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Writing La Fodera d'Argento


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[FONT="Arial"][CENTER][B]-chapter one-[/B][/CENTER]

I can never have a nice night at work. Mostly because I still don’t understand how I got myself into this Pizzeria mess in the first place, but every now and then some pretty awful things occur. Like food inspectors coming to make sure everything is up to standards, and unfortunately for me, leaving two hundred percent satisfied with the place. Or even worse, food critics from all over the country showing up to find out for themselves why other critics called our pizza the best in the universe, then publishing reports that all previous reviews were “sadly under-exaggerating.”

It’s them that I currently loathe the most. Without their praise, I would not be staring down the barrel of a fully loaded pizza rocket.

She’s very unimpressed, I can tell, with the exterior of our little restaurant. I see her standing outside the glass door, staring up at the classy neon sign, most likely wondering why we couldn’t think of a better name than “The Pizzeria.”

Every critic has gone through the same routine, so of course I figure she’s one of them. Other things are tipping me off, like the crisp navy business suit and leather briefcase. No average businessperson has ever dared enter this place.

As soon as she opens the door, pulling slowly with a very regretful expression, the tiny bell dings and Selena bursts out of nowhere.

“Benvenuto!” she exclaims, her usual greeting to new customers. I sense that the woman is not any less doubtful, though her face has become quite friendly.

“Hi,” she smiles as she approaches the counter. Her eyes lock on me. “I’m looking for Lucio de Luca?”

“He’s on break,” I say with the most joking tone I can muster. I may not be interested in dealing with a critic, but at least I can be moderately polite.

Of course, Selena can be moderately obnoxious. “Not at seven thirty, he’s not. This is Lucio right here.”

I give her a quick death glare while the woman laughs very unconvincingly.

“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. de Luca.” She extends a hand. “I’m Angela Page, from the Food Network.”

I nod and shake her hand, mentally arching an eyebrow. I didn’t think Food Network sent out its own critics.

“Really?” chirps Selena, learning slightly over the counter. Angela casually sets her briefcase down, with a white Food Network logo facing us to prove it.

“We’ve been reading some incredible reviews of your Pizzeria, and we’re very interested in featuring it and some of your recipes on a TV special.”

Selena’s eyes widen, catching the fluorescent lighting and making their orange color very obvious. “Oh my god,” she beams, glancing at me.

As a reflex to the shock, my eyes bulge even more than hers. Inside I’m screaming “NO” over and over again, but I try to play my reaction off as pleasant surprise rather than horror. My mind reels, trying to find a good way to decline the offer, but all I can do is sit in silence. However, the feeling that Selena is about to do all the talking for me breaks me out of my speechlessness.

“May I have a word with you?” I ask her.

She frowns at me, then turns back to Angela. “Sorry, we’ll only be a moment.” Every word is emphasized, telling me that she plans to have her way no matter what. “Can I get you anything?”

Angela shakes her head. “I’m fine, thank you.”

I step into the kitchen and shut the door behind Selena. We voice our opinions simultaneously.

“I’m not doing it.”

“You’re doing it.”

We exchange glares, and she crosses her arms. “Why the hell not?”

“Because I don’t want to!”

“You never want to do anything!”

I hear the door bell ring again, and even through the kitchen door and the aromas of spices and herbs, I can pick up Nils’ scent. Dammit.

Selena grabs the handle of a sauce pot, staring me down. “Lucio, if you do not tell that woman you will do the show, I’m going to dump this pizza sauce all over you.”

I smirk defiantly. “There’s nothing in there.”

“Crap,” she mutters.

Outside, I can hear Nils talking rapidly with his voice raised. His presence worries me. And of course, in less than a second he bursts through the door, his face shining with ebullience.

“We’re going to be on Food Network?!” he nearly screams.

“No!” I whisper snappily, moving to re-close the door.

“He’s being stubborn,” Selena says, still holding the pot. Probably considering throwing it at me.

Nils grabs me by the shoulders and lowers his head to look directly into my eyes. I recognize that look and immediately try to escape: he’s going to put on his most persuasive face and use whatever annoying mental powers he has to change my mind.

Just like I expected, Selena swings the pot at my head and it connects with a deafening crack. It doesn’t hurt...unbearably...but the force of the blow knocks me to the floor. Before I can get up, Nils has me pinned.

“Please, let’s do the show!” he grins. The waves of influence emanate out of him, his pleading eyes wide.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.... I squeeze my eyes shut and turn my head, trying to rid my thoughts of his intrusion.

“Please!” he repeats, shaking my shoulders against the floor. Selena joins in, the two of them broken records as I struggle to get free.

“Get off me!” I groan.

Their incessant imploring lasts for a few minutes, and there is only so much of it I can take before I can no longer handle the grating on my will. At this point I feel like I’d do anything just to make them shut up.

“Fine!” I shout, clenching my fists and forcing them to not fly into Nils’ saccharine face. “We’ll do the damn show!”

In a flash, Nils lets go of me, and the two of them fly out of the kitchen. By the time I get to my feet and angrily slam the door behind me, Selena is shaking Angela’s hand vehemently.

“We have Lucio’s blessing! Now since this is technically my pizzeria, I’ll negotiate everything....”

She whisks Angela over to a booth to sign whatever contracts are necessary. Nils yanks the phone almost clean off the wall, his dialing fingers a blur.

“Who are you calling?” I demand, though I know full well the answer. I rip the receiver out of his hand and slam it back on the hook. “Don’t tell Charlotte!”

“Why?” he says, arms akimbo.

“I don’t want her to know.”


I cover my eyes with my hand; it’s so irritating whenever he does this, and I’ve just about reached my limits for patience tonight. Already.

“She doesn’t need to be involved. She’ll make a big ordeal out of it.”

His lower lip pokes out, traces of persuasion rising in his expression again. “But--”

“Don’t make me kill you.”

He sighs and walks away from me. “Fine.”

It’s not long before Selena and Angela return, the two of them looking quite pleased. Actually, Selena is smiling smugly, but I can detect some uneasiness in Angela’s eyes.

“It’s all set!” Selena says triumphantly, turning to Angela. “I’ll get everything ready for you. We’ll be in touch.”

Angela only nods, pulling a small card from her blazer pocket and putting it in Selena’s hand. She then mutters a quick goodbye, it was nice to meet us, and speeds out the door.

We stand quietly until she drives away.

“What’s her problem?” Nils says.

Selena shrugs. “Beats me.”

I scowl furiously and ignore them, walking away as they begin to celebrate their victory. But the familiar scent of Charlotte meets me, turning my anger into panic. I whirl around and she’s at the door, watching Nils and Selena inquisitively.

“What’s going on?” she asks. I shoot an urgent glance at Nils, hoping that he can come up with a lightning fast excuse. Or at least that he keeps his promise to not tell her anything.

Selena speaks up first. “We’re--” is all she can manage before Nils clamps his hand over her mouth.

“We just served our, like, ten millionth customer,” he grins.

Charlotte’s eyes narrow, and a jolt of panic flows through me as the corner of her lip curls. That’s her “I don’t believe you and I’m going to give you hell if you don’t tell me the truth” face, though most of the time she uses it whenever she feels like it.

“What? We did.” I say, keeping all my anxiety inside. Her eyes begin to glow dimly.

Selena catches on, pushing Nils’ hand away from her mouth to speak. “Dammit Nils, I wanted to be the first person to say it!”

He sticks out his tongue at her. Charlotte’s expression softens, turning to mild annoyance.

“Oh. Well...congratulations.”

I mentally sigh and fall into a booth. Problem solved, I suppose. For now.


“The show is called ‘Pizza Perfect,’” Selena tells me with a subtle eye roll. It’s just after two AM, closing time, and Charlotte is safely out of earshot.

“Fantastic,” I mutter.

“I know it’s lame, but I couldn’t change their minds.”

She has a large calendar spread over the table and has decorated a couple of boxes with multi-colored star stickers.

“We’ve only got two days to film,” she says, pointing to the stars. “The second day we’re supposed to give a public demonstration and serve some free pizza.”

I frown so hard I feel like it might fall off my face. “We have a problem.”

“Take a chill pill,” she interrupts. “We can spare a couple of pizzas. You don’t need to be so greedy.”

“That isn’t it,” I retort. “Did you forget a very important detail about us?”

She stares at me blankly. I throw my hands up and sigh.

“We’ll just go out and film all day, then. Let’s disregard that we’ll be reduced to piles of ash at the end of the first hour!” I whisper emphatically, despite having no humans around to have to whisper for.

“Like I said, take a chill pill! I took care of everything. We’re filming over night,” she assures, maintaining her casual tone.

I sit back, grimacing. Damn. I was hoping that would be grounds to not do the show.

“Listen,” Selena says, becoming serious. “I made sure it will be perfectly safe and enjoyable for us. You don’t have to worry.”

“Hah!” I snort. “Enjoyable. Right.”

“Oh, shut up. You always jump to the conclusion that you won’t like something, so you never do anything.”

“Well, what is there to like about this? It’s just something else you goaded me into doing because you think it will be fun.”

Her orange eyes darken, taking on a reddish tint. “If you are really that adverse to whatever I suggest we do, then you should really just ignore everything I say and not do it. But no, you always give in, and then complain everyone’s ears off.”

“You wouldn’t let me forget!” I exclaim, grasping the edge of the table for leverage. “You would be angry with me for a freaking decade.”

For some reason, this chases the red out of her eyes.

“So you’d rather suffer through this than have me mad at you?” she asks, her tone suddenly cheery. “That’s so sweet of you, Lucio!”

I remain silent, looking across the aisle out the dark window instead of at her. She’s right, though, I can be such a doormat at times. I fume wordlessly at myself, and the whole situation.

“Give me your phone,” Selena says, reaching across the table.

Still avoiding her gaze, I pull my cellular from my pocket and drop it into her hand. She rapidly punches the buttons, then tosses it back to me.

“I put Angela’s number in your address book, so you’ll know to pick up when she calls. And you will pick up.”

“Says who?”

“Says the woman with the great big sauce pan.”

I will my eyes to take on an irate tint. I doubt the color change is possible without enough of the real emotion to fuel it, but it’s worth a shot. Judging from Selena’s unchanged smile, nothing happens.

“Whatever,” I mutter.

She slides out of the booth and steps in front of me, leaning close to my face. “It’s going to be great. Trust me.”

I look away in defeat. “Sure.”

It’s going to be a long week.

[CENTER][B]-chapter two-[/B][/CENTER]

Charlotte says she’s bored. As it’s ten thirty in the morning with nowhere to go, so am I. But I could easily keep myself preoccupied by seething over the situation some more.

Rather than do that and irk Charlotte to no end, I shove those thoughts to the back of my mind and try to focus on something else.

“Aren’t you always bored?” I say, half-smiling to convey the joke.

And it’s true, most vampires are constantly restless like this. Eternity definitely has its perks, but one can occasionally grow tired of its monotony; especially during the daytime, when the world outside our pitch-black bedrooms becomes dangerously off-limits. To combat the ennui, vampires usually just sleep from sunrise to sunset, which was actually near-impossible in my early years. Back then you couldn’t have your windows obscured all day without garnering suspicion of sin amongst your overly pious neighbors. Coffins were most necessary then, unless you were wealthy enough to have your own wine cellar.

No matter where you slept, however, it was extremely difficult to predict exactly when it would be dark enough to leave our makeshift caves. All we had to tell time with were sundials. Hah.

It’s perfectly simple now, since the advent of television. We just have to wake up a little while after whatever time the local weatherman forecasts the sun will set.

“Lucio?” Charlotte says, snapping me out of my flashback.

“Sorry,” I reply. “I was just lost in the past for a moment.

She arches an eyebrow, the corner of her lip pulling upward. “Weirdo.”

I chuckle under my breath, and she sits up on the bed.

“Seriously, I’m incredibly bored. I don’t even know what to do with myself,” she sighs.

On the nightstand, my cell phone vibrates violently. We both stare at it, she probably wondering who would call me at this hour, myself hoping to god it’s not who I think. I leave it alone.

“Are you going to answer it?” Charlotte asks after a few seconds, her eyes locked on the phone.

I fidget, then casually put my arm around her shoulder. “Just ignore it. They probably have the wrong number.” Please.

Before I can stop her, she curiously picks up the phone and looks at the front display. I hold my breath and tense up, trying not to see the caller ID and confirm my fear.

“Who is Angela?” Charlotte says suddenly, an edge in her voice.


I rip my phone out of her hand and fly from the bed, my thoughts ricocheting off the sides of my brain like tiny rubber balls.

“Uh, it’s....” is all I can manage before I find myself in the bathroom, and, without thinking, slam the door. As soon as my thoughts catch up, I figure I might as well lock it.

I feel like my heart should be pounding, but I know the danger is not great enough to inspire such a human reaction in me. I lean against the wall and slide to the floor, flipping the phone open to accept the call.

“Hello?” I say, my voice lowered uselessly. Charlotte would be able to hear everything I say - especially with her ear pressed against the door as I sense it is.

“Hey, Lucio,” Angela’s voice responds. “Is everything all right?”

I remember to breathe again, though I still feel sickly anxious.

“Yes, I’m fine.” I try to keep my voice steady.

“Okay, well, I just wanted to make sure Selena informed you of everything.”

She doesn’t seem to care that, even though I am supposed to be the star of the show, I have absolutely no say in anything about it. As if Selena is my very own agent. As if intermittent pizza chefs even have agents.

“Yes,” I say, clearing my throat. I rise to my knees so I can reach the sink to turn the water on, full blast. Just as a safety precaution.

“Great, we’re working on local promotion for the demonstration, so once we figure out all the minor details we’ll let you know what’s going to happen.”

“Wonderful,” I mutter.

“What?” she says, volume increasing. “I can’t hear you, there’s too much background noise.”

My hope is that the same goes for Charlotte. I stand and yank the shower curtain to a close, then twist the hot water knob all the way.

“I said ‘wonderful.’”


Charlotte knocks three times, impatiently. “Lucio, what the hell are you doing?”

I press my lips against the phone and whisper. “We’ll talk later.”

I snap the phone shut and hide it safely in my pocket, standing silently as warm steam billows around me. Despite the heat, my legs are frozen in place. I do not want to face Charlotte right now.

I hear her move away from the door. Her eyes might be a burning shade of crimson instead of their natural emerald. The hue of anger in a vampire’s eyes isn’t really very intimidating to me, but whenever Charlotte gets that look, I’m absolutely petrified of her.

Sensing that she’s left, I turn off every faucet and peek out of the bathroom. Her dark silhouette is waiting on the bed, like a hooded executioner. Slowly, I force one foot in front of the other, trying to return to the bed. I arrive all too soon, and find myself face to face with something scarier than death.

“What the hell was that?” she demands.

With her fiery gaze upon me, I find it impossible to think. There are no words that I could say that I don’t foresee leading to disaster.

“That was the, um....” I stutter. “The...whatsit....” I wave my hand in a circle, beckoning the words that fail me.

Charlotte’s eyes burn brighter. She doesn’t speak.

“Damn,” I whisper. “It’s on the tip of my tongue.”


She definitely doesn’t believe whatever I’m getting at. I don’t even know what I’m getting at, much less believe it myself. I gulp nervously.

“Why?” I ask, keeping my voice and expression as nonchalant as possible.

Still, she doesn’t respond. With words, I mean: the red lightens, intensifies. She’s getting more and more furious with each passing second. I inch past her towards my side of the bed.

“There’s no reason for you to be mad. That was just....” I racked my brain again, desperate for the perfect excuse. “A food critic.”

Well, that sucked.

Her upper lip curls, creating a very enraged version of her expression of disbelief. “You’re lying.”

I stretch out on the bed, frowning. “Why would I lie? You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“No,” she finally snaps. “You’re the one who made a big deal out of it by hiding in the bathroom and being so damn dodgy about it!”

I crawl closer to her, deciding to take an enormous risk.

“Cara mia,” I purr, reaching for her hand. She snatches it away and bursts on to her feet, her ire raging.

“Don’t try that with me!” she roars. I shrink away, my eyes wide with fright.

There is only one more thing I can think of to do to quell the situation. Hastily, I gather up my pillows and roll across the bed, keeping my distance from the smoking volcano at the other end. Without a word, I slink out the door into the hallway. Before I can even think about saying goodnight, Charlotte bangs the door shut in my face.

As I head downstairs, I find it much easier to be mad, now that Charlotte isn’t leeching every bit of emotion out of the room. I’m mad at her for overreacting, but also at myself for giving her a reason to. And most of all, I’m mad at Selena for giving me a reason to give Charlotte a reason.

Nils, thankfully, has the heavy curtains over every window pulled shut, so I’m at least safe from the sunlight. He watches as I drop my pillows on the couch, snickering to himself.

“Did you bite too hard?” he laughs.

“Shut up,” I groan, not in the mood to deal with any jesting. I never am, really, but now more than ever.

“Just kidding. I could hear the whole thing,” he says.

Meaning he was actively eavesdropping. I collapse on the sofa, covering my eyes with my hand.

“At first I thought it was just Maury,” he continues, grinning ridiculously and pointing to the television set.

“Shut up,” I repeat. For some reason I feel exhausted, though the only time I’d be capable of being so is when I go too long without hunting, and it hasn’t even been a week since my last “meal” yet.

Nils muses, “I think that you could have saved yourself a helluva lot of trouble if you had just told her the truth to begin with.”

I lie on my side, facing the back of the couch, and close my eyes. I know he’s right, goddammit. All I want to do anymore is get this moronic television show over with. And later, quite possibly, break into the Food Network’s film archives and destroy whatever footage they acquire. Nils would probably get a kick out of that.
to be continued.[/CENTER]

[SIZE="1"]This story kind of got out of control, haha. I definitely wasn't planning to use chapters, much less expecting it to go on for more than a couple of pages. (It stands at ten typed, as of right now, with at least five more for the upcoming chapter three).

The only reason I'm posting this now is that I feel fairly confident that I'll get this story done. It's already three complete chapters in, and I've discovered that it's very easy for me to go on a writing spree while I'm at school.

How soon chapter three goes up depends on either the responses I get, if any, or as soon as I finish chapter four. There will probably be a fifth chapter, but no more than that. It's the longest short story I've written for this "series," so I'm very happy with my current progress.

And if you wanted to know, the title means "The Silver Lining."[/SIZE][/FONT]
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