I, and as I pushed him away his red eyes were full of pain, anger and unspent passions. I was breaking his heart. I knew how that felt. Still, it must be done. He and I would fight over his need to possess me many times again, but I knew we would not leave each other. He was my security blanket and we needed each other like we needed blood. We couldn't be parted now, at least I hoped not.

"I am sorry James, I cannot do this, not whilst I have images of another in my head constantly. We must leave for Volterra tonight, in fact we must go now! I need to know why Aro wants me back there. We will have to pretend you only just found me, it might be safer that way! I do not want any harm to come to you my dearest James!" I exclaimed as I looked deep into his eyes with sincerity and affection.

Soon we were on a boat again, although there were now ships of the air available, I did not trust them! I preferred the long sea journey, there was plenty of time to think and compose myself and there were plenty of victims to feed upon. James and I mostly travelled together in silence. We were both too wrapped up in our own thoughts for idle chit chat. I let him hold me and kiss me sometimes as I easily became overwhelmed with fear the closer we got to Volterra. I didn't know what to expect when we arrived there. It had been three hundred and seventy years since I had last set eyes on my maker. What would happen when we laid eyes on each other again?

I both completely dreaded and wholly desired the answer.



PART FOUR: THE QUICKENING

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

Some things never change despite the passing of time; the gates which led into the Volturi's lair were the same, the butterflies that danced in my stomach were the same. Aro was in here, so close but yet so far? James held my hand as we stared at those forbidding gates nervously. This was my companion's first visit, I knew how daunting this place could be so I squeezed his hand tighter in mine.

"Oh Victoria! I only stand before the gates, yet I quiver with fearful anticipation! I, who am not scared easily!" James whispered to me.

I squeezed his hand even tighter. Was I to become protector now?

"Do not worry, my dearest James. We will face this together!" I proclaimed bravely.

Inside I was a quivering wreck, but my mate didn't need to see that. I would act courageously despite my inner turmoil. I was used to hiding my emotions. I had rid myself of my fears and nerves on the boat. My many victims blood had sustained me well and given me pure strength, even if it was only physical. James had distracted me with his burning kisses and his tight embraces. I was even tempted to let him possess me completely as we hid below deck in our own private cabin. The sea rocked the boat violently at times, making our marble bodies press together intimately as we lay on the small bunk, talking and sometimes indulging in a long fierce kisses. The wind howled and the sea raged as he kissed me so intensely, his desire for me making me almost give into temptation. I wondered why I was holding back. This vampire boy loved me and adored me. It wouldn't be wrong to let him take pleasure from me would it?

But, in the end I left him frustrated and full of lust as I could not bring myself to give in. I needed to see Aro before I decided which path I would take with James. I still loved Aro, his name and his face were etched on my stone heart for evermore. It was highly unlikely that he wanted to re-kindle our love, obviously Sulpicia was still in the picture? A little voice nagged at my mind constantly though, what if we could be together again, as before? Then I would chide myself severely for entertaining such whims. Aro had never been completely mine, there were obstacles, duty and loyalties in the way. Nothing would have changed, but still I clung to the small flicker of hope that one day he could be mine.

I smiled at James encouragingly as we sprang up over the gates landing gracefully together on the other side. We instinctively crouched down in a defensive move as we waited for a member of the guard to attack. Felix appeared from the shadows, a leering grin on his pale face.

"Victoria, you have come back at last! Aro instructed me to watch out for you and this young one to appear. I have waited three decades for this moment! My leader will be most pleased! Come with me now." He beckoned us to follow him down into the dark tunnels which led to the Volturi headquarters. To Aro.

My stomach lurched again and the butterflies resumed their dance. James and I followed Felix in silence. My mind was consumed with thoughts of Aro, James was in awe to be within these walls. We walked through the dark damp tunnels, twisting and turning as we got closer and closer to our destination. My nerves jangled and my spine tingled with anticipation. The darkness gave way to candle light, obviously the Volturi wanted to remain in the dark ages as electric lighting was in use now! We arrived at the inner sanctum which was the leader's reception room where they received guests. I remembered the first time I had ever saw this place, all those years ago as a young terrified vampire who was insanely obsessed with her maker.

Now, five hundred and seventy one years later, I stood here again, with James by my side as the three Volturi leaders rose to greet us. Felix bowed with a flourish as he presented us to the dark hooded figures. I gasped when they all pulled back their hoods in unison, their red gaze boring into us intently. Marcus looked at us apathetically which was his usual stance. Caius looked at us with haughty disgust, which did not surprise me in the slightest. Then there was Aro, finally I was staring into the eyes of my maker once more. A jolt of electricity ran through me from my head to my toes as his searing gaze tore through my skin to the blood and veins below the surface. My blood sang and my body ached for him instantly. Still he had such power over me!

Aro smiled warmly at me, but he gave nothing away in the presence of the other two. He nodded at James and beckoned him forwards. James moved swiftly towards him in supplication as Aro took his hand. His red eyes closed as he read all of my mate's thoughts in an instant. He smiled to himself and nodded, then let go of James's hand.

"Thank you James. You completed the task I gave you. I wondered why it took you three decades but now I know!" he said, his eyes narrowing slightly. "You are dismissed for now, Felix will show you to your room. I would like you to stay here for now, I may have another use for you," he said in that low raspy voice which sent shivers down my spine.

James also bowed to his maker, just what was it with these men! He smiled wanly at me as he left the room, his face worried and sad. I smiled at him reassuringly, even though inside I was a seething mass of emotions. Aro then turned to his two side-kicks, "Please can you leave us alone now, my brothers." he asked with a polite nod in my direction.

My insides clenched again with nervous anticipation.

The ominous silence in the room was thick and heavy as Aro paced the stone floor in front of me. I stood as still as a statue, rooted to the spot and unable to make a sound. Just what was he going to do? Finally he stopped pacing and turned his red gaze towards me. His eyes bored deep into mine, seeking out my very essence. Then he smiled.

"Oh Victoria! It is sheer heaven to gaze on your perfectly beautiful face once more. I thought I should never see you again! You left me, you gave up on us! Oh sweet girl, I have never ceased to love you! I know you obviously do not feel the same any more. You have James now! I sent him to find you, not love you! But I know it's all too easy to love you little flame! If you are happy now, then I will force myself to be happy for you! I had to see you again. I need you here with me, things have happened, dreadful things! I need your help, dearest. Can you bring yourself to stay for a little while so I can explain everything?" he asked, as he stared deeply into my eyes, his gaze never faltering.

My still stone heart swelled up with love and adoration as I gazed at my maker. He still loves me! Oh and how I loved him! Always. The passing of time between us blew away like dust on the wind, the years and years spent apart now seemed like a distant nightmare as we stared in wonder at each other. Now it felt as if I'd only seen him yesterday not centuries upon centuries ago. Aro took my hand in his, lifting it gently to his ruby lips. He closed his eyes as he inhaled the scent of my skin. He almost swooned as he slowly touched my hand with his mouth, kissing my marble smooth skin reverently. I knew he would read my mind, but I didn't care, so I let myself become an open book, I let him 'see' my existence after we parted. His face went through a thousand emotions as he was assaulted with my history.

"Oh Victoria! What revelations! What a turbulent time you have endured!" he exclaimed as he opened his eyes.

I nodded, still unable to utter a sound.

"You still love me?" he questioned, although he knew the absolute truth.

I nodded again, my voice still in hiding as I gazed into his perfectly formed face, my whole body aching and crying out for his touch. His eyes became liquid fire as he read my mind again. He dropped my hand and reached out to stroke my face ever so softly instead.

"Oh I want to touch you too, my darling girl! But not here! Will you accompany me to the countryside beyond the city? I have just acquired a most delightful cottage, where we can talk and be alone with no prying eyes or ears!" he said excitedly.

Finally I could speak again, "I would love nothing more," I whispered.

Aro smiled his most dazzling and wondrous smile at me, the one which made my insides turn into melted chocolate. It was rich and dark and extremely enticing. I shook with sheer nervous desire as I took his hand in mine. I placed his hand on my cheek as I sighed with acute longing. His eyes mesmerised me and we stood like that for what seemed like a long time. In my mind I was saying I love you over and over, like a chant or incantation.

"As I love you," he smiled as he turned his mouth in towards the palm of my hand and slowly licked my skin, all the while inhaling my special intoxicating scent. I almost fainted with desire for my maker as his lips and tongue kissed and licked my hand, moving onto the delicate skin of my wrist and up my forearm, so slowly, so seductively. All the while his gaze never leaving mine. My skin was on fire as his icy kisses fell upon it. I could spontaneously combust, such was the raging fire beneath my skin! I heard a soft moan of pleasure and realised the sound had come from my lips.

"Oh Aro," I breathed as he taunted and teased me with his feather light kisses.

What would it be like when he kissed me properly? Oh my!

"I could devour you right here, right now, Victoria!" he said in a voice heavy with desire.

"But we must not dally. Come with me, my beautiful one, come away with me and spend the night as we used to! I want to kiss you, touch you and completely possess your mind, body and soul! Oh how I long to undress you and feast my eyes upon your perfection! How I ache to make you mine again! " he exclaimed passionately.

It took all my will power not to throw myself upon him. It would be sensible to leave here so we could truly be ourselves. All thoughts of James had disappeared from my mind as my first love and I held hands, our eyes bright and our smiles wide and joyous. We swiftly vacated the area, our movements a blur as we ran lightning quick up and out of this place. Into the night, out of the city we ran, our bodies singing with anticipation of what was to pass. A beautiful cottage with roses around the door, surrounded by dense, dark woods, illuminated by the full moon hanging low in the sky. It was lovely. Aro scooped me up into his strong arms and carried me through the red door of that quaint cottage. My whole existence had come down to this small pin prick in time. Nothing else mattered, nothing else compared. We were here, alone, in this perfect moment in time. We stared at each other in wondrous awe. How intense the moment was, how exquisitely intense!

All my love for him seemed to radiate from every fibre of my being as I reached out to sense his aura. It was purple and red, with gold and green threads of luminosity. Beautiful, just like his face, his silent heart and his complex being. We moved slowly towards each other, pulled together by a special magnetic force. There was nothing I could do to stop it, even if I wanted to. ( As if! )

I savoured the feeling of great anticipation which had been slowly building inside me since I first set eyes on my maker again. The intensity had now reached its peak and the need in me had to be sated or I would explode soon! Slowly, slowly we approached each other, like two animals circling the other, finally we stopped just inches apart. His scent was all around me, his lips were so so close. Our encounter was about to begin. I shivered uncontrollably with pent-up ultimate desire. Oh how delicious it was to savour this perfect moment between us, when the whole universe seemed to hold its breath in anticipation for the two lost lovers. Space and time stood still as the world waited.

It was the calm before the storm.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

Oh what an invention the gramophone was! Aro played Ludwig Van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata as we fell upon each other, it was the perfect soundtrack to the rekindling of our passion. When our ice cold lips finally met sparks flew and electricity hummed in the air and we kissed each other slowly and purposefully. It was as if we were the only two creatures inhabiting this Earth. Nothing else mattered except this moment. The melancholy music of the great Beethoven stirred my soul as Aro's delicate long fingers ran through my hair, pulling me closer and closer until our bodies were touching. Oh how good it felt to have him against me. I matched the slow pace of his mouth on mine, our first kiss after so so long was too incredible to rush. My hands automatically moved up to run my fingers through his long shiny hair, as smooth and soft as black silk. It shone so beautifully, the light catching it's shimmering depths. His tongue touched mine ever so gently and I moaned low and soft against his mouth. He growled as he tasted my scent. I moaned again, my desire rising quickly as his tongue ran along the length of mine oh so deliciously.

There was no need for words as his hands moved away from my long red curls and down my back to undo the delicate small buttons of my dress. Our lips were still moulded together, we could not break this ultimate perfect kiss we shared. I never wanted my mouth to be anywhere else but on his as we fell deeper and deeper into the kiss. He slipped my dress off and I gracefully stood out of it, leaving it discarded on the floor. My small hands became more bold as they twisted and pulled his silky hair around and around. Aro's hands were running over my silk underwear with exquisite slowness and precision. Not a part of me was unexplored in his quest to touch me everywhere as I stood before him unashamed in my beautiful tea rose brassiere and short bloomers. His lips left mine for a second to whisper softly against my cheek his bold words of desire, "May I remove your undergarments, my love?" he asked.

I shivered with unbidden desire and nodded with a shy smile. Words were beyond me for now. Aro's delicate hands removed my silks from me deliberately slowly and teasingly. My skin tingled and ached for him as I stood before him unclothed. He pulled back so he could admire me. His scarlet liquid eyes gazed at me with complete reverence as he took in my pale marble flawless skin, my long abundant red curls covering my breasts modestly and my face flushed with venom blood which sang out for him desperately. I quivered under his intent gaze. How I ached for his lips and his touch once more. I held out my hand and beckoned him to come to me. He smiled, that smile, and I melted as his fingers began to play over my skin, drawing small slow intricate patterns over me as he left not an inch of me untouched. I wished for his lips to replace his hands and it was so. Oh how I had forgotten how completely amazing it was to have a lover who could read your mind! He knew what I wanted and he didn't disappoint me!

His lips trailed ice and fire over my skin, driving me almost insane with desire. I wanted him so badly but he was determined to draw out our encounter for as long as he could. I writhed and moaned as he teased me with his tongue, how exquisitely pleasurable it was to feel him lick my skin with deliberate slowness. The rough material of his black shirt rubbed on my body most delightfully as he continued to give me almost unbearable pleasure. My voice decided to come back with a vengeance as I moaned loudly with unabashed desire.

"Oh Aro! My love, my maker, my everything! How I love you, how I desire you! Please, my darling, end this pleasurable torment you are unleashing on me. Take me to the heights of passion, I beg of you! I need you!" I moaned as his lips now kissed me with devouring intent.

"Oh little flame! I hear your need, I see your body respond so delightfully to my touch! I know you want me! I want you too, right here, right now!" he exclaimed, his voice hoarse with lustful desire.

He ripped off his clothes eagerly, then stood before me, oh he was beautiful! A pale marble sculpture of perfection. His desire for me was most evident too! He scooped me up into his strong marble arms and moved swiftly up the wooden stairs to his chamber. We landed on his opulent bed with our mouths and limbs entwined. His kisses were feverish and no longer controlled. We devoured each other hungrily as our bodies moved together in perfect harmony. He made me his completely once more. I gave myself up willingly and rode this tidal wave of passion and desire relentlessly until we both reached the summit of our lust. Then I was falling, spiralling out of control into a universe of bright blooming colours. Everything else faded into darkness and there was just this unbelievable culmination of our utmost adoration for each other. It had been too long. I needed to feel this all consuming desire again. How did I live without it? How did I live without him?

Oh I was lost to my maker once more, everything else paled into insignificance as we held each other in his bed, the bright full moon lighting up our iridescent entities magnificently. In his arms I was whole again. Why did I ever leave? I should have stood up to my enemies! I should have fought for the man I loved. Who obviously loved me to distraction too. We lay in silence for a short while, savouring the feel of our bodies pressed close together as we entwined in utter satiation. Then it was time to talk. I spoke first, breaking the silent reverie between us.

"I love you with all my still silent heart Aro. If it beat it should only beat for you, my only love!" I sighed against his marble chest, my fingers playing over his skin gently. His lips gently kissed the top of my head.

"I echo your words, Victoria. I have loved you since I first set eyes on you and I will love you until the end of my existence. I wish we had not let matters come between us so readily too!" he replied with sadness in his voice. "Tell me, did you love Etienne? Do you love James?" he added curiously.

I laughed softly, "I made Etienne, so I loved him, but I was trying to recreate the love we shared, it was never going to work! He betrayed me in the end, but looking back I deserved it. James found me, as you know. He instantly adored me, but although I am fond of him I will never love him. Don't you see my beautiful maker, I love only you," I said passionately, my lips roughly grazing his marble chest.

"I see. I was jealous when I read James's thoughts! Then even more so when I read yours, but I could not expect you to be alone forever, Victoria. You are far too precious a creature for that!" he laughed admiringly.

I hated to ask my next question, but I needed to know so I gritted my teeth and let the words pour from my lips.

"What of Sulpicia? She will surely kill me this time! Athenodora came to the castle the day I left. She warned me off, she told me never to go near you or the Volturi again! She said she was meting out punishment to both you and Sulpicia for your crimes. Sulpicia wrote to me in Paris! She said she was coming for me, she said she had been cast out of Volterra for a month! But I fled the city for pastures new immediately and I have seen no trace of her since! I missed you so badly Aro, but when you wrote you didn't say you were coming to see me, nothing had changed! I thought it better to leave forever! I became evil and cruel. I was demanding and awful. I didn't want real love if it wasn't yours! " I exclaimed, my voice racked with emotion.

Aro stroked my hair tenderly and sighed morosely.

"Oh Victoria! I didn't tell you that Athenodora has such power within the Volturi because I hoped to keep you away from her. The less you knew the better! She loves to be in control. She was frightened you were a threat to the very foundations of our coven! She could see me being taken further away by you. I would have left eventually, I really believe that. Your hold of me was so much greater than theirs!" he proclaimed.

I stayed quiet, scared to interrupt his train of thought. I wanted to know everything there was to know.

"Little flame, I am pleased to tell you that Sulpicia is no longer with us! I am afraid she did chase you over Europe, she even got as far as New York, but she lost your trail and she had to return home. She wanted most desperately to kill you my love. I prayed and hoped you would evade her. I could do nothing! Athenodora locked me away in the dark desolate place for fifty years or so! I became a husk, a shell, drained of power and life. But thoughts of your sweetly beautiful face and lush body kept me going and I endured it!" he continued.

I gasped with horror! The evil witch Athenodora had done this to him! He hugged me to him tighter and kissed my forehead lightly.

"Do not feel pain for me, my love. You endured so much more than I! When I came out of my prison, Sulpicia was quite deranged. She couldn't trace you and she was insane with jealousy and rage. She missed Noah so badly too. I told her the Immortal child's location. I gave her the key to unlock him from his tomb. She took it greedily without a backwards glance. I haven't seen her since that day and nor do I desire to! Athenodora let her go without a qualm, most strange but who was I to question her. Those two are a law unto themselves Victoria! " He exclaimed holding me even tighter.

"Ouch!" I cried.

Aro rained cool kisses over my face, "Oh Victoria, I am so sorry for everything! I should have had the guts to confess my utmost adoration and love for you to the whole Volturi! The years slipped by so quickly and I let time between us become a gulf which seemed impossible to cross! When I could no longer bear to be without you I found James. I changed him and instantly dispatched him to find you, I don't think I was ever really sure he would! But he did! Today was the best day of my long long existence when I set eyes upon you once more!" he exclaimed happily, his smile radiant in the moonlight. I smiled back with joy etched on my face.

"What now, Aro? You said you also needed my help? What would you need me for?" I asked curiously.

"Mostly, that was a ruse to make you return to me. Simply put, Victoria, I wanted you above all else! But there is something which is confounding me, my dearest girl. We had a guest not so long ago, a very intelligent vampire who was a doctor. He had a different way of life to us. So radically different it shocked me to my core at first and I tried to convince him his ideas were ludicrous! He said we could exist without killing humans! I was enraged at first and I almost destroyed him for being so disloyal to his own kind!" he spat out with venom.

Ah here was the Aro who could be cruel and destructive coming to the surface. Nothing he could do or say could shock me now, so I listened patiently to his words in silence.

"This vampire told me he drinks blood from animals! He successfully weaned himself off human blood, although it took some time and he had to use blood bags to do it. He said animal blood is a perfectly reasonable substitute. He said he had a lot of practice refraining from human blood in his vocation. He simply blocked out the sound and scent of the rush of blood through his patient's veins. I actually liked him immensely and I respected him a lot. He would have made a fine addition to the guard! Alas, the feeling was not mutual and he left after a couple of years here. He found a lot of hostility towards his ideas, as you can imagine Victoria! If Athenodora had met him, she most surely would have killed him!" he exclaimed truthfully.

I nodded in agreement. Athenodora was pure evil.

"Where is she now?" I asked.

"Well, she has gone to live with Desiderius once more. He has become increasingly worse over the centuries and has become determined to end his existence. She rarely comes here now. She leaves it up to Caius to report back any information to her. Luckily Caius does not care what I do any more, so he will not alert her of your presence. Chelsea worked her magic on him also!" he said with a wicked laugh.

I laughed too, it was joyous to be here in his company, listening to him talk whilst I gazed at his perfect profile.

"And the Doctor? What became of him?" I asked.

Aro shook his head, causing his hair to ripple on the pillow. His hair fascinated me, it was as shiny and smooth and dark as a raven's wing.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about! You and I are going on a journey Victoria! A perfect ruse for us to be together until the furore dies down. I gleaned all this information from James whilst I read his mind before."

Oh gosh, James! I'd forgotten him so readily!

"How would you like to cross the seas again and visit a place called Forks, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula? The good doctor Carlisle Cullen has made a home there. He is head of the Olympic Coven. Very interesting it is too, very interesting indeed! I need to see it for myself! Who better to accompany me than my beautiful consort and love of my whole existence? " he smiled down at me, his ruby red eyes filled with excitement and adventure.

His mood was infectious and I nodded happily in agreement. Any time spent with Aro was priceless to me.

"Yes I would love to go with you Aro!" I said, my lips finding his hungrily again.

All other thoughts were banished as we once again gave into our extreme passion. How I loved this vampire with all of my stone heart! My body craved him, my mind ached for him and my soul rejoiced in him. How unbelievably good it was to be reunited again. We fell into each other completely and wholly again with familiar ease, the moon shone and the stars twinkled as we gave ourselves to each other over and over again. I could never tire of him. I was determined we would be together forever this time.

The universe exploded around us as we climbed the peak of passion together once more, I welcomed the intensity with open arms and dived into the unknown.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR

October 7th 1920 was blustery and cold as Aro's cool hand rested on the small of my back as we stood on the deck of a boat together once more. This magnificent liner was called RMS Majestic and she was a fine boat indeed. My lover turned to gaze at me lovingly, his eyes were bright red and sparkling as we had just fed. He leaned over and gently kissed my pale cheek reverently. Since we had reunited he was ever so attentive and adoring. I was lapping up the attention greedily. We had been apart much too long. I loved being with him again, there was nothing in existence to compare it to. Simply put, we were meant to be. I sighed happily as we looked out upon the night sea. We had travelled from Italy to England relatively quickly by steam train and boat. Then we had made our way from Dover to Southampton where the boat left for New York. Thankfully safety on these vessels was now paramount after the unfortunate sinking of the 'Titanic' back in April 1912 on its maiden voyage. I could not be killed by icy waters or drowning.

In between Dover and Southampton we paid a quick visit to my Kent mansion as Aro had never visited me there before. I proudly showed him around my English home and we invariably ended up giving into our passion in front of a roaring log fire in my drawing room. Of course we didn't need the heat from the flames, but I loved how the fire made shadows dance on my lovers marble skin as I claimed him over and over again. There was something very primal about firelight and it made my baser desires rise readily to the surface as we took pleasure in each other for hours. It was perfect, as always. How simply delightful it was to be back in my lovers arms once more, to feel his icy kisses and to hold his body against mine as we delved into the deepest desires of our still, silent hearts.

You are wondering what happened to James, aren't you?

Well, I was courteous enough to say my goodbyes to him back in Volterra. He was devastated to lose me, but he knew the love Aro and I shared could not be broken or destroyed. I thanked him profusely for bringing me back to my long lost lover. He was glad that I was happy, but he was sad we would not be companions any more. I let him kiss me goodbye and he executed it in his usual rough fashion! I knew he wouldn't be alone for long, he would make another vampire a fine mate. Aro also thanked him for bringing me back. He gave him another task to perform, I think a tracker like James needs to exercise his talent often or he would become bored and restless. Aro recognised this so he sent him out to track his missing wife and her Immortal child. I was shocked by this and I let my feelings be known! Aro calmed me down by explaining it was better to know of our enemies whereabouts than to always wonder. I finally agreed, but warned James to only track her. I didn't want him coming into contact with the evil witch at all! I was slightly disappointed Aro had changed his mind on discovering his errant wife's location but I grudgingly understood why he felt the need to do this.

So, after a few days of peace, tranquillity and intense love making, Aro and I climbed aboard this boat to America. There were victims in abundance for us to feed on. Aro was horrified to learn that I could drink in auras if I wished, even though I assured him I did not practise it very often. I preferred hot thick red pulsing blood running down my eager throat as I clasped my prey to me like a lover. To me, the consumption of a humans aura was dark and evil, just like Athenodora who had done the very same thing to me. It had depleted me in every sense and took away a vital part of me. I felt that stolen part slowly returning somewhat the more time I spent with Aro. He gave me back joy and bliss, but I would never be that wide eyed innocent new-born again, but I couldn't blame that entirely on the evil aura stealing vampire Athenodora! Aro said he loved the new confident me, with my looser morals and greater inner strength. He said it inflamed his desire for me as I was bolder and more passionate in all aspects now. Our love making certainly was more mind blowing than ever before. With age came wisdom!

The journey across the vast Atlantic Ocean was long and time consuming. Aro chided me with a laugh when I complained, as he had suggested flying through the air in those new machines which were like massive iron birds high in the sky. There were no passenger planes as such yet, they wouldn't be in existence for another eight years, but of course Aro's riches and mine combined could easily procure a plane and a pilot if we so wished. I preferred sea travel, even though I had never flown in one of those machines, it just didn't seem right for a human or vampire to be so high in the sky. It was unnatural! Luckily there were plenty of victims aboard a large liner like this one we sailed on to keep me occupied. And of course there was Aro. My lover and I made full use of the luxury cabin we had booked. It was exciting to make love upon the seas; the waves rocking our marble bodies and our passions rising with the changing tides. All in all the journey could have been worse. I was grateful to make it to New York though. We arrived in the 'Big Apple' ten days after we'd departed from Southampton. Oh it was good to disembark, surrounded by excited humans, their infectious joy seeping into my soul gladly.

We decided to have a little vacation whilst we were here. Aro booked us into the Savoy Hotel, we arrived under the cover of night, trying to look inconspicuous. Thankfully crude contact lenses were around in those days, Aro and I had both invested in a pair. It made it so much easier to mix with mortals without our bright scarlet eyes dazzling and confusing them. Aro had the greenest of sea green lenses and mine were deep violet, we looked very strange without our red orbs of fire! But obviously, we were stunning with these new eyes, and humans accepted us, albeit in a nervous and stunned manner! The vibrant colours of our eyes were even more vivid next to our pale skin. Yes, we were some sight to behold as we strode confidently and purposefully towards the Savoy reception. Humans turned to stare as we swept past them in a blaze of opulent clothes and striking features. My red hair was always a talking point but tonight all eyes were riveted on the beautiful rich young couple who walked in as if they owned the place. Oh it was good to be by my lovers side on these occasions!

Aro held my hand as we got into the elevator, my new eyes gazed into his face adoringly, the world suddenly disappearing from view and all I could see was his perfect visage. There were another two humans in the lift who simply stared in fascinated awe at us. They were in their late twenties perhaps? I hardly noticed them as I was so intent on Aro, who was just as dazzled by me. How delicious it was to be with him at last, together like a proper couple on vacation! The human male suddenly spoke, breaking my adoring reverie of Aro.

"You cannot be from New York! Uh uh no way can you be from round here!" he exclaimed excitedly as he pulled on his companions sleeve.

She was still staring at us in complete disbelief. They were a handsome couple, most attractive for humans. I found myself being drawn to them now as we stood in such close quarters. I heard the blood rush and I saw the pulse at their luscious necks jump and dance. The man was slightly tanned with dark brown curly hair and laughing brown eyes. He was tall and lanky but his clothes looked too big for him and he was slightly awkward looking. The lady was small and petite with blonde ringlets and big blue eyes. She was very pretty with her pale skin and flushed cheeks. Her dress was nice, but quite cheap looking. I wondered why they were here? The Savoy was well known for its rich and famous clientèle. This couple did not fit either category I presumed. Aro smiled, that dazzling smile I loved, as he nodded in greeting to the pair.

"You are correct Sir. We are from Europe. This is my wife Victoria and I am Aro. Pleased to meet your acquaintanceship, " he said, his voice dripping with charm as he held the ladies hand in his gloved one, bringing it up to slowly meet his cool lips.

She shivered slightly as she gave a shy smile.

That was another item we liked to wear, gloves disguised a little of our low temperature. Luckily it was a biting cold night here in New York any ways, so we would not arouse suspicion here. To be fair, these pair were caught like a fly in a spider's web, they were so entranced of the beautiful couple before them that they wouldn't notice anything untoward.

"I am Christopher and this is my wife Angelica. My 'angel' I call her! It is our first wedding anniversary and we have saved up all year to come here! We moved here six months ago from Boston. I'm a newly trained lawyer and I've just been given a prestigious new post with an up and coming law firm." the man boasted with a big smile.

His pretty little wife smiled at him proudly. Oh they were so delightful together. I glanced at Aro with a special look, my thoughts very much evident to him. I wanted this beautiful vibrant couple! Oh the games we could play with them! It made the venom rise in my throat and my whole being throb with excited desires. Aro nodded, a small half smile knowingly playing over his fine features. He had not witnessed this side of me, but he had read my mind of course and he knew me inside and out.

"How wonderful!" Aro crowed, "You must have a drink with us, I have a bottle of champagne chilling now in our suite," my lover added with a most wicked glint in his eye.

I smiled widely at our new friends, who in return grinned back, happy dazzled smiles full of innocence. Oh if only they knew! They stared at Aro and I with complete wonderment on their human faces. It was just too easy! We made small talk with the couple as the lift ascended slowly. We pretended to be the owners of a vineyard, we were husband and wife, married for five years with no children. It was fun making up a life, but in reality a small part of me wished it were true. How lovely it would be to be Aro's wife. I guessed that would not or could not happen. Vampires didn't divorce did they? Still, it was nice to daydream as we rode upwards in the elevator with these deliciously warm and lovely scented humans.

When we arrived at our destination, even I made a small sound of glee as Aro showed us into the Penthouse suite. Oh my! Such grandeur! I instantly adored it! Christopher and Angelica were open-mouthed with wide excited eyes. They had obviously never seen a room as beautiful and grand as this.

"Oh! It is wonderful!" Angelica stated, a wide smile on her pretty face. Her husband squeezed her hand with joy.

"Our new friends are so generous!" Christopher smiled happily.

Ha! If only they knew.

"Come, let's raise a glass together." Aro said pulling the champagne bottle out of the wine cooler with a flourish.

It was a vintage Dom Perignon and very expensive indeed.

"Victoria, my dearest, would you fetch the champagne flutes from the dresser please?" he asked me, a small smile of amusement on his perfect face.

I brought the glasses to him, he filled them, gave us each one and raised his glass high in a toast, "To new friends and old. In America, land of the brave and the home of the free!" he announced.

Aro and I used swift movements to disguise the fact that we didn't touch a drop of the amber fluid. Christopher and his wife were too busy gazing around the room to notice. "Please, make yourselves at home, my friends." Aro smiled pleasantly. The excited couple ooh'd and aah'd as they made their way around the suite. The large windows overlooked the charming city of New York, in all it's splendour. Aro smiled at me and took my hand.

"Come, little flame, let us enjoy America's hospitality," he whispered, his fake green eyes like bright emeralds.

I nodded intently as we made our way over to the couple.

Aro and I removed our contact lenses very slowly and carefully. Aro placed his hands around Angelica's face very gently as he stared deep into her bluest eyes with a steady red gaze. " Beautiful child, you will not be afraid of me, or Victoria. You will do as we say and you will feel intense pleasure maybe even a hint of pain,but you will welcome all of our attention with open arms." he said carefully as he hypnotised and glamoured her easily. She nodded and smiled vacantly. Christopher was starting to become frightened and agitated, unsure of what was happening here. I mirrored Aro's actions and words. The couple were now under our spell, the poor things!

Oh how delightful!

"May I kiss Angelica, my dearest?" Aro questioned me with a raised eyebrow.

"Of course, my love, if I may kiss Christopher?" I retorted with a cheeky smile.

We fell upon our victims greedily, our vampire lips devouring human ones as we watched the other do the same. Our red eyes were bright and sparkly, our still hearts filled with wicked desires. How delicious it was to watch Aro tease her with his deep kisses, the poor girl was almost fainting with pleasure! I used my expert kisses to enthral Christopher, he moaned most delightfully against my mouth, his scent inflaming my thirst and desire. I let my lips trail down his throat, the pulsing of his carotid artery making my venom rise. I gripped his shoulders roughly as my teeth grazed his skin lightly. I looked over to see Aro's head buried in Angelica's cleavage, his tongue licking her smooth pale skin lasciviously and seductively. His hands were on her hips as she writhed against him in lustful abandonment. She glanced over at her husband and smiled wantonly. He was half dizzy with lust and pleasurable passion as he smiled lazily back at her. How loose their morals became when we glamoured them!

I wanted to drink from my victim now, so much! Aro nodded and smiled at me lovingly, "You may drink my sweet, just don't drain him! We don't need to kill them, a few sips and some more fun, then we will send them on their way none the wiser!"

I nodded and let my sharp teeth sink through Christopher's skin easily and quickly. There was a moment's pause and then the luscious blood hit my hungry mouth like nectar. Oh it was magnificent! Aro nodded and smiled before savagely sinking his teeth into Angelica's delicate thin wrist. We watched each other drink from our prey, our scarlet gaze full of hunger and desire for each other. I wanted to hurry this little game up now as I had much more important things to do. I needed to possess Aro again as soon as possible!

We took a little blood from our new friends and we hid their wounds with small cloth bandages fashioned out of silk scarves. We kissed and petted them a little more, their soft sighs and gasps of pleasure giving us great satisfaction. How pliable they were with their soft skin, wide eyes and willingness. We directed our words into their minds once more and instructed them to leave here with only pleasant memories of our time together. They would be fine, maybe a little dazed and confused. In a week or so they would barely remember us, we would be a distant memory to them, something which may or may not have really happened. They may turn out to be touched with a little madness or worst case scenario they could fall prey to serious illnesses and die. It wasn't our concern.

Aro had called ahead to the Plaza, another luxurious hotel in the city and requested the most expensive room for the couple. He had planted the suggestion in their minds to leave here completely and make their way to the Plaza where they were now to stay for the rest of their anniversary weekend. They would believe that it was the hotel they had booked all along. I hoped they could still enjoy their time together. Yes, I really meant it. I had softened since Aro came back into my life!

Now we were alone and our eyes shone with pure desire for each other. We moved together like magnets, unable to control our emotions any longer. I fell into his arms and into our magnificent bed with utmost compliance. I wanted him so badly it was a deep ache in my belly. Many many hours later we finally lay sated in each others arms. Aro tenderly kissed me and held me close to him.

"Oh Victoria, today has been most delightful! How I love to be with you my dearest. How much time we have wasted! But that's by the by now. Oh if only you were my wife!" he stated.

I gasped and squeezed him tighter.

"I had the very same thought today, my lover. I wished we could be married," I sighed wistfully.

" Ah Victoria, I have lived a long existence and I know without a doubt that stranger things have happened!" he smiled against my red curls.

I smiled too and we clasped hands lovingly as we gazed into each others eyes. Soon, it would be time to leave New York, but for now it was time to go out into the city night and soak up the whole atmosphere of the place. With our coloured lenses in place and our flamboyant clothes we made our way into the streets. Just a young couple in love. We were giddy with excitement and joy as we mingled with the humans amongst the bright lights and noise of this dazzling city. Tomorrow we would leave for Forks. I was curious, just like Aro, to learn more about Doctor Cullen and his Olympic Coven. For now, I was deliriously happy to be in my lover's arms as we made our way through this city of dreams together.

I was joyous and child-like again, just a silly young girl completely besotted with her handsome dark lover as we explored the streets of New York together, forever grateful to be here in this perfect moment in time.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

Let me tell you about the events of the last fifty years or so. Time passes by so differently to vampires that we often lose track of it, so you will forgive me if I am not so accurate. I really should keep up with my diary more frequently! I have stayed true and kept my memoirs to the written word, computers are not for me! Although a good friend has promised to type all of this up for me one day if he can still read my old scribbled handwriting from centuries ago! I guess my life story might be quite interesting to someone, somewhere, someday.

So this is what happened when Aro and I left New York after a very pleasant time there in October 1920. We arrived in Forks a few days later, it was cold and frosty and dark. There wasn't much sunlight to be had on the Olympic Peninsula which suited the aptly named Olympic coven well. Vampires and sunlight do not mix, unless you purposefully wanted to intensely dazzle a human with diamond like skin which shone in rainbow colours so beautifully. Chances of discovery were just too high for that!

The doctor Carlisle Cullen and his "family" lived in a large modern house on the outskirts of the small town. There were deep dense woods surrounding the property which was nestled amongst the trees delightfully. We arrived at sunrise and were greeted by Carlisle at the door. He was tall and blond and quite handsome, although not my type, of course!

"Aro! A pleasure as always. Do come in! " Carlisle nodded and smiled. Aro nodded politely back with one of his dark, mysterious smiles.

"Doctor Cullen, you already know of our arrival I presume? You sound like you were already anticipating our visit," my lover said with a hint of surprise in his low voice.

"Well, yes, we did know of your imminent arrival Aro. Come inside and I will introduce you to my family and explain matters," the Doctor said pleasantly.

"This is Victoria Taylor, my very good friend," Aro smiled as he held my hand tightly.

Carlisle nodded to me with a warm smile, "Very pleased to meet you Victoria, do come inside and meet my family, my dear."

We made our way up the wooden staircase to meet the family above. The house was light, airy and spacious. I had never seen an interior so modern and different before. For the 20's it was definitely out of the ordinary. This coven was so far removed from the Volturi's way of life! I could already see that, just by observing their home.

In front of us stood the other six members of the Olympic coven.

Carlisle introduced us to them one by one. I was fascinated by their appearance! Yes, they were all beautiful as vampires were, but one thing stood out above all others. They had amber eyes! How was this? I was so curious to learn more about them! I now knew why Aro had wanted to come here.

"This is my wife, Esme Cullen."

This beautiful graceful vampire bowed to Aro and said hello to me. I guessed they were a little bit afraid of Aro, given that he was the Volturi leader. I often forgot the bare facts, I just saw him as my Aro, my lover, my everything.

We moved down the line to a very muscular tall young male with dark curly hair and an impish glint in his topaz eyes. Next to him stood a tall, statuesque extremely attractive female, with impossibly long wavy blonde hair.

"This is Emmett Cullen and Rosalie Hale, my 'adoptive son and daughter', who are married to each other," Carlisle grinned as Emmett gave him a cheeky wink.

These vampires were not like any I had ever encountered before!

Next to the beautiful couple stood another attractive male and female. The male smiles enigmatically at me, he is tall with honey blond hair, and is muscular but lean. His face and body is covered with crescent-shaped scars. The female is petite and pixie-like, with a graceful gait and hair that is short, spiky, and black.

"This is Jasper Hale, 'adoptive brother' of Rosalie, and Alice Cullen, 'adoptive sister' of Emmett and Edward on the end there," Carlisle said indicating the last member of his coven stood quietly next to Alice. "These two are also a married couple." he added with a grin.

Wow! A married coven, this was most different. Ah! But there was this one boy on the end who appeared to be alone. He was extremely good looking and captivating, appearing to be the youngest of them. His deliberately messy hair was dark with bronze highlights and his eyes were a much darker amber hue than the others were.

"Last , but not least, this is Edward Cullen, 'adoptive brother' of Alice and Emmett," Carlisle said, as he patted the young vampire on the shoulder.

"He is the newest addition to the coven, he has been with us just over two years now," the Doctor said proudly.

Edward smiled crookedly, he was very beautiful indeed. I smiled tentatively back. I felt a pull towards this vampire, but it wasn't sexual chemistry, it was something else entirely. I hoped I could get to know him and his family better. I had secretly reached out to touch all of their auras slightly when Carlisle had been introducing them. I was struck by the bright bold colours that shone from their inner lights. Most interesting.

"Very good Doctor Cullen, you have amassed an impressive coven here. Do tell me, have they got special powers?" Aro questioned, his need for collecting rising to the fore.

The Doctor smiled wryly, "Please call me Carlisle! Edward can read minds, Alice can see the future and Jasper has the ability to sense and manipulate the emotions of those around him. The rest of us are ordinary vampires, I'm afraid," he smiled in a self deprecatory manner.

"Nonsense!" chided his beautiful wife, Esme. "We are all unique and special in our own ways, we each bring strengths to the family. Carlisle is a wonderful Doctor! I am so very proud of my family!" she added with a wide smile.

Aro looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

"You treat humans?" he asked Carlisle incredulously.

The doctor nodded and smiled as if it was completely natural to live and work amongst mortals.

"Indeed I do, Aro! I have a job at the hospital in Seattle. My 'adoptive' kids all attend Forks High School. We try to blend in with humans and respect their lives," he said proudly.

Aro looked as shocked as I was.

"How do you manage to rub shoulders with your prey? Impossible!" my maker snorted indignantly.

Carlisle smiled at us both as if we were wholly different creatures to him and his family.

"Humans are not our prey, we do not feed on their blood at all. We hunt and kill animals for their blood. We suppress out blood lust. We are not killers. I discovered a long time ago that we could live on animal blood. I explained this to you when I was your guest Aro, I see that you are still wracked with disbelief!" Carlisle exclaimed as he gazed upon Aro's perfectly shocked face.

"I have no desire anymore to kill people, although for some of my family it has been a hard transition, especially Jasper and Edward here who has just come out of the new-born phase," he added as he gazed fondly at his youngest 'son'.

I finally found my voice, "Is this the reason why your eyes are all amber?" I questioned.

The family nodded in unison with wide smiles.

"Such a pretty colour!" I stated truthfully.

I wondered what I would look like with amber eyes? "How long do you need to abstain from human blood for the changes to take place?" I asked curiously.

The female, Alice replied in a sing-song voice, "It would take around six months of abstinence Victoria. Could you do that?" she asked with a smile.

"I do not know! I love to drink from the fear soaked veins of my prey, it is most delicious!" I admitted, my red eyes gazing honestly into their amber ones.

Edward spoke up now, his voice rich with deep tones, "Why don't you come with us to hunt in the mountains, Victoria? We are leaving tomorrow on a hunting trip. Our eyes are dark amber, tomorrow they will be almost black, once we feed they will change to a light topaz colour," he informed me with a crooked smile.

Oh he fascinated me! They all did!

I turned to Aro with an excited grin, "Can I go with them Aro?" I asked.

His face went through a thousand emotions in the blink of an eye, finally settling on compliance.

"Yes, my dearest. You may go, but do not be disappointed if I decline to come with you. I am afraid I am too old and set in my ways to change now!" he added insouciantly.

I squeezed his hand tightly, I loved this new Aro, he respected my wishes and desires now, he did not try to control me as he had done in the past. He smiled back with a succinct nod of his head. Of course he had read my thoughts! I transmitted another to him rapidly, wait until I get you alone later, my lover!

He stroked the palm of my hand delicately with his index finger, causing me to shiver slightly. Of course the Cullen's had not noticed our little exchange, except maybe Alice who was giving us a strange look.

"I hope you will enjoy your visit with us. Please make yourselves at home," Carlisle said with a warm smile. He really was a nice vampire, something I hadn't really come across before. Everything was different here in Forks for sure.

Aro and I explored the forests surrounding the house on that first night. We also explored each other hungrily as we entwined on the forest floor in a sea of Autumn leaves. How delicious to make love to my lover under the frosty moonlit sky. We were broken out of our reverie by a low growl coming from the trees. An old large black wolf watched us, it's yellow eyes full of hate and mistrust. There was something human in those eyesMy evasion instinct kicked in with full force and I grabbed Aro's hand and swiftly ran in a blur out of the woods and back to the house. We came upon Edward on the balcony, his face full of concern.

"The others have gone out to look for you! Alice "saw" your encounter with Ephraim Black tonight! " He told us as he threw a blanket for us to wrap around our naked bodies. He looked away politely as we made ourselves decent.

"We saw a wolf, Edward! Not a human!" I corrected him.

Edward smiled crookedly again, "Ephraim is the chief of the Quileute tribe. He is a shape-shifter, and the Alpha of a pack of three which includes Levi Uley and Quil Ateara who created a treaty with the Cullen family which maintained that the wolves would not expose us as vampires as long as we did not bite any humans."

Aro and I looked at Edward with shocked confusion.

"I did not know these things truly existed!" Aro said shaking his head in wonder.

"They live here, in Forks, side by side with vampires?" he asked Edward, his red eyes filled with curiosity.

Edward nodded, "Yes, Aro we co-exist, although no love is lost between us!" he said with a sad smile.

"I am so glad we paid your family a visit, Edward! I have learnt so much in only a short time! I would be honoured to have you, Alice and Jasper visit me some day. Your abilities would be welcomed in Volterra, I can assure you!" he crowed.

I shook my head and rolled my eyes. My maker loved to surround himself with special vampires!

Edward smiled again in his unique crooked way, "We would love to visit with you sometime, " he said politely.

Oh I hoped he would! Although I was not sure where I fitted in within the Volturi yet. I supposed that depended on what James found on his mission.

The next day, I accompanied Edward, Alice and Carlisle on a hunting trip into the mountains. The others would go tomorrow, of course Aro declined as I thought he might! I found my first experience of mountain lion to be a pleasant one. I watched in fascination as the Cullen's hunted and killed these fierce animals. I discovered the chase was just as exciting and blood was blood when it came down to it. Although, I did miss the feeling of clasping a warm frightened and overwhelmed human to me, I was sure I could do this with practise! I found I enjoyed life in Forks, the Cullen's were friendly and interesting, although Rosalie was quite cold, but I discovered we were quite alike. Edward and I became good friends almost instantly. There was a slight attraction between us, but I would never act on it. I was true to Aro now and forever; there would be no more dalliances as far as I was concerned.

After a week of living in Forks, Aro took me away from the Cullen house into the woods beyond where we could talk privately. He held my small pale hand in his and stared deep into my eyes.

"Victoria my darling, I must return to the Volturi tomorrow. I have asked Carlisle if you can stay here, he has agreed. Until Sulpicia is found I cannot risk your safety, my sweet. I would rather us be apart than put you in danger! I cannot and I will not take you back to Volterra. You will be looked after here. My mind is made up, little flame, so do not argue with me!" Aro spoke lovingly but firmly to me.

I sighed but I knew his words were true. It would be no hardship to live here, even if I was without my lover.

"I will do what you think is best, Aro. I have spent many years without you, I can do it again if needs be. As long as you promise to never forget me!" I exclaimed, sadness welling up within my still heart.

"I could never forget you! Do not ever think that, Victoria! I only want to protect you! I love you so much, come to me now my love, let me show you just how much!" he said, his voice full of desire for me.

I didn't need to be asked twice. We fell into each others arms eagerly, our kisses bittersweet with the devastating knowledge that we were to be parted again tomorrow. Some things would never change. I held tightly to my maker as we made love under the big full moon, I memorised every move, every emotion, every touch as if it were our last. This time though, deep in my vampire heart, I knew it was only a matter of time before we were together properly. Our love could not be hindered by anything or anyone, not anymore. So, I didn't let him see my pain and I loved him like never before. In the morning light, when he was gone, I walked alone in the rain. I let the drops of water fall onto my upturned face as I gazed towards the black swollen clouds above me. Aro was on his way back to Italy now, without me. Edward appeared out of nowhere like a bright angel shining in the gloom of the day.

"Don't be sad Victoria. You will see Aro soon. I will dedicate myself to making you smile at least once a day!" he said with his special crooked smile. "You are lucky to have someone who loves you so much and whom you love back equally," he added sadly.

"You will find a special girl someday, Edward, I just know it!" I stated with a half-hearted smile, my vampire heart breaking just a little more as I longed for my lover again.

But I found it hard to be morose for long when the youngest Cullen was around.

"Come, let us hunt together! " He said with glee as he took my hand in his.

I smiled somewhat shyly, but I took his offered hand gladly, with a little spark of joy in my silent heart.

Now, I sit here writing in my private journal, diary, memoirs, whatever you would call it and another fifty years or so have passed in the blink of an eye. I still lived with the Cullen's, although we hadn't always been here in Forks. We'd had to move around the Olympic Peninsula in case of discovery. Now, after a long absence it was safe to return. The new generation would not know who we were, except for the shape-shifters of course! ( fascinating creatures!) This little town was our favourite place to be. Esme had secretly kept the family house up and running whilst we'd been away. I was so happy to be home again. Yes, I thought of the Cullen's house as home. I had been deprived a family and a proper home for many, many years. Now I had one, and I had to say, it was fantastic. I loved being part of this amazing family. They had taken me in as one of theirs without question. I was explained away as Esme's younger cousin who had been orphaned. No one questioned it.

Being here, with my family had changed me into a better, kinder person. I no longer felt the need to be cruel or sadistic. After a decade or so I had learnt to overcome the thirst for human blood and now I was 'vegetarian', just like my dear family. My eyes were a beautiful light topaz. Aro loved them, he said he could see my soul much clearer now. My darling vampire lover still had red eyes, he would not change his ways, but I loved him insanely despite our differences and I always would.

Aro came to see me at least once a year, travel and communication were so much easier in this 21st century than ever before. We could talk on the telephone, we could even send messages on phones, tablets or computers. I still preferred the old methods best but if I wanted to keep in touch with my heart of hearts then I had to adjust with the times. Edward loved his modern gadgets, and he often had to help me out!

On a more somber note, James had not been seen nor heard of since Aro had sent him on his mission to find Sulpicia. Despite numerous attempts to track him there was no trace, so far. Demetri was a good tracker, but even he could not locate them. I prayed James was fine, but time kept slipping away and it seemed the evil witch had taken him and vanished without trace. Aro was worried. I didn't mind, living here was good, life was good. I still had Aro in my life and that was all that really mattered to me.

I was full of giddy excitement today; Aro was coming to Forks, he would arrive as dawn broke. He was currently somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, high in the sky, texting me messages of love and lust. Aro typing these words of desire on that small device amused me no end! He was centuries old, yet he had embraced technology because of his love for me! I ached to feel his strong hands on me,his pent-up unbridled passion, his cool enticing lips on mine and his perfect marble skin against me.

Edward suddenly appeared, "One day I will type your story up on my laptop, Victoria! It will be so much easier!" he said rolling his eyes at my old faded leather bound book which I treasured.

I sneered at him with horrified disdain.

"Please stop writing Victoria! You must come with me now! Can you not hear it? There is a thunderstorm coming! You know what that means?" he asked excitedly.

"Baseball!" we crowed in unison.

Victoria puts down her pen and happily takes Edward's hand as they fly out of the window into the purple blush of twilight. The storm clouds are gathering and soon the thunder and lightning will fill the bruised sky with their powerful cacophony of noise and light.

The carefree vampires do not know that trouble is coming with that storm, something so destructive and wild that they will be blown away in its wake.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX

Edward -

I may have had a tiny unrequited crush on Victoria, my new adopted sister, when she first came to live with us. My feelings soon became more brotherly when I realised that she was deeply in love with another. Not just any other, I might add, but the leader of the Volturi coven, who were the governing body over the vampire population. Any fool could see that Victoria was head over heels in love with Aro and vice versa. It was sweet, it was also terrible because he was married, although his wife, who was evil by all accounts, had gone missing. She wanted to badly hurt Victoria, although that was a bit of an understatement, she actually wanted to end her existence. Aro could not take the risk of having his love by his side whilst Sulpicia was out there somewhere, untethered, extremely unhinged and violent! Victoria took her separation from Aro very well, she didn't complain or moan about the situation, she just got on with her new life, here with us. She fitted in just perfectly, I immensely respected and liked her almost straight away. Alice did too, Jasper agreed with Alice in whatever she did, Rosalie was distrustful at first, Emmett was his usual friendly self and my 'parents' Carlisle and Esme cared for her right away. It was as if she was meant to be part of our coven.

A century had almost passed since she came to us. I was just out of the new-born stage when she came to Forks the first time. I had found it quite difficult becoming a vampire. Carlisle had saved me from the Spanish Flu, which had killed my Mother. I raged with blood lust and mighty hunger when I first came to this life. Carlisle helped wean me off human blood,he gave me a home, and a purpose. Esme and he had treated me wonderfully, just like a real son. I loved them, pure and simply. Victoria had come to love them too. She hadn't had an easy existence. It amazed me just how many centuries she had seen go by. One thing had remained true and constant; her deep unwavering love and desire for Aro.

She had lived in England, Paris, Italy and Seattle. She had made a vampire! She had fought with and evaded some of the oldest strongest vampires in the world. She had been imprisoned, she had fallen prey to evil ways and lasciviousness. But she had triumphed against all the odds and now she was beautiful inside and out. I was proud to call her my sister! It had taken awhile for her to get used to animal blood but she surprised us all by coping with the changes well. She adored her topaz eyes too much now to ever go back to human blood. Of course one smell or sight of human blood could send us a little mad with desire, so we avoided it best we could. If only we could all be as self controlled as Carlisle! Still, it was amazing what Victoria had achieved if you thought about how old she really was. I had gotten over my crush, thankfully. Victoria said she just knew there was someone, somewhere in this world just made for me and she believed I would meet her soon. I didn't share her enthusiasm! Most vampires were already taken, who else could I find real love with? I kept a little piece of hope buried away deep inside my heart though. Maybe I could find my true love too? I had waited long enough!

But, I digress, let me get back to the evening of the thunderstorm. The last day Victoria wrote in this journal of hers. I have painstakingly and lovingly transferred it all to my lap top. All I can say is its lucky vampires do not require sleep! I had time to complete my task and now I was caught up, it was my turn to take over the story.

We arrived at the clearing to join my family in a baseball game, we always played when a storm hit Forks. The claps of thunder disguised the whacks and loud thuds of our hard hitting game. Humans tended to hide inside when there was a thunderstorm, for fear of being struck by lightning. So, it was the best time to play our much loved sport.

Alice froze mid way through the game, a terrified look on her pretty pale face.

"What is wrong, Alice?" Carlisle enquired with a worried look.

He glanced over in my direction waiting for me to reveal Alice's thoughts. Often this was how it was done. My 'sister' would 'see' something about to develop and I would read her thoughts so I could transmit the information to my family as Alice was usually in the grip of a vision, rendering speech useless at that moment.

"Father, it is not good news, I'm afraid! Alice sees Sulpicia and James coming this way, with an Immortal Child! Victoria is in danger!" I blurted out, as fear washed through my body in a tidal wave.

Victoria's face became paler and she visibly shook as she stood next to Emmett, who growled under his breath as he placed a protective arm around her.

"Go Edward! Take Victoria and flee!" Carlisle instructed me.

I held out my hand to my red haired 'sister' who flew to my side in an instant. Her evasion instinct would be working on over-drive by now. We could easily evade this vampire, at least I hoped we could.

"Too late! They are here!" announced Alice, her voice laced with apprehension.

Jasper flew to her side instantly, his body in front of hers, ready to protect her. My family all arranged themselves in a semi circle, Victoria was in between Carlisle and I. We stood to face the enemy side by side. A stunning golden haired female vampire dressed head to toe in black with red piercing eyes stood before us, with a large framed muscular blonde haired male on her left and a small dark haired child on her right, who looked quite angelic, but of course looks could be deceptive. We stood facing the trio as emotionless as we could be, we didn't want to act defensively until we had to. We certainly wouldn't attack unless we had to! We stood united facing the enemy of our much loved Victoria. She was paler than pale, but she managed to keep her look haughty and disinterested.

The male was staring at Victoria, his red eyes boring into hers as he drank all of her in.

Suddenly my 'sister' spoke, her voice high and girlish above the thunder and lightning which filled the dark skies.

"How delightful to see you again James! I see you have brought a couple of guests? What is your business here in Forks?" she asked pleasantly.

James smiled, a love-sick grin full of longing and desire. He loved Victoria! It was plain to see! The ice cool Sulpicia stared right at Victoria, her red gaze trying to penetrate my 'sister' with it's evil hate filled stare.

"It is so good to see you Victoria!" the male called James exclaimed gladly.

Sulpicia shot him a disapproving glare and he instantly withered under her penetrating gaze.

"I forbid you to speak to the wanton harlot, James!" she said in an icy powerful voice.

"I have told you many times how evil she is! Victoria abandoned you as soon as my errant husband crooked a finger at her! They believe themselves to be in love! How ridiculous! " she added scornfully.

Victoria shuddered with indignant rage, I squeezed her hand, willing her not to retaliate, but it was too late for that.

"Sulpicia, I wish I could say it was a pleasure to see you, but I am afraid it is most definitely not. You may call me all the horrid names you desire, but the plain truth is that Aro loves me, he desires me and he most certainly abhors you in every way!" my 'sister' retorted as she held herself tall and proud in the face of adversity.

I was proud of her. I was worried for her.

"Do not rise to the bait, Victoria," I advised quietly.

Sulpicia's evil hate filled stare fell onto me with pure fury.

"Is this another one of your lovers Victoria? Not only did you steal my husband, you also beguiled James. He tells me you made a vampire too? Is there no end to your heinous behaviour?" she spat out furiously.

Victoria stood defiant as her enemy taunted her and tried to belittle her in front of her family.

"Edward is my brother! James was sent to find me by Aro, you see my lover could not exist without me! My tracker became enamoured of me, yes that is true! I made another vampire, Etienne, out of loneliness and heartbreak, which you and your evil mistress contrived to make me feel! I detest you Sulpicia! You failed in your mission to destroy me! You have taken poor James and used him as a pawn against Aro and I. Heaven only knows what torturous behaviour you have bestowed upon the poor boy this past century! You have lost! Aro and I are still deeply in love and always will be!" Victoria announced, succinctly and honestly.

I quivered slightly in the night air as I awaited Sulpicia's response. James, the tracker, looked mightily confused by the unfolding events. I did not know what his mistress had promised him but it was obvious that his loyalties still lay with Victoria, rather then her. The poor child just stared wide eyed at the vampires before him. The boy probably knew nothing of importance, I reckoned he was just a puppet in his mistress's sad games. Immortal children were expressly forbidden in the vampire world. I gazed at him with a mixture of morbid fascination, sadness and pity.

Sulpicia was clenching and unclenching her fists in a threatening manner, her red eyes boring into Victoria with evil intent. She suddenly gave a long drawn out screech which shattered through the night like breaking glass. She launched herself at Victoria, her claw-like hands raking her face, her sharp teeth sinking through my sister's pale marble skin to drink her blood and to drain her strength.

"I will kill you whore!" she shrieked as her long nails opened Victoria's hard white skin like a knife slicing through melted butter.

Oh, but she was strong!

My family all looked at each other, our Father nodded and we circled the fighting females defensively, waiting for our moment to attack. We must protect Victoria, she was one of us! I saw ten pairs of yellow eyes surrounding us. The wolves were here! Of course! The Quileutes would not tolerate strange vampires on their land. Their mighty paws thundered and worried the ground, their jaws snapping and slavering with anticipation. I looked into the eyes of Jacob Black, Ephraim's great grandson and Alpha of the pack with sincere gratitude.

"What is this sorcery? I shall kill this slut and I shall kill you all if you come any closer!" Sulpicia threatened nastily as she held Victoria tightly by her long red curls.

"Begone all of you! Let her and I settle this for once and all!" she demanded, her eyes sparkling with hate and disgust.

"We will never give up our 'daughter' to you! We will all fight to the death to protect her, so I suggest you let her go, now!" Carlisle said with passion and vigour.

I was so proud of my Father right now!

Suddenly a figure appeared from the trees, it was dressed all in white and appeared to be transformed with an inner glow. We all stopped and stared as it approached the center of the field, where Sulpicia was now holding Victoria viciously around the throat.

"Stop!" the figure demanded in a voice which commanded attention.

Sulpicia's thin cruel mouth turned up at the corners in an evil smile.

"Ah, Aro, my husband, at last we meet again, my love," she sighed.

"Leave Victoria be! Take me instead! You know it is me whom you wish to destroy, not her!" Aro exclaimed.

Sulpicia nodded with a wide smile playing over her beautiful face, which hid the rotting core underneath.

"Will you renounce her Aro? Come with Noah and I, let's be a proper family and rule the Volturi together once more! Say you love me! Say she was a stupid fling! Say it Aro! Or I will slice her in two as we speak and burn her body parts until she is just dust blowing in the wind!" Sulpicia stated calmly with deadly intent.

The wolves circled ever closer, growling threateningly at the newcomers.

She placed a hand on Victoria's forehead as she directed her hateful red gaze upon her with full force. Victoria slumped against her powerless to stop Sulpicia's power of confusion. Aro roared very loudly in sheer anger as he rushed towards his hateful wife with the utmost rage and fury.

There was a swirling of black and white with splashes of red where sharp teeth and nails made blood flow as the two old powerful vampires fought each other. I quickly snatched Victoria up into my arms and out of reach of the whirling furious entity. She clung to me like a lost little girl and I felt my protective nature rise up in my heart as I encircled her in a strong embrace. I would not allow anyone to hurt her!

Sulpicia and Aro fell apart and stood a yard or so away from the other, their red eyes full of hatred and disgust. The fight had been equal by all accounts, they both had the same number of savage bleeding wounds. Before, Aro could stop her, his wife launched herself at James and ripped his head off in one fell swoop. Victoria's cry of anguish echoed around the clearing as I clasped her to me. Sulpicia threw her head back as she silently shook and writhed in mirth. She stared Victoria straight in the eyes with a malicious hateful stare which sent shivers down my spine. How evil she was! I now knew why Victoria had felt so powerless and weak against her in the past. Aro also cried out as James's poor dismembered body fell to the ground. Sulpicia laughed with black joy as she watched her enemies suffer. Aro went forward to attack her but she held him back with her hateful ability. Victoria and Aro both lay still on the ground as Sulpicia unleashed the full force of her power onto the couple.

My family and the wolves were poised to attack but she let her power loose on us too, rendering us all completely incapable of retaliation. She whirled around as the thunder ripped through the night sky and the lightning lit up the clearing as if daylight had descended such was the intensity of its electric glow. She laughed maniacally as the storm raged all around us. Then, she fell to the floor, a stake through her black as coal dead heart. Noah had run a baseball bat right through her with his immortal strength. She clasped the bat as her venom blood ran into the ground like rain.

"Noah?" she gurgled in surprise as blood trickled from her mouth and she started to disintegrate before her child's red dispassionate eyes.

"Oh Mother! Did you think I had forgiven you for taking me away from my mortal family? I was just waiting to awake and plan my revenge on you! Oh I have waited a long time to see the true death take you! Goodbye Sulpicia, forever!" the child crowed with delight.

We all stared at the small boy in absolute disbelief. Did that really occur? He killed Sulpicia? Yes, it was true, she was just dust and bones blowing in the storm. Gone for good.

Victoria ran to Noah and held him close to her, "Oh you poor child! I often dreamt of you with wonder and sadness. I always prayed you would escape your tomb one day! Oh thank you Noah! You slayed the evil witch! My existence will never be the same again, I can feel safe, I can be with the man I love freely, and I can take you with us into a life filled with love and hope, not despair and horror!" my 'sister' exclaimed passionately as she clasped the little vampire to her.

Aro came to them, he put his arms around them both and if he could have wept I am positive I would have seen tears fall down his perfect marble face.

How touching this scene was! My family and the wolves retreated to give the trio some privacy. We disposed of James and also threw Sulpicia's ashes onto the pyre just in case she could return. We returned home to discuss the night's events at length, with disbelief and wonder. I glanced back as we left the clearing to see Aro and Victoria holding Noah's hands, joyful smiles on their pale faces and pure love in their vampire hearts. It made me feel ecstatically happy and it also made me feel infinitely sad.

Would I ever find someone who made me feel complete, who loved me with all their heart and soul and on whom I could rely on for evermore?



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN

How good it was to be alive! I really thought my existence had come to an end in that field during the almighty thunderstorm which shook the heavens. Sulpicia had appeared out of the chaos to wreak havoc upon me and my family. Luckily she didn't succeed. My maker had turned up as if from out of nowhere, like an angel he had lit up the darkness of the night and saved me once more. He always wore black, never white! It suited him so well, the stark contrast of the bright whiteness against his raven black hair and his pale skin was stunningly attractive to me. He had arrived a few hours early than we had planned, he had meant to surprise me, but he had ended up being the shocked one when my scent led him to the clearing. There he had found Sulpicia holding me tightly around my neck in her vise like grip. They had fought a deadly fight, but even so, the evil witch had managed to use her devastating power on us with horrific consequences. If it hadn't been for Noah then we would have all been struck down by her.

I was extremely sad about James, he hadn't deserved to die like that. I was immensely happy about Noah though, how delightful it was to see the little boy free. I was worried he might not forgive Aro for locking him in that secret sealed tomb, but the little boy bore no ill will towards my dearest maker. He had spent centuries waiting and waiting to be set free, so he could exact revenge on his evil vampire mother. He knew Aro's actions had been noble in their own way and as he lay still and silent in that tomb he had built up hatred for his 'mother', letting it simmer within him, and even when he was barely conscious he had planned Sulpicia's downfall. It had taken awhile, but finally the opportunity had arisen and Noah grabbed it with both hands, killing his 'mother' with a baseball bat driven straight through her black evil heart. Vampires could only be killed two ways, either destroy their still hearts or cut off their heads. In both cases the remains had to be burned or some slight consciousness may linger. No one knew if vampires could come back from their true death. No one wanted to chance it though and destruction by fire was usually the done thing after killing one of us.

Surprisingly, despite his ordeal and his horrific existence so far, Noah was a delightfully pleasant child! He loved me instantly and now he was warming to Aro, hour by hour, minute by minute, he was starting to place his trust in him, which made me very happy indeed. We would be like a proper family, something which I had craved for all eternity. I had spent centuries alone, the Cullen's had finally shown me what family really meant, now I had a chance to have my own and I was ecstatic. I thought nothing could make me happier than that, but I was wrong. The morning after the incident in the clearing, Aro spirited me away to the mountains near Vancouver where he let me show him how us "vegetarians" liked to hunt! He was fascinated by the way I stalked and brought down a large predator from the animal kingdom. His red eyes widened with amusement and pride as he watched me drink from the beast.

"Victoria! You never ever fail to delight and astound me, my only love! I can see how this new lifestyle of yours could work!" he exclaimed excitedly.

I grinned up at him, my lips smeared with the fresh red blood of the mountain lion I had just killed and fed upon.

"Come to me, little flame," he growled with pent up lustful desire.

We had not touched intimately nor kissed in half a year. Last night there had been too much talking and other stuff to do, so our alone time had taken a back seat. Now it was time for us. I rose up to meet him eagerly, my mouth finding his and claiming it in a long hungry passionate kiss which shook my very soul with its intensity. We clasped our hands tightly around the other as if to never let go.

"We do not have to let go, not now my sweet. Sulpicia is dead! We can truly be together now, if you still desire it?" Aro asked me between kisses.

My still heart felt like it might explode out of my marble chest with such encompassing love.

"I desire that more than anything in the whole universe, Aro!" I whispered softly against his pale cheek as my hands wove themselves into his silky black hair.

"Marry me then! Please, say you will marry me?" he asks, his voice cracking with emotion.

I smile and I want to scream loudly with joy, but my wicked streak wants to tease him.

"Only if you do it properly, my love. I am an old fashioned girl, remember!" I giggle impishly in his ear.

Aro bends down on one knee in front of me, as he takes my small pale hand in his.

"Victoria Taylor, would you do me the great honour of becoming my wife? I will promise to love you completely for the rest of my existence!" he says, his red eyes shining with love for me.

"My answer is yes, Aro. I have prayed for this day for the longest time. Of course, my answer is YES!" I shout excitedly, as we fall together on the soft green grass.

The sun is high in the azure sky as we come together as one in pure love, rainbows dance on our skin and fireworks explode behind my closed eyes as I give myself to the only one I have ever truly loved. My still heart soars in rapture like the eagles who float above us. Two otherworldly pale creatures making love in the bright new morning. A new beginning, a new chapter in our entwining hearts and lives. So much time has passed since my maker engraved himself on my heart. So many things have happened to us both, but neither time nor tide can erase or change our love for one another. It is constant, unwavering and true. At his precise moment in time I am the happiest I have ever been. Aro will be mine, completely, my husband!

He smiles against my throat as he kisses me there, "Oh Victoria, your thoughts mirror mine. I am insanely ecstatic right now. I am free to be yours and I really mean that. I am yours, in every way. We must start a new life! I have no more interest in being a Volturi leader! I would rather take up the most noble position of being your husband than go back to that old life. I would also like to take Noah with us, he can live with us, he can be the child we will never have. What do you think Victoria? Would you be happy with a simple family life, just the three of us?" he asked as he held me oh so tightly to him.

"I would be very happy." I stated simply, with the widest joyous smile on my face.

I suggested to Aro that we could live in England. My mansion was perfect for an extraordinary family to live in. We decided we would leave Forks within the week. Aro would telephone Marcus and Caius to let them know he would not be back for awhile. He would not tell them our location but he would promise to go back to Italy if they needed him. This was the most shocking part of it all, Aro had lived for the Volturi once upon a time, I never contemplated that he would discard his leadership for me.

"Ah Victoria, I have done that job for a long, long time. I deserve a better existence, surely? I have waited many many years to be able to be with you. If we are going to be together then I want to do it properly!" he stated passionately as his lips descended on mine once more.

Much later, as twilight descended over the mountains we disentangled our sated bodies and dressed each other lovingly. Aro trailed a finger slowly down my cheek and smiled as he gazed into my eyes.

"Victoria, I love you, intensely and completely. Let us return to Forks now. We can talk to Noah about our plans and let the Cullen's into our delicious secret!"

He was so care-free and youthful right now. Although in human terms Aro was only twenty one years old to me he'd always seemed eternally old, graceful, powerful and wise. I guess that is because he was all of those things.

He nodded and smiled, "Victoria I am all of those things and more. From this moment forwards I promise to only give to you the best parts of me. Come, fly with me my love, through the approaching night, towards our future, our destiny. It has always been you, Victoria."

Oh how his words thrilled me as I placed my hand in his and we sprinted down the mountainside towards home.

We spent a few more pleasant days with the Cullens, I was sad to be leaving them but I knew it wasn't our last goodbye. I would see them all again, they would visit us and we would visit them. I loved my adoptive family with all of my silent heart. They would always be very dear to me. I went to each one individually and told them how much they meant to me and how much I would miss them.

Now, it is time to seek out Edward, my best friend and my favourite member of the family.

I will hand him this last chapter to transform into the typed word. He has changed my ancient manuscript into something tremendously good. I do not know what he intends to do with it after this, but I will leave it in his trustworthy and safe hands. Then I will hold him close to me and tell him how he has been my rock. No one could ever be so amazingly wonderful and kind as Edward Cullen had been to me. I lost my darling Lizzie centuries ago and I didn't think I would ever share that sibling closeness again, but Edward has become all of that and more. I will miss him most awfully. Aro knows how I feel about Edward and he will welcome him with open arms to England whenever he wishes to visit. Which I hope will be often. I know Edward will smile that wonderful crooked smile of his when he reads this. So, my darling brother, this is just for you...

If you need me I'll be there, if you miss me just call, if you are sad think of me."You'd better hold on tight, spider monkey."

I laugh at our private joke. I will miss the fun we had, but look at what I am gaining? I know my Edward will be happy for me. I will hope and pray that he finds his true love soon, he completely and utterly deserves someone to adore, who will see how special he is and love him back faithfully with total devotion.

So, here it is, my last words; My long existence has brought me here, to this point in time, after centuries of loneliness, despair and longing. I will marry Aro in a few hours, when dawn breaks over the horizon. Not an arranged marriage, but a true union of like minded soul mates who both loved the other very much for evermore. Carlisle became an ordained priest on line yesterday, isn't it amazing what the internet can do? Although it holds no interest for me, I still am in awe of it, and all the other inventions of this new century. My adoptive father will bind Aro and I together as man and wife in a short but sweet ceremony right here in the gardens of this place I have called home. I stare at my reflection in the mirror, I am wearing a long tight sheath of delicate pearl satin, my red curls are piled high on my head and my topaz eyes are alight with an inner happy glow. Yes, I am beautiful.

It is time to find Edward, for it was decided he would give me away to the vampire I love with all of my heart and soul.

I say my goodbyes to you dear reader, thank you for listening to my story, I hope it has brought you some joy that I have found my happy ending. I wish you all the best whomever you are, wherever you are. No matter what you do always let love and light into your heart, for those are the things that count. That is all.

Victoria ~ "Little Flame "

October 9th 2012.


CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

EPILOGUE

Part One

Edward Cullen:

Forks High School, once again. It had been a long time since I'd walked through these doors, but here I was back for another new term. No one would know us, the second or third generation would attend this school now. The rest of my family was walking a little way ahead of me, I was lagging behind, my thoughts on Victoria and how much I was missing her today. She always loved the first day of a new school. The sights, the sounds and the smell of all the pupils as they excitedly made their way into a brand new term, with lots of possibilities and happy dreams.

I was ecstatic for Victoria, she had looked radiant as she pledged her vows of marriage to Aro. They gazed into each others eyes with love and desire, their mutual adoration plain to see. They had left Forks two weeks ago now and I truly missed her. Noah was such a sweet character, I enjoyed his company, I would have liked the chance to be a father myself. I was glad he had new parents who would love, care for and protect him.

I was completely lost in thought so I didn't notice the girl at first, not until she collided into me clumsily and with a small cry she fell to the ground in an undignified heap. I quickly held out a hand to her and pulled her up swiftly, letting go as fast as possible so she would not notice my cold skin. She was petite with long brown hair and large chocolate brown eyes in a pretty pale face. I was instantly captivated by her scent, it was like nothing I had experienced before. I was falling down into the depths of those mysterious brown eyes unable to stop myself.

She smiled up at me shyly, "So sorry, I am such a clumsy idiot! I am new here, my name is Isabella Swan."

I tried to recover my composure and even though I was drowning in that scent and those eyes, I managed to choke out a reply, "Pleased to meet you Miss Swan. I am also new here and my name is Edward Cullen."

"Oh please call me Bella," she smiled and I was lost, completely lost.

I fell in love with her right there, right then.

Part Two

Deep in the dark forests surrounding Rome, there is an old castle whom the locals say is haunted. It is, but not by spirits of the dead. There within those damp decaying ancient walls dwell two insane very old vampires who live off rats and insects which scurry through the derelict building in search of food.

The male Desiderius is so old that his skin is paper thin and see through. He barely speaks and he lies in a discarded decaying coffin praying for true death.

The female Athenodora sits by the window staring out into the trees, her features clouded with madness. She clutches a letter to her breast with clawed withered hands.

You must come back to Volterra at once mistress! Aro has gone, spies tell us he has married Victoria and they live somewhere in England with the immortal child of Sulpicia! It is heinous, villainous and most disrespectful to you and the ancient one! Once you ruled us with an iron fist, please I beg of you to come back, we need you, the vampire population needs you! Desiderius and Athenodora on the throne once more! How the underlings would bow and scrape! Come back to us our King and Queen. Let us help you restore the Volturi to what it once was before these defilers and debaucher's let if fall into ruin! I eagerly await your reply with exquisite anticipation,

Yours faithfully ( and forever your 'husband')

Caius

THE END



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE

ALTERNATIVE ENDING

As soon as I arrived at the Cullen's empty home during a wild twilight thunderstorm I knew something was not right. Call it vampire intuition. Call it a sixth sense. Call it whatever you will but I knew my beloved little flame was in serious trouble. I fled into the trees behind the house swiftly, my keen sense of smell working over-time to pick up her scent. I caught it on the trees as I sped past at lightning fast speed, I caught it on the air all around me as I flew through the rainy forest. Thunder clapped heavily in the sky and the approaching night was lit up with forks of dazzling light. Victoria's scent was unique, special and utterly divine. It called to me like a siren song. How I loved the way she smelled, the way she looked and her very essence. She was a drug to me and my love for her had never waned over the centuries since I had made her. Our relationship had not been an easy one but it had given me joy and immense untold pleasure, which made up for the hard times.

As I crashed through the trees desperate to find her, my feeling of foreboding would not abate and it was imperative I get to my love soon. If only I was not married to the most despicable woman in the entire world! I would immensely adore Victoria to be my wife. I dare not hope for such a happy ending, our history had taught me that. I could not wait to see her beautiful face again, her now topaz eyes and her pale luminous skin. Her eyes would turn liquid amber when she saw me, it had been half a year already since I had last kissed and held her to me. Our passion for each other never dwindled but only became stronger with each passing year. How I loved to hold her smooth marble body to mine as we fell into the ecstasy and joy of our perfect love-making. She was all I needed at that moment, even blood did not enthrall me when I had my love in my arms. My still ancient heart was hers forever more. No one knew me like she did and no one would ever touch my heart and soul as she could. I loved her.

Sulpicia would have to accept this if she ever returned. I hoped she would never come back, then I would hope she would. I was torn between the two outcomes. I wanted to renounce her but I did not want to see her loathsome face again. I hoped she was too tied up with Noah to care about me or Victoria again, but then there was James, my fledgling, where was he? I could not wish a life with Sulpicia on anyone despite the peace and quiet I had experienced without my errant wife around. I daren't hope that she would never return for I would most likely have my hopes dashed severely. So, I revelled in life without her and the times I could spend with Victoria. I made it my solemn vow to see my love at least once a year. I could not take her with me to Volterra, not whilst Sulpicia was still out there somewhere. Our meetings were special and exciting, our nights filled with passion, our days filled with talking and laughter. I could never regret saving Victoria's life, never regret changing her. I had fallen in love with her almost instantaneously, before I let my venom enter her veins, before she became hard, marble and undead. I tried to resist her, but it was futile. We were destined to be together.

Her scent is strong now. I burst out from the trees and into a large open clearing. The Cullen's are all there, standing in a semi circle. There are wolves standing with them defiantly and proudly. James is there with a small dark-haired boy. Noah! Then my red eyes take in the horror that is Sulpicia gripping my beloved Victoria around her pale slender throat with claw-like hands. My lovers face is torn and bleeding, fresh wounds in her pretty skin which would thankfully heal. I let out a roar of sheer anger and furious hate in the direction of my evil wife.

"Stop!" I commanded.

All eyes turned towards me, my loves the only ones I focused on. Oh she was frightened but her eyes glowed with love and admiration for me. I supposed I must look like an avenging angel. I had dressed all in white to surprise my darling. Sulpicia's red gaze penetrated me with pure fury and she sneered viciously in my direction.

"Ah, Aro, my husband, at last we meet again, my love," she sighed.

The poor deluded crazy bitch! How could she speak such false words laced with sickly sweet intonations to me? Insanity! I growled low in my throat with anger as the whole clearing seemed to hold its breath, figuratively speaking, waiting for my reaction.

"Leave Victoria be! Take me instead! You know it is me whom you wish to destroy, not her!" I exclaimed.

Sulpicia gazed beatifically at me, her smile wide and knowing. How could someone so beautiful be so evil to the core?

"Will you renounce her Aro? Come with Noah and I, let's be a proper family and rule the Volturi together once more! Say you love me! Say she was a stupid fling! Say it Aro! Or I will slice her in two as we speak and burn her body parts until she is just dust blowing in the wind!" Sulpicia stated calmly with deadly intent.

I growled again with viciousness in my heart and mind. I sprang towards her with savage intent just as she directed her full power onto my beloved. As Victoria fell to the ground I saw Edward Cullen reach out to lift her into safety, then Sulpicia and I were on each other like rabid dogs. We snarled and growled, tore and slashed, broke bones and ripped sinew as we fought as never before. Her thoughts were a mass of black confusion. All I could pick up from her mind was sheer hatred of Victoria and I. How I wanted to destroy her such was my hate and angry disgust for this evil creature! We finally came apart and stared at each other maliciously as we waited defensively for the others attack. I did not see her next move coming, so swift and deadly was she. Poor James lay with his head severed from his body as Sulpicia laughed with evil joy in her black heart. Edward and Carlisle restrained her as the wolves growled and snapped their slavering jaws.

"No!" Victoria cried out, her sadness evident as she ran to my poor fledglings body.

"Oh no! Aro! She killed him! She killed James!" my love cried out in despair.

She ran to me, flinging herself into my arms with longing and adoration. I held her to me gratefully revelling in her beguiling scent.

"Oh Aro, how I love you!" she stated boldly, her lips touching mine with a feather light kiss full of love and desire.

"As I love and adore you, my only love," I whispered against her red curls as I held her tightly to me in gratitude of her safety and well-being.

Sulpicia roared behind us with an insane screech filled with anger, hate and desperation. She broke free of the strong arms which held her and rushed towards us much too swiftly for me to halt the horrific events unfolding. Edward screamed and my face contorted in pain as I felt the long thin knife she held in her hand go straight through my back and into my still heart. I fell to the ground, the blade staking me, draining my immortal life from me as my venom blood spilled out of the deadly wound in my chest. I gripped the knife with both hands but to no avail, it had pierced me all the way through and I had no strength to remove it now. I was cold, so cold, even colder and icier than usual. Victoria screamed in heart-breaking anguish as she watched me fall to the ground, my ancient life fading away before her eyes.

"Oh Aro! What has she done? Do not leave me, my love! I cannot exist without you! Aro, Aro! Please come back!" my little flame shrieked in pain as I became dust and bones in the wind blowing through the clearing.

My last sight with vampire eyes was Victoria's beautiful amber gaze penetrating my soul with searing unending love. As my immortal body blew away I was surprised to find my soul, my very essence leaving the ground and travelling upwards into the deep midnight blue sky. Vampires did have souls! We were not so damned after all! I almost laughed out loud with giddy relief but found that my voice would not come, not yet. My body was now ethereal and gauzy. My fingers made sweeping starlight as I moved them through the air. How delightful! I gazed at my grief-stricken lover below me. She had never looked more beautiful to me and I saw her aura, she had always been able to see mine but hers had been hidden from me. Now it shone and shimmered with silver and greens, so beautiful, so perfect, so wondrous, just like she truly was. How I loved her, even more so than before.

Noah was rushing towards Sulpicia with Edward's discarded baseball bat, meaning to do his 'mother' serious harm. Carlisle intercepted him though and the other Cullen's roughly grabbed Sulpicia and whisked her away from the clearing to deal with her someplace else. I hoped they would not kill her. I did not want her following me into the after-life! I watched as Edward held Victoria to him as he tried to soothe and calm her as she broke her stone heart in two over me. He was a good vampire. I liked him immensely. Carlisle had done a fantastic job there. Like father like son. Victoria clung to Edward desperately, her grief threatening to overwhelm her completely. He spoke softly to her as she felt the pain of loss keenly in her beautiful vampire mind.

"My dearest Victoria, it is truly awful what happened tonight, but you must continue your life, for Aro, for me! I will not hear of such infinitely silly plans to destroy yourself! We do not know that vampires have souls! You may condemn yourself to a world of blackness of nothingness! Aro would not wish that for you, he loved you! Please Victoria! Do not think such things! You will stay here with us, you are family, we will take care of you and in time your grief will pass!" Edward stated as he stroked her flame hair.

"Oh Edward! How can I live without my love, my reason for this existence, my lover and my maker? I should rather face an eternity of nothingness! " my darling girl wailed with sorrow.

"No! I forbid it! You will survive this Victoria! I promise you!" Edward said with passion as he held her fiercely to him.

I watched the scene unfold before me and how I wished I could kiss my angel's ruby lips one more time, but I was insubstantial, I was no longer hard, marble and real. I would never hold her nor kiss her again. I would never feel her body next to mine as we celebrated our love. I was suddenly overcome with a sense of rage and unjustness. I found myself being torn away from the scene and I flew over the mountains, to Alaska, then further to the Artic lands where the icy vastness seemed immense and infinite. The rest of the Cullen's were incarcerating Sulpicia in a sealed coffin which they then placed deep down inside her tomb which was an underground icy cavern where no one would ever find her. She would dry up and become a desiccated husk, but her mind would still function until insanity took her over completely. It was more fitting for her than the true death!

I laughed and my voice came into being. My laughter was like soft tinkling bells and I felt my whole being become lighter and freer. My death was avenged. I would never get to be with Victoria again but I was still here in this new form. I could come back to watch over her in time, but for now a higher power summoned me and I saw some bright lights fall towards me from above. How wonderful this part was as I felt a deep love surround me. The entities became more solid, more substantial and I could see their features clearly. They all smiled beatifically at me. It was my human family. They held me as we soared higher and higher, beyond the stars and moon into an infinite wondrous realm of light and music, where colour and sound blended together to create lush landscapes of pure beauty.

I was home.

FIVE YEARS LATER...

So, finally, I was allowed to return to the earthly plane, after a drop in time in that other place. Such a wonderful place where you learnt and were taught, where you loved and were loved unconditionally despite your past misgivings. I was ghostly and insubstantial, but I could observe and hear the inhabitants clearly, although they could not see me.

Victoria and Edward were laying on the grass staring up at the sun in a beautiful meadow filled with abundant wildflowers. Their skin was sparkling with rainbows and diamonds, such a beautiful sight. I felt a longing rise up in me as I gazed at the two vampires. Edward took Victoria's hand and raised it gently to his lips then reverently kissed her smooth white skin. She sighed as their dazzling topaz eyes locked on each other intently. Their gaze was full of love and contentment.

I felt joyous for the couple although it was bittersweet. They had obviously found happiness with each other, of which I was glad. Victoria deserved someone sweet like Edward. I knew he had adored her from the minute he set eyes on her, so it was not a shock to find them together like this. I was happy for my little flame. Her face was lit up with an inner glow of happiness. So delightful to see. I smiled to myself wistfully. Edward propped himself up with one elbow as he traced a finger delicately down Victoria's pale cheek. He brought his lips to hers in a kiss so sweet it was devastatingly good to see. The whole meadow shimmered with the light reflecting from these beautiful creatures as they kissed perfectly in the rare sunshine.

My ghost heart leaped with wonder as Edward pulled Victoria to her feet. He then proceeded to kneel before her as he took her hand in his.

""Victoria Taylor?" he looked up at her through his impossibly long lashes, his golden eyes soft but, somehow, still scorching. "I promise to love you forever, every single day of forever. Will you marry me?" ( A/N: adapted from Eclipse Chapter 20, page 460 )

Her screams of "Yes!" echoed around the meadow as they embraced each other joyously. Oh I was happy, I had wanted to make Victoria my wife, but it was not to be, now she would be Edward Cullen's wife which made perfect and absolute sense in every way.

Somehow, the universe was right, everything was falling into place, wonderfully so.

The happy couple kissed again and I could almost see the love flow between them. How lovely that they should have found ecstasy together. Now Carlisle would have three beautiful matched couples for children. He would be so happy that Edward had found true love and devotion at last. I began to drift away but I caught  Victoria's words as I left.

"Could you give me a moment alone Edward, my darling?" she asked, her voice musical and girlish as ever.

"Anything for you my love. Please hurry though! I am just dying to tell the family our wonderful news! Thank you for agreeing to becoming my wife! Thank you!" Edward gushed happily, his eyes shining with joyous love.

Edward kissed her sweet lips once more then he swiftly sped away from the meadow in a blur. Victoria sighed happily as she flew off in the opposite direction. I followed close behind her, curious as to her destination.

She arrived at the clearing where I had met my true death. She sat cross legged on the grass and closed her eyes, a sad poignant smile on her face.

"Aro? Aro, if you can hear me I'd like to share my news with you. I often talk to you in my mind, how silly! But it has helped me these last few years to come to terms with losing you forever. That and Edward. Which is what I would like to tell you about. From the moment you left me he has been my savior, my dependable rock in whom I could stake my immortal existence! Two years ago our feelings changed, although Edward has confessed he loved me at first sight! That's by the by, I was with you then and I would never consider another! Over the years though I came to have feelings for him too and two years ago in the meadow we finally confessed the depth of our love for each other. In no way does my love for Edward compare to the all encompassing desire and adoration I felt for you, my maker. I will always love you! Edward makes me feel safe, he makes me feel loved and desired and oh so protected! I hope you would be happy for me. I think you would!

Oh Aro! I have avoided this place for five years, since the night the evil witch took you from me! I only feel now that I can return. I hope you would be glad to know that my dear family avenged you. Sulpicia can never be free again to wreak havoc on the world! She will fade and desiccate but she will still remain conscious and she will feel pain and regret! I wish I could tell you I have forgiven and forgotten but I never will. Noah is a fine boy though, she could not contaminate him with her black heart, he is part of the family now and always will be. So, I have come here today to share my news with you and I pray if you can hear me that you will be happy for us. Aro,my love, I hope you have found peace, I pray every day that you have. None of us knows what comes after death, we just wish and hope that there is something out there. Goodbye my love, I will still think of you often with deep fondness and utmost respect. Your little flame is happy!" she smiled up into the wide blue sky.

I smiled as I gazed upon my love, I felt her joy wash over me and I truly was happy for her. There was no point in regrets. I had spent many centuries as her lover, something most do not ever get to have. We were lucky to have found such a love, and now if my darling could find a fraction of that with another, especially someone like Edward Cullen, then I could be content and happy for her. Earthly concerns did indeed fade away on the spiritual plane. I had no ill feelings at all about Victoria's impending marriage, I even managed not to care about how evil Sulpicia had been and how she had eventually destroyed me. It had happened. I was meant to be that way. I saw things much more clearly now than I ever had.

Victoria sat still with her eyes still closed, looking every inch beauty and perfection.

"Be happy always, my darling little flame. I love you beyond reason, I love you infinitely for evermore. I will always listen to you when you talk to me if I can. I am still here, I still exist. Do not forget me, I will never forget you, but I want you to have a long happy existence with Edward now. It is meant to be, it is right. " I spoke softly as I stroked her smooth cheek with my ghostly hand.

I was shocked when she suddenly opened her topaz eyes with surprised wonder.

"Aro? Aro! I heard you! I felt you! Oh Aro! You are truly here? How wonderful! Oh I could weep, my love!" she stated with utter joy.

"Ah Victoria! You sense me? I did not expect you to. I have only just returned to this plane! I wished to see you and I was there instantly, in the meadow with you and Edward. I truly am ecstatic for you both!" I confessed with a smile, even though she could not see me.

"Thank you Aro, it means a lot to me to have your approval. Edward is very special and I truly did not seek to replace you. We were friends, siblings even, who realised we really did love each other. I am happy but I will never ever forget the love we shared. Oh does this mean we can talk sometimes? I will tell Edward of course! " she exclaimed happily, her beautiful face lit up with joy.

I shook my head and sighed a little, "I will be around from time to time but I will not interfere in your happiness Victoria. You must devote yourself to Edward, safe in the knowledge that I am fine. I still exist, I dwell in a most desirable state, I still feel and love. If I was to haunt you, so to speak, it would not be fair on anyone, you do see that Victoria?" I asked succinctly.

She smiled her lovely smile and nodded her head making her red curls fall around her face perfectly.

"Yes, of course. I am just overjoyed to know you have not gone forever Aro. I was overcome with grief when you left. Edward healed me inside and out. I would never betray him now. Holding onto the past would hurt him, it would hurt me too. I could never forgive myself for it. Do you know I blamed myself for your destruction? If I had not loved you, if I had not pursued you against all odds then maybe Sulpicia would not have been in the clearing that day! Now I know it was inevitable that she should destroy one of us one day. She didn't win though, did she my dear Aro? For here we are five years later talking to each other from different planes of existence!" she marvelled in wonder.

I nodded in agreement with a sad smile because I knew it was time for me to go. It was like an invisible thread pulling me back to my new world.

"I must leave now, Victoria. Please be happy, for yourself, and for me my dearest. I regret not one moment of our time together and I am glad I changed you. I will love you until the end of time. Now, go, tell your family the good news. I will be back, of that I am sure! Go towards your future little flame," I said softly as I felt myself leave the sunny field and my only true love.

I watched Victoria smile and nod as I departed. Her face was sheer perfect beauty which would not be out of place on the heavenly plane I now ascended to. I knew now that I had come back for a reason. It was time to move onwards to the higher realms. I did not know when I would see her face again but no matter as she was engraved on my heart and soul forever and ever. I had been changed and enriched because of our love for each other. My very own special true love, my everything and my meaning.

My little flame.


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