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.


3. Tribute

~~Well hidden in the depths of the wooded entrance was a narrow dirt track which led to Ronnie’s mothers’ cottage. This was where Ronnie found herself driving. Her old Volkswagen Beetle dipped and dived across muddy humps and rocked from side-to-side, trees stooped over, obscuring the little daylight that remained to reveal its existence. The small but cosy wisteria covered home was situated within a treeless circle and in the dimming light of the clouded sun, it radiated with a strong magical energy which she was much drawn to.
   Admittedly, at first, she had been somewhat reluctant to acceptance of the house. There were no other homes within a two mile radius, no light or sound pollution, no people. No urbanity. It was the complete opposite of London and she hadn’t know any different until this past year.
   Though, now that she was there and had had time to grow accustomed to it, she was in continuous awe of its beauty. The old oak front door was framed with an arching arbour of ivy; the windows were thatched along with its hanging roof, and masses of bluebells lined the inside of the forest, expanding slightly into the winding driveway.
   Simone’s Audi was already parked up when Ronnie pulled into the drive, a sure sign she had worked at home for the day. Her mother had opened a small art gallery in town at the beginning of the year, in which had its own little studio where painting could be accomplished in the quiet of her office. She’d always been creative and expressed her talents through art, but when she’d lived in London, that gift had been wasted, unused, so much to the point that one day she stopped pursuing it completely.
   The engine cut, Ronnie grabbed her bag from the passenger seat and began for the door. The first thing that hit her was the mesmerizing scent of incense. Simone had never dared to light it before, she had once in the foyer back in the city and the ash had burnt a hole in the plush ruby loveseat . . . and when her dad, Miles, found out . . . well, let’s just say that when chainsaw met daddy, couch went bye-bye.
   Ronnie left her satchel on the entry table and passed a bookcase crammed with texts on Wicca, Tarot and Past Lives, many of which she had flicked through before. The gothic style mirror which hung to the left reflected the violet weaved throw on the couch on which sat a pile of magazines to be thrown out.
   Binx, her snugly black cat, slinked over and wrapped his long tail around her calf. She smiled and rubbed his back before getting to work on getting refreshed.
   “Ronnie!” Simone’s voice called from a room off of the kitchen. She came out of her work in progress—her meditation room. “Not long till I’m finished with it now.” She had a massive grin plastered on her paint covered face as she glided past the kitchen island in her art clothes toward the conservatory. “I’ll show you in there later when I’m finished but I want to show you something else first.”
   In what was her home studio were shelves covered in acrylics, brushes, pastels, pencils and various other painting accessories, and positioned in front of the glass doors, an easel, covered by an old bed sheet.
   “How’s Gem?” she asked as she cleared tools away from the easel.
   “Gem’s good. Caught up on a guy at school along with the rest of the girls, but what’s new there?”
   “Ah, you mean Darien Sommers.” It wasn’t a question.
   Ronnie’s eyes widened. “How do you know . . . ?”
   “He volunteers at the gallery for me. He’s such a lovely young man. Do you like him too?”
   Ronnie felt heat rush to her cheeks and turned to the window. “No! Why would I?”
   “Well, he is hot. Maybe I could drop hint with him at the store if you did.”
   “Mum! Please, no!”
   Simone laughed and flashed her palms. “Oh, come on. I’m just teasing.” She directed her eyes to the disguised project, and then back to Ronnie who could tell that she was waiting for the grand unveiling of her masterpiece.
   “Okay, so, what’s the deal with this?”
   “This is my most favoured painting of all time. I used you and Lace as my inspiration,” her fingers twitched at the velvety texture of the cloth. “I’ve been so eager to show this.” The fabric was carefully removed to reveal the most captivating of sights Ronnie had seen in some time.
   A girl—much to that of the identical twins appearance—stood alone in a ball room, a large gown as her attire. Multi tonal layers created the stunning full skirt, and from what Ronnie guessed on the back of the strapless bodice, was the use of black satin ribbon. The girl was hugging her arms to her chest and her black hair tumbled like a floating waterfall behind. Ronnie could see she was full of delight at the sight of a masked man who stood not too far behind, but could comprehend that something was preventing her from running to him. A hidden secret that they shared perhaps? An identity that had to go unknown?
   They were both in a spacious interior, grandly illuminated by large crystal chandeliers. The walls and ceiling richly painted with arabesques, created a ghostly approximation of the spiritual world. The colourful frieze over marbled three quarter columns displayed owls, golden pheasants and ravens between a canvas festoon of fruits and flowers.
   Ronnie took a moment to study the boy, taking in his dark tousled hair that waved around his cheekbones. His neck directed her gaze to a frilly white shirt, somewhat covered by his navy blue coat, and finished with breaches, tights and pointy black shoes. But what caught Ronnie’s eye most was the sight of something protruding from his back. Wings. They were unfurled and so white that even in paint they shimmered as though their own source of light.
   “Who is he?” Ronnie lightly traced her fingers over the canvas. Though it was merely a painting, she couldn’t help the rush of jealousy which crept through her. In the boys blue gaze, it was clear that he longed for the girl with all his heart, desired more than anything for her to just take his outstretched hand, so they could dance in never-ending arches in an eternal embrace.
   “Why, its Darien’s doppelganger of course,” Simone enlightened as though it were the most obvious of things in the world. “Luckily you can’t quite tell it’s him though due to the mask—and the wings of course, but still. . . .”
   “Yeah, ‘cause that’s not creepy at all,” Ronnie joked. She was too in trance at the painting to initiate further tease upon her mother. “Did you base this on something you’ve seen somewhere? It seems familiar.”
   Simone shook her head and one of the loose chopsticks which hung from her twisted hair finally fell out. “It’s strange actually. I had the image come to me in a dream a while ago, but I was too busy with renovating the shop to make it a reality. Anyway, it just stayed embedded in my mind. It was the first thing I thought of in the morning and it kept me up at night until I decided to finally just paint it. Now that it’s done, I feel like the message it holds has been sent out.”
   “And what is the message?”
   “That he will wait for her forever, that no matter what obstacle, their love can be, even if not in the way they both hope. You can imagine my shock when I first saw Darien—it was like . . . fate!”
   Ronnie was confused. “You mean you didn’t use him as your influence too?”
   “Nope, it was all in a dream long before I even met him.” Simone shook her head, charmed, and headed out into the kitchen, it was clear she had finished with the conversation. “I almost forgot,” she said, poking her face round the corner. “I’m going to need you to stay in tomorrow night. I have someone coming round to collect it.”
   Ronnie sighed. Outside the clouds had parted to reveal the mysterious glow of the moon. The windows to the conservatory were ajar and the cool night air seeped in. Ronnie breathed in its scent and closed her eyes, lost in the moment. She felt intoxicated by the theme of romance. It would have been the perfect moment, if she, like her painted double, had someone special to share the moment with. But right now, the chances of that happening seemed very slim indeed. For both of them.

“Ergh! I cannot believe Mr Anthony—that quack! He expects a thousand word paper tomorrow, and I haven’t even wrote one word on it yet. This is so unfair!” Gem exclaimed as she accompanied Ronnie to the lunch room. “Why do bad things always happen to good people?”
   Ronnie shrugged. “Well, I hate to tell you so, but you did have over a month to do it.”
   “Yeah . . . well, I have better things to be doing than sitting around doing some boring homework. I have TV programmes to watch and lazing around to be doing. I haven’t got time to corrupt my already over-booked schedule to do all that.”
   “You’re right; it is a lot to juggle at once. However will you cope?”
   As Gem held open the lunch hall door for Ronnie, she scrunched her nose and flashed her tongue. The cafeteria was at maximum capacity, overwhelming was the variation of different food aromas and noise, to which Ronnie debated whether or not to stay for a sense of personal space.
   “There’s a table over there,” she pointed to the far end of the room. “You go grab it; I’ll be along in a minute.”
   Gem wagged her eyebrows with a grin and pulled out her leather writing pad. She jotted something down as she manoeuvred between the tables for a seat. “Don’t wait up,” she called back at her.
    Across the way from where Ronnie stood at the fridges, a petite student with various colours in her hair stood with music blaring from headphones. Ronnie gave a weak chuckle. Much to her amusement was the quotation on the girls grey dress-top.
   Love Sucks, it read, she most certainly didn’t need to be reminded of that. She’d always found it hard to understand what the problem was. Was there a problem with her appearance? No. Her twin sister was the spitting image of her and she had most certainly had her fair share of boyfriends in the past. She wondered whether it was her shyness toward others, the fact that she was uncertain on who to trust, that was a factor. But why should it be? She saw no reason as to why she shouldn’t hold the right to be cautious of those around her. She didn’t want to allow someone into her life to divulge her innermost thoughts and feelings to who would throw them in her face, ditch her and move onto another girl soon after.
   That made her jump. As did the hand that reached out and grabbed the last bottle of water on the shelf.
   Ronnie cocked her head to the side. “What’s it to you?” She didn’t intend for her tone to sound so snappy, but even though the voice that had asked had been quiet, a mere whisper, she could understand the slightest hint of amusement hidden under its surface and couldn’t help but raise her defences.
   Response came by way of a weak chuckle and she span around.  Darien’s eyes reflected the smile he tried to keep at bay.  She couldn’t quite place her finger on it, but something about the guy really ticked her off. It was almost like he was playing his own kind of private joke on her. Maybe it was because the rumour mill had been gossiping. He’d been missing classes already and hadn’t even got in the slightest hint of trouble for it.
   He smiled. “Just a mere matter of concern.”
   “Concern for what?”
   “Your life.”
   “My life?” she repeated. “I very much doubt that my small matter of thirst is going to have any impact on my life.”
   He shook his head. “No, it’s much more than that.”
   “What then? Food?”
   He laughed lightly. “Maybe something like that, but let’s not try not to make such a big deal out of it.”
  “On the contrary, let’s try not to make a deal out of it at all. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, how about we keep it that way, huh?”
   Darien scratched his chin. “I’m not sure I like that proposal. And besides, I know your name: Ronnie. That’s a start isn’t it?”
   “Not on my count.”
   “Then tell me what would be.”
   She shuddered, her gaze stayed fixed on his and suddenly she felt his fingers brush through the curtain of her hair. She kept her mouth shut, she felt uncomfortable enough.
   Slowly, reluctantly, he withdrew his hand and dangled a thick, white mass of fluff between his thumb and index finger. A feather. The sight of its soft texture, the way a rainbow of colours seemed to swim across its silvery scales, reminded her of the angels’ wings she’d seen in her mother’s painting. If those wings were to become a reality, Ronnie was certain enough that they would be made from a feather like this.
    “So you’re a magician too?”
   He twisted the feather by its stem and studied its texture. “You might as well keep this, it suits you quite well.” He passed it over along with the water. “If I do say so myself.”
   “Thanks . . . I think.”
   He grinned like the Cheshire cat. “You can owe me later.”
   “Who said anything about owing?”
   “Nobody. But I happen to know you will.”
   She looked at him in disbelief. “Hmm . . . I’ll hold you to that.”
   “I look forward to it.”
   For a moment she studied him, admiring his complementary attire and she could not help but wonder his agenda. What was his game? Did he even have one or was it just something conjured for the sake of an excuse to wonder more of him? She longed to know, felt she had to eventually, but his strange humour was something to be cautious of.
   “You’re staring,” his smug voice claimed with an audible smile.
   She turned her blushing face away. Since when did she begin to blush? “I’m not . . . staring. I was just lost in thought.”
   “Then why are you embarrassed?”
  She held back a scoff and looked him in the face. “I am not embarrassed!”
   “Right, that explains why you’re as red as a beetroot and just had a slight outburst, because you’re not embarrassed.” He lent back against the fridges and folded his arms. “Tell me, Ronnie, are you always this irritable or do I just bring it out in you?”
   She wanted to slap him, but that would just prove his point and make her look all the more guilty, and she was not about to give him the pleasure. She narrowed her eyes. “I don’t have time for this.” She thrust the feather back into his hand.
   “But I gave it you,” he grinned.
   “You can keep it,” she said after paying for her drink and striding toward the tables.
   He laughed, and she got the distinct feeling that he was shaking his head at her. “I’ll catch you later then,” he called.
   “I wouldn’t count on it, buddy!”
   When she finally took the seat opposite Gem, she was stared at by her with the curiosity of a kitten. She knew what was coming.
    “What the heck was all that about? I’ve never seen you like that with a boy—with any boy—before. Do you like him?”
    “No. Why do I have to like him just because of that minor incident over there? It was nothing—nothing at all!”
     “Uh-huh, okay. Then what’s with this?” Gem lifted the feather and brushed it up and down Ronnie’s face.
   She swatted it away.
   “That’s what I thought.”
   Wait. “I gave this back to him. How . . . ? I could have sworn. . . .”
   “Maybe it got caught on your sleeve.” Gem suggested covering the table with a wide assortment of sketches.
   “Yeah, maybe.”
   “Anyway, if there’s anyone you should be proving it was ‘nothing’ to, its poodle features over there.” Gem gestured her head to the left where Sky sat glaring in their direction. Ronnie hadn’t even realised Sky had been in the room. How much had she seen? What had she seen? What did she think? Oh God. Ronnie was quick to avert her eyes from the look of evil emanating from Sky’s face. She felt goose bumps rise along her arms, a shiver shimmy down her spine and then turned to study the sketches.
   They were neatly drawn and the shading beautifully executed, the heavier parts merged casually into the lighter and created a gorgeous blend which Ronnie would never be able to recreate. She could find no error in them what so ever, but then again, she couldn’t really say; she hadn’t inherited any of Simone’s artistic skills. That was Lace’s department what with her knack for flawlessly applying make-up.
   “What are these?” Ronnie brought closer a sketch of shattered glass falling within rainfall.
   “Let’s just say that I got in some trouble with Mr Cooper this morning and these are why. That guy is such a schmuck.”
   “Wow, two misdeeds in one day? You really are on a roll, aren’t you?”
   Gem folded her arms. “Don’t make me hate you too, because I will, you know.”
   “You really don’t like teachers, do you?”
   “Not when they’re doing their jobs, no.”
   Ronnie laughed and drew her attention back to the drawings. “And they got you in trouble, how?”
   “I have this slight tendency to zone out at times and just draw.”
   “That doesn’t sound too bad.”
   “Yeah but you see, I don’t even know what I’ve produced until I’ve finished it. I mean, the thing is”—Gem shuffled in her seat—“I think I sort of have this psychic ability when it comes to drawing.”
   Ronnie searched for the right words. Zoning out was one thing, but to suggest that your sketches foretold the future was something different entirely. “Um . . . okay?”
   “I know it’s stupid, I should have never said anything.”
   Ronnie caught Gem’s hands, stopping her from returning the pictures. Her own mother was into the whole psychic thing, what with all her tarot cards and visualizing, she should at least give Gem a chance to prove herself, even if she didn’t jump on board with Simone’s lifestyle. “Can you show me?”
   Gem nodded, her grey eyes sparkling as she took the papers and turned them so they could both see. “This one is the one that got me in trouble.” She brushed the tips of her fingers along the corner of on an A4 sheet, on which, the portrait of a man. Half of his face was disjointed, lined, as though cracked like a broken glass pane: burn scars. The other side was more human, though very distant. There was no feeling, no sense of care or emotion expressed at all. His lips were a straight line, his complexion untouched. Though, regardless of this, it was his eyes that made the air catch in the back of Ronnie’s throat. They were darker than night, an abyss of pure darkness, fixed entirely on one thing—the person on the receiving end of their stare. That’s what it was, a stare. Almost as though he were analysing his audience, programmed like a robot to track down a specific person, a target, a victim, to fulfil a mission only he could complete.
   Ronnie tucked her hair back to get a better view and asked, “Do the rest look like this?”
   “No, that’s the thing,” Gem answered. “The rest are simply things like dolls left under trees, rusty cars next to snowmen and stockings hanging over a burning fire—that last one didn’t end too well. These are just some recent ones. I have loads at home. It isn’t until some kind of unfortunate incident happens that I come to remember the things I’ve drawn. So, I’m interested to see how this one plays out.”
   Ronnie grimaced. “And did all these happen?”
   “Most, yeah. The rest just got set in motion, but then some unexpected obstacle got in their way and stopped it from continuing.”
   It wasn’t very reassuring the way Gem spoke of them like an activity, like a person who set out to run a marathon but then, due to some tragic incident, broke their leg and could no longer fulfil their dream at the time. She banished the thought. “Do you have an example?”
   Gem glanced over the pile. “This one could have ended with me not being sat here at all today.” She pushed forward a sketch of a Ford Escort. “I’d had tickets to go to the V Festival in Chelmsford, so I set out early on the Saturday to get a good place. I was driving down the M25, and in my rear view mirror saw a lorry flashing its hazard lights like a maniac. So I pulled over at one of the lay-bys, with the lorry, and the driver got out, came round to the front of my car, lifted up the bonnet then slammed it shut.” She ran her finger across the car’s hood. “See here, it’s not locked in place. Anyway, this guy came round to my window and told me that if I had been going a little bit faster, then the bonnet could have flown up and had my head off. He was a real life saver bless him.”
   Ronnie didn’t know what to make of that. How bad must it be for Gem who had drawn a picture, of which, had practically foreshadowed her death? And she was handling it so well, as though it were simply another day. She remembered Gem had said that one of her drawings hadn’t “ended too well”. The stocking one.
  “What happened here then?” Ronnie asked tapping the sketch, eager to hear more.
   “Ah,” Gem acknowledged, “last year’s Christmas. Our thermostat had broken and it was flippin’ freezing. I mean, it was as cold as the Atlantic, I was literally crying. The only heat we could get was from the small fireplace in the living room or from the oven, and seeing as the kitchen was like a human sized oven, my mum and brother stayed in there while I had the fireplace in the lounge to myself. I’d thrown another log on the fire”—Gem pointed to the pile of firewood in the picture—“and as you’d expect loads of sparks flew up. And my idiot cat being the goofy fatty he is, jumped from the sofa, onto the top of the fireplace, knocked down a bottle of brandy my mum had left, which of course, just had to fall into the fire, causing the flames to shoot up, catch the stockings, travel along the Christmas cards which fell to the floor, and ignite the stained carpet. Before I knew it, the carpet had ignited where the brandy had spilt, and the curtains and sofa were on fire. It wasn’t so cold then, I can tell you that much,” Gem chuckled.
   Ronnie didn’t understand how she could laugh over the matter. On two occasions Ronnie now knew of, Gem’s life—and her families—had been put in serious danger, and she saw it as a joke.
   “Don’t look so serious, Ronnie. If the wind changes your face might stay like that.”
   She didn’t move.
   “I know what you’re probably thinking right now,” Gem scooted the pictures back into the folder, “but what’s the use in worrying about it? I say you should live everyday like it’s your last. I’m not going to sit around wasting time by panicking, ‘cause when it gets to those final moments, I know that what I will regret more than anything is that I didn’t do any of the things I wanted to most and said I would do—and that thought sickens me.
   “Everyone has a mortality to face, Ronnie, and it’s difficult to know when exactly that is going to come to an end. Life is a journey of adventures, of the unexpected and expected, use them to your advantage and make the most out of them.” Gem took the feather which lay next to Ronnie’s hand and tapped it against her nose. “If you know what I mean.” Then her attention was caught by a poster on the wall next to her and she grinned, pointing at it. “Have you heard about this? The schools going to be holding a Christmas dance just for the sixth formers in a few weeks and there’s going to be a meeting on Monday morning, we should go and miss registration. If we sign onto the committee, we could control the whole thing, make it wild. What do you think?”
   Ronnie shrugged. “Sure, Carpe diem, right?”
   “Now you’ve got the right idea. We should definitely start thinking about costumes, you should stop by my dad’s cafe in town and we could get to work. I still can’t believe the name he chose for it—it’s completely embarrassing.”
   “Speaking of completely embarrassing, why not just wear what you’re wearing now to the dance?” Sky commented, approaching them with her tray of left-over food to empty into the bin. She flicked her fragile strands of hair over her shoulders, causing her Gucci bag to fall slightly. “I think that’s enough to scare even Marilyn Manson.”
   Ronnie didn’t think there was anything wrong with Gem’s slashed black dress top. Okay, so it had a skull with a cigarette hanging out of its extremely visible teeth, but so what? The fishnet tights and Doc Martin’s made it look all the more awesome—not scary.
   “Now don’t hurt yourself,” Gem said in a voice used to advise a toddler. “No one’s going to want your little blonde head to get too stressed out from all that thinking. And as for that Marilyn Manson comment, I’m flattered. And I bet you meant it too. Thanks!”
   Sky’s mouth opened, realising the truth to her snarky remarks, but instead of trying to make a comeback, she snapped back with, “Oh, bite me.”
   Gem barred her teeth and hissed. “No thanks, I’d rather not die from demon blood poisoning.”
   Although Gem was fine fighting her own battles, Ronnie felt as though she needed to step in. But now—depending on whether Sky had seen her with Darien—she was sure to be in her bad books and she didn’t want to do anything more to get put to the top of it. It wasn’t somewhere anyone should want to be.
   Sky’s phone began to ring. She picked it up straight away with a massive grin.
   “Darien, hi,” she sang, shooting Ronnie a look of disgust. “I was just thinking about you actually . . . no, I haven’t forgotten about this evening. Of course I’ll be there; I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Okay, hun, love ya. Bye.”
   Gem arched her brow. “It doesn’t look like you’ll be manning your street corner tonight after all.”
   “No, I trust you’ll be more than capable of that.” Sky said. “I have a hot date.”
   “No kidding. Try not to let your icy heart kill him, we all know what happened to Charlie Maxwell—no one’s forgotten that yet.”
   Sky applied a coat of gloss to her already shiny lips. “That was his own fault. If he didn’t want to get hit by a bus he shouldn’t have chased me across the road.”
   “He wouldn’t have done if you hadn’t threatened to show the school a picture of his—”
   “Oh, like it matters now anyway,” Sky said, turning on her heel. “Everyone found out and he didn’t die. End of.”
  When Sky left, Gem turned to Ronnie in complete amusement and snickered. “Now that dog is in need of some serious training.”


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