Warning: Contains corporal punishment of couple of teenage vampires. If this is not to your liking, please find something that fits your taste.
Disclaimer: Well, they certainly aren't mind, though I wish a few of them were. The characters remain the property of Stephenie Meyers and I thank her for the loan. I promise not to bend, fold, or mutilate them. I may just get them a bit dusty.
AN: I apologize for this. I should be working with either Jane or our little Carlisle and his El-zar, but Edward decided to be a brat the other night. He kept me awake screaming at Carlisle. I tossed and turned while he kept it up until I finally gave up and started to write. I thought it was going to be a one shot, but it seems to have turned into a twofer. I'll get back to work on my other stories, but the brat had to get his way. Hope you enjoy.
"And you can stay in your room until you're ready to own up to your errors like a man," Carlisle thundered as he snapped Edward's bedroom door closed and stalked down the hallway and into the living room.
"I didn't do anything," the boy screamed seconds before a loud thud resonated throughout the house as he threw a book against the scarred wooden panel.
The young doctor's hands went to the buckle of his belt as he turned back towards his son's room, but his gentle wife quickly grasped his arm and drew him towards the couch.
"Let him be, Carlisle. You're both far too worked up right now. You and Edward need some time to calm down before anything regrettable happens," she said while perching on the edge of the cushion as her mate began to wear a track in the rug with his pacing.
"It already has, Esme. My son has lied to my face, and mark my words, he will come to regret that."
"Maybe he isn't lying. It's possible that someone could have broken in while we were out."
The blond stopped and shot his wife an incredulous look.
"And the only thing taken was your vase?"
"Vase thieves," she offered with a slight shrug and a smile. "Only trafficking in the finest porcelain."
"Well why in the world would Edward take it? It doesn't make sense. Besides, he knows what it means to me."
"Exactly. He does indeed know, and it's like him to take it in one of his sullen moods. Since I've added Rosalie to the family, he has been backsliding a great deal." Carlisle stopped pacing and ran both hands through his hair in frustration. "It's as if we're back at square one. Like we haven't made any progress at all as a family."
"He's sensitive. Change is hard for him. It's going to take time for him to accept any new additions. He's used to being the baby."
"And I'm willing to give him time to adjust, but I won't tolerate his lies. He knows better. The misbehavior I could forgive if he were only truthful about it. At the start of our relationship we had an issue with little white lies. He would fib to me in an attempt to get out of trouble, but only wound up digging himself in deeper. It too a lot of work, but I was confident that I had purged that habit from his system well before you came along. Edward knows how I feel about falsehoods, and should count himself lucky that he still possess the ability to sit this evening." The budding patriarch raised his voice slightly for his son's benefit as he added, "And he won't be sitting much longer is he doesn't amend his attitude and start being truthful."
Angry mumbling and another thump was the answering response from down the hall.
"Keep it up, Edward. Keep it up and see if you don't find yourself standing in the corner nursing a very sore backside."
Carlisle sank down next to his mate and closed his eyes as he pinched the bridge of his nose, focusing on the mild pain as a distraction.
"I don't know what to do anymore to get through to that boy. His rudeness to Rose already has her hiding away in her room, and now he's acting out against you. I don't know how much more our little family can take."
"It can take whatever it must," she assured him while resting her hand on his knee. "All families have their ups and downs. We'll get through this and be better for it. Out bond will be stronger for having survived."
"If we survive," he corrected as he took her hand and pressed it to his lips. "I wish I had your optimism."
"You do. It's sitting right here next to you always willing to lend support when needed."
"I must have done something right somewhere along the way to get so lucky."
He kissed her cheek and was rewarded by a gagging sound coming from his son's room.
Esme lowered her head and giggled, then patted her husband's leg while looking back at him with a smile.
"I think what we all need is a little distance. What about giving Edward some space for an hour or so? It will give him some much needed time to reflect. It's a beautiful afternoon. We can go for a walk. Clear the air as well as the mind. I'm sure things be better when we return."
"I believe you may be onto something, Mrs. Cullen," he said as he got to his feet and extended a hand to assist her. "There's a bit of sun, so you might want to grab a hat."
"I'll do just that, and why don't you invite Rose to come along. I'm certain all this arguing has to be working on her nerves. She'll enjoy a relaxing evening stroll."
"I do like the idea of having two beautiful ladies on my arm. I'll be the talk of the town."
Esme's laugh was music to his ears and a balm for his stricken spirit. She gave him a gentle shove towards their daughter's door before quickly disappearing into their own room to gather a few things.
"Rose," Carlisle called as he knocked lightly. "Esme and I are going out for a walk. Would you care to join us? Maybe do a little hunting along the way?"
"No, thank you, Carlisle. Your offer is very kind, but I'm working on something right now and don't care to leave it."
"Are you sure? Some fresh air might do you good."
"I'm quite sure. Maybe next time."
"Is there anything you need while we're out? Anything for this project of yours?"
"I can't think of anything."
"Alright, sweetheart. We'll be back soon."
"Take your time. Enjoy your stroll."
Carlisle nodded then made his way to Edward's room.
"Edward Anthony, you are to stay in that room and use this time to consider the high cost of being dishonest with me," he said in a stern rarely used tone. "We'll discuss this matter further when I return."
"It doesn't matter. What's the point in being honest if you're not believed anyway?" the youth snapped.
The doctor sighed and shook his head. He didn't like to argue, certainly not with his first born, and he didn't want to discipline the boy but he wasn't being given many other options.
Leaning his head against the solid oak door, he softened his voice into a plea.
"Edward, just tell me the truth. There's nothing we can't fix as long as you talk to me."
"There's nothing to fix. Go on out with your hussy. I'm through talking."
"Edward," Carlisle growled out in a warning, but Esme had returned and easily took hold of his hand, pulling him away.
"He didn't mean it. He's just upset."
"He meant it. He doesn't say anything he doesn't mean."
"Let him cool off, Carlisle. It's going to be okay. Calmer heads will prevail and this will pass."
"I'm not sure about that, but I am contemplating picking a sturdy switch on our outing. I may not be able to get through that hard head, but I can make an impression on his softer behind."
"Go to hell, Carlisle!" the boy yelled as he embedded a boot in the dry wall.
Carlisle's black eyes flashed dangerously, but Esme latched onto his arm and tugged him out the front door before he had a chance to murder her baby boy.
As the couple wandered down the sidewalk, their daughter watched them pass before turned her attention back to the fragments of porcelain scattered across her bedspread. What was she going to do? She couldn't fix it, and now she was afraid of what would happen if she confessed to breaking it. Edward would never forgive her for what he no doubt would consider her setting him up to take the fall. Esme would be disappointed with her for having accidentally broken the damn thing. And then there was Carlisle. An involuntary shudder raced up Rosalie's spine.
Hearing him yell at Edward had been a horrifying experience. She hadn't known him long, but she had never heard him raise his voice to anyone. How angry did he have to be to reach that point?
Rose prodded the shattered remains as a tear rolled down her cheek. She was only trying to be helpful. Esme had been out tending her flowers when the girl decided to surprise her by tidying up. Unfortunately, she still wasn't use to her strength and when she went to take it down off the mantle to dust...
She didn't think she could stand being yelled at or worse. While she had tried to block the argument out, it had been impossible not to hear what Carlisle had threatened to do to Edward. He wouldn't. He just couldn't. It wasn't like they were children. And yet, here she was trying to hide the broken vase like a naughty child. Closing her eyes, she bowed her head in shame.
"It was you. I should have known."
Rose had been so caught up in her thoughts that she hadn't noticed Edward's entrance until it was too late. Still, she flipped a blanket over the broken bits to conceal her misdeed before glancing over at him with apologetic sad eyes.
Edward huffed as he crossed his arms.
"Why did you do it?" he demanded with a snarl.
"It was an accident."
"Then why didn't you say something when it happened? That would have been the thing to do."
"I knew Esme would be upset. She told me that the vase was a gift from Carlisle, and I know it meant a lot to her. I just couldn't face her."
"So you hung me out to dry," he sneered. "Great. I know you don't like me, but this is really low."
"I didn't mean for that to happen, Edward. Truly. I was hoping to figure out a way to fix or replace it. By the time I realized that I couldn't... I planned to tell them I broke it, but Carlisle had already assumed it was you."
"And you figured that you were off the hook so why bother incriminating yourself."
"No. It's not like that. I know we argue, but I would never ... I don't want to see anything bad happen to you."
"Something bad is going to happen to me if you don't come clean."
"I know," she whispered as she glanced down, studying the weave of the fabric to avoid meeting his eyes. "I heard what Carlisle said. He can't be serious."
"He's dead serious only it won't be a switch he'll be taking to me. Hell, I'll be lucky if he doesn't use his belt, and it's all your doing."
Tears rolled freely down her cheeks as she whimpered softly.
"Edward, I'm sorry. So sorry."
The mind reader scowled and gritted his teeth as he fumed, but Rosalie's inner monologue was beginning to get to him. She was berating herself horribly. The annoying snobby princess was causing herself more suffering that Carlisle could ever inflict, and...
The boy straightened as he searched her face for conformation of what he was hearing.
"What?" she asked as she wiped the back of her hand across her eyes.
"Why are you scared of Carlisle? Not that I'm saying you shouldn't be, mind you , but it's not like he's ever done anything to you."
He detected a slight shiver before she raised her head and forced herself to meet his eyes.
"I'm not scared of him. I just... I just..." I'm just terrified of what he will do to me. I don't think anyone ... I can't imagine my parents ever having... I'd die from embarrassment alone, and no telling how much it would hurt.
"It hurts," Edward confided with a nod.
"You're wondering what it's like, right? It's not good. He will blister your ass until you can't sit for a month. He's a doctor so he knows how to do that kind of thing. You don't want to ever get on Carlisle's bad side if you can help it."
The bronze-haired boy pulled out a chair and sat down as he blew out a long suffering sigh.
"There was a time when he was afraid to lay a hand on me. He didn't trust himself because he knows how easy it is to lose control and really hurt someone. You might think I would have appreciated that quality, but no. I had a few issues here and there adjusting to my new life, my abilities, and Carlisle's rules. I kept taking advantage of his nature because I knew he was scared of what he might do. I pushed him and pushed him until one day I ...acquired some sheet music. The hand is quicker than the eye, after all, and our hands are even faster than most. I didn't see the point in wasting my money on something I could easily take. Well that was the day I went too far. He dragged me back to the store, by my ear no less, made me apologize and give back what I had stolen. He and I had a long long talk that night, and I found out how hard Carlisle's hand can be."
Edward rubbed the back of his neck and groaned a little at the memory.
"You could say that I'm somewhat responsible for creating that monster, so I'm pretty much an expert. He would probably go a bit easier on you like he did with Esme, but it's still nothing to play around with. He trusts himself now, and knows just how far he can go. Since it takes a lot to cause lasting damage to us, he's not worried one bit. I've had bruises that lasted for weeks, and cracks in my skin that liked to never heal. And that wasn't even from times when he was really mad. You don't want to see him really mad. Since we heal without scars, he can do just about anything, even pull your tongue out for lying. That's one of those things you have to be really careful about. He'll give it back eventually and it will reattach, but the constant ache from it being ripped out last longer than you might think."
"Oh, my God, Edward. What am I going to do? He'll be furious."
"Yeah, he will be," he agreed, smirking at seeing her eyes widen with fright. "Since you kept the truth to yourself, Carlisle will consider that lying. He doesn't do lying, but I don't think he'll pull your tongue out the first time. You'll probably just get a spanking, though I wouldn't be surprised if lying rockets you beyond the standard hand spanking and right to a severe belting."
The mind reader could have sworn that the blond woman was growing paler by the second. He couldn't keep up with her mental chatter any longer as her mind was being overtaken by panic.
Suddenly, Rose flew off the bed and swiftly began to gather her few belongings.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked with an immediate feeling of dread..
"I have to get out of here. I have to go. I can't ... I won't... I don't want to lose my tongue."
"No," he said as he stood and blocked her path. "You can't leave."
"I have to. I can't stay here. I didn't know. Oh God!"
Now he'd done it. Edward was truly starting to worry. There was no way he could explain Rosalie's disappearance and not implicate himself. Carlisle would be outraged, and he sincerely doubted that Esme would be inclined to save him this time. Neither of his "parents" would find his stories or the fear he incited in Rosalie amusing. If he didn't find a way to head her flight off, he was a dead man, for the second time and this time it might be permanent.
"Rosalie, I'm sure since this is the first time you've gotten in trouble, it won't be ..."
"You don't know for sure. If Carlisle will do that to someone he loves, how much worse would he treat me? He doesn't even really know me."
The sound of Carlisle's thoughts reached Edward several minutes before the patriarch and Esme came into hearing range spurring an urgency in the lad. He had to fix this. He had to fix it now.
"Listen, Rose. Give me what's left of the vase."
"What? What for?"
"Just give it to me. I don't want you to get into trouble. You're right. You haven't been part of the family long enough and it isn't right for you to be traumatized. I'm already getting my ass beaten so it won't make that much of a difference. It might make it easier on me, really. If I tell Carlisle that I broke the vase, he'll be happy that I decided to be honest and might give me a break."
"Edward, that isn't fair to you. You didn't break it."
"I know, but my behavior really was atrocious. I ..." Edward sighed and his shoulders sank as the truth of his statement hit home. "I haven't been very kind. I think... I know I deserve to be punished."
"Let me do this," he said as he jerked back the bedspread and scooped up the fractured pieces. "It's alright."
"Aren't you scared?"
"A little," he admitted with a nod.
"What if he rips out your tongue?" she demanded with tears pooling in her eyes.
"I trust that he won't. Really, Rose. I'll be okay. Try not to worry."
At that moment both teens caught the sound of Carlisle and Esme approaching in the house.
"I better get back to my room. You stay here and don't say anything. Leave this to me. I can handle Carlisle."
Edward darted back to his bedroom and shut himself in just as the front door opened.
"Are you sure you're ready to deal with our son? We could have stayed out longer."
"I'm sure. Keeping him on edge isn't fair to him," the doctor answered as he kissed is wife then sighed. "You would think it would get easier, but if anything this task just becomes more arduous as time goes on."
"No one said raising children was easy."
"I'm grateful that you weren't difficult and so far neither is Rose. Maybe I should have stuck to girls."
Esme laughed and gently patted his cheek.
"We all have our moments. I doubt that Y chromosome really makes that big of a difference."
"You would be surprised," he said with a sad smile then cleared his throat. "I better go deal with the brat before I find a way to talk myself out of it."
"I'll be outside if you need me."
With a last supportive squeeze, Esme wandered out into the backyard to distract herself while her mate corrected for baby boy.
Carlisle stood in the living room for a few minutes contemplating his next move. Drawing a breath, he walked down the hallway and knocked softly on his daughter's door.
"Rose, would you mind helping Esme in the garden?"
"Do I have to?"
"I would really appreciate it if you did, and I'm certain that Esme would enjoy your company."
"I'll be right out."
As the woman opened the door, Carlisle was shocked to see tears in her eyes.
"Sweetheart, what's wrong?" He reached out to brush her cheek, but she flinched away from his touch. Pulling his hand back, the elder's brow furrowed. "Are you alright?"
"Did something happen while we were gone? Did Edward say or do something to upset you?"
"No. No. Edward stayed in his room all afternoon. He's been a complete gentleman."
Carlisle raised a brow as a skeptical expression crossed his face.
"Yes," she replied with an answering nod. "Absolutely."
"You know you can talk to me about anything. I'll help in any way that I can."
Silence descended upon them as he carefully considered the distraught girl, his heart going out to her. When it became clear that she wasn't going to come forward with the cause of her distress, Carlisle sighed inwardly.
"Alright then, kitten. Please go out to the garden and try to relax. Just keep in mind that I'm always available whenever you feel the need to talk."
Scooting by, she quickly disappeared leaving a very confused patriarch in her wake.
When the knock came, Edward felt his heart jump into his throat. It was bad enough when he was in trouble for his own screw ups, but having his ass on the line for someone else... Well that was new and on a deeper level of unpleasantness. Glancing at the damning evidence on his dresser, he moaned to himself. Why was he doing this? He didn't even like Rosalie.
"Edward, may I come in?" Carlisle called as he tapped against the door once more.
As if I could stop you.
"Yes. I'm sorry. Of course. Come in," the boy answered.
Carlisle stepped into the room then closed the door firmly and leaned his back against it as he crossed his arms and gazed at his son.
"Are you ready to...," he began, but Edward quickly cut him off.
"I'm sorry for the way I spoke to you, and I'm sorry about this," the youth said as he motioned towards his dresser and the shards laying on top.
The doctor's brow knitted in stunned confusion.
"Why?" was all he asked.
"It was an accident. I slung my book bag over my shoulder and misjudged how close I was to the mantle. I truly didn't mean for it to happen," he answered from his seat on the edge of his bed.
Carlisle's frown deepened. His son was avoiding making eye contact which was highly unusual. The boy was usually more assertive. Even when in trouble he tended to meet challenges head on, but now he sat with his head bowed and his darkened eyes trained on the polished floorboards. He appeared absolutely miserable.
What's bothering you, Edward?
"I think that's pretty obvious."
"I don't think so."
Without lifting his head, Edward raised his eyes and shot his elder a sad expression.
"You're going to take a strip out of my hide. Wouldn't being on the receiving end of something like that bother you?"
"There's something else. What aren't you telling me?"
"I don't know what you want me to say."
"I want the truth, son," he said in a velvet soft voice.
"I told you the truth. I accidentally broke the vase. The evidence is right there."
"Why didn't you speak up before? Why would you dig yourself into a deeper hole? I know accidents happen. You wouldn't have been punished if you had said something when it occurred. You know this, so..."
"I just didn't." Edward snapped. "Look, can we get on with it, Carlisle? I screwed up. I know that. There's no point in playing twenty questions."
"Tone, Edward. Don't you think you've gotten yourself into enough trouble today?"
The mind reader placed his face in his hands and groaned. After taking several deep breaths he raised his head and met his creator's gaze.
"I apologize," he began in a more subdued voice. "I didn't say anything because I didn't want to see the disappointment that's in your face right now. Maybe that's cowardly, but it's true. It seems that since Rose has been here I haven't been able to do anything right. I can't get your approval. At least I couldn't until recently. Now that she and I have been tolerating each other, it felt like you and I were nearly back to normal. I didn't want to lose that, Carlisle. I didn't want to disappoint you, but that's exactly what I wound up doing. I disappointed you. I disappointed Esme. And it's all because I had a clumsy moment. I... panicked. I know I should have confessed, but ... well I thought that I could fix or replace it before anyone noticed and no one would be the wiser. I broke it, so that seemed like a fair punishment. Spend my money to make things right, like paying a fine. It would have been painful, but nowhere near as painful as your disapproval of me."
There was a glaze of tears in the boy's dark eyes as he reached the end of his confession. A fact nearly missed by his father as the youth immediately closed them and hung his head in shame.
Carlisle's expression softened in the face of his child's distress. Crossing the room, he took a seat next to his son and placed a comforting hand on his hunched shoulder.
"Edward, I could never in a million years disapprove of you," he quietly assured his eldest.
"You have for months."
"I have not. What I've disapproved of is your behavior. Never you."
"No, buddy, it isn't. Not even close."
Edward humphed and angled a bit further from Carlisle.
Suppressing a sigh, the elder raised his eyes and gathered his thoughts before speaking again.
"Edward, you are my pride and joy. You ended my solitude and changed my entire life. I feel nothing but overwhelming love and gratitude towards you. I could never be disappointed in you."
Carlisle gripped the boy's chin firmly, startling him into silence. Gently he turned Edward's head until their eyes met.
"No. I never will be."
"How can you think that? Look at the way I acted today. How can you not be?"
"Your behavior doesn't define you. Edward Anthony Masen, you are a good person. You have an enormous capacity for love and go out of your way to help others. Yes, you are prone to bouts of moodiness. You can be as hard headed as any mule. You make mistakes, which you eventually own up to. No one is perfect, Edward. I've never expected you to be, but you do come pretty close most of the time."
"So you're not angry with me?"
"No. I'm not angry with you. I'm not disappointed in you. I'm proud of you for finally admitting to your error in judgment and acknowledging that your behavior could have been better. I can't ask for more than that."
"You can ask for me to not be a jerk to begin with."
The blond smiled and ruffled his son's already messy hair.
"You can't be an angel all the time."
Edward sighed heavily as he glanced towards the bits of pottery.
"I owe Esme an apology, and I'll still give you the cash to replace it."
"An apology will be appreciated, but hang onto your cash. I've wanted to get Esme a nicer vase for awhile. This created the perfect opportunity."
"So it was actually a good thing that I broke it."
Carlisle cocked his head and raised a brow.
"I wouldn't go that far, son, but it's not a major tragedy."
"And I'm still going to be punished," the youth surmised.
"I'm afraid so, but not for breaking the vase."
"For hiding the truth?"
"For lying," the doctor answered with a brief nod.
Edward's focus fell to a scuff mark on the floor.
"Yeah, I guess I did kinda do that."
"Kinda," Carlisle agreed.
"Can't we chalk that up to a stupid mistake? Let it be considered just a learning experience. I promise I won't do it again."
"Oh, I'm sure you won't, and I'm positive that this will be a great learning experience for you."
"I don't like the sound of that, Carlisle."
"I didn't expect that you would."
The patriarch gave his boy a pat on the back before nudging him off the bed.
With a drawn out sigh, Edward slipped to his feet and took the all too familiar position near the outside of Carlisle's right knee.
"Is there anything else you believe we need to discuss?" the blond asked, to which his boy shook his head. "Then let's put this whole mess behind us."
"That's my behind you're talking about," the mind reader grumbled as he allowed himself to be eased across his creator's lap.
"Be glad I'm not using my belt. Your behavior more than earned it today."
Edward nodded while resting his head against his folded arms and waited for the first stroke to fall. He didn't have to wait long.
Out in the garden, Esme heard the first crack of her mate's hand delivering justice to her son's unfortunate backside. She held her breath for a moment while silently reminding herself that it was for Edward's betterment that Carlisle took him to task when necessary. Exhaling softly she said a prayer that they would reach a point in their lives when it would no longer be necessary. It was inevitable that faint cries of pain would reach her sensitive ears and crush her equally sensitive heart. She trusted Carlisle. She knew he loved Edward too much to really hurt him, but that didn't stop her from worrying. Nor did it stop her from wanting to run into the house and protect her son.
Drawing another deep breath, she was struggling to calm herself when she noticed that Rosalie was frozen in place. To a human the young blond would have appeared to be a statue kneeling among the flowers, but Esme could see the faint tremors coursing through her body.
"What's wrong, Rose? Honey, are you alright?"
When the girl didn't respond, the older woman gently touched her arm.
A stuttering breath erupted from the girl before she looked at Esme with tears shimmering in her eyes.
"He's really doing it, isn't he? I can't believe ... I didn't want to believe... How can he do that to Edward? How can Edward allow it? Why doesn't Carlisle restrict him to the house or something like that? That's what he's done in the past when we argued."
"I'm afraid this situation is a little different."
"Let's go sit on the swing and I'll try to explain it the way Carlisle once explained it to me."
Esme stood and dusted the dirt off her knees before leading the way towards the dark polished swing suspended between the shade trees. Once they were both comfortably settled, she stilled her breath and gathered her thoughts. It was in that stillness that they both heard the first yelp of pain issued from the house.
"You have to stop him," Rose demanded. "This isn't right."
"Edward will be okay."
"No he won't. He's being beaten."
"He's not being beaten, that I can assure you. In all likelihood Edward won't be sitting comfortably for a number of hours, but by tomorrow he'll be back to his old self. Maybe a little wiser. That's all."
"It sounds like Carlisle is killing him," Rosalie noted as a louder slap echoed through the yard followed by a blood curdling yelp.
"Trust me, it sounds worse than it is. It took some first hand experience for me to really understand, but it is true. Carlisle promised me that he would only be using his bare hand on the seat of Edward's pants this time. While it wouldn't have been unreasonable for him to take a strap to him given Edward's earlier attitude, that's something rarely required and they'll both do their best to avoid it. It hurts Carlisle to be that harsh so he reserves such things for truly grievous offenses."
"I don't think it hurts him at all. If it did he wouldn't do it."
"Carlisle is responsible for us. He is required to enforce the rules. It's meant to help keep us safe."
"There's many hazards, darling. You know that."
"But a vase isn't dangerous."
"No, but Edward's attitude about it could have been. We have to be able to trust each other. It's hard to trust someone who lies to you."
"Why do you think he lied?"
"Because he's being punished right now. If he didn't admit the truth and accept discipline, Carlisle wouldn't be spanking him. That's just not how it works. He's not correcting him as a means of retribution. It's to teach him how to better behave and that requires Edward's acceptance of the lesson."
"So telling the truth leads to being beaten."
"No, Rose. You misunderstand." Esme sighed softly to herself. "Or maybe it's me. I've never had to try to explain this before."
The matriarch quickly reviewed her statements in an attempt to see where her explanation had gone wrong then tried again.
"By your own admission, you are aware that Edward has been punished, but this is the first time that has taken a physical turn."
"I told you that it would take a very serious infraction for him to use his belt. Likewise, he only resorts to physical punishment in extremely specific circumstances. Putting yourself in danger, blatant defiance, or lying are the usual parameters. Now, if he has tried other methods and failed to get the point across, he may deem a few swats appropriate, but that's rare."
"And you say you have experience with this?"
"Mmm." Esme felt a phantom heat in her cheeks and ducked her head in embarrassment. "Once or twice."
"But you're his wife," Rose gasped absolutely horrified.
"That I am, but he created me and is just as responsible for me as he is for you and Edward. I'm afraid the same rules apply to everyone. Carlisle isn't anything if not fair."
The blond sat there in silent contemplation for several minutes before looking up at Esme.
"He would... He would do that to me?"
"Only as a last resort, baby, and I doubt that you have anything to worry about. I know the transition into this life has be difficult for you, but you've done a wonderful job of accepting Carlisle's lead and honoring the rules. You're a fine young woman, Rosalie. A person would have to be blind not to see that. I can't imagine you getting into any sort of serious trouble requiring correction. It is definitely not worth fretting about," the brunette answered with a warm reassuring smile.
"So what are my girls up to?"
The sudden voice caused Rose to jump from the swing and spin around to face her coven leader.
"We were just talking. It seems that your performance in there gave our daughter quite a fright," Esme answered as she stood as well and went over to her husband. Wrapping his arms protectively around his mate, he shot Rosalie a sheepish smile.
"I'm sorry. I should have had you both go off shopping or to the art gallery. I certainly didn't mean for you to hear that, and beg that you don't mention that fact to Edward. He gets easily embarrassed. I would prefer to avoid making him more uncomfortable than he already is. A little kindness and understand is all I ask."
"I won't say a word," the youth said while fear still shown in her onyx eyes.
"Kitten, what's wrong? And don't tell me that you're fine when I can clearly see that you aren't."
"It wasn't a lie. I am fine," the girl answered a little too quickly as she took a step back. "I just didn't expect... I'm not familiar with your brand of punishment."
"Let's hope you never become familiar with it," the doctor said with a playful grin and a twinkle in his amber eyes.
Esme slapped him in the arm.
"Don't tease her," she scolded when it looked like the young woman was about to bolt. "Don't pay him any mind, Rose. He didn't mean anything by that."
"I'm sure there will never be a need for my hand to become acquainted with your backside, princess," Carlisle said in a tender tone.
"What if you're wrong?"
"I'm not, Rosalie. I have a sense for these things, but I'll tell you what. If it ever looks like you might be headed in that direction, I'll be sure to let you know in plenty enough time so you can adjust your behavior to avoid a tanning. How's that sound?"
Carlisle smirked and shook his head.
"You worry too much," he told her before putting an arm around her shoulder and pulling her into a hug.
I don't think I've worried nearly enough, The youth thought to herself as the trio headed back towards the house. What's going to happen if he finds out that this was all a sham? It's a lie. All of it. Edward was innocent. He's in pain now because of me. A shiver ran through Rose as a spark of guilt ignited in the pit of her stomach. A spark that intensified when the soft muttering of Esme comforting her son reached the blond's ears. Wrapping her pillow around her head, Rosalie groaned. She needed to find a way to make this up to Edward, but what in the world could she do and how in the earth was she going to survive being a part of this family?