The pool was Esme's idea. She brought it up when they first went to look at the house outside of Milwaukee. A self-made house designer and renovator herself, she loved picking out new homes. Carlisle could see her mind at work before even walking through the threshold. Inside she would run her fingers along the molding, mentally stage it with her own furniture and color schemes, whisper to Carlisle which bedroom each of their children would like best. He loved to watch the intensity of her vision. If he was Edward he could hear her thoughts, but for Carlisle, it was enough to see them in her eyes.
They had been in their latest house for almost a year. A secluded tudor revival with plenty of land and surrounding forest.
"Wouldn't it be lovely to have a pool back here, Carlisle?" Esme said as soon as she saw the backyard.
The Cullens were impeded by neither money nor time, and Carlisle would do anything to make his wife smile. She told him as long as her family and husband were with her, that was all that mattered, and she was happy. But he knew the moves were hardest for her out of all of them. She put so much of herself into each of the houses. When they had to find a new one, he wanted her to personalize it in anyway she saw fit.
Now Carlisle could hear the water rippling in the backyard as he stepped out of his car. Someone was in the pool, and by the sweet lavender scent that reached his nose, he knew it was his Esme.
He opened the gate, his work briefcase still in hand, and made his way around the brick corner of the house. Indeed, his wife was floating on her back with her eyes closed, listening to the ripples of the water and the night crickets. It was dark out, and the only glow came from the pool lights in the water below her, casting an angelic outline on her graceful form.
The way her caramel hair spread out in a halo around her head brought back a rush of memories to Carlisle. At the forefront of these was the first time he saw her hair splayed like that against the soft white of a pillow on their wedding night. That was the first time he had the honor of making love to her. Enhanced memory or not, he could never forget it.
He felt a heat traveling down his abdomen in response, and shook the memory to the back of his head.
His footsteps were soft on the stepping stone walkway, but Esme knew the sound well. Her eyes opened, and a beaming smile crossed her face.
"Carlisle, my love."
"Esme," he smiled back.
She swam to the pool's edge and propped her chin up on her hands, the rest of her body still in the water. In response, Carlisle sank down to the tile that lined the pool. He untied his shoes and removing his socks before rolling up his pants to stick his bare legs in the water. Esme placed a hand on his knee.
"How was the hospital?"
"There's not much to report to you today, darling. It was fairly routine."
"No scandalous gossip?"
He chuckled. "Even if there was, you know HIPPA wouldn't allow me to disclose it."
"HIPPA hasn't stopped you before," she teased. In their household, there were no secrets. When they were keeping a secret as large as being a family of vampires, there wasn't room for any more. Especially when you added in Edward's ability to read minds.
"Well I can say I overheard the nurses talking about you in the break room."
"Oh really? And what did they say?"
"They said you are 'an incredibly lucky woman,' and wondered what it would be like to fall asleep next to me in the bed. But you know I'd argue the opposite." Carlisle took her hand off his knee and raised it to his lips. "I'm the lucky one."
"'Fall asleep' in bed…is that all they said?"
Carlisle smiled sheepishly.
"The conversation did get…less work-appropriate from there."
"Not safe for work—that's what the kids say now a days."
"Well, I have heard Emmett use the phrase."
Carlisle shook his head but was still smiling. During their courting and early on in their marriage, Esme was concerned by the nurses who fawned over Carlisle, as was he over the men who tried to flirt with her. But both assured the other they had eyes for no one else, and there would never be any reason for worry. At this point in their marriage, after 70 years by each other's side, the matter was laughable for both. Something they could joke about.
"I'm glad you added this pool, Esme."
"You could join me, you know."
She reached her hand to the collar of his white shirt and undid the first of the buttons. His own hands undid the rest as he shrugged off his work shirt, then stood to step out of his slacks. Now in just his boxers, Esme held out her hand which he gladly took, and yanked him into the pool. He feigning human clumsiness, falling with an ungraceful splash that made his wife laugh.
He had fallen into the deep end of the pool, and they effortlessly treaded in the water facing each other. Carlisle wrapped his arms around her back, and she put her own over his shoulders. During his longest shifts at the hospital, when his colleagues craved sleep, he was exhausted only of her touch. He craved her embrace to release him from all of his mental fatigue, as she did now. In her arms he felt the pressure of this existence, of saving lives at the hospital, of keeping their kind a secret, of the fear that one of their family may be tempted by human blood, all of it disappear. And there was only her.
He had tried to tell her this before, to express it in words. But her eyes told him he didn't need to. She knew, because she felt the same way when she was wrapped in his embrace.
Such was the unbreakable bond of vampire mates who had spent three quarters of a century as a pair, a bond that only grew with every year they spent by the other's side.
"I don't know what I'd do without you," Carlisle whispered into her ear, still holding her tightly in the water.
"You know I feel the same," she said back.
Carlisle sighed, releasing her only to pull her down below the surface with him. They could see clearly underwater, and had no need to come up for breath. He gazed at her below the surface, her hair rippling and golden eyes drawing him in. His own personal siren, and she called to him like no other.
He captured her lips in his and embraced her once more, the taste of chlorine overpowered by that of her mouth. She wove her tongue between his lips and even underwater she could hear his audible sigh. She smiled against his mouth and wrapped her legs around him. They stayed that way for far longer than any human could, touching and kissing and combing fingers through hair, separated from the rest of the world underwater. Their entire universe, in that moment, was only each other.
Until Esme finally pulled Carlisle up, breaking the surface. Her lips left his and moved just beside his ear.
"I'd like to be a 'very lucky woman' tonight, as your nurses put it," Esme whispered.
She felt Carlisle's cheeks rise into a smile against hers.
"Are our kids home?"
He could have listened for himself, but she was flooding all his senses at the moment.
"No, not yet."
They climbed out from the pool, and Esme took two towels off the clothesline, wrapping one around herself and the other around her husband. She laced her fingers between his, and led him by the hand through the back door of their house, up the stairs to their latest bedroom.
This master bedroom in particular had an attached balcony and a skylight over the bed. A new color-scheme of maroon and cream Esme had coordinated. But there were somethings that never changed, that they always brought with them from house to house. The framed painting on the wall Carlisle had gifted Esme on her fiftieth birthday—an original of a man and woman embraced that reminded him so much of the two of them. The small ring dish on the bedside table Esme bought when their vacationed in Peru for one of their many anniversaries. Most importantly, the same wooden bed frame they had made love on the first night they were married, on which which Carlisle now laid down his wife. Repairs had been made along the way—a refinishing when the wood began to fade and fixing the occasional crack from particularly passionate nights. But this had, and would always be, their marriage bed.
He peeled the damp swimsuit off her shoulders as she worked his boxers down his legs. Now fully unclothed, their eyes traveled down the other's body, admiring each familiar line, arch, muscle, and scar. Two specific scars. Esme focused on the crescent line on Carlisle's inner bicep, and her fingers reached to trace its outline. She knew he didn't like its place on his body. A stranger had left that mark, a man Carlisle's father had taught him was evil. But Esme admired it all the same, because that mark was what wove his fate into hers. Without it, they never would have known the same country, let alone century. They never would have know the sweet love of each other.
Hers was different. The scar on the side of her neck was left by her her husband, her love, her mate, even if he wasn't any of those at the time his teeth met her dying flesh. Still, the scar was the physical evidence that he had chosen her for this life.
"The moment I saw your face in that morgue, I remembered you," Carlisle had always told her. "And I couldn't bear the thought of that being your end, Esme, and of never meeting you again."
He was conflicted with guilt through the first years after her transformation, but she assured him, time and again, that he had nothing to feel guilty for. He gave her a second change at life, and this time, it was a life she loved, with somebody she loved. And Edward and the children who followed him into their coven only added to the love she had for this existence.
Now Carlisle hovered above his mate, waiting for her words of affirmation before he went any further.
"Love me, Carlisle," Esme breathed, darkened eyes meeting his own.
Carlisle brought his lips to hers, then buried his face in her neck as he moved himself inside of her. Esme sighed upon feeling him enter her, and her arms reached up to grip his shoulders
"My darling" he exhaled in return, beginning to rock his hips against hers in a steady pace. She stroked her hands up and down his back as he moved his face to kiss her again. Their lips and bodies moved as though one. This was something they never tired of.
He pulled back only to admire the way her eyes were closed in pleasure, the way her caramel curls spread on her pillow, reminding him again of that very first time he had the privilege of loving her intimately.
When the pleasure became nearly unbearable, she grasped his waist between her thighs and flipped their bodies over so she was above him. Esme moved slowly at first against his hips as her husband laid on his back, his hand reaching up to stroke the side of her cheek.
"Carlisle," she breathed.
She picked up her pace moving against him. After seventy years together she knew his body so well, knew how to make him writhe in pleasure under her touch.
As her movements became more frantic and his sighs more desperate, Esme tightened her grip on his shoulders and squeezed her eyes closed as she felt the final rush of pleasure coming. But Carlisle was first, one final look at his wife in all her ecstasy sending him over the edge. His moans grew louder and she threw her head back, tensing all her muscles and following him into the blinding pleasure.
They stayed that way for a moment, relishing in the physical touch of each other, before Esme collapsed on top of his chest. He gently raised her chin with his finger, meeting her eyes then leaning forward to capture her lips. She kissed him back slowly, savoring his taste.
Anywhere outside of their bedroom, Carlisle was remarkably controlled, calm, steady. Esme loved that she was the one and only soul who got to see him so free and passionate. The only one who could strip him of his normal demeanor.
Carlisle pulled the blankets over top of them and cuddled his wife close. As they came down from their high, the voices from downstairs registered.
"Edward!" Emmett's voice said. "You didn't say mom and pops were—"
"I told you not to go inside the house yet." Edward answered, an exasperated edge to his tone. "But you didn't listen."
"I'm glad they're having a moment together," it was Alice. "We don't give Carlisle and Esme enough privacy."
"I'll say," Carlisle whispered to his wife.
She chuckled because she knew he was kidding. Neither of them would trade their family for the world, lack of privacy or not. They both loved each member of their family, and the coven they had built together, to no end.
Had they been human, they would have soon fallen asleep. But Esme was content to lay in her mate's arms, in their bed under the covers, for hours. And she didn't plan on moving anytime soon.
"Is it alright if we stay here tonight, until morning?" she asked Carlisle.
"I'd like nothing more, my dear," he answered, placing a kiss on her temple and drawing a smile from his mate.
Esme moved to his side and Carlisle adjusted the pillows and blankets around them, holding her close once more. She happily returned the embrace, the simple touch of his skin against hers bringing her such peace. Wrapped in their mate's arms in the bed they shared—that was, and would always be, their favorite place. They could never be too close to each other.
He stroked her cheek, gazing into golden eyes beneath thick lashes mere inches from his face.
"The center of my whole world," he whispered.
Carlisle didn't need verbal validation, her smile was enough. Enough to tell him she felt exactly the same.