Almost four years ago, 14 year old me sat down and poured her heart open to a Word document. These were my daydreams, my ideal romance, my first deep writing inspiration, my perfect adventure.
And today, I perfect the raw potential that was my Twilight obsession.
The sun was beating down heavily on the cobbled streets of Volterra, Italy. It was a small town, medieval in structure with lots of pretty sandstone buildings which made it popular for tourists coming from all over the world – it was my little own safe haven, small and protected and tucked away from the Mayfair of the big cities and it’s stuffy traffic.
The end of my school day came with relief and I cheerfully made my way down the uneven Roman roads, my sandals clicking rhythmically against the flat stones. The schoolbag bouncing on my back was heavy with books, made slightly uncomfortable by the warm rays of afternoon sunshine – possibly, the hottest of the day.
I had enough money for a cappuccino, and so I entered the usual bar, Il Vecchio Locale, where my older friend Anita worked as waitress.
It was literally a cappuccino that changed my life.
Inside wasn’t too stuffed with people. There was a table filled with old ladies drinking and gossiping, a were a few school children munching on croissants on the table next to that, and finally two men in posh suits sipping small espressos from cute white cups.
I made my usual routine, padding over to the cashier and was greeted by Anita.
“Look who’s paid me a visit,” She smirked over at me with the usual smug smile. I always thought she was smug by nature, or perhaps it was the glamorous dyed-blonde locks and the cheeky piercing on the side of her mouth like a beauty spot. Either way, she was a sweetheart and totally protective of me like I was a little sister.
“Hey Anita.” I smiled back, leaning against the smooth marble counter.
“Haven’t seen you since last week. How have ya been doing?” Her brown eyes warm like always.
I replied that I was fine, nothing new, and that I’d like a cappuccino while I worked on a school project. She nodded and showed me over to a table in the bright patch of afternoon sunlight flooding through the window. I busied myself with pulling my books out and before my order could arrive, I had already tied my long brown hair back and was tapping my pen furiously against my chin, solving a math equation.
I was just closing my math exercise book and tugging out English, when I risked a quick glance up. And that was when I noticed him.
Handsome, there was no denying it, the most handsome guy I had ever seen before. And so was his companion. Both dressed in black suits under black robes with such pale skin that made me guess they were British, was it not for their gothic attire – definitely working for the local underground attractions of Volterra. Therefore locals, not tourists. They glided across the room- with such perfect and careless elegance- and paused until Anita noticed them and asked them for their order. The two made small talk among each other in perfect Italian, the gorgeous younger one leaning back with one elbow on the hard marble table, letting his robe fall open and showing a crisp white shirt beneath.
The one with his back to me, the older one, asked something to Anita, who replied with a nod and scanned the room with her brown eyes until they fell on me, and she winked when she was sure the two weren’t looking.
I gulped. I knew her too well to figure out something was up.
And then she did the unimaginable. She gestured for them to follow her. She moved steadily towards me, making me blush and glance at the two behind her.
The sat at the table right next to mine, the cute younger guy sitting exactly on my right. They didn’t even acknowledge me, which came as a relief as I was not in tip-top condition. I sat stiffly in my chair, doing my best to discretely glare at the waitress as she walked away, smirking proudly to herself. Anita was making a habit out of trying to hook me up with cute guys – at 16, I had only been in a brief relationship once sometime ago, and didn’t take guys seriously enough to want to date them. Anita had other plans – about three months ago, she set up a blind date.
The date was the school’s hottie, Luca. Wayyyy out of my league and embarrassingly so. Of course, I was aware of that fact throughout the night, and my awkwardness stopped me enjoying myself. Not that it mattered anymore, anyway. The only thing that proved I had actually gone out with him for one night was the fact that we sometimes threw cautious smiles at each other when we passed by in the corridors.
I tried turning back to my homework, but the damage was done. How the hell was I meant to concentrate when two super-hotties were standing next to me?! I wondered whether they modeled and if so, for what Abercrombie & Flinch catalogue and what the hell they were doing in nowhere land called Volterra.
“merda,” the oldest swore in Italian. “how do you suppose we accomplish this?”
“don’t complicate your life over nothing, Felix.” The one next to me said, his tone husky and smooth and all-around perfect. I blushed as I realized I was straining to hear the way it sounded. “we do as we are told. Full stop. No different from always.”
I felt the clinking of metal against porcelain and then a noise like sipping coffee. “still, I don’t understand.”
“the point of drinking this stuff.” The older man grumbled, “What else?”
“don’t be idiotic. We must fit in. and the complexion of black coffe is quite pleasurable. Wouldn’t you agree?” The younger one beside me was smirking, I could hear the elegant superiority marking his tone, fascinating and dark.
I wondered why they were talking so formaly. And then I reminded myself that it was rude to eavesdrop.
“it’s quite raw, the taste, if you ask me.” The man called Felix went on, stirring his drink. “even if we, at least, can feel the taste and texture.”
“it takes years of practice before getting back used to it, I suppose. And you’re doing it wrong.”
“what am I doing wrong?”
“the drink. You’re supposed to put sugar in it, or it’s too strong. I wonder how you don’t realize.”
“maybe,” the other one said, “you are right. Just maybe.”
The younger model made no reply.
I heard the sound of shuffling of robes, but apart from that, I was caught completely by surprise when the boy cleared his throat, and out of habit at hearing something directed at me, I instinctively looked up to meet his gaze.
His eyes were a startling colour: too bronze to be brown, more of a bright burgundy. Leaning on the red? Maybe he was an albino. Oh wait – dark hair, probably not.
“Miss,” he said elegantly, “I’m sorry to interrupt your studying. The waitress has forgot to give us the usual pot. Would you be kind enough to pass us some sugar?”
I stared at him uncomprehending. His lips moved flawlessly, shaping each word elegantly. After various seconds something flipped on at me and the words registered my brain. I sat back and grabbed a few sugar bags from the container besides my History book.
“Here,” I said, thrusting them at him from the embarrassment. Instead of them falling on the tabletop, he stretched out his hand surprisingly fast and caught all three with one swipe. When he glanced back up, instead of being pissed, he was smirking with humor.
“thank you, miss.” He said.
“Annabella,” I replied out of instinct, automatically correcting him.
“Anna, then.” He turned, leaving me gawping at me. He had given me a nickname in less than a split second and had been completely charming about it. How the hell was that possible.
As I turned back to my studying, forcing myself to read the same passage over and over the meaning registered, I unconsciously noticed that the boy besides me sat up straighter, the conversation between the two having apparently come to an end. And not only that, he knew my name and I didn’t know his.
How’s that for a Wednesday afternoon?