A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns the entire Twilight Series, Edward, Bella and all other characters mentioned in this story. No copyright infringement is intended – I'm just having fun!
Author's Note: A special shout out goes to my great Beta – TwilightMomofTwo. If you've never read her stories, you're missing out. You can check out her stories under my favorites. Enjoy!
Okay, as the saying goes, on with the show
Chapter 1 – First Sight
Looking back, it's amazing I made it this far. My life has been a roller coaster ride and most of the time the ride wasn't worth the price of admission. As much as I enjoy amusement parks, they aren't always fun when your stomach ends up in your throat doing the tango. Even during the most difficult times, I've tried to be a "glass half full" kind of person, but life kept throwing me curveballs. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, my perspective changed from "the glass is half full" to "the glass is half empty" to "the damn glass broke and I cut my finger cleaning up the pieces."
I should have died at the age of seven, but I didn't. I now know how I survived not only that day but each and every incident, tragedy, and drama that surrounded my life and it's all because of him. My family thought I was their "miracle child" since I seemed to slip through Death's grasp so many times, but I know the real reason. It was him. All along.
Today I am happy – extremely so. Today my glass is not broken – it's full and overflowing and it will never be empty again. Today I am safe – better than safe, actually. Today is my wedding day and I am marrying him – my very own Prince Charming. He doesn't believe he's good enough, but I know he is, and I will spend the rest of my life convincing him. Life couldn't get any better than this, or could it? Well, if I was honest with myself there was one thing that would make it better. If only he could hear the truest desire of my heart – if only he would give me the only wedding gift I would ever want. So far, he has resisted, denied me that gift, but I haven't given up hope that one day he will give in.
Everyone has childhood experiences that stick out more than others. Perhaps it's a special birthday or a certain Christmas. Perhaps it's Thanksgiving dinner when all the family gets together and shares food and fun or maybe it's a school event such as prom or graduation. Unfortunately, most of my significant childhood memories are not pleasant. Most people enjoy looking back, but I've never wanted to hold onto my childhood or the memories. However, if there was a silver lining in that dark cloud, it was him.
Twenty-one years ago I was born in Phoenix, Arizona to Charlie and Renee Swan. From the time I arrived home from the hospital, we had only lived with Grandma and Grandpa Higginbotham. Well, actually my mom and I lived with them. My dad was in the Army. Charlie and Renee had attended high school together but after graduation Charlie attended college at West Point while Renee went to Arizona State University. Their relationship struggled during those early years, but it survived and they were married after graduation when they were twenty-two. Charlie's military career had been quite prestigious but the demands often kept him away from Renee. Instead of living alone in military housing, Renee chose to remain in Arizona which was one of the reasons I didn't come along until they had been married for about ten years. Both Charlie and Renee had wanted children early in their marriage, but it didn't work out that way so they were extremely happy when I was born.
Charlie was the best dad ever when he was around, but even after I was born he wasn't around much. It was partly by choice but mainly out of duty. While Renee continued to struggle with Charlie's absence, my grandparents took care of me. Renee did her best, but she really missed Charlie – all the time – and her loneliness seemed to consume her. On her best days Renee was mildly attentive. From time to time I would hear my grandparents described Renee as hare-brained. On her worst days she sat in front of the television or out on the porch bench staring into space. At least by living with my grandparents I wasn't alone and they enjoyed having me around – especially since I was named after both my grandmothers – Isabella and Marie – though everyone called me Bella.
By the time I turned seven, Charlie had been in the Army for seventeen years and was still going strong. Renee had hoped he would retire after twenty years of service, but Charlie didn't want to leave the military. This caused a bit of contention to say the least, but when Charlie mentioned taking a tour overseas, Renee almost seemed happy. Charlie thought he would be home more with this new assignment so she agreed to follow him. Before I realized what was happening, we moved from the safety and security of my grandparents' home – the only home I had ever known – to a new place, a new country. For the next three years we would live in Germany. Charlie shipped out the week before Renee and I were scheduled to leave. When it was time for us to go, my grandparents drove us to the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix so we could catch our flight to New York. The flight seemed to take forever and just as I was getting anxious, the pilot announced we had arrived in Chicago. I was confused and asked, "Mommy, I thought we were going to New York."
"We are, Bella, but we need to get off this plane and catch another one which will take us to New York."
I knew Renee was a little bit angry. We had never gone far from my grandparents' home before and now we were going half way around world, as Renee put it, and she was all alone with me. Renee wasn't happy at all that Charlie had left before us and she was ready for this trip to be over. As we got off the plane, all I saw was a sea of people. Walking through the crowds, I did my best to hold onto Renee for dear life. My mother was known for "temporarily misplacing" me as she chose to call it – once in the grocery store, a time or two at the mall, and even once in a movie theater. This day didn't seem to be any exception – Renee didn't notice that I was struggling with my heavy backpack and I ended up losing sight of my mom.
As I was pushed about by all the people around me, I felt a hand on the small of my back. I started to relax when I thought Renee had found me but was surprised by what I saw when I looked up. Instead of Renee, who was herself pretty, there stood a beautiful lady, looking down at me. She had caramel-colored hair, gold eyes and pale skin. Immediately, I thought of Snow White.
"Oh dear, what have we here?" she asked.
"I lost my mommy," I said, my lips starting to tremble. Even though this was not the first time Renee had lost me, it was still upsetting.
"Oh, don't worry, sweetheart, we'll find her. Do you know where you're going?"
"New York," I replied, trying to sound more grown up than my seven years.
Snow White, as I decided to call the pretty lady, bent down and asked, "Can I pick you up? It might be easier for you to see your mom if you're a bit higher off the ground."
I didn't think she would be able to lift me – Renee refused to carry me anymore, saying I wasn't a baby even though I wasn't very heavy. But all I could see were legs from where I was so I answered, "Yes, please."
As the nice lady lifted me up, she gave me a quick hug, kind of like my mom did sometimes and I couldn't help but relax a little bit. I was about to ask where we were going when I realized she felt hard and cold. I wondered if this was how the Snow White in my storybook felt to the Prince when he kissed her. Whenever Renee used to carry me, she felt soft and warm, but somehow I didn't feel uncomfortable. As I looked out into the crowd it seemed everyone moved out of our way as we walked by. Then I noticed a man following us. Snow White looked at me again, turning her head and said, "My name is Esme and this is my husband, Carlisle."
Carlisle looked like someone I had seen on TV. He had blond hair and was very tall, definitely taller than Charlie. He had the same gold eyes as Esme; however, his eyes looked tired and had circles under them. Charlie often had circles under his eyes when he came home after being away for a while. I wondered if this man was in the Army, too. Carlisle didn't seem to mind that his wife had stopped to help a perfect stranger – he seemed nice, like my dad. Then he smiled at me. I think he could tell how alone I felt.
Before I could think anymore about Carlisle, Esme pointed to another tall man who was standing behind Carlisle and said, "This is my son, Edward."
I had noticed the other man – Edward – out of the corner of my eye as Esme was speaking and when I turned to look at him I realized how handsome he was. I loved "Sleeping Beauty" – it was my absolute favorite movie – and Edward reminded me of Prince Phillip. I started to giggle as I realized that my prince had come to life. I wanted to reach out and touch him to make sure he was real; but I was too nervous so I just stared at him, smiling. One other thing I noticed was his hair, which was sort of messy, but perfect at the same time. The color was different, no boys I knew had that color, yet it almost reminded me of my own hair which was brown and bronze. Edward was tall, too, just like Carlisle.
At first I thought I saw a small smile on his face and I wondered if he liked me, too. However, as I turned my head, I felt a breeze blow through my hair. I had been holding onto Esme with both hands, but when my hair blew through the air it got all messed up and was now in my face. Using one hand, while holding on to Esme with the other, I straightened out my hair and then looked toward Edward again. He seemed to be standing straighter than before, but not in a good way. Then he stared at me with very angry eyes. I know I'm not a real princess, but for a moment I had felt like one. Now all those happy feelings were gone and I felt very confused. I knew Edward didn't like me but I wasn't sure what I had done to make him be so mean. Before I realized what had happened, he was gone. I almost started to cry.
Esme looked down at me, "Don't worry dear," she said soothingly. "He hasn't been himself lately."
Carlisle now looked rather serious. When he finally spoke, he said, "Let's go find your mother."
However, before we could take another step, I heard, "Bella!" as I saw Renee come into view.
"Honey, what happened? Where have you been? Are you all right?" Her questions ran together so quickly I barely understood what she was saying.
"I'm okay, mommy. These nice people were going to help me find you." Renee looked a little apprehensive as she gazed toward Esme and Carlisle.
"Thank you," she said. "Thank you for finding my Bella."
Esme smiled and stepped forward, making sure Renee had a firm grip on me before saying, "You're very welcome. I'm Esme and this is my husband, Carlisle."
Renee shook their hands, looking down as she realized how cold and hard both their grips were. "Well, we best be on our way," Renee said as she nodded toward Esme and Carlisle before turning and walking away with me, a firm grasp of my hand.
Soon we were on our plane headed to New York and before I knew it, we were on our way to Germany – our new home.
When you've lived as long as I have with the gift that was conferred upon me, there are no such things as surprises – they don't exist for me, at least, not until that day. Fourteen years is a blink of an eye to my kind. Such a short time span is hardly worth recalling; however, that's the day I started to live again. Those years weren't easy – difficult is a better word, even gut-wrenching at times – but each and every moment was worth the cost to bring me to where I am today. This is my wedding day and I'm marrying the woman of dreams, my soul mate, my everything, my world. I will never be good enough to deserve her, but inexplicably she wants me, and I know I can't live without her. My life couldn't be more perfect than it is today; however, things weren't always so clear.
The day that changed my life began pretty much like any other day – showering, dressing and greeting my parents before getting into the Mercedes and heading for the airport. Nothing unusual about traveling with my father and mother, Carlisle and Esme, who had decided we should go to Europe and meet up with my siblings. We were going to spend some time traveling together – all seven of us – as it had been over a year since we had been together. Our home in Chicago was large enough for everyone, but there were times when we just needed our own space. The past year had been like that.
Emmett and Rosalie had left for another "honeymoon" in Europe while Alice and Jasper traveled throughout South America. Carlisle had been working at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago which was one of the country's premier academic medical centers, and served as the primary teaching hospital for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Carlisle had always enjoyed keeping up with the latest advancements in healthcare which were currently provided through his affiliations with these fine institutions. Esme was once again renovating our home in Gold Coast, one of the more prestigious neighborhoods in Chicago. Unlike many of the residents, we lived there for its proximity to the hospital, even though it was one of the most expensive and exclusive neighborhoods in Chicago.
Our drive to the airport was quiet. Well, it would have been had I not been able to hear all the voices around me. Even the soundproof Mercedes could not keep out the torrential downpour of noises which invaded my mind. The closer we got to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport the worse it became. I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose as if this action would drown out the cacophony of thoughts tormenting my brain, but of course nothing really worked. This was something I had learned to live with.
My parents knew how crowds affected me so I wasn't surprised when Esme thought, "How are you holding up, Edward?"
"I'll be okay," I replied.
Although they loved all their children, I knew I held a special place in my parents' hearts and I was always touched when they showed concern for me. I know what it was like to live without them for a time and ever since I had returned, I had never taken their love for granted. Our flight to New York would be quick and then we'd be traveling from New York to the Frankfurt International Airport where we would meet up with Emmett, Rosalie, Alice and Jasper. We would continue our journey and join our good friends, Tanya, Irina and Kate, although they were more like family. It had been quite a while since we'd seen each other and everyone was looking forward to traveling through Europe together.
It wasn't long before we had parked the Mercedes, checked our luggage, made our way through security and were heading through the masses when Esme's phone rang.
"Alice, how are you, dear?" my mother said, "We didn't expect to hear from you so soon."
"I don't have much time," I heard Alice say, "Quickly head towards Gate 25 – you'll find her there. She needs your help. Please hurry!" Alice was almost begging.
"Okay, don't worry. We'll go there now," Esme stated before closing her phone.
"I wonder what's happening," Carlisle thought to himself.
"I hope we can get there in time," Esme mused.
I wasn't the only person in the family who had a gift – Alice had the gift of Sight or seeing the future, although nothing about the future was ever certain. Alice's visions were only clear as long as the decisions which influenced those visions did not change; however, if someone changed their direction or course of action, Alice's visions would adjust to accommodate the new choices made. Therefore, I was unsure what prompted Alice's phone call and was unaware of who Alice had been talking about. Nevertheless, she seemed very anxious so we were searching for some woman who needed our help near Gate 25.
It didn't take long before Esme stopped and looked down. "Oh, that poor dear – I'm sure this is who Alice saw."
"Who would leave a child alone? Especially in a crowded airport?" Carlisle questioned silently.
As I listened to my parents, I followed their gaze until it fell upon a young girl who couldn't have been older than seven or eight. She appeared to be very fair-skinned and her long, wavy, brown hair almost resembled mine as it had bronze highlights flowing through it. Her eyes were chocolate brown and very expressive. Her heart-shaped face resembled Esme, although the girl's cheekbones were more prominent. This girl-child had a thin nose and a narrow jaw with a pointed chin. Her lips were a little out of proportion, a bit too full for her jaw line and her eyebrows were darker than her hair and more straight than they were arched. She appeared to be about four feet tall and probably weighed about fifty pounds. Her build was slender but still that of a child and her fingers were stubby with short fingernails. I found myself wondering what she'd look like when she got older. If my guesses were correct, she'd probably be about five feet four inches tall and would weigh about one hundred fifteen pounds upon reaching maturity.
Although those thoughts passed through my mind in mere seconds, I wondered why they had even occurred to me at all. I never put much thought into humans, trying to avoid personal interaction whenever possible. Usually hearing their thoughts was bad enough – I had no idea what prompted me to think about this young girl. So quickly that neither Carlisle nor Esme noticed my daze, I cleared my head when I realized Esme's hand was now on the small of the girl's back. She seemed to relax for a moment but when she looked up at Esme, confusion came over her face. I tried to listen to what she was thinking, but I couldn't hear even a whisper.
"Oh dear, what have we here?" Esme asked.
"I lost my mommy," the girl said, her lips trembling. Anxiety was clearly evident on her face, but there was only silence in her thoughts. I heard nothing at all and I began to feel uneasy.
Esme did her best to comfort the girl, "Oh, don't worry, sweetheart, we'll find her. Do you know where you're going?"
"New York," she replied, trying to sound more grown up than she was. I chuckled under my breath.
I was about to speak when Esme asked, "Can I pick you up? It might be easier for you to see your mom if you're a bit higher off the ground."
Again her emotions flew across her face – surprise, confusion, curiosity – and yet all I got was silence. This was nothing I had ever encountered before. Was there something wrong with me? I felt exactly the same way as I always did. Worried, I listened harder but all I heard were her words as she answered Esme, "Yes, please."
Esme raised the girl from the ground and drew her into her chest, giving her a gentle hug in the process. Almost at once the lovely child began to relax; however, at that moment some realization came to her. I listened harder, hearing every insignificant thing around me, every thought I didn't want to hear, but there was nothing at all from her even though she was just a few feet in front of me. Usually people's thoughts came to them in a similar pitch as their physical voices, but this quiet, shy voice was unfamiliar, not one of the hundreds of mental signatures bouncing around me.
Up until this time, she hadn't paid attention to either Carlisle or me, but it was clear that she noticed how the crowd parted as we walked. It was then that she saw Carlisle. Esme looked at the child again, turning her head and saying, "My name is Esme and this is my husband, Carlisle."
As she gazed at Carlisle I could almost see the questions running across her face and yet her mind was still closed to me. I had hoped that her expressions would help me pinpoint the tone of her thoughts which were lost somewhere where I couldn't access them, but I was mistaken. She continued to watch Carlisle's face as he gazed compassionately upon her. More emotions flew across her face, but I was still deaf to her thoughts.
Lost in my own mind, I never heard Esme before she spoke out loud, pointing to me and saying, "This is my son, Edward."
I couldn't help but notice the shy smile that came upon her face as the young beauty stared at me. I knew how attractive we all were to the humans around us, but I couldn't help but contain a slight grin at the thought that this young, innocent human might admire me. She seemed to notice the smile on my face; however, at that moment a slight breeze blew toward me as the heat kicked on and stirred the air around her. Her scent hit me like a wrecking ball or a battering ram. There was no image violent enough to encapsulate the force of what happened to me in that moment. In that instant, I was nothing close to the human I had once been; no trace of the shreds of humanity I'd managed to cloak myself in remained.
I was a predator and she was my prey. There was nothing else in the whole world but that truth. However, I quickly realized that I was in an airport full of witnesses, including my parents. There was absolutely no way I could act on these horrific impulses, but the monster in me growled with its dark desires. The mystery of her thoughts was long forgotten – they meant nothing. I was a vampire and she had the sweetest blood I'd smelled in nearly eighty years. I hadn't imagined such a scent could exist. If I'd known it did, I would have gone searching for it. I would have combed the planet for her. I could already imagine the taste.
Thirst burned through my throat like fire. My mouth was baked – desiccated – and the fresh flow of venom did nothing to dispel the sensation. My stomach twisted with the hunger that was echoed in my thirst. Not a full second had passed. She was still staring at me with a look of horror on her face, still in Esme's arms.
The shock on the face I saw in front of me tore through me, ripping a hole in my silent heart, momentarily allowing me to shove the despicable monster back down. Even at her young age, she seemed to process the expression on my face, blood flooded in her cheeks turning her skin the most delicious color I'd ever seen. The scent was a thick haze in my brain and I could barely think it through.
Her scent continued to swirl around me. The demon inside me wanted to grab the girl, shove my mother out of the way and run.
I could not do this – not here, but the monster within continued to argue with me. Her scent was the most mouth-watering form of punishment I had ever experienced. I foolishly took another deep breath and the scent was like a fire that raced through my dry veins, burning out from my chest. Without realizing what I was doing, I took one step closer to her and the monster in my head smiled a wicked smile full of anticipation.
Suddenly I felt a firm, strong hand on my shoulder. I didn't look to see who had touched me for I knew it was Carlisle. The demon inside my cold, hard body was attempting to block my father's thoughts but I knew he was pleading with me and for one short second I was able to think clearly. Even though I was having a hard time hearing Carlisle's voice since the monster inside wouldn't allow me to focus long enough to comprehend my father's thoughts, I heard one phrase, one expression – La Cantante. Had I heard those words before? What did they mean?
Before I could really comprehend what Carlisle had thought, I saw two faces in my head, side by side. One was mine, or rather had been: it was the red-eyed monster from my past that had killed so many people. At the time I had convinced myself that those slayings were rationalized, justified murders. I had been a killer of killers, a killer of other, less powerful monsters. I had been playing God and I knew it, I had acknowledged that decades ago, when I decided who should live and who should die. I had fed on human blood, but my victims were barely more human than I was – they were the evil, the despicable, the outcasts of human society who preyed on the innocent, the good.
The other face I saw was Carlisle's.
There was no resemblance between the two faces. They were as different as the brightest day and the blackest night. There was no reason for there to be a resemblance. Carlisle was not my father in the basic biological sense. We shared no common features. The similarity in our coloring was a product of what we were – every vampire had the same wintry shade of pale skin. The similarity in the color of our eyes was another matter – a reflection of a mutual choice. And yet though there was no basis for a resemblance, I'd imagined that my face had begun to reflect his, to an extent, in the last seventy-odd years as I embraced his choice and followed in his steps.
My features had not changed, but it seemed to me like some of his wisdom had marked my expression, that a little of his compassion could be traced in the shape of my mouth, and hints of his patience were evident on my brow. But now all those tiny improvements that had taken decades to surface would be lost in one moment in the face of the monster. It wanted nothing more than to end the torture and take the girl, but those actions would leave me with nothing – how could I even consider ending this precious child's life for a moment of purely evil satisfaction?
I quickly reflected on the years I'd spent with my creator, my mentor, my father in all the ways that mattered. If the abominable creature won this battle, my eyes would glow red as a devil's; all likeness would be lost forever. But Carlisle was here with me and would not allow the monster to win. My father loved me. He thought I was better than I was and he would do anything to save me from myself.
The beautiful child, still in my mother's safe, strong, protective arms, stiffened and her face was filled with fear. I would prove to my parents that I was the man they thought I was. I would find the strength to leave. I had to find a way to bury the savage beast within as it roared, trying to escape my chest. I turned my face away from her and once again I felt the strong hand resting on my shoulder trying to calm the revolting fiend that I was. I didn't know who she was or how she had come to be here, but I didn't want to be a monster. I didn't want to lose everything I'd gained in a lifetime of sacrifice and denial. I wouldn't allow it and the loathsome creature within me could not make me – I was stronger. So what was the problem?
The scent was the problem, the hideously appealing scent of her blood. I had to find a way to resist. I had to clear my head – I could stop breathing. I didn't have to breathe. I immediately stopped the flow of air through my lungs; the relief was instantaneous, but incomplete. I still had the memory of her scent in my head, the taste of it on the back of my tongue. I just needed to resist long enough to get out of the airport. With my parents at my side, I knew I had the strength to resist that long.
It was an uncomfortable feeling, not breathing. My body did not need oxygen, but it went against my instincts. I relied on scent more than my other senses, especially in times of stress. It led the way in the hunt, it was the first warning sign of danger. I did not often come across something as dangerous as I was, but self-preservation was just as strong in my kind as in the average human.
I was uncomfortable, but it was manageable. More bearable than smelling her and not sinking my teeth through the fine, thin skin to the hot, wet pulsing –
STOP! I must not think of the scent, the taste!
Carlisle had not given up on me as I was finally able to hear his thoughts as they screamed into my head, "EDWARD, YOU MUST GET OUT OF HERE. We will keep her safe. Please son, just leave. You'll feel better once you're in the fresh air. Hunt if you need to – you are stronger than you think. You can overcome this struggle – we believe in you. Just go! GO NOW!"
Hearing those words finally broke me out of my reverie. I couldn't walk as slowly as I should but for once I was thankful for the crowds. No one would notice me as I ran a bit too quickly through the terminal and out the airport doors to the only thing that would save me – to the only savior I could ever hope to find – fresh, clean air.