A/N Aha, now I get it: smoochies equals more reviews. Good to know ;-)

Thanks to: traceybuie, Nonita, Angel of the Night Watchers, arrr, Jaspersgurl22, LordXeenTheGreat, magandaangels, aerobee82, Mr. Jim, letsjustdance, mfaerie32, Isarma, SweetAsHuney, vampirville, slc6548, kouga's older woman, Bripearl, Princess Mishawaka, twimama77, TheLadyKT, morgpie, ster, Vamp4475, sshart, snoodles, Fourshotchild, Cailley Rachelle, Elunea, 1dreamkeeper, Ness1956, longtobeme, Navygirl14, zdra8351, EverlastingMuse, tasheluvwolfpack, lmb1, mssmith, moore8879, ShadowsInLight, Nemi Jade, Angelvnzl, jtwsnw20, roon0, Surgery-Girl, twilightmenrhot, wendy1969, slytheringrl17, tulle, lovesmesomepeterpie and My Eyes Are Watching Everyone for reviewing.

I know you guys are eager to find out what is going to happen between are two lovebirds, but you have to be little more patient.

I've decided to give you a little insight into Esme's mind first. And since most of you have been wondering about her strange behavior, I'm sure (or rather hope) that you don't mind the little detour. Hopefully it will answer some of your questions. This chapter is a little shorter than usual, just a transition.


Chapter 18 Mother and Son

Esme POV

I was frantic, speeding through town, on my way to the hospital, to see my mate.

I drove fast, but not too fast. I didn't want to take the risk of being pulled over by a cop, for several reasons, but mostly because I didn't have the time or the nerve to deal with yet another problem.

I had enough on my platter as it was.

I was worried sick. Of course, I was. And I had every reason to feel that way.

How I was able to leave the supermarket without having a very public breakdown was still beyond me. I could have easily revealed my true nature by running off at high speed, but fortunately I remembered in time what was at stake. Keeping up appearance was the most important thing, in order to preserve our way of life.

Of course, initially, I was very shocked by the intensity of Edward's reaction, because I simply wasn't used to it. It was so unlike him. Usually, he was cool, calm and collected. In fact, in all my life (as a vampire) I've never witnessed Edward losing his temper … not even once.

And yet, I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was.

I've known beforehand, that he wouldn't be too keen hearing about Peter's surprise visit. Edward has never hidden the fact that he didn't like Jasper's brother very much. And quite obviously the feeling of dislike was mutual. But thankfully, both Edward and Peter were civilized enough to steer clear of each other instead of letting their (male) vampire instincts take over, and fight it out.

I detested violence, in any shape or form. I only turned a blind eye to the boys' playful wrestling, each and every time, because I knew that's what all it was … a game, a way to blow off steam, to match their strengths and their fighting skills.

Boys will be boys …

Emmett and Jasper romped around in the backyard at least once a week. They probably did it more often. But fortunately, I wasn't always around to witness it.

As a general rule, Edward stayed out of it. His choice to refuse participation in their (second) favorite pastime pleased me to no end. Of course, thanks to his special gift, my son knew exactly why I felt the way I did. But even though I wouldn't put it past him, Edward didn't do it merely for my benefit. He simply wasn't interested, preferring to spend his spare time in a different way.

God, I miss listening to him playing the piano … he is a virtuoso …

I was so proud of his achievements, academic and otherwise. And so was Carlisle.

But there was a time when my mate and I were very concerned about our son. In the early days, Carlisle has often wondered if he made the right decision, changing Edward at such a young age.

Of course, Carlisle hadn't had have much of a choice at the time. It had been literally a question of life and death.

As it was with all of us … well at least for us Cullens …the circumstances that led to Alice's and Jasper's change are a complete different story …

But the fact that Edward was practically lying on his deathbed had been only secondary. Even Carlisle's strong desire to create a companion hadn't been reason enough to make up his mind. Of course, it hadn't been, otherwise he wouldn't have spent nearly two hundred and fifty years alone. Carlisle would never base important, life-altering decisions on something that petty. He wasn't a selfish person. No he was the complete opposite.

A philanthropic vampire …

In the end it had been Elisabeth, Edward's birth mother, who'd convinced him to do it. I was pretty sure, knowing Carlisle the way I did, that if it hadn't been for the promise she'd managed to extract from him … to save her son at all costs … Carlisle would have let our son die.

Of course, I was glad that he'd listened to her. I couldn't imagine my life without Edward in it.

But still, I could understand the reasons behind Carlisle's reluctance. True, the transition hadn't been easy for any of us, but it must have been even more difficult for Edward, especially given the fact that as a vampire we could feel everything so much stronger.

He was barely seventeen years old, when he was turned into a vampire, on the verge of manhood, but still just an innocent boy. And like all of us, he would remain the same, frozen in his physical stage of development … for all eternity.

Puberty was a very crucial and difficult phase for a human, that's no secret, the excessive amounts of raging hormones wreaking havoc on a boy's body and mind, the need to prove oneself, the desire for independence …

Needless to say I hadn't been thrilled about Edward's decision to take a temporary leave, shortly after my change, but then again it hadn't truly come as a shock. It was to be expected of a boy his age, to go through a rebellious phase, sooner or later. And of course, I was appalled by his choice of rebellion, defying Carlisle's moral conduct, killing all those people … but considering the circumstances it was probably the only feasible way of action for him.

Edward's rebellion has only lasted for a few years, but long enough to have me worried sick the whole time. But thankfully that was all in the past now. After his return he'd resumed his rightful place at our side, taking up with our diet again without much struggle. Though I've never questioned my son's strength, I was sure Carlisle's never-ending abundance of patience and support played a vital part in my son's quick recovery.

It was really a shame that Edward wasn't able to step into my mate's footsteps – not becoming a doctor but having a career, a true purpose. I knew he hated having to play the student. They all did. But it was a necessary evil, as Emmett once put it, to maintain our lifestyle.

However, I could easily picture Edward becoming a professor, considering how much time he spent reading, not to mention the number of academic degrees he's already obtained. But unfortunately, his physical age was an even bigger hindrance than him being a vampire. Edward's self-control was rivaling that of my husband, whereas the rest of us had more trouble to withstand the lure of human blood, especially Jasper.

So naturally, at first I had a very hard time believing that my son almost lost control the other day, even though I had no reason to doubt Jasper's words.

Sometimes the truth is hard to accept …

Of course, I was more shocked than disappointed. Resisting the temptation of normal human blood was one thing. Undeniably not an easy task, but not an impossible one either, with the right kind of attitude. I was sure that even Carlisle, who's never tasted even a drop of human blood in his three hundred years, wouldn't be strong enough to withstand the allure of something as perfect as the blood of a singer. It was a miracle that he's never met anyone who had that kind of effect on him, especially considering his choice of profession. But it was a blessing as well.

To my knowledge only Emmett had any experience in the matter, and he'd failed … both times.

After thoroughly discussing and evaluating our options, we'd heavy-heartedly decided to send Edward away for the time being. My dead heart clenched at the thought of the wounded expression on his beautiful face.

But then again, it wasn't like we've sent him just anywhere. Edward was very familiar with the area. We've lived in Alaska for quite some time, still owing a house up there. And we practically considered Eleazar and his coven as extended family.

I took solace in the fact that one day soon, we would be reunited. Isabella Swan was in her senior year. Most likely she would leave town soon after graduation to attend college or find a job somewhere else, like most of the youngsters in this small town. And then he could return.

A year was practically nothing for a vampire. And I hoped that the prospect of spending some quality time with Tanya would lighten his mood somewhat. Of course I knew that they weren't mates, but it was obvious that he liked her. And I'd promised to visit him, at least once a month.

Of course, I still didn't like the whole arrangement. And Edward had made it very clear before his departure that he wasn't very fond of our decision either. But he was a good son, respecting our wishes, knowing that it was for the best. Despite the fact that he didn't know the girl, he certainly didn't want to hurt her. Of that I was sure.

I was sure things would be okay.

Well, minor correction, I had been sure … I had been sure of so many things, right until the moment the line went dead and I wasn't able to reestablish a connection.

Maybe it has been a mistake to tell Edward anything about the girl … about her upcoming visit and her role in Peter's life … but he'd cornered me. And I couldn't lie to him. I never could, not only because he was always able to ascertain if I was telling the truth or not. Not over the phone, of course, but Edward was my son and I loved him. And he deserved the truth, now more than ever. I felt bad enough as it as was for having to send him away, even though it was the right decision. But the last thing I wanted to do was causing him more pain.

But in all fairness, who could blame him for being shocked and angry after hearing the other, more critical piece of information?

I certainly didn't.

Even though the girl was just as innocent as my son in this whole mess, it didn't change the fact that her arrival in Forks had inevitably triggered a chain of events.

My son's loss of control and his banishment … Peter's arrival … the girl's involvement with him … all of it … it can't be just a coincidence … can it?

I really wanted to believe that Edward wouldn't do anything reckless and stupid, but a small voice in the back of my head kept telling me, that I had to set things right … and fast.

Ever since my many failed attempts to call my son back, I had a hard time breathing. Sure, I didn't need to, technically, but it was making me feel highly uncomfortable nonetheless. I knew it was crazy, even impossible considering I was a vampire, but I was pretty sure I was experiencing a panic attack.

The sensation worsened sharply when I returned to the house, to unload the supplies I'd purchased for the human.

I tried to hide my anxiety from him, but failed miserably. Peter might not be able to read minds or sense other people's feelings, but he did possess exceptional observation skills. Though it didn't take much to notice how distraught I was.

At first it looked like he would just let me leave without saying anything, but apparently today wasn't my lucky day.

Maybe I should have skipped the trip home …

When Peter stopped me, demanding an explanation for my strange behavior, he didn't use any force. But someone like him didn't need to resort to such methods in order to show his dominance, a look was enough to have me tremble in fear.

It was true. I didn't know everything about his and Jasper's past, only the abridged version. But what I knew was enough. I didn't need to hear the details. It was plain obvious that he and Jasper had been through hell. They have been fighting for mere survival, for years, with no end in sight. Their countless bite marks spoke for themselves, practically screaming danger, demanding caution … and respect.

But I knew he wouldn't hurt me, I trusted him. Otherwise I wouldn't have invited him into my house in the first place. I regarded Peter as part of the family, despite his different lifestyle.

Of course I gave him an answer, having no other choice. I told him I was planning to meet Carlisle, which was the truth, but I kept the motive to myself. What good would have it done to tell him my suspicions? It was obvious that he was already on edge about his upcoming reunion with his human. I didn't want to add fuel to the fire, so to speak, without having some real facts. Maybe Edward would try and come here. But maybe he was just letting of some steam and would call me back later. Who knew? In any case, I didn't want to worry Peter. For now, he was better off remaining unaware of the true depths of my anxiety.

I could tell that Peter knew that I was hiding something from him, but fortunately he didn't push the issue and dismissed me. I didn't linger, but left at once.

I needed my mate. Carlisle would know what to do, how to proceed. He always did.

I haven't felt so nervous, so lost for a very long time … actually I haven't felt this way since the first day after my change, waking up as a vampire. But back then my reaction was to be expected, considering the new reality of things, and not to mention the sensory overload.

Of course, I've tried to call Carlisle, several times, but each time I was sent straight to voicemail. Remembering, he'd told me this morning that he was scheduled to do two operations today, I assumed he was probably still stuck in the OR. With a sigh, I left him a message, telling him I was planning to stop by soon, but I wisely left out the reason.

I wanted to talk to him in person.

At last I arrived at my destination. I pulled into the parking lot in front of the hospital building. Due to visiting hours, I was glad to find an open slot at all. I shut down the engine, taking one final deep breath, before I left my car. Then I hurried across the parking lot. Under the circumstances, it was rather hard to walk at a human pace, but I managed.

I entered the building though the main entrance. And at once I was assaulted by a variety of smells … the place reeked of sickness and disincentives. But I could also smell blood, fresh and old. I could even detect the slight smell of urine, but that was easier to ignore than the former.

For once I was very glad to be a vampire; the option to cut off my smell of sense did come in handy in a place like this. I didn't come here very often, for obvious reasons, maybe once a month, to pick up my mate for a (fake) date or to attend a function of some kind. How my mate was able to endure any of it, on a nearly daily basis, was truly beyond me. But it made me admire him even more … his never-ending display of strength and willpower, his utter dedication to help humans in need.

I took the elevator to the third floor.

I went straight for the front desk, nodding in greeting to some of the nurses and doctors I met on the way.

Oh thank God, it's Maggie's day … I signed internally, approaching the desk with the fist genuine smile of the day. The elderly woman was probably the only female nurse who didn't lust after my husband. She was happily married for twenty years, and had no interest in cheating on her husband, not even with someone as handsome as my husband. It was almost like she was immune to our natural lure.

"Mrs. Cullen, it's a pleasure to see you." The blonde woman greeted me. She was truly an exception to the rule. Normally, I would receive a fake smile, and glare of obvious jealousy, but not from her.

"Likewise. I hope you are well." I replied politely. Even though I wasn't really in the mood for chitchat I was willing to put up with it, not only to maintain appearances, but because I genuinely liked her. "How is Stanley?"

"Oh, he is fine. The new drugs you husband did prescribe for his high blood pressure, are doing wonders." She said, smiling gratefully. "What brings you by?"

"Oh, I'm here to surprise my husband. Is he in his office?"

"No, he's making his rounds. I'll page him, and let him know you are here." She offered at once, already dialing his number. I thanked her. She gestured down the hall. "Just go ahead, I'll tell him you are waiting in his office."

I nodded once, and hurried down the hall, entering Carlisle's office. There was a couch in there, and a couple of chairs but I was way too anxious to sit down. I paced the small office, walking from one side to the other, counting the seconds. Three agonizing minutes later, the door opened and my mate stepped into the room. He was barely able to close the door behind him, when I threw myself at him, hugging him for all I was worth, sobbing into his neck.

"Sweetheart, tell me, what's wrong?" He demanded firmly, yet softly.

A/N So what do you think about Esme? Denial much?

Next up … a little, more private get-to-know-each-other between Peter and Bella, and the an explanation for her and Jasper's freak-out.