Disclaimer: I own nothing but the original plot points and any original characters therein. No copyright infringement intended.



A/N: Had a question. Short answer: No insta-mates in this.



Chapter 4

As Bella showered and dressed to start what would be her sixth day in Volterra, her thoughts wandered to how enjoyable the past few days had been. Really, she was pleasantly surprised.

Truthfully, when Demetri had found her and it had become clear that she would have to come to Italy with him, she'd dreaded it. Perhaps that was understating. Because, honestly, she'd been mildly terrified, based primarily on Edward's opinion of the Volturi. He'd painted them to be nothing more than bloodthirsty killing machines, and while she was certain they could be, she'd discovered they were much more complex than that.

Take Demetri, for example. He had turned out to have quite the personality. What at first blush she had thought to be a cold, unfeeling stoicism had turned out to be his quiet, introspective reserve that masked a sharp wit and dry, often teasing, sense of humor. Yes, he could be maddening at times, but she found upon reflection, that she enjoyed trading friendly barbs with him.

Then there was Felix, the man of many grunts, as she'd first dubbed him. As it turned out, once he warmed up to someone, he could be just as funny as Emmett ever was, and he loved giving Demetri shit.

Probably because he was the only one brave enough, considering what she'd heard of Demetri's fighting prowess—primarily from Alec after Dem had wiped the floor with him in the training room while Bella had watched. Or tried to, since they moved so fast.

That had been a fun day because it seemed a little fighting put Demetri in a very agreeable mood, so when he'd taken her to dinner that night, he'd talked more than he had in the entire time she'd known him.

Now she knew his history (ancient Greek), how he'd been turned and had come to join the Volturi, how he'd discovered a love for photography (a three day fling with a female photojournalist in the sixties), and that he'd never had a serious relationship, never been in love, not even with a vampire.

In short, she now had a whole new perspective of the handsome Volturi tracker, and found herself, to her shock, enjoying his company greatly.

As she gave her hair a final fluff in front of the bathroom mirror, she smiled brightly. Then she gave herself a nod and left the bathroom, her thoughts occupied with what the day might have in store.

When she spotted the statuesque, red-eyed brunette quietly leaning against the bedroom door-frame with her arms crossed, she froze. "Who are you," she asked warily, "and why are you in Demetri's rooms?"

"I am Heidi, pet, and believe me," she purred in a decidedly Slavic accent while regarding Bella through hooded eyes, "I am no stranger to Demetri's rooms.

"As to why I am here now," she shrugged a slim shoulder while examining her nails, "Demetri is occupied. He asked me to bring you the food he bought for you. It is on the table in the living room."

Bella hadn't thought herself to be the type of person who could instantly dislike someone.

Clearly, she was wrong.

This female who stood there staring at her with an air of smarmy condescension proved it.

"Great, it's on the table, mission accomplished, thank you," Bella said while busying herself with spreading up the bed covers and fluffing the pillows. Then she faced the female vampire and crossed her arms. "So why are you still here?"

She'd tried to keep her tone conversational, but this vampire just seemed to rub her the wrong way. Worse than Rosalie ever had, in fact.

'Of course, Rosalie never stood there practically bragging about sleeping with Demetri, either…'

Bella knew she should be shocked at that errant thought and the niggling jealousy she felt, but she was too focused on the black widow in front of her. She'd think about it later.

For now…

"I had thought to get to know Demi's pet human. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But now that I am here, I can see that it was nothing more than exaggerations. You are nothing special," she said, her tone bored, dismissive.

She pushed off the door-frame and gracefully prowled toward Bella on impossibly high stilettos. When she got close, Bella had to look up at the leggy brunette, but she didn't back down an inch or drop her gaze.

"In fact," the poisonous female drawled while lightly tracing Bella's cheek with a blood-red nail, "You are altogether plain and easily forgettable." She smirked. "He will tire of you soon, I am sure. And then he will drain you like the blood bag you are."

Bella's jaw clenched and she didn't think there was ever a time where she'd wished she was a vampire more than that moment. This bitch would've already been torn to shreds if she had been. "I think you'd better leave before I get out my Zippo and a can of hairspray and toast your skanky ass."

Heidi's eyes narrowed to slits as she hissed. Then she tensed and spun to face the door.

A split second later, Bella knew why.

"Leave. Now," Demetri ordered as he came through the bedroom door.

Bella had never been so relieved to see someone but held herself still, her chin tilted defiantly until the other female left with a huff. Then she sagged onto the edge of the bed, and clenched her hands into fists to still the shakes while muttering, "Holy shit."

Demetri stood there, regarding her with interest. "You did well. Most humans would have pissed themselves when faced with such a threat."

An incredulous laugh gusted from Bella. "Yeah? Well, it's not exactly the first time I've faced off with a vampire who wanted me dead."

Demetri arched a brow. "I would like to hear this story sometime, uccellino, but for now, just know that she will not hurt you. She would not dare."

She arched a dubious brow. "What makes you so sure?"

"I am her sire and I've forbidden it."

"You sired that?"

"I did."

Her upper lip curled. "So you have a thing for Russian whores, then?"

His smirk was sinful, the look in his eyes intense as he traced the line of her jaw with his fingertips. "Perhaps, uccellino, it is a preference for beautiful brunettes which plagues me."

Her heart stuttered and she lost herself in his red gaze for a moment until her sensible side reengaged and the fog of attraction lifted.

She stood and skirted by him with a muttered, "Yeah, well, good thing I don't have to worry about that." She marched out the bedroom door to the sofa where she took a seat and began unwrapping her breakfast. He entered and draped himself in the chair adjacent to her as she continued speaking with a sneer in her tone, "Apparently, I'm plain and nothing special, just a boring blood bag, so… yeah."

She viciously bit into the soft, still-warm sweet bun she'd developed a love for, and only then did she look up to meet his amused gaze.

"You must not listen to her words," he said dismissively. "There is no truth in them. She is jealous, nothing more."

She took a sip from the cappuccino he'd bought for her, but couldn't escape the resurgence of some of her old insecurities that had taken root when Edward had left. In a very matter of fact tone, she argued, "No, she's right, I am plain, especially compared to her."

His eyes narrowed. "I disagree. You are petite, and naturally beautiful without having to paint your face as she does. You are also the perfect lapful, with curves in all the right places and lips that beg to be savored.

"No uccellino, you are highly desirable, and she knows it."

She was gaping at him, she knew, but couldn't seem to pull it together in time to avoid his cocky smirk when he, of course, noticed. Then she blushed and took another bite of sweet bun to avoid having to say anything, at least for the moment.

'The perfect lapful? Just what the hell does he mean by that?!' she couldn't help but wonder. Had he pictured that scenario? Is that what it meant? The more she thought about it, the more reluctant she was to look at him, and the sweet bun and coffee would only last so long as a diversion…

As she nibbled on the last little bit of bun while avoiding looking anywhere near him, she heard him snort. "Don't make it awkward, little bird. I am not going to suddenly ravish you." She chanced a look at him and another smirk curved his lips as he murmured, "Unless, of course, you want me to?"

She scowled. "You teasing bastard."

He laughed. "I can't even deny it."

She finished off her cappuccino and balled up the wrapper and napkin from her breakfast. "Anything on the agenda for today, or am I on my own?" she asked as she stood and took her trash to the small bin he kept by the sideboard. After dropping it in, she turned and looked at him.

"Ready yourself to go out. Comfortable but decent clothing, sturdy walking shoes."

"Where are we going?"

"You'll see."

She shrugged and went to brush her teeth. Then she changed into a nice pair of snug, dark wash jeans, a light, blue blouse and a pair of brown, low-heeled ankle boots.

When she came out, Demetri had changed into well-fitting jeans and a snug, white t-shirt that showcased the firm muscles of his chest. Over that he wore a black, leather jacket. Black, military-style jack boots and dark sunglasses completed the look and at the sight of him, her mouth went a bit dry. He was always attractive. Of course he was. He was a vampire. But looking at him as he was dressed now had her seriously reconsidering his earlier teasing offer.

At least, she thought he was teasing…

When he turned toward her, he tipped his glasses down and raked his gaze over her as the corners of his lips curved. "Very nice, uccellino. Are you ready?"

She cleared her throat before trying to speak. "Yes."

He gestured to the door. "Let's go then."

As he led her through the halls toward the lift, his hand had found its way to the small of her back, and she couldn't help but focus on the feel of his light touch.

That was something she'd noticed about Demetri that was very different from her experience with other vampires, namely Edward.

Demetri's touch felt natural yet confident and effortless on his part as if he didn't even have to think twice about it. Whereas Edward's had always felt halting, cautious, and either too light or a little too heavy, as if he didn't quite know how to handle her humanness, for lack of a better term.

Neither vampire had ever hurt her, but the difference in the feel of their touch was striking now that she took the time to consider it.

The lift took them down and when it opened, he ushered her into the garage where rows upon rows of sleek vehicles were kept.

When they stopped at an impressive looking black motorcycle, she raised a brow. It was a Ducati 900SS and was likely as fast as it looked. "Nice bike."

"I like it," he said while opening a storage cabinet that had been installed in the parking space of the bike. He reached in and took out a women's black leather riding jacket and a helmet, both of which he handed to her. "Put those on," he muttered while taking out another helmet for himself.

"No, really? I thought I was just supposed to stand here and hold them," she joked while shrugging into the jacket.

Before she could slip the helmet on, he turned and jerked her against him, then dipped his head and whispered in her ear as one of his hands held her upper back while the other roamed dangerously close to the swell of her ass, "Keep that up and I will have to punish you, uncellino." Then he placed a tender kiss just under her ear and drew back with a smirk, undoubtedly from the sound of her racing heart.

"Cocky bastard," she grumbled while fumbling with the helmet before slipping it on.

He grinned and she cut him off before he could say anything.

"I know! I know. You have one, blah, blah, blah," she grumbled while securing the chin-strap. Then she met his amused gaze. "Can we go now?"

His grin grew as he slid on his dark glasses. "As you wish." He straddled the bike, then held her hand while she hopped on and settled herself behind him. Then he slipped riding gloves on his hands, started the bike, and patted her hands which were clasped over his abs. "Hang on tight, little bird. I would hate to lose you."




Till next time...