My sister Katrina walked to the study to find me seated at the piano. Her footsteps stopped at the doorway.
"What is it Kate?" I asked without turning to face her.
"The mail came, Tanya."
"How interesting," I replied acidly. "Please, Kate, I'd like some time alone."
"Tanya, there is something in the mail for all of us."
I sighed and turned to slowly look at my sister. There was worry etched in the lines of her face, but there was something else in her eyes, joy perhaps? She clutched thick cream-colored stationary in her hands.
"Out with it, Kate. It can't be as confusing as your expression paints it to be."
Katrina pursed her lips and took four purposeful strides in my direction. She held the parchment out to me. I grabbed it from her hands and read.
Charles Swan and Renee Dwyer
Carlisle and Esme Cullen
Request the honor of your presence
To witness the marriage of their children
Isabella Marie Swan and Edward Anthony Cullen
On Sunday, August 13th, 2006
at the Cullen residence, Forks, WA
I read the invitation four times, and would have continued if Kate didn't interrupt.
"Tanya, can we go, please? We have to make things right with them. This is important. We should be there. If we don't attend, our alliance may not hold."
"I don't need to discuss the alliance Kate. I need some time alone."
"What should I tell Irina, Carmen & Eleazar?"
"It's my decision, Kate. I will tell them, as soon as I have decided."
The look I gave her let her know that I was in no mood for further discussion. She nodded at me and smiled weakly, before leaving me alone with the wedding invitation and my thoughts. I rested the invitation on my lap, and looked out the large windows of the study toward the mountains. My mind brought me back to another day, almost ninety years ago, when I watched a very young vampire run eagerly into the foothills with his new father.
When I met Edward, he was scarcely more than a year old. We had been expecting Carlisle and his newborn for some time.
Carlisle had written to me three months prior to tell me about his newling. He was eager to introduce his companion to us. The pride he felt was apparent in his letter. He wrote of the boy in glowing terms. In his description, he was positively paternal. I marveled at the humanity Carlisle had preserved over his long existence.
He was eager for his new one, Edward Masen, to meet others that shared their lifestyle. He thought it might be helpful for one so new to have examples to live by.
Carlisle was also scouting property. Now with something of a family, he wanted a variety of more permanent locations that they could move between over the years. Denali seemed attractive for obvious reasons.
My clan greeted the news with astonished relief. Carlisle had been a solitary creature for the entirety of his existence. His lonely battle against his nature had left him a mythical figure among his own kind. We had worried quietly that with no other creature to bind him to this earth, he might simply pass into legend. I sent a telegram off immediately urging him to visit. My clan and I were all curious to see whom Carlisle had picked after so many years.
Carlisle's reply came quickly. They were on their way.
It was a dark winter afternoon when Eleazar spotted the two figures approaching on the horizon. On foot in this weather, they had to be vampire. No human would survive the trek this far from civilization.
Kate was the warmest and most welcoming of our clan, so I sent her out to greet our visitors. Newborns were skittish, and I thought she might have a calming effect on the young one.
Visitors were a rare treat in our household. Irina, Carmen, Eleazar and I all gathered in our front room to greet our guests. Kate threw open the front door, and announced quite needlessly, "Carlisle and his boy have arrived," with a bright smile on her face. There were handshakes and hugs all around for Carlisle. The newborn was frozen in the shadows. His eyes darted among all the assembled, his hands clenched at his sides.
I approached the young vampire cautiously. He shrank from my gaze, still too young to look another vampire directly in the eye.
"And you must be Edward. Carlisle wrote to tell me of you. You have been a blessing to him."
Edward smiled shyly, his eyes meeting mine for not quite two seconds, and then darting away. He pressed his lips together in a thin line and let his gaze fall on his feet.
"And how are you taking to this life?"
"Well enough, thank you. I am grateful to Carlisle for his guidance and his kindness."
"Yes, you did well that he found you. There is no one else I could recommend more highly as a maker."
"I'm sure I agree, ma'am."
"Oh no, that will never do. Please, you must call me Tanya."
"Yes," Edward's eyes darted up to mine again and then looked away, "Tanya."
He rolled my name around in his mouth and it came out sounding melodious and rhythmic somehow. He was innocently beguiling, such a sweet young vampire.
But I knew that any false move from one of us and he would be at their throat. This pleased me and made me smile. It had been so long since I had seen a newborn.
I led us all into the sitting room and I watched the new one as his eyes flitted toward the window. His gaze darted from the snowy ground, to the distant mountains, and then turned back to the front door as a stray breeze brought with it the scent of caribou.
I couldn't help but smile again at the boy. He was turned quite young, and I pinned his human age at perhaps sixteen or seventeen. He was tall and thin, with a broad chest. He had a strong jaw, and a straight nose, and his coppery hair almost matched his eyes. There was a hint of orange to them, the red not having completely faded. He was quite breathtaking.
Irina and I took our guests personal possessions, and brought them into a spare room. As I moved to return to the gathering, she put a hand on my arm to stop me.
"My, my, Tanya. I thought your tastes were set centuries ago."
I narrowed my eyes and clenched my teeth. "No, my dear. It's not like that. He's just so sweet and new. And besides, I could hardly trespass on Carlisle's territory. It would be improper."
"No, not Carlisle. I'm sure their relationship is nothing like that."
"Perhaps, but I would have to know first. Our alliance is too important. Our existence in this world depends on it."
That night as Carlisle and I caught up on news and traded stories, Edward listened intently from the sidelines. All of us have perfect recall, but you could see Edward thinking about what he heard, not simply letting it pass into his brain like so many others. Of course, his head would turn at the smallest sound and he would flinch when something darted into his line of vision.
I watched my sisters with some amusement. They sat lined up on a bench just behind Eleazar. Having a newborn male in a house of females was certainly a dangerous situation. But I couldn't believe it of this one. He was still so proper and reserved in all of his newness. And I sensed an underlying strength of character in him. I was intrigued.
"Edward," The newborn and I both jumped a bit. I was as surprised as he was that I had addressed him out loud, "can I interest you in a tour of the house?"
Edward gave me a sidelong glance, and the turned his head to Carlisle.
"Yes, son. It's fine."
"Of course, ma- I mean, Tanya."
I made an effort to walk slowly and smoothly, giving Edward his space, never coming up on him from behind. I took pleasure in watching him walk. He was completely unaware of himself the way young men are before they discover their sexuality. His body and his face were pure and unclouded by any ulterior motives.
He walked with me politely through the house. Most men had some reaction when I showed them my bedroom. The mere mention would elicit a physiological response. Edward was just as detached walking through it as when I showed him the sewing room.
But as we came into the large back room that we liked to call a study, Edward's eyes went wide as they fell upon our piano. He walked straight towards it and caressed its lacquer.
"Do you play?"
"Yes, a bit."
"You must play for me then. Our mother was a musician, but there were no pianos in her day. We all have a fondness for music, but not the gift. It would be an honor to listen."
Edward eagerly perched on the edge of the piano bench. I made sure to sit to his side where he could keep his eyes on me. And without warning, he launched into a rich, complex piece that was as jarring as it was alluring. It was driven primarily by its rhythm, and it was intensely primal. It brought all the emotion and raw newness of being a young vampire back to life for me. I found myself taking quick shallow breaths, my hand held over my mouth.
It ended as suddenly as it began.
"What was that?"
"Is he vampire?"
"No." Edward smiled sincerely for the first time since he walked into my house. It warmed the room. "But I understand it better now," he explained quickly, looking at the floorboards with intensity.
"What is it called?"
"About the phoenix?"
"Hmm. You identify with it?"
"Yes, and so did you?"
"Your insight is fascinating for one so young."
Edward managed to shrug his shoulders, his eyes darting about the room.
What an intense boy. I wonder if he was like this before, as a human?
"Not really." Edward smiled in my direction.
"What?" Did I speak out loud? No, but…
Carlisle cleared his throat, and Edward and I both spun to the doorway. Oh, what this must look like!
"Carlisle, I'm sorry to monopolize Edward's time this way."
"Not at all Tanya. I'm glad to see that you two are getting along."
"Yes, Edward is lovely. You must be so happy to have found him."
"Yes. It was a stroke of luck that I am most grateful for." Carlisle turned to face Edward. "Son, I was just coming in to see if you would like to join me in the hunt. The area has much to offer. Moose, caribou, and if we range towards the coast, the selection is almost unlimited."
Edward's eyes flared and his hands clenched. He was off the bench and at Carlisle's side, holding himself still with obvious effort. I knew he wanted more than anything to find the nearest exit. His thirst still consumed him. But I marveled that he had hidden it well up to now.
"Please, don't let me keep you. The hunt here is unparalleled. Enjoy it Edward. And if you like our selection, you are always welcome back."
I watched the two companions dash for the foothills. They were well matched. Clearly Carlisle's wait had paid off and he had found a perfect life mate. I suddenly felt the need for company, for my own family, and returned to them in the sitting room.
They stood around the fireplace, all deep in conversation, but turned as I walked into the room.
Katrina's smile took up all of her face. "Oh Tanya, isn't it lovely that Carlisle isn't alone anymore?"
"Yes, they will do well together."
"And he is so gifted." Carmen added.
"Yes, you heard his playing then?"
"No Tanya, Carlisle was just discussing Edward's gifts with Eleazar. It seems the young one can read thoughts."
A/N: Don't worry! I'm not forgetting Prelude! I still plan on picking up where I left off, with Edward & Bella's wedding. This story came to me as I was finishing up Prelude. My mind just kept going back to it, so I knew I had to write it down.
Please review and let me know if you like it so far!
And if you haven't read Prelude, please check it out at: http://www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/s/5153962/1