Appassionata

Appassionata is a bittersweet love story about a love that was written in the stars and rewritten on earth between guardian angel, Darien Sommers, and his charge, Veronica Milano.
The star-crossed couple have been in love for over three centuries and are always torn apart from their afterlife when reincarnation gets in the way.
On the earth plane, they thought their affection forbidden, but when circumstances prove catastrophic, they realize their relationship dates further back than they ever suspected.
Fallen angel, Caleb, is adamant on ruining Darien’s life over a matter of revenge, a twenty-year grudge which has seen the murderous rampage of the dark angels rage. Now he’s out for Ronnie, using his power and associates to cause terror after terror in her life through the use of her friends and family. With Ronnie in the shadows of the Angelical world and Caleb fighting for success, it’s up to Darien to save his soul mate before their entire lives are lost for good.

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4. Dark Beauty

   Darkness.
   That was all there was.
   A darkness that spread, consumed, where nothing could be comprehended, where the mere concept of light was lost and nightmares woke to play. She knew it was a dream. On some level she could sense the comfort of her sheets beneath her and the pitter-patter of rain far away. There was a shuffle in the darkness, a growl and then lightning flashed.
   For a moment two red moons manifested: glowing, pulsing, and blazing, before slowly . . . fading into the nothingness.
   Thunder boomed. Ronnie broke into a nervous sweat; she could sense her physical self stir. There was another flash and this time when the bloody orbs appeared in the black of unconsciousness, a face surrounded them; burned and deformed, disgusted.
   Ronnie stepped back. Her mind was hit with the drawing. The very one Gem had presented at lunch time.
   The man drew closer. His eyes blazed with a great fury, their brightness growing. Gem’s sketch kept coming in and out of view. The robotic alikeness, the need to succeed in a mission, the straight-forward glare, it was all there, just like prophesied.
   Panic rose within Ronnie with the intensity of a magnetic pulse. The time to each lighting strike narrowed and with each flash the man drew nearer, staring, grinning, and teasing. Her heart pounded.  He was only meters away. He opened his mouth but no words came out. Then his body translated into a hovering smoke and he slammed into her with the intensity of a ferocious wind.
***
The physical collision was what had caused Ronnie to awake, not the mounting fear which coursed through her bloodstream. Though the power of the nightmare receded, everything seemed . . . out of place; the lingering impression . . . uneasy.
   She had thought comfort would be found in the familiarity of her room, but the silence of the empty house was anything but comforting, reminding her instead of her isolation.
   Outside, the weather mirrored that of her nightmare and the room plunged into darkness. All appliances shut down in exhausted groans and lightning illuminated her space, the shadows of her furniture casted eerie arrangements over the purple walls.
   Ronnie blinked; perhaps it was just her mind readjusting that shaped something out of nothing. The burning red eyes branded the insides of her lids and even without the added bonus of them and their possessor in unconscious state, the drawing had been fear inducing enough.
   Her phone rang; she looked at the caller display. It was Lace.
   Ronnie answered on the third ring. “Can I help you?”
   “If by ‘help’ you mean buy me the new Marc Jacobs handbag, then yes, yes you can.”
   “Get real.” Ronnie snorted. “I’ll get you that bag the day you give me back my black hoodie.”
   “But I lost that hoodie.”
   “Then I guess you won’t be getting the bag then, sorry” There was a flash of lightning and the windows rattled against the wind. Ronnie tightened her cardigan around herself for reassurance and comfort. “Remind me again why you stole it? You don’t wear the same clothes as me at all—ever!”
   Lace’s grin was audible. “I needed your tom-boyish charm. Your hoodie came in handy with helping me kiss Daniel Walker, I needed to be you.”
   “Excuse me?”
   “Oh, please, you so see what I’m getting at here. He had a crush on you for months and you never initiated anything with him and I liked him, so yeah . . . you see my point.”
   Ronnie’s face heated. “I didn’t know he liked me.”
   “Well, he did, but it’s too late for you to do anything about that now.”
   Ronnie was taken aback. She stood up and organised some books on her desk. “So when you kissed him, he thought you were me?”
   “Yeah, I guess so.”
   “And do you ever plan to tell him it wasn’t?”
   “Na, I think it will hurt him too much if he knew the truth.”
   “You’re so kind,” Ronnie sneered. Her patience and calm were being tested. “What do you want, Lace?”
   There was hesitation on her sister’s part. “I’m phoning on behalf of dad.”
   “Why? Is he suddenly incapable of doing anything for himself?”
   Lace sighed. “No, he wasn’t sure on whether you’d be up for talking to him.”
   “Well, he can rest assured; I don’t.”
   “He says he misses you and mum, Ronnie. He wants to talk to you both.”
   Rage made Ronnie’s heart beat faster. So he missed them—tough. If he didn’t want to feel that way, then he shouldn’t have treated everyone like such interferences, continuously allowing every horrid word to escape from his vile mouth, moaning if no-one wanted to go out on a particular day and throwing a temper tantrum like some kind of overgrown infant. It wasn’t the supposed fact that he missed them; it was the matter that he had finally driven everyone away and couldn’t cope.
    Of course, Ronnie still cared for him, still loved him, even if on the surface it appeared she did not, but logic told her that he hadn’t come to realise the error of his ways, didn’t feel the guilt of acknowledging his wrong doings, he simply was finding some other excuse to moan.
   There was a clap of thunder.
   “Ronnie? Did you hear what I said? Are you still there?”
   She did, she just couldn’t believe that Lace was acting the part of the messenger for a father she had been treated badly by too. Obviously some people were quicker to forgive than others.
   “I’m here; I just don’t understand how he can expect that. It’s not going to happen.”
   “Believe me, I told him that,” Lace said. “But, as usual, he’s being stubborn. Maybe you could just give him the benefit of the doubt?”
   Ronnie shook her head and slinked down the hall and onto the winding staircase. The lights flickered and the radiators came to life. Every creak of the house made her paranoid Gem’s drawing had come to life and was trying to break in, get to her.
   “I’ll talk to him when I have a major new outlook on life, how does that sound?” Ronnie asked.
   “Not likely.”
   “Then tell him not to hold his breath. He can’t just go expecting everyone to forgive and act normally with him after all he did. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s so not going to happen.”
   The twins fell silent and Ronnie approached the front door to peer through the spy hole. The bluebells danced in the winds, tree branches clawed at each other as they fought to overcome the storm. A low rumble echoed overhead and a heavy rain hit the pebble drive. The door was securely locked, if someone tried to get in, it would take a lot of effort.
   Finally Lace spoke. “Listen, Ronnie, I have to go. I’m meeting up with some of the girls and can’t do my make-up with one hand.”
   Ronnie’s face fell. “Where are you going?”
   “Just out. You know how it is; we go where we end up. I’ll talk to you soon.”
   Yes, she did know how it was. That used to be her getting ready to go out, nowadays she stayed in or just hung out at Gem’s, watching movies — not exactly a night out on the town.
   The lights flickered on again. The house whimpered against the winds and there was a smash from the dining room. Footsteps were drawing closer and she was defenceless. Like the ticking of a time-bomb, Ronnie felt the insistency of fear in the air.
 She panicked. It was too late.
   Pad! Pad! Pad!
   Tick! Tick! Tick!
   Her heart collapsed.
  Two glistening yellow orbs appeared around the corner surrounded by a dark face covered in thick mounds of wet fur and very long whiskers.
   “Binx! You scared the living daylight out of me,” Ronnie exclaimed.
   The oversized ball of fluff replied with a meow and jumped onto the sofa.
   The window in the dining room was wide open and the curtains attacked the furniture. The rain had left the wooden flooring soaked and a broken vase sparkled like thousands of diamonds atop its surface. Such a mess the cat had made and Ronnie had to clean it up.
   She wondered what Lace would get up to on her night out, which of their friends she was going out with, and whether they still had as much fun as they did when she was there. Did they miss her? Did they reminisce about the times they all used to have? How long had it taken for them to get used to her not being there? Though Ronnie had become accustomed to being withdrawn from her old life, she still hadn’t gained closure on it, didn’t think she ever would. That old life had Lace, and Lace was still a major part of this new one.
   Binx hissed. Ronnie’s reverie was broken. He had his tail tucked under his large belly and his ears were back at a large dark shadow on the wall. It grew smaller and smaller, approaching nearer until the icy breath of it could be felt. Goosebumps rose along Ronnie’s arms and she froze.
   Through her peripheral vision, she could see the person stood there, behind her, waiting. The door was locked; whoever it was would get to her for sure before she even had a chance of escape.
   She needed to get to the stairs.
   The intruder swung out a gloved hand and Ronnie ducked, sliding across the floor and bounding up to the first floor. She wouldn’t go into her room; it would be the first place to look. She went left. Her mother’s chamber was some two metres away, but as the intruder gained, she realised it was two metres closer to them.
   The man from Gem’s drawing stopped on the landing and cocked his head to the side. His face  . . . only half was in good state. And the eyes . . .
   It was him.
   Without a doubt.
   She gasped. How was that even possible?
   Ronnie’s blood ran cold and the guy began to laugh, sensing her terror.
   His body trembled, shifting into that same smoky air he had taken on in her dream. This was it. She knew what would happen next, but after was a mystery. She’d woken up before she had a chance to find out. But that was a dream; did the fact that she’d woken up mean she’d been killed? That was what usually happened in nightmares when death found you, wasn’t it?
   She braced herself. It was a dead end; there was nowhere to go, no way out. Then over a roar of thunder came a growl of an engine outside and the guy cocked his head to the side, listening.
   Simone’s door creaked open slightly, an opportunity in disguise. Ronnie dove into her mother’s room and slammed the door shut. There was a deep snarl in the hallway and Ronnie flinched. The footsteps faded away.
   Go to the window, and climb down the arbour.
   The thought was sudden. Had that been her who’d thought that? She doubted that in a time of major crisis she would be able to conjure something so logical. What if somehow the intruder had managed to get in her head?
   Just do it! the voice demanded again, and this time she knew she could trust it.
   She rushed to open the window and swung her legs out until she sat on the sill. It was a long way down and she hated heights, but slowly, she edged over to the vertical wall.
   The rain had begun to come down much heavier now and one could barely even see past the Volkswagen. She cursed that the keys were in the kitchen and when she reached the ground, mud began to sink through her socks. She raced across the garden, running down the drive, not once looking back. But as she ran further, reached the bend in the road, she realised she had nowhere to run to. This was the middle of nowhere. There was nothing around for miles.
   Tears began to escape and the leaves started to shine, reflecting light in the style of a Mexican wave the further she progressed, until headlights broke through the sheets of rain. It had to be Simone; she’d have her phone; she could call the police. But as the car drew closer, Ronnie realised it wasn’t her mum’s Audi at all, but instead a big black Range Rover.
  It screeched to a halt before her and the driver door swung open. Darien was at her side in a second, removing his leather jacket and draping it over her shoulders.

Darien was too late. The damage had already been done and it pained him. He desired so much to go straight to the source, to put an end to this nonsense once and for all and send every last one of those who dared even harm Ronnie to hell—but he couldn’t—he had to await assistance, if ever it came.
   The house, he could sense, was no longer inhabited; the monster that had intruded was long-gone. Darien wanted to put worries of the house to rest, but Ronnie was reluctant.
   “What if you get hurt though?” she’d asked. “I don’t know if I could live with myself if you do. Perhaps it’s best if you . . . stay here . . . with me.”
   In her face, her solemn eyes, he could so easily detect that which was forgotten. Being with her, she with him, for both it was something never to be allowed in physical embodiment, there was much put to risk. But since his arrival, sometimes he didn’t seem to care. Being with her was too good an opportunity to miss out on and it was too much to sacrifice so soon.
   “I won’t come to any harm,” he’d assured her. “Don’t worry about me.”
   And in her features he could see she wouldn’t, she was beginning to remember, slowly.
   A mighty strong spell had been performed on the house by that of the intruder. The cottage was immaculate, the vase undamaged. The master bedroom was fully intact and the arbour was strong and sturdy. Already things had been taken too far, and only had they just begun.
   Darien would have to supply excuses to Ronnie; he could only hope to maintain some control. Ronnie’s safety was all that mattered; her protection was of the utmost importance and it was his duty to ensure it. No matter what.  

 


Ronnie was stunned—quite literally, stunned—so much to the point where all she could do was stay frozen in the passenger seat of Darien’s car, lips quivering, eyes watering, body trembling in the soaking mess that she was.
   “Are you certain there was someone in there with you?” he’d asked when he climbed back into the car.
   Instantly she knew something was up and presented her blood-covered fingers. “What do you think?”
   He kept his eyes fixed on her and reached out to turn up the heat. “There was no broken vase, Ronnie. It’s sat where you said it was before—on the table by the window. The window itself is open slightly and there’s no one in there at all—no trace there ever was. I don’t know what else to say.”
   The rain had more or less stopped and a low mist hovered over the grounds. The arbour, which Ronnie knew had suffered immense damage upon her climb down, was perfectly intact, and the panelled windows above locked in place. Had she imagined it all? Was she suffering severe hallucinations? No. She couldn’t be. But if Darien didn’t believe her, who was to say, anyone else would? She wasn’t about to admit that even she held the slightest slither of doubt of the incidents occurrence, because what had happened was no trick of the mind, well, so she thought. But one thing she was certain of was that she wasn’t going back in that house, not alone anyway, and not in any hurry.
   “Have you eaten?”
   Darien’s question took her off guard. “You don’t believe me?” she asked.
   “You haven’t answered my question.”
   “Nor have you!”
   “Because I believe I asked you first!” Darien’s jaw clenched and, as much as he tried, she could see him trying to keep a smile at bay. His eyes scanned over her. She knew he was only checking to see if she was harmed, but she already felt self-conscious enough without his judgement on her appearance. “What did you have?”
   “What is this? Some kind of poorly executed interrogation?”
   “Call it want you want, I’m just seeing if your memories have been affected. Clearly you haven’t lost your ability to make snide remarks.”
   “Sorry.” Ronnie apologised. “I’m fine, really, just a little shaken up.” She rubbed her head then remembered her cat. “Oh, God! Is Binx okay?”
   Darien pulled a face.
   “My cat,” she clarified.
   “That fat ball of fur is a cat?” He laughed. “Yeah, he’s fine; he’s fast asleep on your bed.”
   “You went in my room?”
   “Well, yeah. You didn’t want me to not check and then have your supposed mystery man lurking in the shadows, did you?”
   She huffed. “Jerk.”
   His conduct was to be thanked for, had it not been for him, who knew what situations she would have befallen to? But a thought that hadn’t struck her before swam into focus as she pursued her thanks and it demanded to be translated. “What are you doing here anyway?” 
   He didn’t answer.
   Ronnie’s eyes met his and she was shocked to see him already staring at her. It made her feel awkward. She could feel that familiar flush of colour burn her cheeks but did not refrain from turning away this time.
   Darien’s gaze searched hers as if he were looking to see whether she really needed an answer. “Your mum sent me,” he said finally, looking to the clock on the dashboard. “And I should probably be getting back now anyway.”
   “Wait—what?” Ronnie doubted he was here to check up, and then, she remembered, shaking her head with a roll of her eyes. “You’re here for the painting. You were the one sent from my mum’s shop?” She was trying to make sense of it, process it as she said it aloud, but as expected, nothing was successful in easing the mess that was her scrambled mind. She should have known her mum would be teasing enough to send Darien, just because of what was said yesterday. Ronnie was going to kill her when she got her energy back. “That’s why you didn’t need my key to get in!” she realised. “You have your own!”
   Darien reached into the pocket of his jeans and dangled a keychain before her eyes. She watched as it swayed from side to side, almost hypnotising her into believing what she thought to be impossible.
   “Does that bother you?” he asked. His hair had fallen over his face, masking his eyes like a curtain. Though it was difficult for Ronnie to make them out, she could see a twinkle glistening beneath the stray strands . . . just like the boy’s in the painting. No—he was nothing like that boy, regardless of what her mother said. Ronnie knew all too well that that guy had a strong love deep in his soul for the girl, who, very strangely was the spitting image of herself and twin. With the demonstration of attitude on Darien’s part in the past twenty-four hours, it had been made clear those feelings of such depth, adoration and passion, were far, far beyond his ability.
   “No, it does not bother me,” she said, wrapping her arms tighter around herself, “you bother me.”
   Darien tilted his head back and laughed in what seemed to be a private joke. “I bother you, huh?” He relaxed back into the chair; his eyes closed, and sighed. “I didn’t seem to bother you so much when I came to your rescue.”
   “I didn’t ask for your help, or anyone’s for that matter. It was just a sheer stroke of luck that  you showed up.”
   “Or when I gave you my jacket.” Darien peeked at her from the corner of his eye.
   She shrugged off the jacket; the car’s radiators would suffice for now. She tossed it at him and turned to the window. She knew she was just as bad as him, but she didn’t need this.
   She wanted to know what had really happened in the house. Where this intruder had disappeared to and why it was that nothing was broken when she had seen it was. She couldn’t bend her mind around it, it was humanly impossible.
   “Hey.” Ronnie felt the warmth of Darien’s hand on her shoulder spread down her arm and into her entire body. That mere touch of skin on skin contact sent a surge she couldn’t comprehend into her bloodstream like a bolt of lightning and she welcomed the feeling, it was soothing, comforting, familiar. “You can hold onto this for now.”
   Through her peripheral vision she saw Darien place his jacket on the dash. She continued to look out of the window. “Why?”
   “Because it suits you and maybe because . . . you’re growing on me.” That smile Ronnie had become expectant of in his voice was now vacant. He was being serious.
   She bit down hard on her lower lip and turned to face him. “So quickly?”
  His hair was still hanging low over his eyes and she felt the sudden urge to brush it away. Well, if she was being truthful, she desired so much more than that, but she wasn’t ready to admit it to herself and now wasn’t the time to either. Willing to settle with option one, Ronnie extended her hand and gently swept her fingers across his forehead, allowing them, against her better judgement, to tangle in his surfer like waves. His eyes met hers and, startled, she pulled away. But Darien was quicker and caught her hand in his and she watched, mesmerized, at his sudden change in personality, as he entwined his fingers through hers and held them firmly in place. She couldn’t tell how, or why, but something about this moment seemed registered known.
   But it was impossible. A mere serving of insanity and she pushed it aside, assuring herself it was nothing to be apprehensive of.
   Attempt was made at retrieving her hand but Darien would not allow such a thing and stayed put. He pulled her hand closer to his chest and she felt the muscles under his shirt tense then relax under her touch. She didn’t know what to make of anything, especially when he withdrew his hold and allowed her fingers to linger over his heart. “Now you know I’m telling the truth.”
   Under his shirt, she felt something solid. The cold feel of metal shot through her fingertips and her gaze travelled to his neck where she saw a gold chain. Produced was an oval, rose gold necklace, which she lifted to take closer inspection of. It was engraved with a floral design around a raised silver heart which enclosed a moonstone. Something in the back of Ronnie’s mind told her that it was not the first time she’d laid eyes on it—much like the familiar moment she was so certain she felt between them. But there were void spaces in her memory, the information she needed, lingering, but unobtainable.
   “Where did you get this?” she asked, rotating it around. “Was it a gift?” 
   “It was,” Darien withdrew it from her grasp and studied its face with a sad smile, “a very long time ago from my best friend.”
   Ronnie sat back in her seat, unsure on how to follow the awkwardness that now surrounded them. She severely hoped that it wasn’t from Sky, something so beautiful and unique could not possibly be a token of her affections.
   Darien tucked the ornate locket back under his collar. “So, obviously you’re not staying here. I can take you to your mum’s shop if you like?” he offered.
   Ronnie shook her head. “No thanks.” She knew that her mum would be hard at work organising the delivery and she didn’t want to get in her way. Well, that, and the fact that she didn’t like the idea of spending her Friday night hoarded up, bored, in the shop. Plus, if she even told Simone about what she believed to have happened, she would bolt right home. She didn’t want to worry her.
   Darien opened his door; a rush of cold air flew into the car and the sudden change in temperature caused Ronnie to shiver. She collected the leather jacket around herself again just in time for Darien to turn back and smile. “As soon as I get your mum’s painting back to the shop, I’m finished for the day, so. . . .”
   Ronnie glanced at him. Was he inviting her to spend the evening with him? “Then what are you doing?” She didn’t know where the confidence to ask had emerged from, she wasn’t even sure she particularly cared, but to proclaim that she wasn’t interested in his out-of-hour duties at all was a definite lie.
    “I thought you weren’t bothered about me.” He asked, wiping the rain from his face. “Or was that a lie too?”
   She didn’t know how to respond. How did he know . . . ?
   He laughed and the sound was melodic, a symphony Ronnie would reply over and over again throughout time without getting bored. “But, my dearest, Veronica,” he said, “if you must know I have some things to deal with.”
   “Like what? Hanging out with Sky?”
   “If I didn’t know any better I’d say that you were jealous, Trouble.” His voice was smooth, velvety, his eyes confident and edgy, but when Ronnie looked at him with an evil glare he shook his head and said, “Just deadly deeds.  I’d invite you to come along . . . but—I’ll just go and get the painting.” He registered Ronnie’s soaked feet. “And some shoes.”
   As Darien headed back into the house, Ronnie began to wonder just how many times he had been in there before. It made her feel weird that he knew her house as well as she did. But if her mum could trust him, then she guessed she could give him the benefit of the doubt, instead of jumping straight to conclusions about him.
   But that, to be confirmed, was a sheer matter of time.

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