I dropped my clutch bag on the marble counter of our kitchen and opened the fridge to retrieve the half-drunk bottle of Chardonnay left over from the previous evening.

"Pour me one would you sweetheart?"

"Don't you sweetheart me Carlisle Cullen," spinning on my heel to fix him with a furious stare I saw his eyes bug, "I'm sorry?"

"You should be," I muttered, turning my back on him again and pouring two glasses of wine.

"Is this about Edward and that silly little girl?"

I slammed his glass down in front of him, "don't choke on it."

He followed me out onto the balcony where I was staring out over the rooftops of the city. We were lucky enough to have outdoor space in an area where it really was at a premium. I suppose penthouse apartments with balconies came with the territory though when you're married to a top surgeon and hospital CEO from a rich family. We'd never wanted for anything, even way back when Carlisle was training but, honestly, I'd swap it all to bring back the kind, relaxed man that I'd married all those years ago.

For many years we were a close knit family, living in a huge family home in the forest out on the peninsula. Carlisle worked in a small local hospital, fixing up broken hips and pinning back the ears of unhappy teens. The kids were happy - they spent their days in school and their spare time absorbed in their hobbies. Emmett biked through the forest for hours on end coming home covered in mud and smelling awful, Alice produced endless drawings and left half-finished magazines everywhere she went and Edward...well, Edward spent a lot of time alone in his room composing music, devouring books and doing whatever it is boys do when they're locked away in their bedrooms. Although he could have been lonely living that way, he seemed to be a content child, if a very serious one.

Then everything changed. Carlisle was offered a position in the city. It was an offer he couldn't refuse as head of General Surgery at the most prestigious hospital in the state. We closed up the house, the kids went to college and we - my husband and I - started a new life.

I couldn't pinpoint quite when Carlisle had become the man he was now but it was somewhere between the new position and Edward quitting medicine for music. He'd become bitter and angry, the stress of the job got to him and he spent less and less time at home and more and more time at the office until we barely spoke except for him to express his disappointment whenever one of his sons made what he saw as a bad decision.

"Where have you been?" he asked, leaning against the glass barrier.

"If you must know I went to see Edward and Bella. After your tantrum I thought somebody ought to apologise to them."

"What on earth for?"

I gaped at him for a moment before pulling myself together, "what for? Are you quite insane? For your appalling behaviour. For the way you embarrassed us both and made the two of them feel absolutely awful."

We stood there in silence for a while. I was waiting for him to say something but he remained quiet, sipping his wine and admiring the view.

"You know Carlisle, one of these days the boys will give up trying to gain your approval. You're pushing them both away, and when you're old and lonely because nobody wants to talk to you any longer you'll be very sorry indeed. Your money isn't going to keep you warm at night."

These confrontations were difficult to cope with and I could feel throat tightening as I fought back tears of frustration. As I moved to push the tears back I nudged my glass, sending it tumbling onto the sidewalk below, smashing into a million tiny pieces. I cursed loudly and leant over to ensure I hadn't mortally wounded anybody. There was nobody there but I called out a 'sorry,' just in case.

"Do you know what that girl did Esme? Edward is making the wrong choice. Somebody needs to tell it as it is."

"You are ridiculous," I spat, "'that girl' did nothing but protect her job and her friends. Do you need more bonuses? Well, do you?"

"That isn't the point and you know it."

"No, the point is that you can't bear to be wrong," I was aware of my voice becoming louder but I didn't care anymore if the neighbours heard us fight, "you've pushed Edward to his limit. He isn't like Emmett, he won't cheerfully take your...your shit and carry merrily on. You've hurt him time and again and I am not going to stand for it any longer."

Although he opened his mouth to speak no words came out.

"I'm going to bed. Don't even think about following me."

He didn't listen of course and no sooner was I stood in front of the sink brushing my teeth then I saw him standing behind me.

"Esme darling," he soothed, moving to slide his hands across my shoulders and down my arms.

"Don't you dare," I growled, "there's a perfectly good spare room next door and it's all yours until you get your act together."

He was stunned. It wasn't often I lost it with him but when I did he knew he was in trouble. Last time there was broken crockery and a changed lock. He stayed in a hotel for more than a week.

"What do you want me to do?" he sighed, leaving the en-suite to slump on the edge of the bed, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands, "Edward is making one mistake after another and there's nothing anybody can do about it."

"He hasn't made mistakes Carlisle. Following your heart is never a mistake. You of all people should know that."


I let a small smile slip as I leant against the bathroom doorway, "remember how your parents reacted when we got engaged? They thought we were too young and they certainly didn't like me one bit. Your mother still despises me."

"Nobody could despise you darling," I raised an eyebrow at him, "alright, she's not your biggest fan. But that's different."

"How is it different? They're in love, whether you like it or not. And they're a hell of a lot more mature than we were."

Perhaps it was the reminder of how madly in love we were when we first met at nineteen years old and married within months or perhaps it had finally hit home that Edward should be given the chance, just this once, to make his own decisions without having to wage a war against his father but he faltered, staring intently at me as I changed out of my trophy wife cocktail dress and into my nightgown...or maybe it was that. He was certainly stalking towards me in a way that suggested it was the silk rather than the shame that had changed his expression. Didn't he ever learn?

"I don't think so," I scolded poking him in the chest and briefly considering using one of Emmett's imaginative insults - I quite liked 'asshat' and though I wasn't sure what a 'douchenut' was it seemed quite fitting.

"Esme…" he groaned, "can't we talk about this in the morning?"

"No, we cannot talk about this in the fucking morning," he cringed at my rare use of the word, "I have nothing more to say to you."


I swung the bedroom door open, holding it ajar for him, "you're sleeping in the spare room until further notice. When you've figured out where you went wrong tonight we'll talk but until then please go away."

He huffed and grabbed his boring medical tome from the bedside table, stomping out of the room like a big baby. After a brief pause I heard the spare room door slam, rattling the walls of the apartment.

"Fuckmuppet," I muttered under my breath.

A/N: a million thank yous again to those who have read, reviewed and favourited this story. I may come back with another outtake - I'd quite like to go back to Edward & Bella at school. What do you think?

In the meantime the first chapter of my new tale is now online. It's called The Morning After and features a permanently single Bella and a mystery Edward, soon to make his first appearance. Standard pain-in-the-ass Jake makes an early appearance too. Please have a read and let me know what you think...don't make me beg for those reviews :) EQx