I own nothing pertaining to Twilight. I do own my original ideas and characters.

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: deciding what you want

Ben Stein

Chapter One

Echoes of a Family

Carlisle's POV

I stood outside the door for long minutes trying to will myself to go in and face what waited for me. I might not have if the sun had not begun to peek through the cloud forcing me to retreat into a place that was not home.

The house was utterly quiet when I finally dragged myself through the door. I had worked a thirty six hour shift and would have stayed longer if they allowed me to. I was not tired but I was worn out and wary and the silence waiting for me only amplified my conflicted soul. It was something that I still had not gotten used to and honestly did not want to.

The booming sounds of my family arguing and fighting, laughing and loving were sorely missing from the hollow hole that we had been pretending was home for…how long had it been since we left? It must be almost five years since we left Forks I thought amazed it had only been that long.

I felt like I had aged centuries not just mere years. It had nothing to do with the time that had passed and everything to do with the scattering of my family.

"I missed you," she whispered in my ear hugging me from behind.

I did not respond right away instead I took a moment to soak up the love and comfort coming off of my beautiful wife. She would disagree with me but there was no doubt that she was the glue that held me together. Without her there I would have fallen apart a long time ago. I was not as strong as everyone thought I was.

"I didn't think you were home," I told her spinning around pulling her down onto my lap softly kissing her.

"I was out in the garden tending to the flowers and pulling weeds. I swear the weeds just keep coming and coming. There is more weeds then flowers at this point. I just don't know about this place. Even my flowers are unhappy here."

"You're unhappy?" I questioned of her though I didn't need to…I knew she was. I just wanted to finally hear it from her. Even more then myself she was one to keep her thoughts and feelings hidden for the sake of others.

"It is not that I am unhappy it is just this place no matter how hard I try to make it one…it's not home," she reluctantly explained to me as if she was afraid to disappoint me.

"I know how you feel and we both know why that is."

"Because no place could ever truly be home without our children," Esme declared taking the thought straight from my mouth.

"I agree. This separation has been hard. We got spoiled having them with us for as long as we did. I think what we are experiencing is what they call empty nest syndrome," I explained ever the doctor putting a diagnosis on what was happening.

"It is not a disease to be cured. There is nothing wrong with missing your children. We love them and want them to be here with us."

"Of course there is not anything wrong with missing them. It is just that it is not fair to ask our children to put their lives on hold for us."

"It has been years now since Edward and Bella were married. I understand they needed time together alone but now I need to be with my children again. We are preparing to move again so this would be the perfect time to ask them to come back home," Esme firmly told me.

I could not disagree with her.

Five years had passed since Edward's and Bella's wedding. Five years since they went off on their honeymoon and never returned.

Five years since Edward had called and explained that they would not be returning to the family. His reasons were simply; they wanted time alone to be newlyweds. Then after that he would be changing her and she wanted to spend that time away from everyone including us.

I could not blame them on either point.

Nor could I blame Rosalie and Emmett who decided just a month after Bella and Edward left to take a trip around the world. A year at the most was how long the trip was to take and just like Edward and Bella they had been gone five years.

Alice and Jasper had stayed only two weeks longer then Rosalie and Emmett. Alice was going to go to fashion school and well Jasper went where Alice went.

Other then a few calls and emails we had not seen or heard from our children who seemed all too thrilled to have escaped the confines of this family.

"You might think that it is a perfect time for them to come home but we can not make them. Clearly they are all doing well where they are or we would have heard differently. I just can't call them and demand they come home just so we feel better."

"Of course you can. You know if you call they will come. Maybe that is what they are waiting for. What if they have not come back because they think they are giving us what we want…space. The lack of communication in this family is sorely lacking. How did it get this way? We have spoken to Rose and Emmett maybe once a year for the last five years. Alice only three or four and Edward even less then that and neither of us have spoken to Jasper or Bella since they left."

I did not have to be an empathic to feel the hurt and disappointment swirling around her. The fact that her children didn't seem to need her or miss her was crushing to her soul because what made her, her was being a mother.

Her ability to love and nurture our children…children she had not birthed but claimed as if she had was amazing and a testament to the rare woman that she was.

"Carlisle, I know the last thing you want to do is ask the children to return home though you want them here as much as I do. You just want them to return on their own. I on the other hand am not above begging them to come back to us. And now more then ever as we are facing a life altering decision we need them here. It might ultimately be our final decision but considering the fact that it will affect the family I believe we should involve them in the discussion," she informed me and I knew she had made up her mind and when that woman made up her mind there was nothing or no one that could alter it.

"I will call and speak to them. I can not promise anything of course but I will make a request for them to come home for a visit at least. Decisions concerning the family and the future can be resolved at that point,"

"This is why I love you so much."

"Why? Because I always give you exactly what you want," I grinned at her and was rewarded by her flashing me one of her own. Her smile could warm me the way nothing else ever could.

"That is correct dear. You are the best husband a girl could ask for and I am so thankful every day that I have you to call my own. Life has blessed me."

I admitted to her thinking that as lacking as my life felt without my children it was bearable. Life without Esme would be anything but.

"I am the one who has been blessed.

"I love you. I know that you know that but I don't know if I say it enough."

"Carlisle Cullen I don't know about you some times, for being so smart you can be quite dense. If you didn't say I love you to me ever again I would still know. You tell me so much in every thing you do. Words are powerful but actions can say things words can't if you know what I mean," she smirked at me again and I knew what she was talking about. That smile said things to me words never could.

"What do you have in mind?"

"Oh I don't know…want to play doctor?" she giggled, my beautiful sexy wife giggled as she ran up the stairs. I sat there for only a second before I strolled up after her thinking might as well take advantage of a kid free house while we had the chance.

I could hear Esme humming a lovely soft tune from the other room. Her mood had much improved since earlier. I would like to believe that was due to my impeccable bedside manner but I had the feeling it had more to do with the fact that I had agreed to call the children and ask them to return home.

It was a decision that I was still not completely certain was the right one. Of course I wanted my children home, but not at the cost of their happiness or freedom. We tended to forget that they were not the children we are used to pretending they were. They were grown adults who had hopes and dreams that went beyond repeating high school over and over. That was not a life I would wish on anyone especially not my own children.

So I would ask them to come home just once more and that was it. The course of their lives would be placed in their hands. Whatever they decided I would offer my blessing as well as extend an open invitation to always come back.

Decisions needed to be made not only by them but also by Esme and I. And they had to be made quickly. Time was not on our side. It was a decision that could not be delayed.

That being said I knew I could not put off the calls I had to make. The sooner we were back together the sooner our lives could move forward.

It had been months since I had spoken to any of them. The last being Rosalie and Emmett four months ago when they were leaving Scotland and heading to Ireland. It had been a brief conversation for the purpose of information nothing more. At least they were still keeping us in the loop.

That could not be said for my other children.

The last I had heard from Alice and Jasper they were still in London but that had been almost a year ago. Who knew where they were now. And Edward and Bella was the wildcard. The last call I received from Edward was forever ago and he had not given me any information to where they were only that both were fine.

It had not made me any too happy but what could I do? Ground him? Spank him? Demand that he tell me where they were and why he was being so secretive?

No I never had nor never would try to control my children. I had done my best to raise them with morals and values, to know the difference between right and wrong. To have compassion and understanding for everyone and to be honest not only with others but also with yourself. After that it was all up to them.

Just as it was all up to them now. I could call and ask, but the choice to come back was up to them. I honestly did not know even with me asking if they would come back, especially Edward and Bella.

I mentally shook myself out of my own thoughts. I had prolonged the necessary phone calls long enough. It was time to bite the bullet.

My first call was to Alice and Jasper. I figured she would be able to see the decision the others would make letting me know if I needed to adjust my tactics. Hopefully it would all turn out well.

"Hello Alice, how are you doing?" I asked when she finally answered the phone after seven rings.

"Carlisle…" she said sounding surprised which was strange. Alice was never caught off guard.

"I was calling as if you don't know already to ask you and Jasper to come home. It does not have to be for anything other then a visit. There is some choices that Esme and I need to make and we would like to involve you all in the process," I explained to her and waited for her to answer though part of me was hoping that she would just tell me what the decision would end up being and save all of us the trouble.

"This is perfect. I have wanted to come home for some time now. There is so much that I want to share with you guys, but you know how it is…you get busy and days turn into years and then you think maybe too much time has passed."

"Alice I hope you don't really think that."

"Not really it was just another excuse. I've been avoiding home because I am not sure the reaction that I am going to get from the family about some of the choices that I have made in my life as of late," she informed me making me wonder what had happened to her and Jasper over the last five years. I stopped myself from asking knowing they would be home soon and we would be able to have a face to face conversation about all the events of the last few years.


"I know…you love us no matter what. It might take me a few days to get things in order here but I will be home soon," she assured me.

"Good… good. Alright well I will see you in a few days."

"Carlisle?" she softly said.


"I wish I could tell you what the others will decide, but I haven't seen their choices and I also have not seen yours. I'm sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry about. You can't see decisions that have not been made yet. I will see you when you get home and make sure you tell Jasper I said hi."


One down two to go.

"Hello Emmett."

"Hey Doc we were just thinking about calling you and mom. We were kind of thinking about coming home to crash for awhile. Is that cool?"

"You are always welcome here or wherever we are. As a matter of fact I was calling you for the same reason. I was hoping that you and Rosalie would come home for a visit. There is some family business that we need to discuss with all of you."

"Great minds think alike, right Doc? Seriously Rosie and me are dealing with some shit too that I wanted to converse with you about. Rosie thinks it something we should deal with on our own but she is wrong…"

I heard the smack and then the phone hitting the floor, "Damn Rose what was that for? Are you trying to give me brain damage?"


"I am glad to hear some things never change."

"How could they when that man will never grow up? Even if he could learn to keep his mouth shut that would be a huge step in the right direction," she rambled on and I could tell that her frustration had more to do with whatever Emmett eluded to earlier and not directly to do with Emmett.

"Well Emmett is Emmett and I don't think that he is going to change any time soon and honestly I don't think you would want him any other way. Maybe it is just a matter of too much togetherness. It has been just you and him for a long time now so injecting some other people in the mix might be just what you need."

"You don't have to sell the idea of us coming home. As Emmett said we were planning on coming back for a while."

"Then I won't keep you any longer and I will see you when you arrive which will be?" I questioned hoping to get everyone home as soon as possible and all at the same time.

"Day after tomorrow," she informed me and hung up without even saying good-bye letting me know that though she was coming home she was not happy about the return. I wasn't sure why, but I figured I would find out soon enough.

Okay two down one to go.

This was the call that I did not want to make because I feared that Edward would deny my request to come home. Over the last five years the hand full of times that we had talked he had been cold and distant. Our conversations had been mere minutes. He offered no information on where they were or what they were doing. Any questions I asked concerning Bella was met with quick snap answers they were as vague as they were short.

Red flags went off in my mind, but I pushed them away thinking this was Edward I was dealing with and simply that he was protective of Bella. I also factored in the fact that he was probably still coming to terms with the fact that Bella was no longer human and he was the reason. I feared it was something that he would struggle with for quite some time to come. I hoped I was wrong.

I guess I would find out soon enough.

My call to Edward was met with voice mail. I simply left a message to call and it was important.

I wasn't sure if or when he would call back but fifteen minutes later my phone vibrated with his return call.

"Edward my son I am so glad that you got back to me. How are you doing?" I asked.

"Fine," he flatly replied.

"And Bella?" I dared to ask bracing for his answer.


"Is she around? I would love to speak to her…"

"No she is not here. Your message said it was important?" he asked the tone of his voice getting more and more irritated.

"Yes…well the reason that I called was I would like to have you and Bella come home for a visit. I have spoken to the rest of the family and they have all agreed to come home for a visit and Esme and I would love to have you and Bella come back as well."

"I don't think that is a possibility."

"I don't ask much of you Edward, but this is important to us, especially your mother. There are things going on here that we need to discuss with our children. It is only a visit which is not much to ask considering it has been five years since the wedding. We have yet to see Bella after her change. We just need to have our family all together."

"We all have needs that are not met."

"Edward I am not asking you to come home. I am telling you to come home."

"Fine Carlisle I will do this one last thing for you, but I will be the only one coming home," he firmly told me and then clarified, "Bella will not be with me."