I can just never get enough of writing these two. Not ever. (Does that make C&E my brand of heroin? O.0 LOL)
So I should be studying for a test right now…well it's sort of a quiz…but because I know I'd be procrastinating anyway, writing is SO much more fun.
I was, for a moment, stunned into silence.
That didn't last long. Before I could even realize I had moved I was in his arms and he was shifting to sit back on the floor, holding me close to his chest. I had his face in my hands kissing every inch I could reach, and I could feel tears slipping from the corners of my eyes.
I felt his chest shake a little with soft laughter, and his hands came up to my cheeks to guide my lips to meet his own. His kiss was warm and sweet at first, though his intentions were soon overwhelmed by my enthusiasm. I couldn't help it. He was panting, grinning when he pulled back. "I take it you accept?"
I laughed, a strange sound mixed with a soft sob. "You're right."
His smiled softened, became unbearably tender. He cradled me close, bringing my head to rest against his shoulder. His lips brushed against my cheeks, tasting the tears there. "Shh, love, don't cry. Don't cry. Everything's going to be wonderful now; I promise you."
"I know, Carlisle. Which is why I'm crying."
He laughed again, unable to stop smiling even for a moment. "Oh, Esme…" I sighed at the feel of his breath against my damp skin, nestled closer to him. "You didn't even really look at your ring, did you?" His voice was slightly amused, mock hurt.
I could feel my eyes light up, curiosity rising. "No! I didn't. Let me see!"
He chuckled again, pulled the box up from where he had set it on the floorboards to open it in front of my eyes, flipping it open with one hand. For a moment, I was mesmerized enough I was certain I stopped breathing. It was positively stunning. Simple but elegant, a fairly thin white gold band with a glittering square diamond in the center, not too large but not too small. Perfectly sized, framed on either side by two small, round sapphires. Positively breathtaking. "Carlisle…where did you get this?"
He shrugged, evasive. "I, ah…had to order it. Didn't take them long to get it here, though. I was impressed."
"Do I want to know where from?"
He kissed my temple, fingertips stroking my cheek. "You'll still love it even if you know. Perhaps more." I opened my lips to tell him there was no way I could love it more but he covered my mouth, his touch soft. "New York City."
I sighed, reach out to stroke the metal band in the box. "It's beautiful. Thank you, Carlisle."
He jolted slightly, turned me around on his lap lightning fast. "You have my thoughts all scrambled." He was mumbling, his lips still against my hair. "I just wasn't thinking." He pulled the ring out, positioned my hand comfortable in his and slid the ring on. As tempted as I was to watch him do it, I watched his eyes. He was absolutely glorious. Eyes dancing, he slid his thumb across the stone on my finger. "A perfect fit. And I believe it suits you."
"Yes, you did well."
He squeezed me gently, eyes still on the ring on my finger. "Somehow, I must have, in order to get you to say yes…"
I sighed, mock frustrated. "You know, I've been ready to say 'yes' to your proposal since the first day I met you. So that part shouldn't be a surprise." My tone softened, turned serious. "I've been waiting for this moment since I was 16 years old. How could I ever say anything but yes?" Unless it was 'Yes, please!'.
He sighed, kissed the spot where my neck and shoulder met. "I'm sorry, Esme. I should have asked you then, before I even left town. I was already more than certain you were the only woman I would ever love. But you were so young, and I was leaving so very soon…"
"You know I would have said yes to you, no matter how young I might have been. I knew I wanted to be with you." I turned sideways in his arms, wrapped my arms around his neck. He looked pained, and I kissed the corner of his eye, nuzzled against him. "Stop it, Carlisle. It doesn't matter now."
"We could have had-"
I covered his lips, shook my head. "We're together now. We have forever."
He smiled at that, slightly. "Yes. You're right."
It was then that it hit me, and it seemed so ridiculous that I hadn't thought of it until this moment. As things stood, we didn't have forever, not really. He had forever, he and Edward. I, on the other hand, had only the human equivalent of forever. I was going to die, someday. I was going to leave him, and he had not even brought it up. Not once. I felt stupid, thinking of it only now. Perhaps because he acted so human it was incredibly easy to forget that he wasn't. His cold skin, his eyes, his speed, even his hunting, all those were things to which I had become quickly adjusted. For him they were normal, and they had become so normal to me that I never dwelled on what he was, never gave it much thought. Now…
He trailed his finger down the thoughtful crease between my eyes, his expression slightly concerned. "What's wrong?"
I smiled for him, leaned in to give him a quick kiss. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Everything's perfect."
"Are either of you going to tell me where we're going any time soon?" I thought I did a good job of pretending to be sufficiently angry, but when Edward laughed I knew it wasn't that effective.
He reached out and ruffled my hair with one hand, his other swinging around to pull my bag away from me and throw it in the back of the Ford. "Esme. You know Carlisle wants it to be a surprise."
I sighed, reached to pick up my last bag only to realize that he was, of course, much too fast. "I could have done some of the loading myself, you know."
"Not when you have two men around to do it for you, you can't. " He grinned mischievously, picked me up and set me down in the back seat.
I couldn't help but laugh at that, my annoyance dissolving. Everything was far too wonderful to worry about something as inconsequential as where we were moving. I was with Carlisle and Edward for good now, as a family, and we were getting out of here and leaving all of this behind us. Soon, Carlisle would be my husband and we have a new home, a new life entirely. Nothing could possibly dampen my happiness. "It doesn't have to be a surprise, you know. I'll be excited no matter where we're going."
"But Edward's not going to tell you, are you Edward?" Carlisle had just stepped out of the door, his back still to us as he locked it for the last time.
Edward chuckled as he climbed into the driver's seat. "No, but she is a persistent one, Carlisle."
"Yes, I figured that out some time ago." Carlisle crossed to the car and hesitated, finally deciding to climb in the back with me. He opened his arms for me, smiling. "Are you annoyed with me, or can I hold you?"
"Mmm…" I tortured him for maybe a second, pretending to be indecisive. As if I could ever resist him. I snuggled against him, my head against his shoulder and my hand over his silent heart. "Yes to both." I kissed his shoulder, breathed in his scent. I had not even been separated from him a half hour and already I had been aching for him. I needed him in a way I had never imagined needing anyone. "I am annoyed that you won't tell me where we're moving, but I always want you to hold me."
"I always will." His arms tightened around me, his voice muffled from the way his lips were pressed against my hair.
Edward rolled his eyes in our direction, though he was grinning. "Alright you two, are we ready to go?"
"Yes." Carlisle spoke softly, one hand trailing through my hair. "I know I'm ready to get out of here, aren't you?"
I nodded, closed my eyes. "And I'd rather not come back, not unless we have to."
"We don't. There are plenty of other places we can go, don't worry."
I stroked his chest the way I knew he liked, nestled closer against him. "Places such as…"
"Mmhm." I raised my head just enough to kiss his neck, smiled at the sharp intake of breath that followed. "Such as…?"
He took a deep breath, gently lay his palm against my cheek. "Rochester, New York. I think you'll like it there, and it's in the east, farther than Ohio but I think you'll-"
I cut him off with a kiss. "I'll love it. Thank you." I curled my hand into his shirt again, my eyes falling on the ring I could hardly stop staring at. "And…" I blushed, unsure how to ask him this. Still, I didn't want to wait, really…
"Yes, love? Something else?" I could hear the humor in his voice, though, and I knew he understood. I said nothing, and he didn't make me wait long. His lips pressed against my ear, his whisper soft. "As soon as you like."
My breath caught, head almost spinning. If he kept doing that, I wouldn't be responsible for any decisions I made. "Now. Today."
I felt his chest shake with silent laughter, and he shook his head. "We could, certainly, if you wanted…but wouldn't you rather have a church wedding? A proper dress…"
And I could tell, by the way the talked, that that was exactly what he wanted. A real wedding, especially the sanctity of having it in a church. But… "Who on earth would come? We know no one and I don't…I don't really want to wait, but…"
He stroked my cheek, kissed my forehead. "Esme, love, we don't have to invite anyone but Edward, not if you don't want. We could still do the church part, though. The clothes, the tradition."
I could see it in my mind, just what he was describing. An beautiful old church, empty but for the three of us, the preacher, and a single musician. It was quiet, intimate, still somehow traditional and beautiful. Yes, I would like that very much. I had had a big wedding the first time around, huge, spectacular. The glamour of it, the size of the guest list…none of that had anything to do with having a happy wedding, a happy marriage. Not to say that I wouldn't have enjoyed showing Carlisle off as mine, but I didn't want to wait until we knew people in the city well enough to invite them to a wedding. I was ready to marry him now, as soon as possible. Nothing else mattered. But still… "I would like that very much, yes. But Carlisle, that's-"
He covered my lips, smiled his most dazzling smile. "Nothing is too expensive for you. Besides, it won't be too much."
Even now, days after he had asked me, no part of the excitement had dimmed in the slightest. I grinned, looked up at him. "We're really getting married."
His happiness mirrored my own, his soft golden eyes brilliant. "Yes. We really are."
I turned around in the mirror, examining the dress for what probably felt like to Edward the millionth time.
He chuckled at that, moved to lean against the wall closer to the mirror. "I'm just wondering how many ways you need to look at it. You look lovely, by the way."
"You'd say that no matter what it looked like, Edward, so I'm sorry but your vote doesn't count for much." This one was gorgeous though, and I was more certain every moment that it was the one I would end up with. It was smooth white satin, almost-silver beads form an intricate design in front. Lace fringed the edges , hanging just far enough to barely brush the floor and give a small train behind. It really was beautiful.
"Yes. I promise you, he'll love it. Of course, to be perfectly honest you could walk out there in anything at all. Just seeing you thrills him, every time. Seeing you marrying him…" He laughed, his head shaking. "He'll be ecstatic, I promise."
I could feel my heart warm at his words, a smile creeping across my face. Yes, I was going to go with this one. I like it, and Edward was right. Carlisle would like any of them. I slid back into the changing room, began to maneuver my way out of the dress. "Thank you for coming with me, Edward."
Carlisle had begged and pleaded to come dress shopping with me but I had somehow been able to resist his burning eyes, telling him that the groom was absolutely not allowed to see the dress before the wedding. He really hadn't liked that, but I had been able to comfort him by saying we wouldn't be long. That had been, of course, five hours ago. This was harder than I would have expected.
I heard Edward's soft chuckle outside the door. "Harder than I expected as well. They're all white, mostly the same. I would say it isn't very hard."
I rolled my eyes though he couldn't see, knowing he'd pick it up in my thoughts. "Harder than you'd think. Speaking of which, you're going to make sure Carlisle gets a good tux aren't you?"
"I'm sure his judgment is better than mine, but I'll go with him, yes."
I finished dressing and handed the wedding dress to Edward, waited for him by the door while he paid and arranged a time for picking it up, later. In moments he was by my side again and we were on the sidewalk on the way home, and I realized that this was the first real time alone I had had with Edward since we had moved in. The house in Rochester was lovely, a beautiful two story Victorian home with a wraparound porch on both levels. Positively beautiful, and we had spent the past two weeks settling in. Actually, I had spent most of it helping Carlisle set up his clinic. The work was interesting for me, I had never had the opportunity to help him much before. Now, he had said I might could assist with a few things, if I wanted. All of that, though, had kept us busy and Carlisle was always at the very least close by. There was a conversation I wanted very badly to have with Edward, and I didn't want him to overhear.
Edward slowed his walk, inched just a little closer to me. "Esme, you can ask me anything. You know that."
I bit my lip, thinking. I want to, yes, but how to even start a conversation like this…
"What is it? Something about Carlisle?"
Well, sort of. My thoughts betrayed me then, flickering to our conversation the morning he had proposed, the statements that had started me thinking.
I felt Edward tense beside me, heard him suck in a sharp breath. "Ah. I see."
Yes. I took a deep breath, tried to make sure my voice would be calm when I spoke. "Edward, how do…how do you become…" I couldn't say the word, not here on the streets but I knew he knew what I meant. Still, I finished the question in my mind. Is it just a…a bite? I knew he had been worried about his teeth, before. And, that was how it always happened in stories, wasn't it?
"You're both right and wrong. Yes, it is…how you thought. But it isn't as simple as that. It is extremely difficult, for both involved." He hesitated, and I could see him trying to decide how to phrase it while we were still in public. "It would be extremely painful for you. Three days of it."
I swallowed, nodded. I could handle pain, if it meant getting to stay with Carlisle forever.
"And it is…difficult, for him. Although, it's much easier for him because of who he is than it would be for anyone else."
I couldn't help but smile at that, some of my nerves leaving me at the thought of my Carlisle, my gentle soul. I could understand how it would be difficult, but of course my angel had no desire for my blood. He never had. But the mechanics was really only part of the question, and I let Edward sift through my thoughts for the other parts.
"Would he?" His voice was lower now, very hesitant. "Esme, I don't…I don't know. I believe so, if you asked him to. He would never offer; he would think he was pressuring you, taking something away from you. But if you wanted it…" He shrugged. "If you wanted it, if you were certain, I believe he would." Suddenly his hand shot out, grasping mine. "But you don't have to do this, Esme, you don't have to be like us. You're perfect as you are. He doesn't care."
His eyes were burning, pleading, and for a moment that stung. He didn't want-
"No, that isn't it at all. Of course I want you around." He smiled then, crooked and gentle. "Don't you think I love the idea of having a mother again? Of being a family, of keeping you? Of course I do. I…" he sighed, looked away again and down the street. Home was right, but he looked left, looked back at me with a question in his eyes.
Yes, I'd rather keep walking. We're not done yet.
He nodded, and we headed toward the park. "Esme, I will forever be grateful to Carlisle for what he did for me. I was dying in that hospital, and without him I certainly could never have survived. I am thankful, truly. But all the same…if I had had a choice, if I had been alive, healthy…" he shook his head, eyes downcast. "I do not believe this is the life I would have chosen." He hesitated again, pinched the bridge of his nose in concentration. "I don't know how much Carlisle has told you about his own faith, but he is very certain that God gives up on no one, not even our kind. It's…a nice thought, but I can't believe it. We are, by nature, killers, murderers. In essence the living dead, against nature. By all accounts, we are among the damned." He sighed, shook his head. "No, I certainly don't regret it. Not for me. I'm no fool, I'd rather be living than dead. But for you…" He took my hand again, his touch gentle, his eyes burning once more. "You have your whole life ahead of you. You don't need to do this, to make this choice. It's not one or the other. You can be human, and you can stay with us. Everything will be alright."
Everything he had said was certainly a lot to think about, but not a lot to consider. And yes, there was a clear distinction. In this choice, there were only two things to consider. First and foremost, the fact that I would not leave Carlisle alone. And second, the fact that now that I had realized it was possible, I wanted nothing more than to never have to leave his side, to be with him always. I had been willing to take my own life once, before, and while I was no longer suicidal even the thought of hell had no real effect on me. I was not afraid of it. I had been raised Catholic, and every priest I had ever heard speak swore that those who took their own life were damned. I had planned to join them. Clearly here, there was dissention at least. Carlisle might be right. Either way, I was not afraid.
I could see the sorrow in his eyes, the regret. "I'm sorry if my reluctance upsets you. Do not think for a moment it has anything to do with having you around, I swear it. I only wish, for your sake, you would reconsider."
I brought to mind Carlisle's face, the light in his eyes as I had lain in his arms the night before. Then, in contrast, the look of utter agony when he had heard me speak of my plans, when he had thought of losing me. I could feel Edward shudder, and edged closer to him. "See?" My voice was whisper soft, calm. "It hurts you too, seeing him like that. It would only be worse, if he actually lost me." It was amazing, being the one thing it would hurt him most to lose. Amazing, and a great responsibility. I would not hurt him. Not now, not ever. Not only that, but we would be together forever. For me, there was no downside.
Edward sighed, stopped and put his arms around me, kissed my forehead. "In the end, it is your choice. But I can't tell you that I think you should, or that I want you to. I'm sorry, but I can't."
"I know. I understand." I smiled, held his face in my hands. Thank you, Edward, for worrying about my soul. It means a great deal more to me than I could ever tell you.
He smiled, a little sad. "Even if it doesn't do any good?"
"Yes. Even then."
I knocked on his door softly, knowing he would have heard it if I had so much as touched it.
"I thought I wasn't supposed to see you tonight." I grinned, pressed against the door, closer to the source of that beautiful, velvet voice.
"Yes, well…I'm lonely."
"Well, we can't have that now, can we?" I could hear both amusment and relief in his voice and he opened the door, swiftly pulling me into his arms…all the way into his arms. I giggled as he scooped me up, carried me to the bed. He tucked us both in, wrapping his body around mine from behind and nuzzling against my neck when he was finished. "This is much better; you have no idea. I was staring at the wall."
I pulled his hand to my lips, kissed his palm. "I wasn't doing much better, I was staring at the ceiling. And missing you terribly."
He kissed my neck, sighed happily. "And I was missing you. I'm glad you decided to come to me."
"I should have known I wouldn't be able to stay away." I turned in his arms, just enough to tangle my fingers in his hair and pull him in for a thorough kiss. I tugged gently on his lower lip, pulled it between my own. He groaned softly, slid his hand down my side to rub against my hip. Far too soon, he pulled away.
"We shouldn't. My self control is…not what it once was." He smiled, and I could see the eager light in his eyes. "The closer I am to being your husband, the more my will to wait seems to slip."
I traced his cheek, softly. "You'll be my husband by tomorrow night."
He growled softly. "Yes. I will." His smiled was proud, exhilarated. "And it can't come soon enough. But for now…" He wrapped his arm around my waist again, kissed my forehead. "You should sleep."
"I don't know if I can."
"You should." His voice dipped lower, more seductive. "Before tomorrow…"
I shivered, pressed closer to him. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I would, after so many years, finally be marrying my angel. And tomorrow night… I shivered again, pulled his arms tighter around me. "Alright." I whispered the word, kissed his hand once more. "I'll try to sleep."
:sigh: the way I love the two of them together is just beyond words. They are just incredible.