Stephenie Meyer = owner of Twilight
I tapped my finger in the spine of the book as my eyes scanned the words on the page. Frustrated, I turned the page, scanning the words again. Anger seemed to be the most prevalent word. I flipped back to the index, searching for the word pain. Emotional pain. I flipped back to page I was at before, my finger tapping harder.
A hand came to rest on my arm and I looked up to see Esme. She was brushing her teeth, but her forehead was wrinkled as she looked at me. I sighed and put the book down, letting it close. I leaned back on my pillow and closed my eyes. I listened to the sounds of my wife finishing up her teeth and then felt the movement of the bed as she sat down. I opened my eyes and turned to her. "All I can find is how angry the abused child is. I don't get anger from Edward. He doesn't seem angry."
"No," Esme agreed quietly. "Sad, yes. In pain, definitely. Angry, no."
"He's trying so hard to make us happy. It's killing me," I muttered. I glanced at the book again and fought the urge to throw it across the room. I wanted answers. I wanted the damn book to tell me how to reach Edward, how to fight his inner monsters so I could set him free. But the book was useless. I sighed and looked at my hands. "Every morning, he comes downstairs to the kitchen," I said to Esme. "Every morning, while I drink my coffee he comes in. Every morning he smiles at me. And every morning he fixes himself a bowl of cereal and comes to sit with me while he eats every bite." I ran my hands over my face. "Then he goes off to school. I called Forks High the other day, just to check in." I lowered my hands and finally looked at my wife. She was sitting still, her eyes on me. "Did you know he's aced everything? Every test, every assignment that has been given to him? He hasn't missed a beat."
Esme nodded. I saw her hand lift and run under her eye.
"And then he comes home. And he hangs out with our children and he does his homework. He eats dinner with us, he talks with us, tells us about his day."
"He's trying to be normal," Esme said softly.
I nodded and glared at the book again. It said the abused child should be withdrawn and unresponsive. "But he's not. He comes into the kitchen in the morning utterly exhausted. He's not sleeping. Yes, he's eating his cereal, but it's only because he knows I'm watching. I don't know what's going on in his head, but I know it's eating him alive. I don't know how to fix it."
"Carlisle," Esme whispered. She leaned over and put her hand on my cheek. "Darling, maybe you can't."
I felt my jaw clench at her words. "I can't accept that."
"I know." Her hand gently rubbed my tense jaw and I struggled to loosen it. "I want to help him too. I wish we had found him when he was six, just after his father died so we could have saved him from his mother and step father. But we didn't and he lived it. And no matter how much we wish we could take those memories from him, we can't. We have to give him time. He is trying, and that has be worth something."
"But he's locking away his pain in an effort to make us happy."
Esme smiled and leaned over to kiss my cheek. "We said the very first day we met him that Edward has an inner light. He's protective of those he cares about. He's protecting us. He cares, and with caring comes trust. He'll trust us enough soon to let us help him. I have faith in that."
I nodded and reached up to touch her hair. "How did you get so wise?"
"I get it from you," she said, her smile growing. "I know it doesn't feel like it, but you are helping him. Just by opening your heart to him, you are helping." She laced her hand in mine. "I love you so much, Carlisle."
"I love you too," I whispered before drawing her near. I tenderly kissed her, only slightly amazed that after sixteen years of marriage she could still strike a match of desire deep within me.
A while later, we curled up in bed, Esme resting her head on my shoulder. I kissed her hair gently and ran my fingertips along her arm. I listened to her soft breathing and soon it evened out and I knew she was asleep. I stared into the dark room, my thoughts once again returning Edward. Should I have him speak to a therapist? Would that help him? I honestly didn't know. Tomorrow, I decided, I was going to talk to Dr. Warner. I had worked with the psychologist before and maybe he could give me more insight. My eyes grew heavy and soon I drifted into sleep.
I'm not sure what woke me up. But my eyes popped open. In the moonlight, I could see Esme's outline sitting up in bed. "Do you hear that?" she whispered.
It sounded like the cries of a wounded animal. The sound grew louder, as if the animal was in our backyard. "I'll go see," I whispered back, throwing off the covers and standing up. As I walked to the door, I felt Esme's hands on my shoulders, following me. "Darling, stay here," I said gently. "I don't know what's out there."
"I'm going with you," she whispered back.
I sighed, but didn't want to take the time to argue. The sounds were tearing at my heart, something was truly in pain. I opened the door and the sound grew. I hurried down the hallway and my eyes widened as we approached Edward's door. The sound was coming from there.
"Edward," Esme cried softly. "Carlisle, it's Edward."
For a second the sound was muffled and I heard the distinctive sound of retching. I opened the door, almost terrified of what I would find. I glanced at the bed and saw it still made, barely rumpled.
Esme rushed into the bathroom and I followed her, my fear of what we would find strangling me.
"Edward?" I watched my wife kneel down beside the trembling boy. "Oh honey, what happened?"
He was gripping the rim of the toilet so hard his knuckles were white. But it as the choked screams that ripped from him that scared me the most. His chest was jerking as he tried to draw air down to his lungs. I knelt on the other side of him. "Are you sick son?" I asked him, although I knew this was not the flu. My poor boy had reached his breaking point.
I touched his forehead and found it clammy and soaked with sweat.
"I...am...not...sick," he gasped. Suddenly he leaned over again and I watched him dry heave, tears streaming rivers down his cheeks. I saw Esme stand up and wet a towel. Edward fought to take a breath.
I laid my hand on his trembling back. "In and out," I said softly. I rubbed large circles into his back, trying to get him to calm down, just enough to allow himself to breath. "In and out," I repeated. "You are okay," I whispered. "No one is going to hurt you. Just breathe, Edward. In and out." My words seemed to do the trick and I watched him breathe deep, his lungs filling.
I took inhaled deep myself, not realizing I had been holding my breath.
Edward sank down on his knees, releasing his death grip on the toilet. He looked up at us. "I'm sorry," he said breathlessly.
"No," Esme cried softly. "Honey, don't you dare apologize." Her fingers gently moved his sweat soaked hair off his face.
"Edward," I said as gently as I could. "We heard you screaming," I glanced at Esme and she nodded. "What happened?"
I watched his hands turn to fists, holding tightly to his jeans. "I had a nightmare," he whispered. "I can't do this anymore." His voice was broken, lost. He looked up at me and his eyes, glittering with unshed tears, were also broken. "I can't. I just want it to go away."
A lump gathered in my throat and I fought to swallow it. My hands clenched and I forced them to open.
"What to go away?" my beautiful wife asked tenderly. She was so brave, so loving. Although I could see the sheen of tears in her own eyes, she was fighting through it, staying strong for her son.
"The pain a-and the-the guilt." He took a shaky breath. "I want to be normal. I want to be the person you all think I am."
I managed to tuck my own grief for my child away. I took the cue from my wife, drawing on her strength. "You are," I said. "I know you are."
"I'm not!" he cried. "You guys don't know everything!"
"Then tell us," Esme said. "But know that nothing you tell us will change our minds."
What secret did Edward harbor? This was what was eating him up inside. This was the demon within him that I so desperately wanted to fight. I knew, all the way to the core of my heart that Edward's secret would not change who I thought he was.
"You need to send me back," he was saying. "I'm not worth all this. I-I'm not happy here." I heard his voice crack over the last sentence.
I knew it was a lie the second the words left his lips. "Look me in the eye and repeat that last part," I said. Edward's green eyes stared straight into mine and I felt myself hold my breath again. If he did, if he successfully repeated the lie, would I have the strength to put him on a plane and say goodbye to him forever? I waited as I watched him try to gather himself.
"I am," he said softly. "I am," he repeated. "I-I am..." his voice trailed off and he looked down at his hands.
"That's what I thought," I said, releasing the air I had been holding.
"Edward," Esme broke in. "Listen to me." I watched Edward turn his eyes up to her. I could see the passion burning in her eyes and if the situation was any less serious, I might have smiled. "You don't seem to understand. You keep telling us to send you back, like you are something disposable, as if we rented you and can return you to the store. It doesn't work like that. You are a part of this family now." She stopped and her eyes met mine. In her eyes I saw all the love she had for this child.
"Yes," I mouthed. He needed the words. He needed to know how much we cared.
Esme nodded. Her hands went to his face, holding it gently. "Edward," she repeated. "You are very special to me and I love you. You are my son now. And I'm not giving you up."
I waited, holding myself tense, to see Edward's reaction. I watched him jerk, and a sob burst from him as he buried his face in Esme's shoulder. Tears immediately slid down her cheeks. She wrapped her arms around him and her eyes found mine. "How long?" she whispered. I shook my head. "Shh, sweet boy, it's okay," she said soothingly.
I put my hand on his back, marveling in the fact that for the first time he didn't jump. I rubbed his back, knowing he wasn't ready to hear the words again. I looked at Esme again and shook my head. "Way too long," I whispered.
"We need to talk," I said after awhile. He needed to get it out. Whatever this was, he needed to get it out. Once released, maybe he could start to heal. I realized then that we were all still sitting on the floor of his bathroom. "Let's go in your room though."
I watched my child stand up and follow my husband out of the room. Quickly I flushed the toilet and filled a glass of water for Edward. Then I joined my men on Edward's bed. My hand lay on Carlisle's, my fingers curling around his, taking his strength and leaning on it.
"Now," Carlisle began. "Tell us why you don't think you are worthy of our home, of our love."
I watched Edward gather himself, like a man getting preparing for battle. He took a deep breath, than another. I watched him square his shoulders, level his eyes on us. "You need to know. I killed my mother."
I felt my eyes widen. "No you didn't," I said slowly. "Your step father did."
"But she's dead because of me," he said just as slowly.
"Explain that," Carlisle said, his voice sounding confused.
"You know my stepfather hit me." I nodded. "When they first got married, he only hit my mom. When I got old enough, I stepped in and told him to hit me instead. He complained about it, but I think he liked beating on me instead of Mom, especially as I got older. He got home at five every night, so I always made sure I got home first. I swore to my mom that he would never touch her and I kept my promise for seven years."
"So wrong," I whispered. As a mother, I could not fathom putting my child in a situation like that. I would have been begging the man to hurt me and only me. Never my child. I felt Carlisle's hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently.
"Go ahead, Edward," he said.
"Then, one day I stayed late after school, playing baseball with some friends. I got home at five and he was there. And she was dead." He looked up and met Carlisle's eyes. "I was selfish, irresponsible and I broke my promise. My mom paid for it with her life. I killed her."
Selfish. Irresponsible. I cringed at those words being used to describe Edward. He was the most selfless, responsible teenager I had ever met.
"No, her husband killed her," Carlisle stated.
"That is wrong," I growled, unable to keep quiet any longer. "All of it is wrong." I put my hands on his cheeks. "Honey, you are her child. You protected her for so long, gave up so much to make sure she was safe. It only further strengthens how good you are." Tears gathered in his eyes again and I felt my own begin to fill. "You can't take all the blame for her death. You can't lose more of your life because of them. You have to forgive yourself and let it go."
"I don't know how," he whispered.
I gathered him to me, wrapping my arms around his shoulders, thinking maybe I could hold this broken boy together. I felt him lean his cheek on my shoulder, and then he relaxed against me for the first ever. It was that moment that finally broke me down. The tears that had been threatening all night finally spilled over. I held him tightly, rocking back and forth. "It's going to be okay," I whispered next to his ear. "I know it hurts, but I promise you honey, you are okay now." I ran my hand along his spine.
"He's asleep," Carlisle whispered a few minutes later.
I heard his even breathing, but instead of letting go, I held him tighter. I wanted nothing more than to keep him safe. "This poor boy," I whispered. "I don't understand how a mother could let someone do that to her child." I look down at Edward and gently kissed his hair. "Especially when you have a child like this. He should have been treasured. How can she not know how lucky she was?"
"I know darling. She must have been very damaged."
I grunted. Now there was an understatement. "I don't like that he feels such blame from her death. Not at all."
"I can understand why he holds himself responsible," Carlisle said softly. I lifted my head and looked at him, shocked. "He has such a sensitive soul and he took his role as protector so serious. He needs to understand that despite that, it was not his fault."
I nodded. That made sense. "We will help him."
"Of course my dear, in everyway we can," Carlisle agreed. "We should let him sleep now."
Very gently I lowered Edward down so his head was resting on his pillow. I kissed his cheek and brushed his hair back. For a second, I just watched him sleep. In sleep, he looked so young, so innocent. Way too young to be carrying the weight he was. "Good night my sweet son, have the sweetest of dreams," I whispered next to his ear.
Then I turned and took Carlisle's hand as we walked back to our room. We sat on the bed and I looked at the clock. It was just after three in the morning. "This is why he can't sleep," Carlisle said sadly. "He told me he had a lot on his mind, but it's nightmares." He shook his head. "He must have them every night."
"Tonight's must have been a doozy."
"Yeah." Carlisle ran his hand through his hair. "One time, Esme. He stayed to play one time."
"I know," I said sadly. "Is it terrible of me to be glad? If he had been home, it might have been that sweet boy who was killed that night."
"It's not terrible of you." Carlisle pulled me to him and I leaned against his chest, listening to the strength of his heartbeat. "I had the same thought when he was talking. Something must have set his stepfather off that day. Something had to have happened. I looked at his charts, that was the first time the abuse had put him in the hospital. If Edward had been home," his arms tightened around me. "I'm pretty sure what he took would have been much worse than just a couple broken ribs and a concussion."
I closed my eyes and although I knew it was wrong to feel grateful for another's death, I couldn't help the feeling that flooded through me.
"You realize, right, the timing doesn't work," Carlisle said after a few minutes.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"He said he got home at five, right at five. Not late, not even by a few minutes."
"Right," I said, not seeing where he as going.
"He wasn't late. Just later than normal. His stepfather had already had enough time to beat and kill his mother."
"Which means his stepfather was home way before five," I finished, the pieces falling into place.
"Yeah. Edward has nothing to feel guilty about."
"So how do we get him to see it?" I asked Carlisle. I backed away from him. "He can't carry it around forever."
"We will help him see," Carlisle said softly. "Over time, we will help him see."
A/N: OMG, you guys are amazing. I still am in shock over the response I got from the last chapter. After I got the first review, I knew I would write the next chapter, because I wanted to make that one person still reading happy. But then the reviews kept coming and it absolutely blew me away. And totally inspired me to write the next chapter ASAP. I hope you enjoyed it. A lot of you are asking for the next chapter of On the Wings of an Angel. And I'm going to try, really really hard to get an update going on that. I wanted to get this written because Carlisle and Esme were demanding to have their say. But now that it's written, I want to focus on the sequel and see if I can break through the writer's block on that. Thank you SO much for your continued support. I am completely in awe of you.