|Meet Me on the Bridge
Author: VixenOnFire PM
A single father of two, Carlisle Cullen yearns for some companionship. After placing an ad for love on Craigslist, he waits on the bridge for the woman of his dreams. AH, O/S contest entry for Twilight Craigslist.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Angst - Carlisle & Esme - Words: 5,232 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 02-15-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7838919
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This was a fun little entry for the Twilight Craigslist contest 2011/2012. The idea was based off of a fictional Craigslist posting called Meet Me on the Bridge that I created for part one of the contest. It contains a puzzle of sorts that the reader must figure out, known as an acrostic. The original title of this piece was called The Lonely Soul, but I have changed it fit with the Craigslist Ad, Meet Me on the Bridge. It's my first attempt at writing in the present tense, and I have to give a massive thank you to my beta Hmmille for helping me with this story. I would not have been able to do it without her. This is an AH one shot for Carlisle and Esme.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, nor the characters in this story. No copyright infringement is intended.
By the time I make it through the downtown traffic and up Carter Street, my nerves have gotten the better of me. The sights and sounds of the city soon leave me behind, but it does little to quell the sense of dread in my mind.
Five minutes until midnight. The time doesn't seem real. How could the hours have slipped by so quickly?
Just this morning, I was doing my usual rounds at the hospital. I can remember speaking to Doctor Snow about the bike messenger brought in overnight, but the rest of the day remains a blur to me. At some point during the past few hours, I must have changed into the black ensemble that now covers my chiseled physique, but I have no recollection of the event.
I find a place to park easily enough, and I grab the bouquet of daisies sitting on the front seat of the Mercedes. I don't remember getting those either, but then again, there's not a whole lot that I canrecall since placing that ad. It's as if everything else has become inconsequential, except for the fear of rejection looming on the horizon. Fear isn't something that I'm used to, but the past few months have changed all that.
The bridge is deserted except for an elderly woman, who at my sudden appearance, scurries across the road and down the embankment towards the river. A drifter maybe? I don't stop to dwell on it. It occurs to me, though, that perhaps it could have been Esme. Maybe I look a little worse than I feel, or I simply scared her off. Chances are that tomorrow I will see another ad, except this time it will be an apology and a refusal of my offer.
One minute before midnight. I cast a watchful glance to my left, then another to my right. Nothing.
The grim reality hasn't quite sunk in yet. She could very well decline my proposal and then where will we be? Back to square one? Just friends? Will the messages continue? I've been alone for so long. Maybe asking to meet was too much pressure for her. It's not like either one of us has ever done this before. There is just something about this woman that calls to me. I am meant to love her, I know that much. In some way, I've always known that. It isn't until right this very second that I wonder if she feels it too.
The thought of losing her forever crosses my mind and I grip the railing for support. The delicate bunch of flowers—her flowers—hang precariously in my free hand, shaking violently from the nerves racking my body. If she doesn't come, if she refuses me, I don't know what I will do. Have my hasty actions caused Esme to be lost to me forever?
One minute later. Still no sign of her.
A flash of light breaks my reverie, and when I look it's just another passing car on an otherwise empty street. It doesn't stop my heart from accelerating at the prospect of her arrival. But it's not her, and my stomach twists with an uneasy sensation as the minutes tick by. I know I shouldn't check the time again, but I do it anyway.
Five minutes after midnight. She's only a few minutes late.
There's still time, there's still a chance, a little voice echoes in my mind. She could be delayed in traffic, or even working later than usual. A multitude of reasons shuffle through my mind, but I know the truth. She's not coming.
Ten past twelve now. Ten minutes, it's only ten minutes. What's ten minutes when you've waited a lifetime to meet the woman of your dreams?
Still, that tiny seed of doubt is planted and I uproot myself from the railing, starting to pace back and forth along the ledge. I could lose everything right here, right now, and a life without Esme is just not an option for me. How will I go on without her? She is the one thing that brightens my day when all other lights have been extinguished. She will come; she has to.
Quarter past midnight. Fifteen minutes hardly calls for panic, Carlisle.
I assure myself that it's nothing. I make certain that my mind and heart keep their contradicting battle at bay for the moment as I can't afford to lose it now. Having Esme find me in a blubbering pile of anguish is unacceptable. With every second that ticks by, the hope of her acceptance decreases. Each precious moment becomes tainted with a despair unlike anything I've ever experienced. I can feel it tearing away at me, gnawing each nerve ending like a fierce disease. I should never have sent that last message.
Five minutes later. I stop looking at my watch.
My mind starts to overpower me. The likelihood of Esme showing up now looks rather bleak. I'm just starting to move away from the bridge overhang when I hear it. It's not the rumble of an approaching car as it zooms across the road, nor the voice of the woman that I've been waiting for. It's a melody-ourmelody-although it's never been stated as much. It's always just been a silent understanding between the two of us, until now.
Another five minutes pass. And I hear it again, Queen.
Any other ballad or song choice would have gone unnoticed by me tonight, but not this one. I try to locate the source of the music and I spot it almost immediately. Below the bridge, a small, white boat with intricate golden patterns etched into the side of the fiberglass, lays floating in the harbor. The sound of Queen flutters about the deck, while someone sings Find Me Somebody to Love extremelyoff key from the floor below. The enchanting rhythm brings a smile to my face, and I know I have my answer. This simple, yet powerful song can't be ignored.
I will wait for her on this bridge forever if I have to.
One Day Prior…
"Got another hot date tonight, Pops?" Emmett asks, shoving a handful of roasted peanuts into his obtuse mouth. By the time his words come out, I can barely understand him. I flash him a weak smile and carry on with my search.
From across what has become known as the Mantuary, Edward shoots us both another glare of annoyance. Too frequently are we interrupting what he'd like to be his solitary reading sessions. He really should choose another part of the house to study in, and the Mantuary is no place for books on game day when Emmett is around. I suppose in a way, I am guilty of the same expectations as Edward. I sit here weeding through the countless messages on Craigslist, just searching for the one I will know by heart. The one thing I look forward to every day. My laptop has become my closest friend as of late.
"Just leave him be, Emmett," Edward says, mumbling from under the pages of his Calculus book. "I'd like a little peace and quiet before my date tonight."
Emmett slumps onto the leather couch right next to Edward, ignoring his request completely. "Does everyone have a date tonight besides me?"
"You know Rose doesn't like to watch you make a fool of yourself over football. I'm honestly surprised that she likes you at all," Edward answers without missing a beat.
"Very funny. She says the same thing about Bella." Emmett leans over and mimics Rose's voice to a tee. "What's up with all the Coldplayand the emo façade all of the time? Does your brother enjoy being Mister Doom and Gloom, or was he just born that way? I honestly don't see what Bella finds so attractive."
I laugh as I continue to listen to the banter between my two adopted children. It's good to have a sense of normality at home. I'm glad to see that my all too necessary absences haven't dampened their sense of humor. Being Chief of Staff has its perks, but it doesn't hold a candle to spending time with my family. We live in a mansion of sorts right next door to Beverly Hale, a self-proclaimed millionaire after winning the lottery three years ago. Jasper and Rose are her children, who to this very day, still owe me a new upstairs window. I won't press the matter, though, we have more than enough money to cover the damages. It was really Emmett's fault anyway since he made a move on Jasper's sister. Besides, Emmett made up for it by introducing Jasper to his fiancée, Alice. I suppose that squares things in a way. We've lived here since the boys were about ten years old. Seattle is our home, and I'm grateful that they have friends close by. However, I have a deep emptiness in me that neither of them can fill, and they know it. I see it every time I look in their eyes.
Adopting the boys is the smartest decision I've ever made. I always wanted a large family, but I never found the time to put too much stock into relationships after having my heartbroken when I was younger. It wasn't easy at first when I brought the boys home, but we soon managed to make it work. The agency was hard pressed to adopt out to a single father, but I am a doctor and rather well off, so the process went better than I could have hoped. But with Emmett heading to university in two weeks, and Edward going back to Cornell, my life is slowly looking bleaker by the minute.
Maybe that's why I'm doing this. Well, I couldn't stop now anyway; Esme has become the only point of guiding light in my world, other than the kids. I can tell that I'm smiling again from the way the voices suddenly trail off behind me. I don't have to turn around to know that two pairs of eyes are staring right at me, but I move the oversized chair anyway so I can give them a few looks of my own.
They both shrug. A smirk plays around their amused faces.
"All right," Emmett says, inching forward on the couch with his snack. "I'm just gonna say it. When are we going to meet this mystery woman?"
He pops a peanut into his mouth and waits for my answer, his eyes solely focused on me. The crunching sound seems louder than usual, almost as if he's creating the effect as a distraction.
"I haven't even met her yet, Emmett," I say. "So you will just have to wait until she's ready."
"You're a lost cause, Pops," he answers.
"That's what you get for meeting someone on Craigslist. She could be a crazy person, just like you," Edward adds, still looking down at his book.
"Captain Emo has a point," Emmett chides.
A small smile comes to my lips, but I wave them off with a dismissive hand, and they soon go back to their own little arguments. The Seahawks game blares from the plasma television, but does little to drown out their conversation. They're right, of course. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing because I haven't dated anyone in such a long time. Esme just has this way about her that captivates my attention. She never leaves my mind, and I haven't even met the woman. I don't know what she looks like, how her voice sounds, or even if she is a woman in the first place. I can only trust the feeling that rests deep down in my heart, telling me that she is my soul mate. She could look like a purple tomato covered in boils, and I would still love her. I think I fell in love with her the first time she answered my post.
It was a dreary Sunday afternoon at the hospital, and I had just finished my rounds. I'd taken the long way back to my office in an effort to not only waste some time, but to also grab a paper and a cup of coffee. After retreating behind closed doors for a few private moments, I noticed a very peculiar ad on the back of the paper: Looking for love? Look no further. We can make all your wildest dreams come true. The headline was followed by several pictures of women in entirely too provocative a pose, and I flipped the paper over out of sheer embarrassment.
On the front page sat a series of photographs depicting Seattle area historical buildings that were scheduled to be renovated over the summer months. It wasn't the buildings themselves that really caught my attention, though they were remarkable in their own right, it was the woman standing so delicately on the stairs as if she were afraid that they would crumble beneath her feet. I could tell from this one photograph alone that she was very dedicated to her craft, and she seemed to radiate an aura of love for these buildings. Her hair was the color of an Autumn harvest with caramel swirls mixed into the dark tresses. A tight, slender body with just the right amount of curves was covered in a deep shade of purple that set off the tint to her green eyes. She looked more like an angel than a human being, and I sat there wondering who the lucky man was that got to hold her in his arms every night, suddenly wishing it could be me.
The caption under the photograph never mentioned her name, but the sight of the woman made me long for something more than what I had. Doctor Snow was the one to suggest Craigslist. At first, I thought it was foolish so I didn't take it seriously. I made up a silly limerick about looking for love, just as the back of the paper had advertised, and jokingly inserted it into a Craigslist posting just to see what would happen. Inside the song itself, I concealed a message for the person who was clever enough to decipher my acrostic: If you can read this, respond with an ad of your own using the same title.
Three days went by without a word. I was just about to give up and try another place like Match dot com when it finally happened-someone posted a reply. I hadn't really expected anyone to answer, I'd just done it for the sake of occupying my time. I was surprised to see that the person who responded had created an acrostic of their own, expecting me to find the message hidden inside the chorus of We Are the Champions. It took barely any effort on my part: If you can read this then you know I can read yours.
I was shocked to say the least, but as the weeks went on and the messages continued, I started to enjoy myself more and more. Finding out her name, giving her mine, exchanging details of our life, spilling secrets that no one else could understand or figure out. It was like my own personal refuge from the daily grind of the hospital, all buried neatly in dozens of Craigslist postings that would drive the average consumer into madness. But to us, they made perfect sense. She seemed to understand everything about me. The more time we spent passing coded messages back and forth, the more my heart longed to meet the stranger whose name was Esme.
Every day there is a new message from Esme, and she surprises me with her charm in each one sent over the last six months. The boys think that I'm crazy, but they are barely more than just children in the eyes of the world. I'm 42 years old, and I've never been married. Came close, but it wasn't meant to be. When my sons are my age, single, lonely, and bordering on the edge of mild insanity, then they can talk to me about being crazy.
"What kind of call is that, you nut job!" Emmett shouts. Edward swats him with the back of his calculus book which strikes up their playful argument once again.
I decide perhaps the Mantuary isn't the best place for this, and I unplug the laptop, taking it upstairs to my study. Having all of these distractions in the room when I'm trying to confess my undying love to a woman I have never even met probably isn't the best idea.
Upstairs, the lights are turned down low, casting a cold reflection against the bare walls. Only a few scattered photographs of the boys decorate the otherwise empty mantle. This place desperately needs a woman's touch, and I'm obviously no good at interior design.
Placing the laptop on my mahogany desk, I take a seat and warm my shaking hands. I find myself eager-and a little bit nervous-to read Esme's post today. Last night, I told her that I was in love with her. It was probably foolish on my part since we've never even met, but it needed to be said because it's the truth.
I have to do a fair amount of searching this time-it's buried under the numerous want ads for roommates, and SWF seeks SWM posts. But I see it nonetheless, sitting with the same title as always: Seeking my Craigslist Angel. I hesitate for a moment, my finger hovering over the button on the mouse. I even close my eyes as I click the post open.
Seeking my Craigslist Angel, only you can answer me
2011-9-28 3:01 pdt
Reply to: HeartOnMySleeve (at) Craig list (Dot) Org
To the one that warms my heart:
Drop of a hat she's as willing as
Playful as a pussy cat
Then momentarily out of action
Temporarily out of gas
To absolutely drive you wild, wild
She's out to get you…
My eyes linger over the familiar phrase until the letters pop out, forming her code. There, amongst the song lyrics to Killer Queen, rests a message for me. I can hardly believe it.
A million things burst into my mind all at once. The touch of her lips, the smell of her hair, the sharp details of her eyes as they follow me about the room while I dress for work in some fantasy I've concocted. A room decorated with her keen eye for detail, displaying soft, pink edges to the nooks and crannies of a nursery. A baby rests in a tiny crib, little fingers play around the wooden frame while an enchanting melody soothes the infant into slumber. My daughter-ourdaughter. The images continue on and on until I can no longer separate reality from fiction. Things that have not yet come to pass mingle with the unrelenting heartbreaks I've endured time after time. My heart thumps longingly in my chest, threatening to break free. It rises throughout my body, engulfing me in warmth, in hope. This new hope surges from the darkness, swallowing me whole as the realization that my entire life might have just taken a drastic turn with three simple words overwhelms me.
I can't force the words past my lips. I'm afraid that if I dare to speak them out loud, they will be ripped from me forever. Leaning back in the chair, I fight to break my gaze from the computer screen. The action takes some effort, but I manage to painfully turn my head towards the darkness outside, contemplating my reply.
My mind begins to replay the facts that I know about Esme to come up with my next move. She's incredibly gifted and works for an architecture firm on the East side just a few blocks from the hospital. She's divorced, has no children, and at almost half my age, she has accomplished more than most of my colleagues. A graduate of Yale with degrees in architecture and business earned her a prominent title in the eyes of her family. She likes camping, but hates clutter. If given the choice, she would rather live in a fixer upper than a fully furnished mansion. Her favorite color is blue. Roses are her least favorite flower because they remind Esme of her ex-husband. Most of her free time is spent painting daisies, or attending benefits for the local historical restoration society.
And now I know that Esme is in love with me.
Even with all of this information, I still can't come up with a reply. Maybe I can work in some of the details of her life, or at the very least give her a sense of acknowledgment to show that I've been paying attention. But what will that prove? I already know so much about her life from our encrypted messages, and yet it still seems very little. It occurs to me that I don't really know this woman at all besides the mundane details my mind can recall. Although there is nothing about Esme that's really mundane, I feel slightly humbled by my inept attempt at a reply.
This woman controls me, and I find myself wanting to be owned. I need her more than I have ever needed anything. The loss of Esme at this point will crush me. One wrong move in my reply will seal that fate, but I can't stop my words from tumbling out. I feel them coming on before my mind has a chance to protest. "Marry me, Esme."
My hand slaps across my mouth instantly, and I'm on my feet pacing. It's all I can do to keep the walls from closing in on me. What a stupid thing to say, yet even as I speak the words, I know that's what I want-nothing has ever felt more right to me. Even with that knowledge, a horrible feeling of dread washes through me, and my knees give way.
I'm on the floor not more than two seconds before a cry of despair leaves my lips. I need this woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, and consumes me with every subtle hint of a word. To lose Esme would be the end of me, and here I am thinking of proposing as if it were only a natural progression of our relationship. She doesn't know me; she doesn't even know what I look like, though I suppose she has researched me amongst the pages of the hospital staff that are readily available on the internet. I confess that I've done the same, but found no traces of her picture among the countless businesses that thrive in our area. She remains as much of a mystery as she did upon our first meeting, and I have no idea why.
It occurs to me that I don't care if she's hiding something; it doesn't matter if there is some terrible secret that is being kept from me. Whatever it is, I want to work through it with Esme, not be torn apart from her. Something else settles over the nausea filling my body-the only kind of sickness that could arise from having love in the palm of your hand and just tossing it away out of fear. This feeling begins to grow in the pit of my stomach, branching out to my chest, my arms, my hands, and all the way down my legs. Then it hits my face, setting the taut skin on fire. If she loves me, she will come to me; if she loves me, she will say yes.
Curling up into a ball, I sob into the carpet, letting my doubts have their way with me until the dawn breaks through the curtains and I'm left with a final resolve.
Everything balances on this one question, and there will never be a good time to ask it. This is a way to prove my love to Esme, and hopefully hers in return. It doesn't even need to be right away, though once again I find myself wishing it could happen tomorrow. It's only a proposal, not a date for marriage itself. I will place the ad and pray that in the meantime my resolve stays absolute. Asking Esme to marry me can only lead to two outcomes. Either way, my life will be altered forever after this moment.
Uprooting myself from the floor, I push the tears from my eyes and with them all of my hesitation, and pour myself into this final act of madness. I pledge myself to the woman who has stolen my heart the only way I know how.
Seeking my Craigslist angel, only you have the power to answer me (Seattle)
Date: 2011-9-29 9:10pm pdt
Reply To: GuardianMD1640 (at) craigslist (dot) org
To the woman I've been searching for my entire life:
You have enchanted my heart through your messages. Though we have never met, I feel I must carry on in the spirit of our correspondence through these postings, and ask you this most important question. I know from our past interaction that you will be able to decipher my clues. If the answer is yes, meet me on the bridge at midnight.
With all my love,
I work hard every day of my life
I work till I ache my bones
At the end I take home my hard earned pay all on my own -
I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
Till the tears run down from my eyes
Lord - somebody - somebody
Can anybody find me - somebody to love?
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
Each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord what you're doing to me
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can't get no relief, Lord!
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
I click post, hold my breath, and leave the rest to fate.
It's almost one in the morning. The sounds of Queenhave long since left me, yet I stay firmly planted to the bridge railing, just staring at the wilting daises in my clenched fist. Several cars pass by, but I don't look up; I have no interest in the thumping bass that disrupts my train of thought. I start to think that maybe something has happened to Esme, or at the very least, she's posting her reply right at this very moment. I've already decided to wait as long as it takes, but something is begging me to pull out my phone and check Craigslist. I do my best to stifle the urge, and turn my gaze to the open water. The blackness pulls me in, enveloping me in an unsettling array of emotion. There are no lights left along the horizon, no sounds of drifting boats on the water below. Only the painful reminder of what I have done remains.
I break away from the ripples that lap the shoreline, and face the road once again. Despite the loneliness in my heart, I suddenly find myself in the company of another. My heart stops at the sight before me. A slender outline shifts its weight cautiously as it moves towards me. The smell of cinnamon strikes me before I have a chance to take my next breath, drawing me forward as if I have no will of my own.
"Carlisle? I'm sorry I'm so late."
Her voice is as soft as the summer breeze, and I commit it to memory without another thought. Time no longer holds any meaning for me, any amount of time is worth this result.
"Esme?" I whisper, finding it hard to believe she is actually standing before me.
She steps forward into the beam of light cascading down from the lamppost above us. My breath hitches and my voice is lost to the beat of the frantic heart thumping in my chest. All I can do is stare in disbelief as Esme comes into focus. She's the woman from the photograph-the one with the striking green eyes, and the locks of caramel silk that set my entire Craigslist journey into motion all those months ago.
Without thinking, I lean in and cup her beautiful face. The daisies fall to the pavement as my fingertips dance across the soft flesh of her perfect cheekbones. I need to make sure that she is real and not just a figment of my imagination. Our eyes meet, and in that one glance, I can see my entire future laid out before me. She is the missing piece to my heart, and the only one that can fill the void within my empty soul.
"Marry me," I whisper. The words flow effortlessly from my lips as if they were always meant to be spoken.
"Yes," she says softly. "It will always be yes."
Our lips collide with an unyielding passion that I know has been reserved solely for this moment. The taste of her tongue ignites a fire in places long forgotten, and I press the love of my life against the iron railing, cradling her head like a fragile piece of art. Everything I desire rests in my arms, and I realize I have now become that lucky man.
She is mine, and I am hers, until death do us part.