Inspired by Silver

Medium: Fire on Frost

December 1957


In the autumn of 1957, I was invited to a doctor's conference held at Allegheny General in the city of Pittsburgh. Amply relieved upon my arrival to find the weather conveniently gray for a better part of my stay, I began to grow ideas for a future place of residence in the area for my family. I was always easily distracted by the beauty of every new place I visited, and I fell easily into the trap of searching for a place we could move when it became necessary that we relocate ourselves again. Any place of dwelling that was far away from the traffic of society was appealing to me, and so my extensive search led me into the uncharted forests of Somerset county.

The area was ideal, not only for the rich forest life, but its distance from any highly populated towns or cities, which made it a reasonable place for a family of vampires to live. I had visited the county with the intention of buying suitable land where I could build a house that would fit our entire family, but I ended up purchasing a ready-made home, nestled on the top of a mountain in the southwestern part of the state. It was a beautifully rustic log cabin, sturdily built with a handsome façade, surrounded by pine trees and boulders the size of tool-sheds. The only problem with the house itself was that it was a bit too small in size to fit my entire family.

But it was perfect for my wife and me.

That was the first time I'd ever considered purchasing a house in the states for our use alone. Esme was usually interested in the more avant garde homes designed by semi-famous architects whose names were only known to those who were immersed in the field. But when I looked at this cabin, I could envision her falling in love with it as much as I had.

The interior was even more perfect than the exterior. It looked small from the outside, but the use of space on the inside was nothing less than genius. Gaping cathedral ceilings in the living room and bedroom made for a spacious and well planned layout. The fireplace was big enough for a few people to fit inside a quality my wife had always been fond of, regarding fireplaces.

With the intent of surprising her for the upcoming Christmas, I purchased the property and returned home to my family the next weekend, quite proud of my secret gift.

I spent Christmas day that year with the whole family, but on the day after I promised to take my wife to see the one gift that was impossible to fit beneath the tree. Esme's excitement was more than an addiction to me; it was nourishment, something on which I fed hungrily. If I could not provide suspense for her every once in a while I feared that she would become dissatisfied with me...though she assured me hundreds of times that this could never be true.

Still, I sought to please her tremendously whenever possible, often times in a less traditional way. My Esme was wonderfully spontaneous by nature. Even though I usually was not, I believed wholeheartedly that she deserved a certain amount of spontaneity from me.

I knew she was not disciplined enough to resist peeking, so I forced her to ride the entire way in the car with a blindfold across her eyes. She feigned irritation with me, but I knew that deep down she loved being the victim of a good surprise.

I was about to drive her all the way to Pennsylvania, and she had no idea.

As a vampire her senses were keen enough to detect the drop in temperature and the shift in altitude, however slight. It was only a matter of time before she would figure out where I was taking her. Already I was sure she must have had an inkling, but she kindly kept her guesses to herself.

When I reached my destination, I parked my car at the bottom of the mountain and made Esme walk the rest of the way to amplify the suspense. I could see her smile growing as she listened to the ambiance of winter woodlands surrounding her. The path was steep and covered with frost, but she looked so graceful, even being blindfolded. I let her walk on her own for a while until she reached out an unsure hand, fingers fluttering for mine to find.

I held her by the hand for the rest of the way up the mountainside until the roof of the house was just in sight. Thanks to the telltale scents of burning wood, cold pine sap, and freshly fallen snow, her smile quickly turned smug. She had guessed where we were before I gently untied the blindfold from around her head.

"If you have an island in the tropics, then you'll be needing a villa in the mountains," I whispered as her eyes at last drank in the sight. With peaceful snow flurries just beginning to fall, the house could not have looked more picturesque for the moment when Esme first saw it. I had timed it perfectly.

"It's stunning," she sighed, squeezing my hand.

"One day I'll buy you house in the Alps," I promised. Esme liked to dream big, and I liked to indulge her in those dreams. But the fun came in prolonging the inevitable, working up to it slowly over the decades.

She tossed me a cheeky smile before heading eagerly toward the door. "I think this will do just fine for now."

I laughed as I sped after her, hurrying to be the one to let her in.

As impressed as Esme was by the clever interior, the furnishings included in the house were sparse at best. I could already see the cogs spinning in her head for how she could improve upon the house's interior design. Any time I dared to give her a new piece of property, I gave her a new project to take on as well.

For the next two days of our trip, Esme dragged me around the small surrounding villages, searching through family owned antique stores for items to furnish our new vacation home. Her taste was impeccable, and I quickly learned not to be hurt when she turned down several of my suggestions while shopping for lamps and upholstery. Halfway through our expedition, I decided it was best to let her make all the choices.

I let her spend more time than necessary browsing for trinkets that I could have cared less about. Decorating amused Esme perhaps more than anything else, and I would never discourage her from it, even if I did sometimes believe she made it into an obsession. In the end, anything she did was endearing in my eyes. I hadn't the heart to refuse her anything, even the rather eerie looking cuckoo clock she insisted on hanging by the kitchen door.

While Esme fumed over her decision of green or red plaid curtains to cover the windows, I settled instead to decorate the house in a more modest and personal way, using my own handmade carvings to dress the fireplace mantel and the empty table tops throughout the house. It was the safest route to take if I wanted to have some contribution to the interior decor. After all, my artwork was never outdated enough for my wife's taste.

I busied myself morning and night, carving small wooden deer, elk, and birds to make the house seem more alive. Living alone had taught me a lot about the emotional effects of interior design. I still preferred the soft eyes of a sculpted woodland creature on my night table or on my desk while I read. They made me feel more at ease, even with a living, breathing companion by my side.

For our bedroom Esme had bought dark red and green plaid sheets for the bed, matching pillowcases and curtains, a terracotta vase filled with pussy-willow branches, and a tiffany lamp with red reindeer silhouettes painted on the colored glass. She rearranged the heavy mahogany furniture about eight times before she settled on an arrangement she liked. I noticed she had placed my desk by the largest window, precisely where I would have preferred it. But I also noticed that it was close enough to our bed that she could watch me write from a comfortable spot if she so wished. I suspected Esme wasn't as discreet about the placement of her furniture as she thought. I knew there was always a reason behind why she took so long to find a good arrangement for the room.

When Esme was finally finished with the decor, the cabin looked impressively charming in a rustic sort of way. I knew my wife would never be content with a room until it bested the pictures on the covers of the interior design magazines she held in such high regard. I assured her that all she had to do was touch a single piece of furniture in a room for it to be worthy of the cover. She accused me of being biased, but I knew better than to argue. I found the best way to settle any frivolous quarrel between us was with a kiss.

Nonetheless, I thought our joint effort in making the house into our home was very successful, despite the fact that Esme may have gotten a bit too carried away with all of the plaid patterns. I admit I'd gotten just as carried away with my carvings, especially when my wife was already content with the decorating we had done so far.

It seemed once I started on a carving spree I just couldn't stop. The little wooden figurines were so easy to make, so satisfying to complete. I loved the way they took on a life of their own when I set them beside one another in various places throughout the house. I loved that I could control how I made them look by the work of my own two hands. I loved that making them brought back memories from the time I had taught Esme to carve before we were married.

"You won't be happy until you've carved an entire forest for our house, will you?" Esme asked fondly as she came up behind me and slipped her hand teasingly between my chisel and the fresh piece of wood I was about to nick.

I winced in a bashful panic as I quickly set down the chisel and pulled my wife's pretty hand away from the dangerous cutting tools.

"You shouldn't do that," I chided her lovingly with a chaste kiss to her knuckles, turning to look down into her eyes.

A crisp winter breeze scattered sawdust over my workbench and caused Esme's curls to fly haphazardly around her fair porcelain face. Her lips curved into a mischievous smile, her gaze reflecting the sparkling snow.

"I know. You get awfully excited whenever you're carving, love." There was a dark sort of warmth to her voice that made my breath skip.

Her hand was still trapped within mine from when I had kissed it, and her index finger stretched forward to tickle my lower lip.

I could see my eyes mirrored in her own, wide and inquisitive. I swallowed.

"I don't think I've showed you the bed sheets I picked out yet," she said, a hint of suggestion not so hidden in her voice.

I laughed heartily at her, drawing her hand away from my face. "I think you showed them to me a dozen times, darling."

I picked up my chisel again and started into the carving I had been about to work on before she interrupted.

"Did you prefer the sheets to be red or green?" she asked brightly, her eyes dancing as she circled slowly around my workbench.

"I don't have a preference. Both are fine."

"Good. Because I couldn't decide, so I just put both of them together."

I smirked. "Clever."

"I thought so, too."

I sighed and tossed her my pair of gloves. "Take those back inside, will you?"

"Why don't I put them on you, and then take them back inside?"

I hid my smile. She was determined to get me inside the house. I enjoyed teasing her too much to let her win just yet.

"I'll be in as soon as I've finished this last carving," I promised.

Her expression softened as she came close enough to fondly tap the corner of the wooden block on the table. "And what's this one going to be?"

"You'll just have to wait and see," I whispered.

"Fine." Her lips brushed my cheek. "Don't be too long."

"I won't."

I remained true to my word. Twenty minutes was enough time to finish carving a rabbit no bigger than my hand. Truth be told, I didn't want to spend any more time away from Esme when she was waiting so patiently for my company.

I craved hers just as much.

It was dusk by the time I came back into the house, shaking off my boots on the doormat before I went any further and ruined the hardwood floor. I didn't remember there being a doormat when I went outside that morning. Esme must have gone out and bought that, too.

I grinned begrudgingly as I slipped out of my socks, then carried my newest carving into the hall, in search of my wife.

Her warm voice greeted me as I entered the living room. "There's my beloved Bernini."

I shook my head at the nickname as I leaned over the back of the sofa where she lay and kissed her forehead. "I would hope my sculptures were anything but Baroque, sweetheart."

"Oh, hush. I meant it as a compliment." She ruffled my hair playfully and gently pried the wooden rabbit from my hand. "For me?"

I nodded.

She held the small animal up for her critique and giggled. "Oh, Carlisle. It's adorable."

I laughed amiably as I knelt by the fireplace and began stacking the logs inside. "I thought you might have a good idea for where to put it."

Her face instantly became serious as she considered how it would fit in with the current decor. "I think it would look perfect on the window sill right beside my bathtub," she said wistfully. Her eyes met mine briefly when I looked up from my task of preparing the fireplace. "Will you go and place it there for me?"

Immediately I rose to my feet without a question to her request. I took the carving from her hands and obediently made my way through the hall and into our bedroom. It was appealingly dark inside, lit only by the faint blue dusk leaking in from the curtain framed windows. The room was more concealed than the rest, the only one with fully carpeted floors that made it completely echoless. It smelled faintly of cinnamon.

Outside, snow fell softly without a sound, painting the windows with a sheen of protective frost. I opened the creaky wooden door that led to the bathroom and found Esme's specified spot without even flipping the light switch.

The window sill was low enough to be within easy reach to anyone who lay inside the bathtub. Esme had already dressed the rough wooden ledge with her favorite soap bottles, and a single vanilla scented candle inside a circlet of pine branches and sprigs of holly. I tucked the wooden rabbit into the corner of the window, where it could be partially ensconced in the pine needles.

Satisfied with my decorative instincts, I closed the door behind me and met my wife back in the living room where she had dutifully finished my work in lighting a fire.

She patted the fur rug on the floor beside her and I settled down to join her in front of the blossoming blue flames. I stretched out my legs, letting my bare feet face the fire, and Esme curled up against my side.

"As happy as I am when we have our entire family together, I do love just being alone with you," she murmured into my shoulder.

I reached down and squeezed her hand, smiling at the fire. "So do I."

The flames crackled contentedly and the wind whistled lovingly outside our window. Thin sheets of frost congealed along the panes of glass, longing to melt through the window and join us. It emphasized the stark contrast between the tempting warmth of our home and the bitter cold just outside. Reaching up to the sofa behind us, I tugged down the blanket and draped it over our bodies before sliding my hand around Esme's hip to hold her more tightly. I hoped that made the frost even more envious.

I sighed, and the fire snipped at me for disturbing the perfect silence.

But it made not a peep when Esme spoke.

"Sometimes, if it is quiet enough, I swear I can hear your heart still beating."

Her voice was strained yet tender, echoing in the hollow of my empty chest where she rested. Her chin rubbed against the place where my heart would have been, teasing me with tiny movements I could never feel again.

"Why do you say things like that?" I asked, failing to hide how heartbroken her simple statement had made me feel.

"You say things like that all the time," she pointed out, a soft tone of argument hidden in her words.

"I write things like that," I specified, flexing my fingers as a subtle reminder of my passionate hobby.

She grasped my fingers and lifted her head from my shoulder to look up into my eyes. "You say them, too."

My throat tightened, making my following words difficult. "Only when we are alone."

She glanced to the side, allowing a brief reflection of our roaring fire to shine in her eyes. "Aren't we alone right now?"

When she looked back at me, I found myself speechless. My heart began to panic at the thoughts of those little, superficial things I had lost from being human. I refused to submit myself to those thoughts, especially while Esme was tucked in my arms.

"I don't want to start thinking that way again," I warned her quietly, digging my fingers into her sides as if it would force the thoughts out of me. "I'll start to want something I can't have."

"What do you mean?"

The light, wary note in her voice haunted me. I had to be honest with her.

"I'll wish to be human again," I whispered, my eyes filled with envy for the fire's heat as I looked away from her.

"You're more than human, Carlisle," my wife passionately announced, her palm secure against my cheek. "We all wish for something once in a while. We know we can't have it, but that's what makes it just a wish," she mentored me wisely. "Just a healthy, harmless wish."

Her thin finger traced a line from the corner of my eye to the swell of my lower lip, as if following the invisible track of a teardrop down my face. I bit my lip to keep it from trembling as I finally lowered my eyes to meet hers, seeking refuge in the glow of her boundless love for me.

"Remember this, always," she whispered. "I never want you to change."

With that she cupped my chin and drew me close for a deep kiss. Her lips were full and generous, spiced with desire as she sought entry to my mouth with her delicate tongue. As I allowed her to invade me, my mind filled with mist and my heart was reminded of how fortunate I was to have what I did. Only Esme could provoke such a profound change within me with just a moment, just a single gesture. She had no weapons and she used no force. She had only the overwhelming love in her heart and the power of a gentle touch in her fingers.

Unaware that my hands were already in motion, I had somehow managed to flick several buttons of my sweater loose before Esme was finished kissing me. When she pulled away, she wasted no time with the rest. Her fingers tore the woven beige threads apart and freed me just as quickly of the cotton shirt I wore underneath.

She laid her head down on my chest, and her hair spilled out across my skin, a sea of copper strands spiraling out onto a shore of white. I shivered, running my fingers through the tiny tide of silk as she settled against me. Her fingers deftly relieved me of my belt and pants, all while her velvet cheek lay at loyal rest on my collarbone.

I helped her efforts by kicking away any excess fabric, delighted by the teasingly soft tufts of fur that touched my naked skin from the rug beneath us. It was moments like these where I was made indecently appreciative of my wife's choice in decor.

She must have known her nude body would look stunning splayed out on that luxurious white fur rug.

I welcomed a tug of longing deep in my belly at the thought.

My hands were only aggressive toward the clothing she wore. Once she was free of her confinements, my hands were reverent and focused. There was no fear or worry in her eyes as she looked to me - only promises and passion. Her features softened in submission, her limbs opened invitingly, and everything about her was open, ready, and willing for me.

Before we were married, I had imagined seeing Esme this way so many times. Bare, exposed, her slender figure shuddering against every shade and texture I could think of. I had envisioned her on scarlet silk and rich oriental patterns and thick clouds of cool white cotton. Warm dewy grass on summer mornings, and mosaics of burnished autumn leaves. Blue so deep it was like the dark side of the moon, violets so garish they made her skin look pink. I imagined her floating in shallow water as ripples danced around her body, and iridescent bubbles coated her curves.

To this day I had been blessed to fulfill nearly every one of my fantasies. I had seen Esme in every way I'd imagined...and so many more. She was always offering herself to me in the most unexpected places.

I was vaguely aware of the shadows that filtered into the room around us as dusk turned to darkness. The snow was now coming down so thick it looked like a curtain of lace had been draped over our house. The change in atmosphere was stark enough that Esme's eyes flitted toward the window at the same time I turned my head out of curiosity to look. Though I often prided myself on having unbreakable concentration, there were still many times when I was just as easily distracted as my wife.

I let myself enjoy the view for a few moments, admiring the shimmering snowfall and basking in the comfort of our fire lit interior. Restless gusts of wind caused the wood to creak, but the walls held sturdy against the blizzard, determined to preserve our romantic confinement.

A distant smile crossed my face as I watched tall black pine trees sway in the swirling snow through the window. The prospect of being snowed in tomorrow morning was awfully appealing.

A peaceful sigh of amusement from beneath me drew my attention away from the strengthening snowstorm.

I turned my head and noticed that Esme was no longer engrossed in what was happening outside. Now she was looking up at me in that way. Her eyes dewy and hooded, her lips parted, her breath short. It was a look of subtlest challenge, but it was also a generous invitation. Her eyes spoke volumes while her lips were still, imploring me to indulge myself in all that her body offered. For years we'd shared an intimacy beyond anything I'd imagined; for years I'd seen this very look on her face, and yet it never ceased to fascinate me. She was so vulnerable, so trusting, so enticing. Her gaze alone fed my humble hunger for that tiny swell of power and pride. It was as if she knew just how secretly I craved that simple taste of masculine dominance. She fed it to me with a silver spoon as she lay there with all her feminine glory exposed, her dark eyes silently considering all the ways I could take her.

I burned uncontrollably when I wondered about Esme's fantasies. She was comfortable revealing numerous secrets to me, even those of an incredibly intimate nature. But I knew there were many things she did not share so freely with me, just as there were many things I did not readily share with her.

Nevertheless, I was confident that I could coax a few new secrets out of her if I put myself to the challenge.

I felt my forehead wrinkling as I attempted to gauge how far she was from favorable inebriation. It could be a while before she started spilling anything too personal. I had a feeling it might take more than a few well-practiced caresses for her to share something new with me tonight.

"You're lost in your thoughts, darling."

My shoulders stiffened slightly in response to her accusation, but it hadn't been anything I wasn't expecting. Esme always noticed when my mind was drifting.

"My thoughts are idle," I lied lazily. I knew she could see right through me.

"Mmmm. I doubt that. I can see them twisting and turning..." She grasped a few stray locks of my hair on either side of my head and stirred them gently with her fingers.

I purred happily at the impromptu massage, aware that my wife would take it personally if I failed to gather her intended message. I wanted to ignite a little bit of fire in her.

As I expected, Esme's hands immediately pulled away, denying me pleasure at the expense of her questioning glare. It appeared she was just as set upon teasing me, too.

I pouted at the withdrawal of her touch, but she fixed me in place with a flirtatious, sparkly stare. The next thing I knew, she was reaching up to lightly drag the tip of her index finger down the center of my forehead, pure wonder written in her eyes. "One has to wonder what has you so consumed, Doctor Cullen."

I barely suppressed a satisfied grin as she traced delicate but complicated swirls across my forehead. I had never before given any credit to the forehead being an erogenous zone, but now I was having second thoughts. Clearly, any part of a man's body Esme dared to touch became erogenous.

"You know precisely what has me so consumed," I told her, my voice raspy. I bent down and curved my neck into hers, burying my nose in her silky hair as she giggled beneath me. Her breasts rubbed incessantly against my chest as she shook with coy laughter, and I pined for something clever to say just so that I could prolong the exquisite effects of her laugh.

As I hovered above her, her fingers crept over my thighs, burrowing deeper until her hand cupped the bundle of flesh between them. I whimpered as she squeezed and caressed, slipping into crevices I was not even brave enough to explore on my own.

I softly uttered my pleasure, encouraging the elaborate touch of her hand. Shadows deepened in my subconscious, and the weight of our intimacy settled deep in my stomach. With my lips I timidly grasped her earlobe and suckled contentedly, thanking her without words.

Outside the wind howled relentlessly, like a mother wolf searching for her pups - a sound so mournful and cold. My body sank into the arms of my wife, caught in that strange but beautiful bridge between desperation and utter comfort. Here I was home, I was safe, and I was loved.

"Don't fall asleep now," Esme teased, nudging my side as I lay still against her. I smiled into her shoulder, squeezing her waist as a form of apology. Raising my head, I assured her that I was indeed alert.

"Silly girl." I rubbed noses with her and she giggled again. Her eyes sparkled and her legs tightened slightly around my hips.

A familiar fever spread through my veins, rousing a curious fire in my groin. Esme's quick-witted fingers trailed up my back and along my neck, bringing me closer as she lifted her chin to kiss me. Our lips met once, twice, and then touched with a whisper of a breath before Esme reclined, apparently satisfied for the time being.

I likewise lifted my head to study her in the dim firelight, the way her supple lips quirked on one side, the way the shadows emboldened her dimpled smile.

"How do you do it?" I asked, breathless.

Her eyes flashed with knowing humor as she cocked her head against the rug. "Do what?"

"Make my heart ache with just one smile?"

She burst into sweet, girlish laughter, tossing gently beneath me as I watched, bemused.

"Oh, Carlisle." She shook her head, her expression insultingly fond as she pinched my jaw with two fingers. "You're so archaic."

My mouth formed a line. "In more ways than one."

The sparkle in her eyes calmed to a dreamy shimmer. Her smile was wholesome. "I love that about you."

Our hips ground closer to one another, and I was certain she could sense my appreciation.

Her eyes fluttered then closed briefly, her thighs tightening so much around me that my hips actually began to ache. I felt a tempting moisture pool in her lap, somehow sealing us together.

A moan escaped my throat as I bowed my head and rested my cheek on the swell of her breast. She shivered.

"I'm cold," she stated with a longing glance in the direction of the fireplace. "Take me closer to the fire."

I hid my grin between her breasts. I knew Esme too well. She could be such a playful pest...but then again so could I.

We both liked to pretend we were human.

Intent on obeying her soft-spoken command, I lifted myself from her perfectly warm body and hovered for a moment, giving her just enough time to take in the sight of me, fully enhanced by the fire's glow. Her dark eyes gleamed while she watched me shift my weight and stretch my legs. It was something of a challenge to manage my body - the body of a fully grown adult male - while confined to the horizontal perimeter of a moderately sized area rug. Some part of me enjoyed being forced to crawl about like a child, the awkward shifting of balance to maintain an acceptable amount of grace. There was something wonderfully exposing and liberating about it.

I had made love to my wife on many variants of the floor before, but never on a bear hide rug. I was finding it most pleasant thus far.

I gathered Esme up in my arms and kneeled my way toward the fireplace where the flames welcomed us with a burst of heat and a hearty crackle. Sensual reddish light flickered freely over the space I had chosen to settle, manipulating the mood of the room.

"Thank you, love," Esme murmured appreciatively as I bent over her, lowering her into the fur. Her thighs parted lazily before the flames.

All my venom rushed readily to my loins, leaving my mouth completely dry. "You're welcome." I barely managed the words.

An almost sinister twinkle defiled her innocent gaze as her stare dipped below my waist.

"The firelight flatters you," she whispered. Her lips glistened as she said it.

I opened my mouth to respond in some way, but was distracted by the sight of her own hand rising slowly over her torso to fondle her breast.

She was destroying me.

Her fingers continued to roam across her own skin, her gaze steady on mine, watching me as I watched her. I was only vaguely aware that my mouth was open, my mind more blank than an arctic tundra.

Somehow my hand managed to reach forward and grasp hers, guiding it experimentally across the plane of her taut tummy. My fingers consumed hers, twice as large. She allowed me the power of manipulation, her digits limp as I entertained myself vicariously through her forced touch.

I guided her hand down the trembling curve of her thigh, moved by the irresistible expression on her face as I matched up our forefingers and pressed the plush pink button that would awaken her pleasure.

"Are you still cold, darling?" I asked, not expecting a wordy response.

She mumbled incoherently, shaking her head 'no' as I continued to control her touch. Tiny strands of her hair flared as she rubbed her head against the rug, and I lovingly smoothed the static from her curls with my free hand.

Bending down, I placed a soft kiss on her temple. Her eyes opened up to see my face, shining in the darkness of my shadow as I loomed over her. Without a word she communicated her need to me by gently clutching my backside to bring me closer to her lap. Unable to suppress my instincts, I slipped slowly inside of her; hot, hard, and buried deep.

The enchanting fragrance of burning pine mixed with that of our burning desires. Our combined heat made clouds of white spread across the cold windows, and outside the snow grew even thicker, tumbling wildly from the sky.

Esme's eager lips latched onto my neck and sucked furiously as I pumped into her, overwhelmed by the sea of tempting textures that surrounded me. The silk of her hair, the velvet of her skin, the feathery softness of the fur rug beneath us... the rough, unpredictable bursts of heat coming from the fire...

Her legs curled around my waist, pulling me deeper, the upward tilt of her hips tantalizingly vulnerable. My hands gripped more tightly at her waist, and hers mercilessly squeezed my shoulders. She whispered something incoherent to me – a whisper that transformed into more of a soft shriek when I finally surrendered my control.

A soothing darkness enveloped my conscious as I settled to the deepest point within her, my body melding to hers as the miracle of our love so eloquently dictates. There was no masculine or feminine when we were one; all opposite concepts became equally balanced, creating something entirely new and too beautiful to describe in earthly terms.

I somehow found the strength to give one more thrust, my body wracked by the fatigue of a relentless pleasure. Esme fed off the force of my final effort, her sudden storm of fluttering and pulsing far outweighing the fulfillment of my own climax. It was a familiar formula that never quite manifest itself in the same way. Each time it was different, changing and morphing into something strange and exciting. There was such beauty in that we never knew who would break first. It was not a competition so much as a constant climb of anticipation, a lingering question reflected in our eyes – daring, breathless, and desperately curious until the very end.

My senses sang in perfect harmony as I watched my wife's beautiful body assaulted by pleasure. She tossed about on the white fur rug, eyes half-open, lips panting, legs trembling. I was free to touch her in any way I wished, my fingers following a path of gentle wonder across her flawless skin. My knuckles were warmed in the valley of her breasts, her soft flesh so prettily flushed by the firelight. The pad of my thumb swept curiously down the curve of her hipbone, tracing tiny swirls along the swell of her thigh. When her body at last became still, I laid myself to rest overtop of her, my nose burrowed in the luxurious mess of her hair.

She breathed into my ear, shallow and content for a while as I lazily studied the grainy details of the hard wood floor around us. My concentration on such things was an anomaly after being intimate with my wife. I noticed more subtleties in the colors and shades, truly appreciating how intricate and possessing they were. The texture of the wood seemed almost dangerous compared to the comfortable softness of the fur I'd come to know.

The rug on which we lay was like a safe raft in a strange sea of rustic brown wood. Self-consciously, I tucked my knees closer to the rest of my body, determined that no part of me should stray from the warm surface of the rug.

I had found a new home within a home, and I did not intend on leaving so soon.


My wife was warm on my side as we laid together, watching our unchanging surroundings as though we found meaning in rough wood furnishings and limp cotton curtains and heaps of blackened ash in the fireplace.

I closed my eyes every so often, but when I felt her breath spill down my throat, I had to look.

I took a quick peek at her face beside me, and my gaze caught the slope of her slender nose, the downy russet shades of her thick eyelashes, the faint glistening spots on her cheek where my lips had marked her through the night. Made content by the sight, my eyes drifted into savory darkness once again.

My eyes had never felt this tired. I thought of telling her this, but then I remembered that I had chosen silence for this day. Starting this very early and cold morning.

It was something I did sometimes. Esme called it my "twenty-four-hour vow of silence." I liked to think of it in a different way. I used it as practice to speak using less than words. Or perhaps it was more than words. Sometimes I thought touch trampled the use of words. Harshly.

I felt my lips curve into a smile at the thought of touch in a battle with spoken words, but my thought was interrupted by a hitch in the breath of the woman beside me.

"Look out the window," I heard her murmur on the shell of my ear. "Look," she repeated, and pinched my chin, nudging me to the direction she desired.

So I looked.

"Hmm." I could think of no words to grant the beauty I saw before us, through the glass, on the window pane, whistling through the trees and air. A great ghostly sea of white. Clouds that had fallen from the heavens. Quilts and pillows of snow, comforting and cold.

So maybe I could think of words to describe it...but I was simply not in the mood to share them.

"It's all white," she whispered against my chin. "Everything. White."

Her hand traveled across the length of my torso, and I couldn't help but think she was speaking as much about my skin as the snow, as she whispered about everything being white.


My skin sizzled at the sound of my name, and I turned to her pretty eyes, begging her to order me to do something sensual. I knew she would from the look she was giving me with those wanton, sweet, dark pools of color in her gaze. I anticipated her command before it was uttered.

"Touch me," she demanded, her words soft like the frothy fur rug we shared. "Touch me here..."

And she guided my ready hand past her shoulder, down a taunting silken path to her breast. I was more than willing to obey her command, speaking to her through the gentle grasp of my palm.

She closed her eyes, let her lovely neck fall back and sighed as her hair stroked the ground in whispering tendrils. She knew I couldn't resist her, and she accommodated me so thoughtfully by sliding her leg around my waist. The suggestion of closeness made me burn, and into her I wanted to melt, as she asked it of me.

Esme's breath swiftly erased the shy patter of snowflakes in my ears as I eased my descent over her body. "You've been so quiet, darling," she muttered with a strange half-smile, her eyes not quite open all the way, though I wanted her to watch me.

I was surprised by her words, but not truly. Esme was always known for her awfully unpardonable utterances, even in the midst of boiling intimacy. That intimacy of ours was put on a simmer as I pondered her words, straining above her resting form.

"What should I say?" I asked, wincing at the insecurity that laced my tone. (And also because I realized I had ruined my twenty-four-hour vow with that one sentence). Esme chuckled, though, so I was all right.

"I don't know." She gave a shrug of one shoulder as she reached up to stroke the edge of my jaw, her eyes full and bright beneath me. Her eyes were so open, I wanted to crawl inside of them and bury myself in her cumulus love. "Anything. Tell me how you feel?"

My head brushed against her hand, helplessly. I came to realize I was always seeking more of her touch.

"I feel..." My lips lingered weakly for a moment, open and useless with no words to form. Esme furrowed her brow in pity beneath me, and I drew my face away shyly so as to avoid my answer.

"Whatever you do, don't say lonely," she warned. I blanched.

We never said "lonely." All derivatives of the word itself were cast away as if they were the crudest of cuss words in our household. Lonely, loneliness, alone. We cringed at the very syllables.

Esme stroked my back with her hands, trying to draw the echo of the word out of me as I shuddered from its sting. "I'm sorry," she whispered, both sincere and seductive.

I felt my lips tremble, but I let Esme see. She would never judge me.

Her hands curled around my shoulders and she pressed up against me, bringing with her a delectable burst of sweet heat. I kissed her in thanks, and she replied to my tongue with a delighted whimper, sinking back to her bed of flossy white fur.

She shivered, almost furiously, and I was surprised that she was still smiling, dimly. "It's so cold."

"But you feel so warm, darling," I murmured in wonder as I trailed my fingers languidly over the curve of her belly.

She nearly giggled, fidgeting from my touch. "Mhm, yes, you're making me cold, love."

I snatched my hand away as if she had caught fire, terrified at the prospect of stealing her warmth.

The forgiveness in her smile was almost too much for me to bear as she decidedly pulled my hand back and placed it firmly on the soft pillow of her thigh. She shivered again, but it was more lilting this time, suggestive of something not caused by dipping temperatures.

"Touch me."

"I am."

"Touch me, here..."

She guided my fingers into a slick flower of silk, and I remembered the first time she had let me touch her this way.

I hadn't known she would feel like that. So impossibly... Merciful Lord, no description existed in any language I had learned. Perhaps it did not exist for good reason. Men would never cease to speak about it.

She felt so perfect, so warm, so lush and wet beneath my then inexperienced fingers. All I could do was sob; all my fingers could do was quiver. Because the thought that this was for me, that this was the place I was meant to belong... it was too fierce a miracle to accept. I was all but panicked with the fever of wanting her. I was flush with that want, my flesh stinging with the hot strain of readiness. I was too prepared to give her what her body was begging for. I had been so afraid I would lose myself before I found her.

Somehow she led me in the only right direction; in her untainted innocence, she had forced me to find my way home. She blossomed for me, like the roses I had always dreamed about in the ill-lusted fantasy world of my mind. But she put every rose to shame, opening to my intrusion with the will to welcome me, her glossy heat ready to mold to any length, any girth I would impose upon her. I could sense the depth she would offer me, the tenderness with which she would grasp me. And it had stunned me, scared me. Thrilled me.

Her innocent eyes had looked so hungry as she swallowed the sight of me, of what I was offering her. She was as new as I to the silent preaching of love back then. She had been frightened, but so deliciously trusting. She savored the fright, the uncertainty, because she felt safe with my hands to guide her.

I had never felt more powerful, nor more vulnerable in my life before.

In that moment, Esme had assured me with the unbound love in her haunted gaze. She had lifted her body to meet mine, dropping all resistance to accept me, for which I had done nothing to deserve.

I had realized the insignificance of the imagination for the first time, in my marriage bed. How foolishly arrogant I had been in all my assumptions in all the wasteful, crude, uncreative substitutes for sensual subtleties with which I had mindlessly indulged myself for centuries. My thoughts had been no less barren than a desert, and Esme the one true rose in the only garden I had ever been brave enough to explore was the richest oasis I had come to pass in my wanderings.

She was everything I hadn't dared to imagine, and everything I had only hoped could be real. Not a hold, but a clutch. Not a heat, but a sear. Not a center, but a core. Her soul was here, buried perhaps even deeper than I could travel. But I tried with all my strength to find it, to nudge it at the very end...if there ever was one. Her depth had been daunting when first I dove.

But there was an end. There was a cradle deep inside where her soul resided, waiting to be awakened. I knew because I had persevered, devoted to the quest of unlocking its unseen prison. I knew because I had touched it.

And any man who would dare to tell me such a touch was impossible must perish in the well of his faith.

It seemed everything that should have been impossible was suddenly occurring at fine rush, with every move I dared to make. Somehow I fit within her, somehow I recalled how to say her name; somehow the pleasure had not parched us clean. We were breaking boundaries, and shunning every rule known to man. I hadn't the faintest if we were an exception for our immortal race, or if we simply owed our abilities to the power of our unique bond. I did not care.

All I had wanted was to keep chasing, keep moving, keep breathing with her...and I hoped we would never meet an end.

"Let me touch you," I spoke aloud to her now, my voice weakened from my fleeting recollections.

"You are touching me," she whispered contentedly, eyes closed, head tipped back into her dreams.

My eyes looked down and I saw that she was truthful. My fingers were lost inside of her.

"No, let me...touch you..." My fingers slid deeper, curving to gently press the place she had always been shy to let me touch. Her eyes flashed open, startled, and her lips spilled a lovely gasp the echo of her desire strummed inside my chest, a seductive melody as light as air, but heavy as metal.

A blaze of warmth enclosed my probing fingers as she let her slender thighs fall loose, inviting me to elaborate my touch. Her eyes kept watch on my hand as I rotated my wrist ever so slowly, preparing the angle for her to receive a third finger. Already my fingers were bathing inside of her.

No matter how utterly intrusive I felt as I imposed the pressure, her response was always reassuring. I sighed in relief when a shiver ran down her leg; my muscles relaxed as her eyelashes fluttered and her neck tilted back, gracefully exposing the snow-white skin of her throat.

She settled back as I lifted her thigh to lay across my bent knee, stroking her intimately in the most sensitive space within her. She clutched me firmly, and strangely, I felt the tightness of her grasp not around my fingers, but around my heart.

As if sensing this curious reflex, Esme opened her eyes to gaze up at me. So trusting were her eyes, so loving in her submission before me. Yet she was not submissive by my will, but rather her own. She chose to be this way for me, to give herself so fully and completely, to surrender her control and place her trust in mine. I could see the pleasure sparkling in the delectable darkness of her eyes, her breathing shallow and melodious as she slid her hips closer to my hand.

"Stay here," she whispered the tender order, trapping my fingers tightly in place.

So here I must stay.

Her eyes struggled to watch me, laving up and down the length of my arm, from my hand to my eyes, and back again. As thrilled as I was to have her gaze meet mine, there was something so invigorating when Esme's eyes were fixated on my hands. Since the very beginning I had felt this way, even during that first night as I tended to her broken leg. The way her doe-like eyes followed every move of my fingers, worshipful in her attention, entranced by everything I encouraged something chauvinistic to churn gently in my chest. I was powerless to stop it. Every last inch of my body, every part of me, inside and out, was devoted entirely to pleasuring her.

I trapped her in place with my gaze, feeling the rush of power overcome me as she met my eyes and gripped my forearm. Her eyelids fluttered shut, her legs opened then came closer together, the exquisite signs of her climax fast approaching.

Her lips began to mumble, small and delicate words that held a surprising weight of meaning.

"You give much."

With such a weak voice, she was not as incoherent as she sounded. Her words, though vague, moved me very deeply. She was not only speaking of what I was giving her right now, but everything I had given her throughout our lives together. She meant every touch, every kiss, every embrace as much as every gift, every letter, every sculpture, every encouragement, every secret.

Her thighs trembled and tightened, her hips rising with need. My love for her overwhelmed me in that moment, and I bowed my head closer to rest my cheek against hers as my fingers traced the intimate contours within her. Her tiny breaths hit my ear in a quickening pace as I pleasured her into a satisfying storm of sighs.

A swift series of grips surprised my fingers from inside of her, the unassuming strength of her body never failing to ignite a tender flame in my groin. I smiled contentedly into the crook of her slender neck as she embraced me, savoring each lush wave as it passed through her.

When she finally settled into stillness, I turned my head ever so slightly, just enough to catch her lips for a kiss. I always felt the visceral need to kiss her afterward; in some understood way it seemed to seal the contract, accepting the conception of her pleasure.

Our tongues slid together in blissful unison, lazy and unprovoked by anything in the world surrounding us. It was a kiss so solemn and true, no matter how deeply we explored each other, it still felt utterly pure.

Her fingers tangled in my hair, winding, pulling, appreciating.

It felt like an epiphany of sorts, though I should have known better than to call it something so powerful. I had felt this every day since I'd made Esme my wife, and would likely feel it every day from now until the end of eternity.

But for now I was content to remain here, in my wife's tender arms, the fire of our love protecting us from the winter's harsh frost.