While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.Leonardo Da Vinci
Renaissance [noun] – a rebirth, revival
Shopping with Riordan turned out to be a lot of fun for Anastasia, she couldn’t recall the last time she had laughed so much, yet Riordan was not afraid to be honest, luckily, as Anastasia had been so conditioned to adjust to the conservative Cunningham taste over the past 8 years, that she could barely remember what she really liked herself. Riordan had no such problems. He remembered very well and seemed hell-bound to help Ana find her true self again, in personality and also in her appearance.
“Thinking I should cut my hair. Like a chin length bob or something…” Ana told Riordan, who instantly frowned.
“Thinking you need to leave the thinking to me.” Riordan replied unimpressed.
“So you disagree? Doesn’t my hair currently say ‘wannabe teeny bopper on the crossroads down the way to her 40s and trying too hard’?”
“Are you sure?”
“You would tell me if you thought I should cut it, right?”
The look Riordan gave her, made her burst into hearty laughter.
“Never mind. Yes, you would. You totally would! Oh, Ri, look at that! What about this? Think it would suit me?”
“Sure, in about 40 years from now. And only if you really don’t age well.”
“A simple no would have been enough. But how about this one? I like it. Perfect for work.”
“Sure, congrats on getting a job as a realtor back in the 1980s, ‘Marjorie’. Time travel is a thing I guess. Tell Marty McFly I said ‘hi’.”
“Oh come on now Ri! I am an attorney. I need to look the part. Since you tossed all the suits I had into the donations pile, I need to buy something work appropriate.”
“Yeah, I get that, just not like that. You need to look edgy, makes them respect you more than if you just follow the rest of the lemmings with the same dark suits and light shirts, like legal Storm Troopers. A dime a dozen, not memorable, neeeeext! Dare to stand out. That’s your style. You always wanted to be a superstar, so look like one. And be daring. You are not the fade-into-the-woodwork type.”
“I can’t hardly go before a judge in a leather crop top and sparkly stage wear or something.”
“No, but what about that over there. Add sleek black pants, narrow. Once you put on some weight and have an actual ass again, the judge won’t even remember what the opposing counsel even wanted from him, he’d be too busy imagining banging you.”
“That is disgusting! You sound like my dad! I want to win my cases because I was better, had the better arguments and discovery. Not because I wore sexier pants and an edgy top!”
“Okay … You’re right. What do I know about your old ‘whatever it takes’ attitude and about a screwy legal system with too many loop holes to really be fair half the time? Right?”
“Screw you! Fine, I’ll try it on! But the first time I get into trouble with the judge for my attire, I’ll kick you in the ass!”
“You do that. Speaking of asses, get yours in the dressing rooms, I don’t wanna do this all night. I still like to keep a little of my man card, so get move on, Stacy! Chop chop!” Riordan clapped his hands, grinning.
‘Stacy’ was a nickname Riordan had given her jokingly when they were 17, and it stuck, a sort of inside joke nobody else would understand. Her nickname for him was ‘Harry’, after Harry Potter, more inside jokes that would be hard to explain out of context, especially considering that Riordan had a very distinct Goth-Grunge style and most certainly wasn’t a Harry Potter fan, same was true for Ana.
The entire day went pretty much like that into the early evening hours.
As she entered yet another changing room at yet another store – they had been to so many that she lost count – her feet were aching, but she didn’t want to stop this fun and go home yet. She hung up the clothing to be tried on, then caught a glance at herself in the mirror, had to wipe away some smeared mascara from laughing so hard and so much, which also had made her cheeks ache. Her face was flushed and her eyes shined for joy. She took a moment to take in her own reflection, so different from the sad, pale, colorless face she had gotten used to, as she now turned sideways.
“Am I really too thin? I don’t look like a bag of bones, do I? Am I still attractive and sexy? I wouldn’t find a man very sexy who’s too thin … Wait what?! Why am I worried about that?! I don’t want to screw Ri! I don’t want to sleep with any man. The thought alone! NO!”
Ana looked straight into her own eyes, he mind screamed ‘LIAR!’ inside her head, while she smiled absentmindedly.
Yes, she did want that, very much so. Riordan all the way, both of them together just like they used to be long before everything happened. Instantly her memories took her back to their first time together, barely 18 at some cheap motel, both donning cheap ugly wigs to avoid anyone recognizing them, her and him the modern day Romeo and Juliet. (Re-read that chapter here)
That had been one of the weirdest, but also most memorable nights of her entire life. Still, somehow being intimate with a man again scared her. Even Ri. And she trusted him with her life. That thought made her chuckle again. Trusting a vampire with her life. Hilarious.
A knock on the door made her jump and pulled her back into the current moment.
“Hey Stacy, did you fall asleep in there? There is a line out here and everyone is staring at me like a creep for hanging around the girl’s dressing room! Step on it!” Riordan whisper yelled and it made her giggle.
“Just a second, Ri! I’ll be out shortly!”
Quickly she tried on the clothes, then ran out.
“What, you’re not even letting me see? Why am I even here then?”
“You helped pick them, and I am just keeping the line moving.”
“Yeah, but we need to go to another store too after this.”
“Oh, come on. I don’t think there are any stores left in the entire country we haven’t been to yet, at least that’s what it feels like.”
“Crybaby, we haven’t even left the parking lot of this mall! And yes, there is one we haven’t been to yet!”
Ana paid, then dragged Riordan down some halls of the mall and straight into a famous lingerie store.
“Oh no ….. Oh HELL NO!” he bucked at the entrance, tried to leave, she held on to him trying to pull him with her when a store clerk came to them, a well trained smile on her face, making Ana and Ri freeze and fake a smile back.
“Hello, welcome to Angel’s Secret. I am Amber. Anything I can help you two find? We are currently running a buy one get one half off sale on the latest line.”
Anastasia couldn’t help but giggle at Riordan’s discombobulated face, the sales associate noticed too, pat his arm and told him
“A lot of the boyfriends and husbands that come in here are initially a bit overwhelmed, but I think it’s great when she wants you to enjoy what she wears. After all, you and her are the only ones seeing it, right? So, do you have anything specific in mind?”
“We are looking for something that really gets the show started, if you know what I mean. Something irresistible.” Ana told her.
“Of course! Any specific style or color?”
“Oh, I think black and lacy, right Ri? He really likes black, don’t you? Black like the dark night.” Ana grinned at Ri, who rolled his eyes at her apparent vampire pun.
“Ah, a particular favorite, mysterious, sexy and timeless. Over here is our Vixen line. I think you two might like that.”
Hearing the sales associate assume he was Ana’s boyfriend or husband evoked a burst of hope from Ri, he instantly looked at Ana, but she never corrected the sales lady, instead both kept holding bras and other lacy and racy lingerie items under Ri’s nose, making him uncomfortable.
When the sales clerk left, Riordan hissed into Ana’s ear
“I hate you so very much right now! Why are you torturing me?!”
“What do you think about this one?” she smiled holding a black lacy number up to her front, ignoring his complaint.
“I think you are purposely doing this to me and enjoying the hell out of it. I do not know why you get such a kick out of giving me blue balls, you devil. Well, there will be payback for this!”
“You bet. Counting on it.” Ana looked around, then dragged Riordan along to the dressing rooms, shoving him into one of them, where he crashed against the wall to the ‘ding dong’ of the chime announcing a customer entered the area, while Ana locked the door behind them.
Instantly Ana pulled her clothing off, and slipped on one of the lacy black lingerie sets, Ri stood there, thunderstruck and paralyzed, watching Ana model the bra and panties in front of him, his pants got uncomfortably tight while he didn’t know what to do with himself.
She now stepped closer to him, unbuttoned and unzipped his pants, pulled them down, then shoved him onto the stool, straddling him.
Ana just went for it, rubbing up against him, kissing him as if it was something they did all the time. While wondering if she may be biting off more than she could chew so soon after her traumatic event, Riordan would have swallowed his own tongue before he’d let out a single peep that she could have interpreted as a complain or that would interrupt her flow.
After a few minutes into it, the new panties had now joined the rest of her clothing on the floor and Ana was having intercourse with Riordan, while he just enjoyed the ride without a single word, both fully lost in the moment, when they were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Hey in there, it’s Amber. Everything fitting okay? I can get you a size up or down or another color if you like?”
Ana giggled, like none of her trauma had ever happened, before she called back.
“Thanks Amber! No need, it fits perfectly and feels amazing. It’s absolutely perfect, everything I ever wanted. I couldn’t be happier!” Ana sounded slightly out of breath, winking at Ri to underline the double meaning of her words.
He and she both knew Ana wasn’t talking about underwear.
They finished, Ana climbed off Riordan and quickly pulled on her clothing, while Riordan got up, watching her as he pulled up his pants, wondering how she could look so happy and completely stable, while he himself was still confused and amazed, wondering if this had just been a dream. A very pleasant one.
“What … you … we … this … I … when … but …” he stuttered, so many things going through his head at once, but none of it wanted to line up for a proper sentence.
“Yeah, yeah. Quit looking like a scared virgin! We both know that ship sailed a long time ago for both of us! Get the blood pumping back to your brain and start thinking about how are we going to elegantly get out of here without causing a scene, Mr. Vatore.” she grinned a deviant smile at him, winked, which now unfroze Ri from his shock.
He found his composure again, grinned back at her and said
“Oh, that’s an easy one.”
Only a black cloud remained in his wake.
“Right. That again. ARGH! Damn vampire business. What an idiot! Well, at least he is MY idiot again. And a real sexy idiot, too. Hmm hmm.” Ana mumbled to herself, but couldn’t help but smile.
Ana’s mood was upbeat, even though it briefly startled her when she stepped out straight into the arms of the sales girl.
“Everything to your satisfaction? Are you taking one of them?” Amber cooed.
“I’m buying them all. Everything is great! Couldn’t be better! Life altering. Truly.”
“Oh, I don’t blame you! With that hunky boyfriend of yours, I can see why you would want to make the nights extra special. Where did he go anyway?”
“Oh, he had to take a … call. Waiting outside. And yeah, nights are definitely VERY special with him. Thank you Amber.”
Ana paid then found Riordan grinning, waiting for her right outside the store.
“Thanks for leaving me like that! As usual!” she greeted him.
“I didn’t leave you! I am right here! In there you presented me with a problem, I solved it. Now we’re both out here and all without even a hint of drama. Or would you have preferred us to proudly march out of the ladies dressing rooms together inside of an ALL GIRLS lingerie store, maybe as a special treat my pants still around my ankles to underline why they would want to call the police on us – after kicking us out? In that case I would have ditched, as I have zero desire to explain anything vampire to anyone who doesn’t already know.”
“Point taken. And thanks. Who knew your vanishing act would actually come in so handy at some point?”
Riordan got very serious when he looked at her now.
“Ana, what was that in there? Was I just a tool to test the boundaries of your healing process, a means to an end to take the edge off, or was that something meaningful?”
“That was a Renaissance, Riordan. Our Renaissance.”