A/N: Many thanks to Mythical Creatures and Veritas Found for the beta work. And a special dose of beta-love to Vixen1836 for all the editing, cheerleading and hand-holding.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is the owner and creator of the Twilight world. I am just amusing myself by playing with her toys. No copyright infringement intended.
Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled
among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good.
His life has much difficulty...Were it otherwise,
he would never have been able to find those words.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
The night-black sky outside the bedroom window lightened infinitesimally—dawn was breaking behind the clouds. I sighed. This was the problem with the day: it always interrupted the night, and since that fateful night in Ashland, Wisconsin two years ago, mine had been exceptionally satisfying. Once, I had despised the night, felt like a prisoner to its cloaking darkness. Now I was loath to give up a single moment.
Esme, my wife and reason for loving the night, stroked my cheek with her small, white hand. We lay on our sides, our foreheads nearly touching. This was my favorite time of the day; I could gaze into her eyes and never move.
"I'll miss you," she said.
"And I'll think of you every second I'm away, love." I kissed her hair, taking in her warm scent, and extricated myself from our bed. Our bed, I thought again and smiled. I'd never had need of a bed until I'd changed Esme.
She watched from our bed as I donned my student costume—fitted brown sport coat and trousers, white shirt and knit tie. It was convenient that the University of Oregon in Eugene had a good medical school. There had been important developments since I'd last been to medical school. Just last year, doctors had begun treating diabetes with insulin—clearly, my education needed an update. Esme and Edward could spend their time here, far enough away from the town to afford us privacy and keep the humans out of dangerous proximity, but Eugene was only a hundred miles away over the Cascade mountains—not an excessive distance to run for school each day, as long as I started early to avoid being seen.
"While you and Edward are in town today, would you please ask Mr. Brown to make me a new pair of these two-tone shoes?" I asked as I tied my tie. Running back and forth to Eugene every day ensured that my shoes did not last long. Esme didn't answer, so I turned to read her expression. Her mouth was pressed into a thin line and her eyebrows furrowed together above her dark eyes. Taking a seat on the edge of the bed, I took her hand in mine.
"Esme. Love. You are ready for this. I know you are thirsty, but you are strong, and Edward will be there to help you."
She nodded but didn't relax. "I know he won't let me hurt anyone. I just…" She broke off and looked away.
I tried to look into her eyes again, but she avoided my gaze.
"What is it? What can I do to help you?"
She shook her head and leaned into my shoulder. "I just wish it wasn't so hard," she whispered. The pain in her voice made my heart ache for her.
"Don't torment yourself, my love." I ran my fingers through her long, carmel-colored hair. "It's hard for all of us at first."
Downstairs, Edward already sat at his piano, hard at work on his first original composition.
"I'll be later than usual tonight, Edward. Professor Paulson has asked me to lead his study group tonight while he's away." I smiled. "Apparently, he thinks I'm more advanced than my classmates."
Edward continued playing, but smiled in return. "Perhaps it's the 200 years of prior study that gives that impression."
"Perhaps," I agreed. I did truly enjoy his sense of humor.
Good luck on your trip today, I added silently. Esme is very anxious.
He nodded. "I'll stay by her side."
"Thank you, son." I donned my new driving cap—not that I would be driving, but I liked the hat—and opened the door to leave. "I'll see you this evening," I said. I closed the front door behind me, grateful to have Edward's help in acclimating Esme into our chosen life. Learning to deny the thirst for human blood may be the hardest thing in the world for a vampire. Edward was a tremendous help, and his ability to hear a person's thoughts made him able to intervene ahead of an attack. I could think of no better way to help Esme.
I breathed a prayer of thanks as I buttoned my coat, then I darted into the trees, heading for another day of school.