Bella never goes to Forks, instead living with Renee and Phil throughout high school. During her 3rd year at NYU, she is studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Her life is forever changed when she is compelled to visit Volterra; stumbling into a world she never dreamed could exist. AU, OOC, MA, Bella/Jasper

A Note from Mae

I am an avid fan of Twilight fanfiction. I've also been a fan of writing my own stories from time to time. So I decided to combine the two and recently started writing my own fanfiction. Feel free to check out my profile on FFn.

This blog is primarily for additional info and pics to accompany my story, Unfathomable Bonds. This is my first multi-chapter fanfiction story and I'm very excited about it.

If this story sounds interesting to you, please check it out. If you do, please feel free to let me know how you like it.

Lots of love, Mae.

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its affiliated characters; I just like to play with them. I also do not own any of the artwork discussed in any chapter of this fic. I am merely using them in one way or another for the purpose of my story.

Monday, December 7, 2009

UB Chapter 3 - Destino Benvenuto

My apologies for the delay in getting this out.  A bunch of stuff is going to be happening in this and next chapter and I needed to sort out what to put in each one.  So, here is Chapter 3 and I am currently working on Chapter 4.  I’ve been trying for Friday updates, but I’d rather post quality not quantity.

Sadly, sparagus, my beta, has too much on her plate at the moment and has had to step down.  However, JaspersDestiny has come to my rescue and agreed to take over.  She is an awesome beta, as well as a friend and a fellow Lamb (alsltwilight . blogspot . com).  Thanks, girlie!

Also from our blog, we Lambs are sponsoring the I Get Off in Volterra Contest.  So, please go write us a sexy one shot with one of the gorgeous men of the Volturi!  Details are on the contest profile page:  www . fanfiction . net / ~IGetOffinVolterraContest.

Rating: This story is rated M (MA) for a reason.  It will at times contain violence, lemons, and other adult content.  I really don’t do PG, as anyone who knows me could tell you.  So, if you aren’t of age, you should not be reading this.  

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all affiliated characters.  I just like to play with them.  Nor do I own any of the artwork discussed in any chapter of this fic.  I am merely using it in one way or another for the purpose of my story.  

Chapter 3 – Destino Benvenuto (Welcome Destiny)

Bella POV

Upon my return to the apartment, all was quiet.  As it was a Saturday night, I wasn’t surprised to discover that Hailey and Kelli weren’t home.  Peeking into my room, I saw Sera sleeping and didn’t want to disturb her. 

I hooked the camera up to my laptop to transfer the images from my day, and then went to make myself dinner.  The transfer was complete by the time I finished eating.  I sifted through the images, labeling each one before I forgot the details.

Once finished, I grabbed my sketchbook to try and relax before bed, but my mind wouldn’t stop replaying my day with Marcus and our discussion on fate.  I wondered again at the path that had led me here and where it was taking me. 

My gaze traveled to the image I had drawn while my mind was wandering.  I didn’t need to look at my drawings to remember him.  All I had to do was close my eyes and I could recall his image; his tall, lean body that I would love to be pressed against; his sexy, unkempt hair that I wanted to run my fingers through to see if it was as soft as I imagined; and those full, delectable lips that I wanted devouring my body. 

I groaned quietly and tried to relax, berating myself for getting so worked up over a stranger.  So, I put down the sketchbook and got ready for bed.  It took a while, but I eventually drifted off, wondering about his eyes that he had hidden behind the dark sunglasses.

The next day dawned early and was spent quietly at the apartment with Sera.  She was feeling better, but still a bit run down, so we curled up on the couch to talk.

I grabbed my laptop to show her the pictures and gave her the details of my trip, starting with the train and bus rides.  She was awed by the scenery and was upset that she hadn’t been able to make the trip with me. 

At the first image of Marcus, she was intrigued, commenting that he was “hotness personified”.  She listened intently as I told her about him and the sites he had shown me while in Volterra, trying to remember some of the details of the places I’d been shown.  Sera was quite taken with the photos of the Palazzo dei Priori and mentioned that she would like to see it herself, so I asked if she’d like to return with me and she agreed.

When I gave her the alabaster kitten, she squealed with delight and hugged me in true Sera fashion.  I also showed her the box that Marcus had given to me and she thought it was beautiful.  As I pulled out the pendant and gave it to her, I explained what Marcus had said about protection.  She also thought it was quite cryptic, but she thought the necklace was beautiful and had no qualms about wearing it.


It would be three weeks before Sera and I could schedule our trip to Volterra.  We had already planned a trip to Lucca the weekend after my birthday, spending an entire day exploring the walled city replete with layers and layers of history.  There were physical markers of each era that you could see in the architecture, such as Piazza Anfiteatro, which was designed in the shape of the original Roman amphitheater upon which it sits; and, Piazza Napoleone, created in a distinctly French style while Lucca was occupied by Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, in the early 19th Century.

The weekend following our trip to Lucca was filled with school projects and studies.  Sera and Kelli had projects due for their courses, while Hailey and I were studying for an exam on historical interpretations in Renaissance art.  It was a challenge, but the extra studying paid off in the end when I received high marks for the exam. 

I heard from Marcus often over those weeks.  We spoke on the phone every few days and even exchanged a few emails here and there.  He was pleased when I informed him I would be available the first weekend of October to return to Volterra and that Sera would be accompanying me.  Hailey and Kelli had already made plans to go to Rome for the weekend, so Sera and I decided to go on our own.

So, on another cloudy Saturday morning in early October, Sera and I were sitting on the front stoop waiting for the car that Marcus was sending to pick us up.  I had argued that we could take the train, but he was adamant and, to be honest, I preferred the one hour car ride to the two hours or more on a crowded train and bus. 

“Are you excited to see Marcus again?” Sera asked.

I dug a bottle of water out of my bag and took a swig.  “Yeah, he’s a nice guy.  He’s so reserved, though. Distant.”

“So, you like him?”

I looked over at Sera.  “You mean, do I like him, like him?”  I giggled.

She laughed, “Well, yeah.  Don’t you?  You’ve been chatting with him a lot lately.”  She grabbed the water out of my hand and took a drink.

“No!” I near shouted the answer, feeling my cheeks burn in embarrassment.  “Not at all.  I mean, that’s just...” I shivered at the idea and scrunched up my nose.  “It would be like dating my brother, honestly.  I have no romantic interest in him,” I told her.  “I’m just concerned about him.  He seems so sad, lonely.”

Sera beamed at me.  “Excellent!”

I rolled my eyes and stole back my water, putting it back in my bag.  “I can’t wait for you to meet Marcus.”  And I couldn’t.  Sera was such a flamboyant character that I was interested in Marcus’ reaction to her vibrant personality.

A familiar car rolled to a stop in front of us, its sleek silver lines seeming to move gracefully down the street.  I stood.  “This is it.”

“Ohhh, c’est magnifique,” Sera said when she noticed the extravagant vehicle. 

I was giggling at her reaction when the door opened and Demetri stepped onto the curb. 

“Greetings, ladies.”  He bowed slightly to us and I saw Sera raise an eyebrow, while glancing in my direction.  “Marcus was unavoidably detained this morning, but would like me to inform you that he will meet you at Il Duomo.  If you ladies would like to get in, I would be honored to escort you.”

Sera just turned to me to and said, “Is he for real?”

I laughed and saw Demetri’s lips twinge as if he were fighting a smile.  “Just go with it.”  I told Sera.

She narrowed her eyes, then shrugged.  “Laissez les bons temps roulez, non?”

Demetri opened the rear door and motioned for Sera to enter.  “Aren’t you the gentleman?!”  She smiled and winked at him before sliding onto the seat.

Demetri looked at me as he closed the door behind her. 

I just shrugged.  “It’s a Sera thing.” 

He did smile then as we rounded the car and he opened the door for me to enter.

The ride to Volterra was filled with excitement, mostly Sera’s.  She was praising the car and asked Demetri about it.  She also shamelessly snooped, opening compartments and pushing buttons.  I just shook my head at her.

Once she had finished investigating the vehicle, she commented on the scenery and discussed the sites in Volterra that she would like to make sure to visit today.  I made a mental note to mention them to Marcus when we saw him.

Before too long, Demetri was maneuvering the car through the streets of Volterra, coming to a stop before Il Duomo.  I looked up at the ancient walls and smiled, anxious to see Didyme again.

Demetri opened our doors, and then led us inside the building.  He stopped just inside the door.  “You shouldn’t have to wait long, ladies.”

“You don’t have to stay, Demetri.  We’re happy to wait here for Marcus.” I told him.

Demetri smiled politely, but shook his head.  “Marcus would burn me alive if I left you.  Please enjoy Il Duomo while you wait.”

I gave him a quizzical look, but didn’t say anything further.  Looking back at Sera, we both shrugged and I led her toward the aisle where Didyme lay ensconced in her niche.  She was still as beautiful as I remembered, her quiet elegance so subtle and yet, so apparent.

“She really is beautiful, isn’t she?” Sera said as she first saw Didyme.  “The detail is amazing and the veil?  It’s just pure genius.  I wish I could have met the artist.”

I nodded as my eyes traveled over the familiar piece.  “So do I.  I’d love to see more of his work.”

Sera smirked and grinned at me.  “Well, there is that, but I was thinking more along the lines of how talented his fingers would be.” 

“Oh geez,” I rolled my eyes at her, but laughed when she wiggled her fingers at me.

“Seriously, it’s like dating a guitarist.  You know how dexterous those fingers have to be to fly over the strings like they do?”  She closed her eyes and I swear she moaned a little.  “It’s deliciously yummy to be on the receiving end of that!”  She winked and turned back to study the sculpture.

I was somehow groaning and laughing at the same time when I looked over her shoulder and noticed  Marcus standing nearby.  I was about to greet him when I noticed his expression and hesitated.  He was staring at us as if transfixed, his face etched in astonishment. 

“Marcus?” I called to him, but he didn’t respond.

Sera, hearing me call Marcus’ name, turned from the sculpture to greet him.  “Oh, Mon Dieu,” she breathed as she saw him.  “He was in a damn fine mood when He made that man, wasn’t He?”

I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing as we made our way over to where Marcus stood.  I noticed he was still staring – at Sera.  My head quirked to the side at their reactions, a small smile playing over my face as I tried to keep in my happy laughter.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if my two new friends hit it off?  I already knew that Sera was attracted to him.  She had even been attracted to his picture.  And from Marcus’ reaction, I had an idea he felt the same, although he seemed more shocked than anything.  It was rather puzzling, but then so many things about Marcus were that way.

“Marcus, this is my roommate and best friend, Sera.  Sera, Marcus.”  With the introductions over, I leaned back and watched them both, gauging their reactions. 

Sera, ever the over-eager flirt, put her hand out to him with a bright smile.  “It’s great to meet you, Marcus.  Bella’s told me so much about you.”

Marcus smiled down at Sera and took her hand in his.  “I assure you, the pleasure is mine.”  I watched as he raised her hand to his lips and pressed a soft kiss to her knuckles.  I swear I saw her shiver in response and I again had to hold back a happy chuckle.

They stood there, with Marcus holding Sera’s hand in his, for a long moment.  I started to feel a bit out of place, so I cleared my throat discreetly, and then smiled at them as Marcus released Sera’s hand. 

“So, ladies.  I have a tentative agenda set for the day, if you are not opposed.  But, before we start, was there anything specific you would like to see?”

“Well, Bella told me about the Palazzo dei Priori, so I would love to see that, especially The Marriage Feast of Cana.  Otherwise, I’d like to see the Etruscan museum and the Roman theatre.  Beyond that, I’m all yours.”  Sera grinned up at Marcus and winked at him.

Marcus’ eyes flashed at either her comment or her wink, I wasn’t sure.  Probably both.  I almost laughed, but stifled it. 

He cleared his throat.  “Of course.  I have already included those locations on our agenda for today.”  Turning to me, he asked, “Was there anywhere you would like to see, Bella?”

“I’m good with whatever is planned, thanks.  Perhaps you could show Sera Il Duomo?” I suggested.

Marcus smiled at me, then looked at Sera in question.

Sera just nodded, then boldly hooked her arm through his and winked at me as she led him down the aisle.  “Now, sugar, don’t be shy.  I want to see it all.”

I choked back a laugh as they moved away, then turned back to Didyme with a smile.  “What do you think?”  I asked the silent statue.  “Yeah, me too.”

“Think about what?” The deep voice sounded from directly behind me.  I jumped and twirled quickly, stumbling slightly before righting myself.  I was met with a wide chest, which I followed up until I was met with Felix’s smiling face, the light in his eyes dimmed by the murky brown coloring of them.  I briefly wondered if he wore contacts or had any vision problems, although I had noticed that both Marcus and Demetri also had the same dulled, brown eye color.

Snapping my thoughts back to the present, I responded.  “I was talking to Didyme, actually.”

Felix nodded.  “I realized that.”  He was quiet a moment as his eyes traveled to where Marcus and Sera stood near the front of the church, near the altar.  “I’ve never seen him like this before,” he said, almost absentmindedly, as if he’d forgotten I was here.

“He’s never attracted women before?  I find that hard to believe.”

He smirked down at me.  “No, he doesn’t lack for companionship when he wishes.  But, that is just for a … physical release, if you will.” 

I rolled my eyes and muttered under my breath, “Men,” but he seemed to have heard me.

“It’s a need like any other, Bella.  After a while, sometimes you just need to scratch that itch.  He doesn’t do it often, and never leads the women on.  But, this. …” he trailed off, gathering his thoughts, perhaps.  “He so rarely speaks to anyone outside the family if he doesn’t have to, and he almost never smiles.  I was shocked when he spoke to you last month, and then spent the entire day with you.  But, this?  It’s different.”

I watched them for a moment.  Sera was speaking and gesturing animatedly at Marcus while he just smiled down at her.  It warmed me to see them together.  Perhaps something would come of it.  “Maybe she’s what he needs, to remind him how to smile again.”

“You made him smile, Bella,” he told me.

“Yes, but not like that.  Look at them.  I bet she has him laughing by the end of the day.”

Felix smiled.  “Normally I’d take the bet, but in this case I hope you’re right, Bella.”

Marcus and Sera completed their tour of Il Duomo before too long and we were on our way to the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci.  The museum was founded in the mid-18th Century when a local historian, Mario Guarnacci, donated his archeological collection to the citizens.  It became one of the first public museums in Europe, and holds treasures set in chronological order reviewing Etruscan history throughout the ages, going as far back as the 9th Century B.C. (Iron Age).  I also discovered that in Etruscan times, Volterra was known as Velathri, which I found interesting.

We spent almost two hours in the museum before departing.  Marcus led us down to a parallel street and back toward the center of town.  As we passed along via Gramsci, I saw a shop advertising hand-woven textiles with beautiful scarves and sweaters on display. 

I grabbed Sera’s hand and dragged her inside where we watched for a while as a woman used a manual loom.  We chatted with her for a few minutes, asking about her craft, the shop, and the materials she used.  She answered our questions politely and helped us pick out some items from the shop.  Sera and I both bought mohair shawls that felt incredibly soft against our skin.  She decided on a bright colorful sky blue one, while I chose one in terracotta orange.  I also picked up a blanket in blues and greens that I thought Charlie would like.

With bags in hand, Marcus informed us that he had set up a picnic lunch for us in the Parco Archeologico.  We continued our walk along the road, following Marcus to the park.  In one corner of the park were the ruins of a Roman era reservoir, but apparently this area was really used as a park, complete with grass, some trees, and gravel paths.  When we arrived, I noticed Demetri waiting for us next to a large blanket set-up for a picnic.  I hadn’t even noticed when he had disappeared, though I remember he and Felix trailing us through the museum. 

We spent a lovely hour in the park, eating and talking.  Well, Sera and I ate.  Marcus excused himself saying that he was on a special diet.  Sera and I let it pass, although I was sure she was as confused as I was.

Once we had finished eating our meal, we made our way deeper into the park where the Acropolis lay.  It was the highest point in the city and had the most breathtaking view.  I was beginning to worry I would run out of memory on my camera before the day was out.  However, I did get some great photos, including a gorgeous picture of Marcus and Sera with the rolling hills in the background.  They were both smiling.  After I snapped the shot, I grinned at Felix and he winked at me.

The afternoon was a whirlwind- exhausting, but exhilarating.  After our picnic, we ambled through town, stopping at the Palazzo dei Priori for Sera, which Marcus guided her through while I sat quietly in the Piazza, sipping my water and people-watching.  Demetri stayed with me and, while he was polite, he was not talkative, so I left him to his thoughts.

From there we continued on to the Teatro Romano where we wandered for a short while through the ruins, as Marcus did his best to educate us on the site.  Apparently, the ruins are very well preserved and date back to the 1st Century B.C.  I found that quite impressive.

We were making our way through town to Porta San Felice when we passed the Pinacoteco e Museo Civico, a small art gallery and civic museum.  Marcus told us about some of the works inside and mentioned that Rosso Fiorentino once studied here.  Excited, Sera grabbed Marcus’ hand and begged him to go inside.  He looked at her hand holding his, then smiled and nodded.  We entered the gallery and I noticed that they continued to hold hands.

The gallery was a treasure, containing many works from the 12th to 17th Centuries.  My favorite was the Apothesis of Christ with Saints, a late 15th Century piece by Domenico Ghirlandaio.  It was his last work, but if you look in the landscape of the background, you can see a giraffe.  Apparently, the Medici family collected quite a menagerie of animals and the artist included this one in his painting. 

Another stroll through town took us to Porta San Felice, which we passed through to reach the Guarnacci Roman Baths.  We couldn’t get very close, but we were able to see the signs of the excavation work and I found it fascinating.  If it were possible, I would love to spend a day with the excavation team, looking for clues of the area’s past. 

We ended our tour at Porta San Francecso, taking in the portions of the frescos that had been preserved in the vaults, and then surveying the view from above.  I snapped some great shots of the patchwork landscape in the distance before we descended once again into the city. 

Marcus chose a different route back through the city.  We were all fairly quiet as we traveled the narrow streets, Marcus only commenting briefly on a place we passed or a particularly interesting piece of architecture.  I tried to surreptitiously observe Marcus and Sera’s interaction. 

Sera was flirting shamelessly, as I would expect.  I had no doubt that she was attracted.  We had been out a few times together, and I had seen her in action before.  She was being even more flirtatious than usual, however.  I’m not sure if that was due to a deeper interest or Marcus’ more reticent nature, but I was hoping it was perhaps a mixture of both.  Sera had a beautiful soul and I had a feeling Marcus did, as well. 

Marcus was harder to read, as he was so reserved.  But, I did notice that his lips were more often than not curled at least slightly upward, even more so when he would look at Sera.  I did my best to give them at least the illusion of privacy so they could get to know each other better.  If anyone could break someone out of their shell, it was Sera.

Before long, we were seated in the garden of a very nice restaurant near the foot of the Acropolis.  Marcus had made reservations and we were immediately seated in what was probably the best seat in the house.  I was feeling a little underdressed, but no one said anything.  I also noted that there hadn’t been prices on the menu, and I wondered just how much Marcus was going to spend on us today.

Sera opted for the ribollita, a type of vegetable soup, while I chose the marinated calamari salad to start.  We then shared a bruschetta appetizer that was simply scrumptious.  For the main dish, I decided to try the stracatto, a Tuscan pot roast.  Sera wanted to be even more daring and picked the chingiale, a dish made with wild boar. 

Again, Marcus didn’t eat, citing his special diet as his excuse and informed us that he would be taken care of when he returned home later that evening.  We both gave him incredulous looks and tried to protest for his health, but he told us not to worry and the diet was safe, that he had been on it for so long he couldn’t imagine any other way.  We decided to drop the subject.

By the time we had finished our food, the sky had darkened considerably.  We had already gone over our day, mentioning our favorite places and pieces of art throughout the meal. 

As we sipped the last of our wine, Sera was describing what it was like living in New Orleans.  I had heard most of it, but Marcus was clearly interested.  She mentioned her schooling and living with her grandmother.  When she told him how her grandmother died, he expressed his condolences and reached over to rest his hand on hers.  She turned hers and squeezed it a moment as she thanked him.  Embarrassed, he withdrew his hand then and asked her to continue.

Felix caught my eye after that.  He was standing against the wall of the building, a smile on his face.  He seemed to be a very amiable man and it appeared as if he genuinely cared for Marcus.  He gave me a quick ‘thumbs up’ signal and I smiled at him. 

I looked around then, noticing that I didn’t see Demetri.  I wondered where he had gone.  As my eyes returned to Felix, I noticed his head turn toward the entry of the restaurant.  I wondered what he was looking for, but a moment later, Demetri walked up to him, said something, and then left.  How had Felix known Demetri was coming? 

Felix made his way to the table and leaned down to whisper in Marcus’ ear.

“Demetri has brought the car around so we may escort you home,” Marcus informed us. 

I guess now I knew where Demetri had gone. 

Felix pulled out the chair as I rose from my seat and gathered my bags, while Marcus did the same for Sera.  They then escorted us through the restaurant to where I assume the car was waiting.  I lagged behind and tugged on Felix’s arm, letting Marcus and Sera get ahead a few paces so they wouldn’t hear me.

“Are you driving?” I asked him.

He furrowed his brow at me.  “Yes, of course.”

“May I sit with you?  Or is Demetri coming, too?”

He grinned as he realized what I meant.  “Oh, I think Demetri may suddenly have an errand to run.”

I beamed at him and rushed to catch up with Marcus and Sera as I saw Felix pull out his cell phone and tap out what I believed was a text message.  This was confirmed when we walked outside the restaurant to see Demetri looking at his phone, shaking his head.

Ten minutes later, I was seated in the front with Felix while Marcus and Sera shared the back.  They were leaning toward each other across the center console, talking quietly, whenever I looked back. 

I spent the ride home chatting with Felix while tormenting him with my music choices via the satellite radio.  He was a good sport about it, though, and we had a good time.

When we reached the apartment, I quickly said goodnight to Felix and then to Marcus, thanking him for another wonderful day and suggesting perhaps next time he come to Florence for a visit.  He said he would think about it. 

Sera had already said goodnight to Felix.  As she turned to Marcus, Felix walked to the front of the car to stand and I went to the door, digging for my keys so I could open the door while trying to peek out of the corner of my eye at the couple. 

She had tilted her head up to him, speaking softly.  He said something back and smiled down at her.  Then, she raised herself up onto her toes and quickly kissed his cheek.  He seemed caught off guard for a moment, but then he relaxed and said something else. 

Sera turned to come toward the door, but then quickly turned back and crooked her finger at him.  He leaned down so she could whisper in his ear.  He straightened and was silent for a second, then another, and then he started laughing.  Not a big, boisterous laugh, though.  It was more like a hearty chuckle, but he laughed. 

I beamed at them and looked to Felix, who was also beaming.  I did a mini fist pump, hoping they wouldn’t see me.

A minute later, I had the door open and Sera was following me inside and up the stairs while the men drove away.  I waited until we’d reached the apartment to ask.

“How did you get him to laugh?”

We plopped down on the couch and put our feet on the coffee table.  It had been a long, exhausting day, much of it spent walking.  My feet were beginning to throb.

Her head was leaning against the cushion on the back of the couch.  “All I did was ask if he played guitar.  He said ‘No, though I am an artist.’”  She grinned.

“I don’t get it.”

“Remember this morning when I was telling you about guitarists’ hands?”

My eyes widened as I recalled the conversation.  Marcus must have heard us.  I giggled, then laughed as Sera joined me.

The rest of the night was spent talking about our day, but mostly about Marcus.  Sera was a bit hesitant to talk about any feelings as yet, and I didn’t push her.  She did say that he was very attractive.  Well, this is Sera, so she actually said he was ‘sex on a stick’.  I didn’t know about that, but I didn’t contradict her.

Sera POV

It was late.  Bella had been asleep for an hour while I lay in my bed, staring at the ceiling.  I sighed.

I felt like I’d been caught in the middle of a whirlwind.  I was so used to being the one to bring the whirlwind that I wasn’t sure how to react now that I was stuck in one I couldn’t control.  It was at once amazing, wonderful, breathtaking…and absolutely horrifying.  I wasn’t sure which way was up, or what I should be feeling.

Marcus.  He was the manifestation of all my dreams come true in a man, which is why I was petrified.  What if he didn’t live up to my expectations?  Or worse, what if I didn’t live up to his?  Did he even have any? 

From what Bella tells me, Marcus seemed sad and lonely.  She told me how she had tried to make him smile the day they had met.  I had been intrigued by the idea of the sad man, wanting to comfort him and, like Bella, make him smile. 

She had also told me that he was attractive.  That had been confirmed when she had shown me his photo, which only added to his intrigue.  I had been interested even then.  I had even felt a pang of jealousy thinking that Bella might want him.  When she assured me she didn’t, I had been relieved. 

Meeting him in person today was life changing and I knew it.  When he had looked at me, it was as if he was looking right into my soul, and that was just scary to imagine.  The idea of someone seeing me so clearly was daunting at best.  What did he see when he looked so deep? 

I sighed again, shifting in the bed, trying to find a comfortable position so I could sleep.  But, when I closed my eyes, I saw Marcus. 

His undeniable allure was more than physical.  I found him to be polite but reserved at first, even though I was sure he was attracted to me.  As the day wore on, I discovered he was highly intelligent, as evidenced by his amazing amount of detail while acting as our tour guide.  He seemed to be knowledgeable about every aspect of Volterra’s history, at least. 

It was also quite obvious that he was very well-endowed, financially.  He had refused to allow Bella or me to pay for anything but our shawls today, and I imagine the restaurant had cost him a pretty penny.  But his clothing and car also screamed money.  To be honest, that idea scared me, too.  I almost wish he were a penniless Bayou boy.  The money was a bit intimidating, while at the same time somewhat exciting.  What girl doesn’t dream of landing a rich guy?

Another sigh, and another shift in the bed, and I was facing the wall now.  My lips curved up as I realized how often I had gotten Marcus to smile today.  By dinner, his mouth had almost lost that sad downward tilt I had seen in his photos and when we first met. 

Then he had laughed.  While I was a wee bit embarrassed at how I’d gotten him to laugh, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.  It was just a little chuckle, but it was a start.  I had to make him do that again, often.  He was so reserved that I had been shocked at his response.

He was an artist.  I wonder what medium he uses.  I didn’t think it was photography, or anything that used modern technology.  Painter, perhaps?  Sculptor?  Bella said he was quite interested in the sculpture of Didyme, and he does have great hands…

His hands…they were always cold.  He had mentioned a circulation problem, but it still seemed odd, as if he were not telling the whole truth, perhaps?   His eyes also seemed wrong somehow.  All three of them, actually, had the same dull brown eyes.  And then there was the ‘special diet’ he was on.  What kind of diet kept him so fit while denying him food?  He hadn’t even drunk anything today and we’d been with him the entire day and into the night.  It was perplexing. 

There was definitely something strange about him.  About all of them.

Marcus POV

My eyes did not leave her form until it was hidden behind the closed door of her apartment building.  I was in utter chaos at the events of this day.  Meeting Sera had been a shock from which I had not quite yet recovered.  I entered the vehicle and lay my head back against the seat, closing my eyes and remembering our first meeting.

She had not been facing me, but rather walking away toward the sculpture of Didyme.  She was only a few inches taller than Bella, but still quite petite, especially in comparison with my own height.  Her hair was a pale blonde that fell to her shoulders.  Her body was slender, I noted, as my eyes traveled down her back to the slight curve at her waist where her shirt had ridden up above her jeans, exposing a patch of skin.  My admiring gaze continued its path over her jean-encased legs and sandaled feet as I felt my body responding. 

This was a curious development.  While I often found women to be attractive, rarely had they affected me so quickly or so profoundly as this one had, and I had yet to see all of her. 

Curious, I closed my eyes and summoned my power.  While I was curious about the tie between the two friends, I was also perplexed by my own reaction to her.  Perhaps there was a thread between Sera and me as there had been when I had first met Bella.

Opening my eyes, I was so struck by what I saw that I very nearly stumbled in my amazement.  I did not even register their words at first, as I was absorbed by what I saw.  A thin, white thread bound us together.  The last time I had witnessed such a thing had been nearly 3,000 years ago, when I had met Didyme. 

I had never questioned my bond with Didyme. Our connection had been as strong as any other mated pair and I had loved her with everything that I was.  She had been a beautiful woman, both in manner and appearance, and I had missed her profoundly after her death.  I had always assumed the reason I felt as if I were missing something had been due to losing her. 

Countless times I had seen the thread of a mated couple.  I knew from experience that it would only continue to grow.  The thread would thicken and the color would brighten and pulse between mates as they grew indelibly closer to one another.

Now, as I stared at the thread, I noticed it was already a strong connection.  Where normally it would be a pale sliver at first then grow with time, this thread was thicker and brighter.  It was as if we had already bonded on some level.

Still unable to take my eyes from her slender form, I knew that it was this woman that I had been waiting for my entire existence.  The something that had been missing from my life was her.  It was a frightening revelation and I was not positive how I should proceed.  I was, for once in my life, at a loss.

 Cajun French translations:
- C’est magnifique! = That’s great!
- Laissez les bons temps roulez! = Let the good times roll!
- Mon Dieu = My God

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