Chapter 2

“It’s just in his nature my dear” said Aro sadly. “I’ve tried to tell him on many occasions that his behaviour is inappropriate, but I am not my brother’s keeper and if he has no respect for
his wife it is hardly my fault.” He sat down hard on the bed next to Sulpicia and
taking her hand in his, kissed it tenderly. “I know how much you love Althenodora;
if it will make you feel better I’ll try to get Caius
to tone down his flirtatious behaviour.” He appended.

“It would mean a great deal to me.” Sulpicia replied, resting her head upon his shoulder. At that moment a timid knock was heard from the adjoining room.

Kissing his wife’s forehead Aro rose to his feet. “I will do my best for you my love.” He murmured before impatiently shouting “Come in!” towards the door.

Ariadne opened the door and curtsied bowing her head first to Aro and then her mistress.

“Come in dear, don’t let Aro bully you.” Sulpicia smiled in greeting.

“Be civil dear and greet the newest member of our household.” Sulpicia chided.

The young woman, still unable to look up murmured “Good morning Master Aro, Lady Sulpicia.”

Aro’s look of irritation was replaced by his usually good humoured smile.

“My apologies, Ariadne isn’t it?” He placated.

“Yes sir.” The girl stammered.

“Welcome to Volterra, I hope you find everything to your satisfaction.” Aro was about to shake her hand, but thought better of it and bowed slightly instead. Turning on his heel he left the room
with the parting comment. “If there is anything you need, I’m sure my wife can
sort it out for you.

“Come here my dear.” Sulpicia said kindly, trying to hide her amusement at Ariadne’s stunned reaction to her husband’s abruptness. “Don’t take too much notice of Aro, he has a lot on his mind, it’s
not personal I assure you.” She chuckled. “You will become accustomed to our
ways in time. Now my dear, how did you find your room, was it to your satisfaction?”

“Yes Lady Sulpicia, the room is very comfortable and much better than I have been used to. Thank you.” The young girl replied.

“Splendid! And I must say that you look much better in that dress than the one you came in. I like what you have done with your hair too.” As she said this, Sulpicia placed her hand under Ariadne’s
chin to get a better look at the girl’s features.

The moment their skin made contact a rush of emotions swept over the young woman. Like a select few of her kind Ariadne had come into this new existence with a supernatural gift. Sometimes her gift
could be quite inconvenient and most unpleasant as she had found out the first
time she needed to hunt. Ariadne was able to feel everything the person she
touched or that touched her, was feeling.

Sulpicia’s feelings were confusing, she was cold there were no warm loving feelings within her as her demeanour would suggest. A bright ambitious greed was her driving force and the affection she
openly displayed with her family was a sham.

“Hmm, not quite so mousey now, I dare say you could break a few hearts.” Sulpicia commented light heartedly after her scrutiny of Ariadne. Noticing that the girl was preoccupied she smiled sweetly
continuing “Is there something wrong my dear?”

“No Milady” she answered pushing the strong emotions away. “I’m just a little overwhelmed by your kindness.” She lied.

“I suppose that is understandable under the circumstances, but come my dear, help me decide what to wear today.”

Ariadne heaved an inward sigh of relief the moment Sulpicia took her delicate hand away from her face and she tried to block the bad feelings about her new mistress which were coiling in the pit of
her stomach.

Sulpicia’s wardrobe was vast with row upon row of lace, taffeta, silk & velvet in a blinding array of colours. The room which held her clothes was much larger than Ariadne’s room and had several
full length gilt mirrors adorning the walls. The room was lit by a large window
set into the roof allowing in plenty of light. It was obvious that appearance
was very important to her mistress.

“I think I shall wear red today.” The lady mused “Would you choose for me Ariadne?”

The young woman surveyed the neatly hung rows of garments until she found a beautiful red velvet gown with gold embroidery on the bodice.

“Perfect!” the lady exclaimed clapping her hands together in delight. “Just what I would have chosen.” Beaming at Ariadne she said. “I can see that you and I are going to get on famously.”

The day went by very quickly and Sulpicia introduced her to so many new faces that by the end of the day her head was swimming with new information.

Ariadne tried to put names to faces as she retired for the evening. She had met a few prominent members of the guard…Felix and Demitri, who both although incredibly fierce were fairly good humoured and had been quite welcoming to her. Jane’s
twin Alec had been another among the
members of the guard to whom she was introduced. Alec
had been less than welcoming barely looking up to greet her. His reaction had
caused Sulpicia to laugh and she cuffed him playfully for his rudeness. The most intriguing person Sulpicia had
introduced her to, was a young man named Carlisle.
Carlisle had been most pleased to meet her and
his greeting appeared to be genuinely warm and welcoming. She had been informed
that he was a friend of Aro’s who had originally lived in England before an
unfortunate encounter with a feral vampire had caused him to flee in search of
his own kind.

In the quiet of her room Ariadne tried to conjure up the image of John’s face, it was becoming increasingly dim and was being replaced by the perfect features of monsters…Yes
they were all monsters, even her.

To escape her dark thoughts Ariadne decided to take a walk in the grounds. The night air was balmy against her cool skin and the scent of jasmine was heavy in the air. Looking up through the canopy of
leaves her eyes focused on the full moon, pale and lovely against the purple of
the sky which was dusted with stars. She inhaled deeply at its immense beauty
and if there had still been tears to cry they would have fallen down her pale
lifeless cheeks. But there were no more tears to cry…monsters don’t cry. Her memory began to clear taking her back to John and that fateful night. A night that promised to
be full of love and hope, but instead had turned into a blood soaked
nightmare. John
was waiting for her as he had promised. She was late as usual, her heart
beating fast from the exertion of rushing and the excitement of their meeting.
The lover’s embraced and John bend his
head to kiss her tenderly on the lips. He then took her by the hand and led her
towards the old barn.

It was waiting for them. Its face was like an angel and when it spoke the words were like music, lilting and inviting. Ariadne was captivated by it. The sweet scent of its breath was overpowering. Trance-like
she was compelled to touch it. Surely it was a messenger sent from God himself.
John was more cautious and tried to
pull Ariadne away but she had tugged herself free hypnotised by the celestial
vision before her. She reached out her hand to touch it almost expecting it to
disappear, instead it bent down and taking her hand in its own cold delicate
fingers lifted it to its lips. Ariadne gasped as the creature smiled before
biting into her flesh. John launched
himself between them and the creature laughed dropping Ariadne’s damaged hand
and turning its full attention to John.
The monster held John in its cold
embrace, rolling its eyes back into it head. Its ruby red eyes, how could she
not have seen the eyes? What happened next seemed to be in slow motion. The
monster, (for now she could see it for what it was…a demon not an angel) let
out a triumphant cry opening its mouth wide to feed like the beast it was. John screamed out to her with his final breath.
“Run!” Then the demon sank its teeth into her lover’s throat, draining his
life’s blood

And she had, Ariadne had run for her life, only to wish later that she had died there with him.

Raised voices brought the young woman back to the present and she looked around to see who had distracted her from her waking nightmare.

In a clearing through the trees the young woman could clearly see Caius sneering at someone. “Get off my back brother.” He spat. “Just because you suffer from some
misguided loyalty to that b**** doesn’t mean that I have to do the same.”

“I’m not asking you to be faithful or even to pretend to be in love; all I’m asking is that you behave with more discretion.” The answering voice was
Aro’s, he sounded genuinely concerned about the affect Caius’s
behaviour was having on the family.

“And don’t call Sulpicia a b**** either.” He added with chagrin.

“Why not?” Caius sounded angry. “There is no one better than you who knows what an ambitious, greedy lying she-wolf you married.”

It was Aro’s turn to be angry now.

“I swear Caius, if you weren’t my brother I would have you struck down for that. Sulpicia and I may not have the perfect marriage, but at least she conducts herself with the
proper respect for a woman in her position.”

Caius softened a little at Aro’s words; he could see his brother’s discomfort with the topic.

“I’m sorry Aro, that was cruel of me, forgive me brother.”

“I will forgive you if you promise to conduct your sordid affairs a little more discreetly.” Aro replied.

“I can promise to try.” Caius responded embracing his brother and kissing him on both cheeks.

“Well at least your intentions are good at present. You can consider yourself forgiven, for now.”

“Don’t you ever get tired of doing what is expected of you, don’t you yearn to let it all go and do something wild Aro?”

“I may feel that way Caius, but that’s not the same thing as actually doing it.” As he said this, his eyes closed in sadness and he let Caius go, patting his
brother’s shoulder absentmindedly. “Good night Caius
and go sleep with your wife.”

Caius strode away laughing to himself. “Goodnight Aro…do your duty!”

Ariadne had been perfectly still as she had watched this interaction between the two brothers, but decided to leave her master in peace and return to her room, with her own thoughts. Turning away from the clearing she headed
back towards the kitchens. She had only
gone a few paces when she was grasped firmly by the wrist.

“What the hell are you…..” Aro’s voice trailed off as the intense rush of memories and feelings, his own as well as Ariadne’s assaulted his senses.

The young woman fell to her knees; she was both terrified and overcome by his overwhelming internal chaos being channelled through their physical contact.

“Forgive me Sir.” She uttered hoarsely. “I was just taking a walk to clear my head, please I meant no harm.” At once Aro knew that she was telling the truth and let go of her wrist.

“I’m sorry” He said “I didn’t mean to hurt you; I thought you were spying on me.” His mind was filled with vivid images of John’s
mutilated body and the intense feeling of guilt and loss that were so strong in
this woman. He was experiencing the self loathing and hatred of his own kind
that emanated from within her too, but also the keen need to be loved that had
been denied her. He wasn’t used to feeling anything like this; most of his
acquaintances were vain self seeking shallow individuals. The only time he’d
felt anything like this was when he first met Carlisle.

“Please get up, I must go now. Oh and Johns death wasn’t your fault.” He added without thinking. Ariadne couldn’t believe what she was hearing, how did he know about John?
Was Aro somehow responsible, but how could he be? Before she could open her
mouth to ask Aro had gone leaving her with a million questions about what had
just happened.

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