Author's Note: This is a modern fairytale told in an old style of language. The story won't necessarily be told in chronological order but I will label each part to avoid confusion.
Prologue - Esme's Beautiful Boy
Edward was not beautiful in the way of the other children I saw that fine summer's day in the orphanage ten years ago. He was neither apple-cheeked nor smiley and his brown eyes scowled at us when we walked past him in the line-up. Head and shoulders above the rest of the children, he looked to be at least five years older than the others (some of whom were still wrapped in blankets and wearing diapers) and a troublemaker if the scrapes and bruises on his knees were any indication.
But there was something about him, something beautiful in the determined set of his jaw and the purple shadows underneath his haunted eyes, and I knew. I knew that he would make our daughter the best big brother that she could ever hope for.
"I want him," I whispered to Carlisle as we were led into a separate holding room to discuss the possible futures of the children as if they were pretty things to be bought or sold at auction. "The tall boy with the haunted eyes; he looks so sad."
"All of the children looked sad Esme," Carlisle replied as he gently took my hand into his. "We can't adopt them all."
"But we could adopt him," I insisted, turning to the nun who had accompanied us. She was small and fierce looking and had glared at the children as though they were no more than cattle, smacking their hands and bottoms with the edge of a ruler when she thought we weren't looking. Sister Agnes. I had hated her at first sight. "What was the tall boy's name, the one with the haunted eyes?"
"You mean Edward?" Sister Agnes barked out in surprise. "But he's almost sixteen now, practically a man, and certainly past the age where good parenting would make a difference. I wouldn't even have him in the line-up but the trustees insist that all children have to be present and accounted for during a viewing." Viewing, she talked about the children as if they were nothing but cars and she a used car saleswoman! "You would get far more use out of one of the younger children, Mrs Cullen."
I looked at Carlisle then, my hand squeezing his until my knuckles whitened, and saw his eyes burn with the same rage that my heart did. He may have had his reservations about adopting a boy so close to our daughter's age, but he loved all children. Not just those apple-cheeked cherubs that society said we should adopt to make our lives easier.
"We do not want to adopt one of the younger children, Sister." He said quietly. "I believe it has been decided. My wife and I would like to take in Edward," He glanced at me furtively, "if he is willing to be part of our family of course. I wouldn't wish to force a boy his age to come with us if he would rather not. At fifteen he is certainly old enough to make some decisions himself."
I kept the unladylike peals of laughter from sounding through my mouth but my smile must have been broader than the Hudson River because Sister Agnes scowled at me until I was able to control it into something more suited to a politician's wife. My heart felt close to bursting I was so happy, and could not think of a single reason why Edward would not want to join our family.
Indeed between Carlisle's gentle nature and my thirst to spoil every last trace of sadness from his beautiful eyes, I strongly believed that we would make Edward the perfect parents. Even Isabella, Carlisle's daughter from his first marriage and mine in every way except birth, would love him. She had always wanted a sibling to care for and was the reason why we came to the orphanage in the first instance. Certainly she would be disappointed—Bella had always wanted a younger sibling to act as her own living doll—but I was certain that she would grow to love her elder brother.
We would be a perfect family, I had thought ten years ago in the holding room of the orphanage as I waited with my husband for Sister Agnes to bring our son to us, and for the most part it has been true.
We are a perfect family, just not in the way that I thought we would be.