I revisit this chapter every once in a while and tweak a word or two, but I haven't posted it because it's…well…been soooo long. Tonight I received a pm inquiring whether or not I was going to finish the story and frankly, if someone would have asked me that a month ago, I would have probably said no. My life is crazy and I still don't know if I'll finish the story but I did finish this chapter and figured I would post it and humbly see how it's received. This is for you laura2314. And thank you.
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight.
I slowly turned to face the radiating glow of the setting sun beaming through the floor to ceiling windows. The room was bathed in a soft coral blush that momentarily drew away me from the scene of destruction. I walked around Carlisle's desk giving it no regard and placed my fingertips on the smooth pane of glass.
What just happened?
I released a breath I wasn't sure how long I'd been holding. Carlisle was never out-of-control when he punished me. Then again…I had never bucked against his authority in such a blatant display of will. Oh no, I thought in stunned disbelief at my very recent and abrupt loss of self-control. I leaned forward to press my forehead to the cool window.
My thoughts were fuzzy and I felt dazed from the drama. I caught myself in a smirk. I hated drama. I physically challenged my father, my coven leader. My incredulity turned into an unexpected bark of amusement when I realized what I had done. I physically challenged Carlisle? As the full impact of the incident seeped into my consciousness, any humor that I had found in the situation left me.
My father took me over his knee like a disagreeable child throwing a tantrum. I couldn't believe he did that…no, I couldn't believe he was capable of doing that. Nice move with the leg, Carlisle. I fumed internally recalling how he had trapped my legs beneath his own. My guess was that he learned that little maneuver trying to keep Rose under control. The bitterness I felt for being handled like an errant schoolboy caused a pang in my chest. My father's physical strength surprised me to say the least. The effortless way he restrained, moved, and punished me was quite literally blindsiding. I rubbed a knotted fist over the twinge that fluttered a staccato rhythm in my chest.
Did Mike Newton feel the same way when I pulled him off his feet? He was as speechless and disoriented as I was. For both of us, reality had been shattered when our impression of the seemingly passive being demonstrated unordinary abilities. I mistakenly assumed that Carlisle and I would be comparatively equal in brute vampire strength.
Then it dawned on me - the reason I was so astounded by the magnitude of his strength. I had never once seen Carlisle compete in the games of strength, speed, and agility my brothers and I concocted. I now realized that the reason Carlisle scoffed at our 'juvenile' games was to hold his strength in reserve. I didn't know why this had never occurred to me before. He did this for protecting his family, and for punishing his children…obviously. The sting of wounded pride burned as much as the residual effects of the stinging burn lit on my backside. My embarrassment over Carlisle's unanticipated show of strength wasn't going to be easy to shake. 'Yes Sir', your status as head-vampire-in-charge still stands. A low growl offrustration rolled up my throat as I rubbed my smarting bottom.
My humiliation was further accentuated over the fact that I could see some of my punishment in Carlisle's mind. Carlisle's thoughts were transparent and jumbled toward the end of the spanking. He became emotional and worried; he let his mental guard down. This provided me a view of the worst of the ordeal. The ability to see my own ass getting whipped is not something I would describe as a 'gift'. I was suddenly filled with dread and embarrassment when I realized I wasn't the only one who saw what happened. Alice. I lamely banged my head against the glass and groaned. Alice and I had a special relationship and I trusted her not to tell the others, but there are just some things a guy doesn't want his sister to see.
I straightened my back and squared my shoulders; regaining my pride somewhat I scanned the horizon. I was by nature a practical person, usually very controlled, second only to my father. I had longer than the others to hone the skill and I prided myself on it. Ever since Bella entered my life my former control has become a delusion. She affected me…in every way. Every sensory reaction I had was altered. To touch her translucent skin…to smell the delicious nectar of her blood…to kiss her tender lips… was unlike anything else I could imagine. Obviously, my rational mind was duly affected. I can't remember the last time I behaved this way, if ever. I was enraged and out-of-control at school to the point of threatening a human. I disrespected and challenged Carlisle, I can't believe I did that, and after a century of easily controlling any unchaste urges, my strict Victorian morality has become compromised.
I groaned as my fingertips moved to massage the tension from my temples.
You really fucked-up this time, Cullen.
Carlisle wasn't going to let me forget this little incident. Given the seriousness of having challenged my coven leader, I had no doubt that he would conduct this lesson with traditional formality. He was going to expect me to answer for my behavior. Standing before my lecturing father while he droned on endlessly about our rules and self-control and the importance of respect toward authority was not something I was looking forward to. The problem was, I knew our rules. I certainly was respectful and possessed an infinite amount of self-control…usually. Why I chose to completely disregard any modicum of intelligence I possessed in the past few days was beyond my comprehension. How was I to answer for that?
Gee Dad, the reason I've completely lost my mind these past few days is because my body wants things that my mind knows aren't conceivably possible. That every day I walk a fine line between my basest desires and a fierce protective devotion to the object of that desire. Oh…also, did I mention that I lose my freaking mind every time another guy even blinks in Bella's general direction.
Carlisle won't appreciate the sarcasm, but that's the gist of it…isn't it?
Since the first day Bella entered my black-hole of an existence everything had changed. I changed. Dealing with my bloodlust was now secondary to a purer kind of lust, that was, at the very least, the most human quality I have discovered in myself in the past century.
I closed my eyes and felt my face lift with a crooked grin. Ah! Bella. Saying I was unprepared for the feelings she unleashed in me was a colossal understatement. I never expected to fall this hard and fast for anyone, especially not a human girl. But here I was, completely consumed with Bella Swan and wanting to uncover all her secrets.
Every night Bella laid close to me in her tiny bed, her limbs naturally sought to tangle with mine in her slumber. The feel of her soft body pressed so close to mine rendered me incapable of reason and…spellbound. Her unconscious seduction obliterated any control my mind tried impose upon my body.
I ached for her.
I didn't know if it was guilt or delirium that made me disentangle myself from Bella and escape to the cool night air. Wretched creature that I am, I could not control my response to her. Running relieved the tension in my body, but not completely. Edward Cullen was only a man after all…immortal, a killer…but a man nonetheless.
The moral majority in the early twentieth-century regarded self-gratification among adolescent boys as a 'gateway' sin. Any young man wicked enough to indulge in such practice was destined for depravity and juvenile delinquency. Of course, there were also serious health factors to consider, such as blindness and hairy palms. I lifted my hand to my face and bent my wrist backward. I squinted hard and turned my palm, studying it from a few angles. Ridiculous, I chuckled.
Still, I was fraught with shame over my newly discovered hobby and haven't been able to look my mother in the eye for weeks. I was afraid she knew what I was thinking. God forbid she knew what I was doing! It was bad enough that Alice knew. Her thoughts did not hint to me that she knew, but when I caught her eye…her expression was…pure embarrassment. She knew.
I could tell Bella was feeling the same new sensations, the flush of passion that brought the blood to the surface of her skin and caused her scent to deepen. Bella was quite innocent, but her body betrayed her. She was on a precipice between adolescence and womanhood. It wouldn't take much to push her in the direction that nature would inevitably go. For this reason I could not let another male close to her.
Slowly turning from the window I was unprepared for the sight of Carlisle's disarrayed study. My body jolted with the shock of realization that I had caused this damage.
The beautiful, clean lines of his solid cherry, Deco-inspired desk now looked as if something prehistoric took a bite out of the area where Carlisle would place a book or his laptop. Our family didn't usually invest sentiment in material objects, reasoning that everything could be replaced once we set-up household in yet another tenebrous town. I heaved a guilty sigh as I skimmed my fingertips across the splintered edge. This wasn't just another piece of furniture that was forgotten and left behind when we moved. This desk was carefully crated and stored until we were comfortably settled, then it was shipped to us. This desk was a gift to Carlisle from Esme on their first wedding anniversary.
How was I to make restitution to my mother for destroying her gift? My apology to her would be sincere enough, but words would not fix the damage. The desk couldn't be repaired and it couldn't be replaced. I may as well have pummeled it to dust. There was no way for me to make this up to her, and that fact caused me agonizing guilt. I bowed my head and squeezed my eyes shut in silent anguish. I envisioned her nodding, accepting my apology, and then coolly turning from me. My sweet mother withholding her words from me would be like the twist of a knife in my cold, dead heart.
Please not your silent disappointment, Mother. I would rather you whip me. I know you would never raise a hand to me, regardless of the fact that I was already sufficiently punished by Carlisle, but you should at least have your say. I pinched the bridge of my nose between my fingers, a sharp, annoyed gust of self-loathing shot through my nostrils. How selfish I am wishing for Esme's anger. I don't deserve that. I will endure her reticence, if that's how she chooses to punish me.
I let out a soft sigh of frustration and walked around to the other side of the desk. The discarded strap greeted me, lying serpentine-twisted. I threaded lightly around the area where it laid, as if I would wake it. My childhood memory…the terrifying sound of leather across my flesh reminded me that Carlisle's punishment would not be as silent as Esme's.
I knelt absently to pick-up my wallet that lay open and face down. Of course, Carlisle would think to remove it from my back pocket; he meant for me to feel his disapproval. I folded my wallet as I stood and gingerly slipped it back into my pocket, holding my breath as I felt it graze my tender backside.
The familiar 'twinge' continued to flutter sporadically with my emotions. Peaking and ebbing through the gauntlet of embarrassment, pride, guilt, and pain. I started pacing the Persian rug in front of my father's desk. Being kept waiting like this was pointless and aggravating; patience was not one of my virtues. I tilted my head upward and inhaled the air searching for the distinct sandalwood and vanilla notes of Carlisle's unique scent. His essence was very faint, indicating that he had not recently been close by. I could only imagine his whereabouts, probably hunting, as was his custom when he needed to clear his head.
I debated with myself on whether or not I should disobey a direct order from Carlisle and eavesdrop on his thoughts. If he continued to keep me waiting I would wear a faded stripe into the pattern under my agitated steps. My restless irritation was once again summoning my demon to resurge. The demon gave a thump to my chest, testing me… willing me to take back control. I felt my body tense and my temper ignite, as I continued pacing. The frustration bubbled inside of me, quickly turning into boiling anger.
What the hell, Carlisle? Are you going to leave me in here alone all fucking night? You CAN'T control my mind! I paced faster; my lips tightening into a scowl as my fist pounded the air in protest. How can you expect me to respect your privacy when you don't respect me as an adult? How can you lecture me on self control when you have exhibited none with me today?
My demon was nodding and grinning in agreement.
You think you know everything Carlisle, you think you know me? Unless you are purposely blocking me, I have a three mile range on everything you think! I can tune into your worries, dreams, fantasies and…
An unbidden realism sucker-punched me during my internal rant and I stopped dead in my tracks. The wind completely knocked-out of my sails.
Unlike anyone else, Carlisle did know me. Not only could he block my mind reading more adroitly than the rest of my family, he was also quite skilled at knowing when I was picking through the thoughts of my victims. Usually an eyebrow quirked in my direction was enough to get me to stop. I lost my driving privileges for a few weeks once before I realized that my mental interloping was best done when my father was not around.
He's not around now, though. Is he? My demon interjected.
My confidence shot-up a little, but it gnawed at me that my father was able to pick-up whatever physical clues I projected when I was mind reading. I resumed my anxious pacing.
My brothers and sisters I could handle. I sharpened a very necessary skill early on in regard to my gift and my siblings. I had learned to keep a poker face when listening to their internal monologues, which wasn't easy, especially when their thoughts turned derogatory toward me. My rules were simple, I entertained myself whenever I so desired and was rewarded with unguarded entertainment and potentially useful information. I learned early on that smirking, rolling my eyes, and outright laughing had detrimental consequences…my siblings had an 'all's fair in love and war' sense of justice and knew how to torture me in return. Truth be known, most of the time I simply chose to ignore their inane thoughts, especially Emmett's sexual fantasies, Jasper's bloodlust, Alice's fashion addiction, or anything vain, shallow, mindless, and inconsequential from Rosalie.
Out of the utmost respect, I honored Esme's privacy. What kind of son would do something like that? My mother's privacy I respected with reverence. Besides, there are just some things a son doesn't want to know about his mother.
I stopped my relentless pacing and willed myself to relax. Listening was easier when I was unstressed. I took a few needless breaths and closed my eyes to concentrate. I sorted through the buzz and minutia of unrecognizable voices quickly until I pinpointed the soft timbre of Carlisle's inner voice.
His tone indicated to me that the anger he so vehemently displayed a while ago was no longer spiked and that he was moving toward home. I felt a bit of satisfaction from the guilt he was obviously now feeling.
"…I should have handled that differently. Aghhh, what a mess! Maybe the outcome of what happened wouldn't have changed, but I should have reined in my anger. How can I lecture my son on the dangers of an uncontrolled temper, when I can't control my own? He did challenge me though, and as his leader I couldn't let him have the upper hand. He's my son; I'm his father. There is a respect issue here. What COULD I have done differently? I couldn't exactly tear his arms off. He was acting like a child – he got treated like a child..."
Carlisle's justification for treating me like a naughty little boy dealt another blow to my rankled pride.
Don't be so sensitive, I scolded myself. Remember these are his thoughts; I shouldn't be listening if I can't handle it. I took a deep breath trying to sooth my hurt feelings. I wasn't giving him enough credit. He never said I was a child, only that I had acted like one.
"…He knows better than to threaten a human. I know he knows better than to threaten me! I should have just taken the strap to his backside and been done with this…"
I bristled as I heard the anger in Carlisle's words. I had hoped the he had enough time to cool off. I imagined the prey that he just took down was not hunted and killed with his usual grace.
"…(Sigh) No. No…never punish in anger. Edward has always been more complicated than my other children…so brilliantly talented, intelligent, and self–aware…my first son is truly my heart…"
I was surprised by the complete turn-around in Carlisle's thoughts. My body instantly relaxed and my chin reflexively found my chest. If I had tears to cry the dam holding them back would have collapsed right now. The fingertips of my right hand found their way to my chest directly over my unbeating heart mimicking a silent reciprocation on my father's thoughts.
"…As Edward's father, whipping him will come at a great price to my heart. As his coven leader, I will have to focus on this as discipline…"
At that moment something in Carlisle's words affected me so profoundly that the demon I was battling, pride and temper, conceded in defeat. I now realized that I must submit to Carlisle's authority and to whatever punishment he deemed just. I disrespected and disobeyed him, more than once. I physically challenged my coven leader. I did all of these things, but I also knew that whatever I did wrong, no matter how awful, Carlisle would always love me.