This is the product that comes out when you take a rainy Tennessee October day and combine it with listening to John Denver's Wildlife concert(particularly Guess He'd Rather Be In Colordo, A Song For All Lovers, Annie's Song, Poems Prayers and Promises, and Rhymes and Reasons…but the whole thing is amazing) and Dan Fogelberg's song Old Tennessee. Add all that, then throw in the desire to write something, then the realization that I hadn't written Fall for my table yet and this is what comes out…
I smiled as I pressed my forehead against the glass of the window, fingertips tracing the lines of the drops absently as they rolled down the pane. I could see from here the flame red of the sugar maples on the mountainside, could watch the leaves of the closer trees bend under the pouring rain. Our latest house was in the northern end of the Appalachian mountain chain, in eastern Maine. We had been moved in only two days, but the work was all done by now, and so I had wandered around getting the feel of the place, and in doing so found what I was certain would become my favorite spot in the house.
It was an old red velvet window seat in the attic, a room that had at one time clearly been used as a bedroom but was now reduced to emptiness, the chipped white paint of the walls truly showing the house's age more truly than any other, more cared for rooms in the place. I loved it, and in my head I was already forming plans to make myself an office up here, a place to work on my blueprints. Carlisle had promised to have our next house built just for me from the ground up, everything my choice and mine alone. It was a very exciting prospect, and I was looking forward to getting started on the planning.
"There you are." His voice was warm, tinged with a little relief and I smiled but didn't turn, only shifted on the seat to invite him to sit behind me. He did, and I felt his strong arms come around me to pull me back against his chest. "I thought maybe you'd gone out, at first."
"No. Just watching."
He swept my hair back from my neck and I barely felt the tip of his nose skim across my skin, heard him take a deep breath. "The rain mixes well with you. You smell wonderful."
I nestled closer to him, reached back to pull one of his hands into my lap, my fingers twisting easily to fit into his. "I like it here. You did well."
"Well, we've never lived here before. I thought it would be nice change of scenery, for Edward and I. I'm glad you like it. I only hope Rosalie agrees."
I sighed, thinking of my newest child. She was still so very hard to reach, sometimes, still adjusting. I had taken well to this life, and from what I heard Edward largely had as well. Rose was different, it was harder for her, and I was constantly doing the best I could to think of anything to ease this transition. I wanted so much for her to be happy with us.
He rested his chin on my shoulder, his other hand coming up to catch the one of mine still on the window pane. "You like the rain." He said it like a statement, but I knew him well enough by now to know the edge to his tone, the curiosity. We had come to know each other so very well over the past few years, but in terms of how long our lives together would be, it had only been a very short time. Carlisle was by his very nature a lover of knowledge, and as I was his favorite subject, he hardly ever stopped learning. He typically didn't ask questions directly, instead building his database piece by piece, largely through observation. I had never imagined I would meet a man like him, a man that would truly want to know everything about me, no matter how significant or insignificant it may be. It was endearing, heartwarming. Romantic beyond description.
I smiled softly, squeezed his hand. "Close. The rain's alright, but I like the autumn. The trees, the colors…it's beautiful."
"Yes, it is. Especially here. You've never spent much time this far east, have you?"
"It was like this in Columbus. I missed it, when we moved. There's plenty about the west to love, certainly, but this is one thing that just isn't the same. I missed the trees." I felt him hum softly in agreement, his lips barely brushing against my skin. I stroked his hand with my thumb, leaned into him. "You never tell me anything about you."
He chuckled, warm and deep. "Esme, love, you know me."
"And you know me, but that doesn't stop your curiosity."
He hesitated, let his lips brush a little more firmly against my neck. "I want to know everything. All of it."
"Exactly." I twisted a little in his grasp, just enough to catch his eyes out of the corner of mine. "Tell me something I don't know."
"Anything in particular?"
"No, you pick. There's so much of it, you have to have a million stories."
He smiled softly, his head tilting down as he thought, his soft, golden hair falling over his eyes. "Yes, I do. And eventually I'm going to tell them all for you?"
I grinned, glad to hear the acceptance in his voice, even if he did sound a bit amused, it wasn't in a bad way. "Yes. You are."
"Alright then." He sighed, let his head fall back, his eyes closing. I could see his eyelids flutter, almost feel his thoughts casting around for what to tell me. "My father was the sort of man who could see demons in a crowd of children."
"You told me that already."
His lips quirked, his right hand coming up to brush his thumb across my lips without ever opening his eyes. "Shh. I wasn't stopping there. Let me talk." He fell silent, waited to see if I would interrupt again. This time, I didn't. "He was always looking out for the worst in life, always seeing the darkness and never the light. Even his sermons focused more on hell than they did on God's mercy. But in any case, he believed cats were the servants of Lucifer, all evil, particularly the black ones. Even though children are fairly impressionable, I never really believed that one. I almost did, when I was little, but by the time I was 12 I had begun to think it extreme." He paused to take a breath, his hand squeezing mine gently. "Believe it or not, this does relate to what you said about this season, the colors. That's when and where I found her, in the leaves, in a farm ditch in the countryside out from London. I was out with some of the other boys, and she was curled up under the leaves, almost invisible but for the tip of her tail. She was so very sick and weak, and she didn't fight me when I picked her up. I can't remember, now, the color of her eyes or anything about her looks at all except that she was black. The images in the memories are too muddled, now. But what I do remember from that first day is the way she felt in my hands, the way the bones in her shoulders jutted out almost through her skin. It was horrible to me even then, as a boy…I could not imagine leaving her. The other boys, they had grown up on my father's sermons as well, and they feared her, at least at first. Stupid, really, she couldn't have hurt a fly much less a man. I kept her in the attic of the church, those first three months. She hunted the mice, when she got strong enough, but the healthier she got the more she wanted to play, to explore, and the threat of my father finding her and doing something drastic like throwing her from the bell tower became too much. And he had done that before, actually. Horrifying."
I shivered, trying to picture this horrible man that had been my Carlisle's father. I could only imagine that he had, perhaps, inherited his father's looks. In spirit, he certainly had to have been more like his mother, whoever she had been.
His arms tightened around me, soothing. "Don't worry, he never touched her. She was a smart girl, and she stayed in the ally I put her in, not too far from home. I visited whenever I could. It was the closest thing I had to ever really having a pet, as a boy. She was a remarkable creature."
I could hear the affection in his voice, as well as a little longing. I nestled my head against his shoulder, pulled my hand away from his to reach up and trace his face. "What happened to her?"
"I don't know. She was still alive, at the time I was changed. I never saw her after that, though when I went back months later I could smell her scent in the ally. She wouldn't come out, though…I wasn't the man she had known. Can't blame her, really. Their instincts serve them better than most human's instincts do."
"Don't be. I was glad to have known her, glad to have proven my father wrong."
I tried to picture the scenes in my head, conjured up a younger version of the man I knew so well. I could almost see a boy-Carlisle, the same gentle smile on his face, holding out his hand to a ragged stray. Yes, that seemed so very like him. "So, you like cats."
"Mm, I did. I suppose I still do. They're beautiful, smart, intriguing. Part of a different world now, though."
"You'd be more than strong enough to have one." If he could work in a hospital, he could certainly resist the less than appetizing blood of a housecat. And I could, too, if it would make him smile.
"Ah, but they wouldn't want me. Which is fine, though it's a nice memory. It's simply…a very human thing. For the most part, our lives mimic theirs remarkably, but there are things we just can't do."
I twisted further, turned to face him almost completely and lay against his chest, my arm wrapping around his waist. "Tell me something else."
He laughed softly, rubbed my back with one hand. "That's hardly fair, shouldn't it be my turn?"
"What would you like to hear? I have a far shorter range of stories, I'm going to run out long before you will."
"You'll just have to tell them in greater detail."
I rolled my eyes, though he couldn't see. "Yes, and that would be wonderful, except I've lost most of the details."
"You told me when I first met you you wanted to go west to teach. Where?"
I felt him freeze, assessing that information. "Can you elaborate?"
"Nope. Like I said, I have much less to tell than you do…I have to stretch it out."
He opened his eyes, tried to change my mind with his molten gold stare. Somehow, I managed not to give in and he sighed dramatically, deciding instead to look hurt. "Very well." I felt his fingers tap absently on my back as he thought, felt them pause once he had decided. "I lived in Colorado, for awhile. Boulder, in the 1870's right after the railroad came."
He smirked, eyes sparkling. "See, now that's hardly fair. I shouldn't have to tell you any more."
"Please?" I turned on my best pleading eyes, kissed his chest softly through his shirt. His smile turned tender instead of mocking, and I his hand moved gently on my back again.
"As if I could say no to you. Well, let's see…what can I tell you about Boulder…" His eyes lit up, apparently having come across the story he wanted. "Ah, yes. There was good mountain lion hunting in Boulder Canyon, back then, and I was out one weekend on a hunt when I found a man who had fallen climbing and broken his leg. There was no one to help him, and with the snow certain to grow deeper that night he was almost guaranteed to freeze to death."
"What did you do?"
"I left him, ran back to my camp site further up the canyon and got my bag, my supplies. I drugged him, and I ran him back to town. I kept him out of it for a couple of days so that I could tell him, later, that it took longer than it really had to get him out of there. He recovered, I released him, and he robbed the bank in town within the week."
I gasped, unable to hide my shock.
"Yes, I was surprised too. Apparently, he was wanted in three states, though I had never seen his picture. That wasn't really difficult, however…back then, there were so many wanted men and such archaic ways of transmitting information." I watched him, the seriousness in his eyes. "No one was killed in that robbery, though he did kill a man later, in Pheonix. Still, I was never sorry I had saved him. No matter who he was, I did what I knew was right."
"Because you're Carlisle. And you never stop hoping people will change."
"Yes. You're exactly right. Sometimes I think I carry that too far, but I can't seem to stop it."
I traced his face again with my fingertips before pressing my palm to his cheek, drawing his eyes from their gaze out the window and back down to mine. "You shouldn't."
The tinge of sadness that had touched his beautiful eyes faded, and he leaned forward to capture my lips in a slow kiss. When we pulled apart I lay my head on his chest again, my fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt. "Carlisle?"
"I love you. More than anything."
"Yes, Esme. I know. More than I deserve." He ran his fingers through my hair once, brought his hand back up to cradle my head. "Still, I loved you first."
I felt his chest shake a little with silent laughter. "Does it matter? But I still say I'm first, because I hadn't changed you yet. And that changes everything."
"Not some things. I was already yours."
"Alright, love. You're right."
"No." I kissed his chest again, felt its gentle rise and fall. "We both are." In the silence I could hear the soothing sound of the rain falling on the different surfaces. The roof, the glass, the leaves, the dirt… "We should go for a walk, later."
"If you like."
Yes, I would. Very much. But not right away. I wanted some time to enjoy this feeling first, to simply be wrapped here in his arms, watching the world from the inside. If I had still been human, it would have been the best afternoon in the world to sleep. As it was, I wanted nothing more than to simply not move, to feel myself pressed against him so closely I moved with his every breath, to feel his breath on my hair and the comfortable warmth of his skin where it touched mine.
I took a deep breath, relished the smell of rain and Carlisle. I wasn't sure how my scent went with it, but no matter how good he claimed it was, I was fairly certain there was nothing in the world better than his.
Perfectly content I closed my eyes, focused only on his breath and the rain. Sometimes, the best moments really were the ones that in the large picture of things became 'insignificant' details. I could understand now better than ever why he wanted to hear all of mine, and I realized that I desperately wanted to hear all of his stories. Each and every one. Yes, there literally did had to be millions, but that wasn't a problem. We had forever.
Not sure about the ending, but overall I love this one. hope you guys do, too.