Carlisle tried to stay away from me. He seemed to know, despite not being able to mind-read as he could, that his scent, his very presence, reminded me always of him. I sought him out after a few days, telling myself that it was unfair of me to let Carlisle suffer for what was not his fault. He was in the study, but of course he sensed when I approached the door.
"Bella," he said, just loud enough for my human ears to hear him through the door, and I pushed into the room.
I opened my mouth to thank him, but somehow I said, "Why did you stay?"
His eyes were dark ochre; nearly all the gold had melted away after two months without feeding. He did not respond. And to my horror, looking at his liquid topaz eyes, I felt again the fresh pain of Edward's departure. The frustration of his silence – completely unrelated to all the anger and fury which I could not vent upon their rightful receiver, him, bubbled to the surface, and this time it was too much for me. I knew only that I had moved from before his desk to push him up against the window behind it; he had not put up any resistance at all to me, the weak, useless human. What harm could I do him?
"Bella." He said my name softly, the inflections different from his tongue, his accent entirely void of any remembrance of him. This was good. This was progress. His cool breath smelled just as sweet as his, but in a different, less tangible way, lacking the rawness of youth. The intoxicating smell emanated from his skin, his clothes, and surrounded me.
He was cool against me, less icy than Edward but still cold enough. I looked up to find his eyes again, and my gaze stopped right there, right on his face. His head was leaned back against the window – I was still pushing him against it – and a stripe of sunlight fell right down his face, his neck. His pale skin sparkled now, like his had, the shine of millions of diamonds embedded in his immortal body. It was the most vampire-like I had ever seen Carlisle, and a strange feeling washed over me.
I was being dazzled again.
"Sorry," I said, quickly stepping back, pulling my arm from his shirt.
"It's okay," he said, softly, moving away from the window. At this shift in position his arms began to glimmer in another ray of sunshine.
After a pause, during which he gazed at me, trying to gauge my feelings, I repeated my question.
"Why did you stay?"
He responded this time. "Alice had a vision."
I waited, heart quickening suddenly.
"I…had turned, was turning you, here."
I snapped up to meet his eyes. "Here, here?"
He nodded, slowly. "And now…it's you're decision."
What did he expect me to say? I thought this even as he took me in his arms, exposing my throat, tilting my head to the side. He bent over me, and I felt his cool breath over the pulse in my neck.
"Are you sure?"
I nodded almost imperceptibly. A less observant temperament would have let Carlisle end it, or start it, forever, right then; sink his teeth into the vein, hold me tight against him as the venom took hold and I underwent the transformation.
But he saw the uncertainty on my face, even that one split-second, and he stopped.
"You're not," he said, gently.
"The thing is," I said, and I could barely hear my voice, "I used to want this so much so I could be with Edward."
I had said his name.
"And now?" Carlisle was calm, as usual, and patient.
I did not know what I had ever intended to say. I did the next thing almost instinctively, thoughtless, reaching for Carlisle and stepping close to him in a hug. After a while, his arm went around my waist, his other hand resting in the middle of my back.
"I don't know…" Even as I spoke, I reached up, pushing my fingers through his hair. He inhaled sharply when I angled his head and began to pull him down, leaning up and closer to him.
"Stop," he said. "Bella, what are you doing?"
I comprehended the words only as I spoke them. "I'm taking…what I want."
I kissed him, parting his lips with my own, touching the coldness of his tongue and his teeth. He stopped with a harsh breath when I pulled across his jaw and down, further, to nibble and nip at the flawless skin of his neck. I smiled into his throat and backed us slowly into the warmth of the sunlight streaming through the window. He caught to life, the glitter sparking all over him, and I kissed his lips hungrily, and this time – this time – he kissed back.