Alright, we're done with all the major drama! Forward, to the next phase I've planned in our favourite couples' lives, one that has been pretty overdue.
AND, in a moment of shameless plugging, I'd like to turn you lovely readers' attention to two new stories in my profile. Of the two, 'Endure' may be of more interest to you, since it is sort of a continuation of my recent Carlisle-centric chapter(1663). The other is my first foray into AU fiction, so I'd love some of your opinions on that, too. It's called 'Three Days', and I'll leave you guys to find out more about it in your own time.
There. End of plugging. Onward to the chapter!
Nearly two years passed tranquilly. I remember every moment of them, of course, but, looking back, even though I'd hate to admit it, I'd say they were… monotonous. This fact never struck me at that time; I was content to spend each day as I had the last –reading or hunting or just plain exploring. Although my fear of running into strange human hunters was not completely gone, I still found myself less and less worried, more and more inquisitive about our surroundings each day. But come sundown, Carlisle would return(he'd been offered the day shift and had accepted), and my entire existence would be about him –his words, his voice, his tender caresses…
One fine spring morning I finally woke up to some unusual restlessness. By 'woke up', I mean 'was alone again after Carlisle left to work'. I hadn't felt this feeling in a long, long time –in fact I think I was human when I last felt it. I was… bored.
I chuckled as I absently pulled on some clothes from my closet. Boredom had never been an issue in my vampiric life. There had always been Carlisle or Edward with me, or my own enhanced senses to entertain me. Nine years. It took nine years for me to actually experience boredom. Surely that must be some sort of record?
A soft but clear ripping sound brought me back to the present. I looked at my feet, astonished. I had been trying to insert my legs into the sleeves of a shirt.
The silliness of the incident was lost on me. I sank onto our bed, thoughtful, peeling the ruined shirt off my legs.
What was I doing?
I had eternity for myself and Carlisle, and that was something I would forever be ecstatic about. But what I hadn't realised before, was that I had eternity for myself. For nine years, I had been content to just be Carlisle's wife –no, not his wife. Just Carlisle's bride. These nine years had been one long honeymoon, and now, after our first, and hopefully only big crisis, I was ready to make the actual transition into the married state in every way.
My frown deepening, I stood in front of my closet once more, taking the effort to actually see my clothes. What I saw only increased my dissatisfaction.
Piles of clothes were heaped onto the closet shelves in a haphazard manner. Coats were strewn unfolded, shirts, scarves and stockings were all flung together in a huge pile, and irritating me particularly were a lovely pair of shiny leather heeled shoes lying on an obviously expensive fur stole.
Like any sane woman of my age, I had been fascinated with clothes and fashion as a human. This interest had been all but stomped out by Charles Evenson upon his return from the Great War, and I hadn't really paid attention to clothes since. After Carlisle became the centre of my life, pretty much everything else had faded away. Carlisle had insisted on buying me the best and most fashionable clothes, and since I couldn't walk into a store myself, he simply had them ordered. I hadn't really paid attention to what he bought –my closet kept getting replenished every now and then since, well, my clothes kept invariably ending up… torn.
I'm sure I needn't explain why and how.
Now I was really looking at my clothes and I felt a kind of dull surprise at the way the styles had changed. Carlisle had kept me supplied with dress catalogues every time a new set of clothes had to be ordered, so I knew the prevalent changes in hemline, waistline and neckline, but otherwise I hadn't really paid it much thought.
I dug into the clothes where I knew the catalogues were stuffed in, wincing at the occasional tearing sound, and pulled the little booklets out. I was determined to get as up to date as I could with the current trends.
A half hour later, I had finished looking through the catalogues and cleaning my closet. I wasn't surprised to find that all of my clothes were both expensive and fashionable. Carlisle had asked for the best there were, and he had got them.
And now I'd make sure his money was spent well.
The idea had germinated in my mind as I was rifling through the catalogues. Nine years of unacknowledged solitude, of hiding within four walls or the solitude of the night, and I was done. I had been Carlisle's bride all these years, drowning in the pleasure of just being his(and even better, him being mine), but that would change today.
Today, I'd become Carlisle's wife.
I'd go meet him at the hospital and bring him back home.
The serious implications of that decision were not lost on me. I was renewing contact with the human world after nine whole years: there had been only two humans I had talked to in this time –the minister who had married me and Carlisle, and the horrid hunter that I had devoured. I would now be entering a town full of warm people in broad, but clouded-over daylight, and within very close distance to various open wounds.
But I had to do it. If anything, I had to do it for Carlisle. He deserved more than just a bride, he deserved a wife. Someone who'd be at his side always, who's be his tower of support as much as he was hers. I couldn't possibly be at his side hiding in our quiet house, could I?
And, to be honest, I had to do it for myself. As much as I loved Carlisle, I didn't want to be in his shadow, an extension of his existence. I didn't want to be Mrs. Carlisle Cullen. I wanted to be Esme Cullen.
And Esme Cullen would begin her existence today.
I shut the car door with a bang and took a deep, unnecessary breath. For a moment, I wasn't nervous, but just plain nostalgic. The smell of the seats made me smile involuntarily –I hadn't sat in one of these things since… why, since the day I married Charles Evenson! The faded memory of that horrible, cold morning drifted into my conscious thought –how I had cried on the way to church, not at the thought of living away from my family, but at the thought of giving away my car! But now, my beautiful T-model Ford, black, open-bodied, and ever so gorgeous, my trusted steed, was once again mine.
About a year before Edward had left, I had told Carlisle about my motorcar, and how much I had loved to drive. That year, his anniversary gift for me had been a pristine, good-as-new black T-model Ford. Even back then it was an outdated model –nearly ten years out of date, and still, it looked as good as it had seemed to me when I had first seen it in 1916. I had been thrilled and tried driving it, only to have it go a few hundred yards down our driveway before I broke one of the foot pedals. Carlisle had gotten it fixed immediately, but I had never tried driving again.
Another deep breath, and I started the motor. A kind of nervous excitement thrummed through me as the car vibrated to life. I was driving again. I was stepping outside the house. I was going to see Carlisle at the hospital. So much to be thrilled about.
Gently, very gently, I shifted the pedals so the car would shift into the right gear. The long second it took to do that agonised me. I fervently hoped it wouldn't break again –I'd have had no means of transportation to go into town if that had happened.
When the car began to move, I let some of my breath out, but not all of it. I still had to get out of the driveway. So gently, I guided my beautiful machine down our unusually long driveway. When I made it to the turn into the road, I nearly whooped with pleasure, but refrained from doing so, in case anyone was watching.
But no one was. I could tell, because I couldn't smell anyone. So my excitement trumped my fear, and I had a very jolly drive in the beautiful winding roads just outside Chippewa Falls.
When the houses started to appear on either side of the road, some of my nervousness returned. I was beginning to smell the humans and I felt my throat constrict tightly. But I'd prepared well. I had hunted before dressing to leave, and I'd drained the life force from no less than… six animals. Yes, six. Any more and I'd probably burst.
That didn't mean the thirst was gone. My throat still ached as the smell of humankind got stronger, but with my insides so obviously gorged on blood, the thirst was negligible.
Presently I espied a small figure on the road. I honked and slowed down, feeling a strange sense of déjà vu descending upon me. Another dull human memory came to the fore of my thought processes.
It was a child.
I stopped the car. It was a little girl, of about six or seven, and she was crying and looked terrified. Thirst was all forgotten; the look on her face inexplicably made my heart twinge. I frowned for a split second –I thought it was dead. What was it doing twinging with emotion?
I struggled to keep my expression non-threatening. I remembered what both Edward and Carlisle had said. Vampires were good actors, and humans were a better audience. I hoped I wasn't the exception to that rule.
"What's wrong, sweetie?" –I asked, taking care to soften my voice and slow my words.
The girl's eyes widened. I felt momentary alarm. What was wrong? Didn't I appear human enough?
"Are you n'angel?" –she asked, her trilling voice lightening my mood immediately.
Ah. Of course. Carlisle and Edward had told me of this as well, of the effect of our inhuman beauty on the humans. I smiled. "I'm afraid not. But I certainly can help you. What's wrong?"
She looked miserable again. "I'm lost."
"Why, where are your mother and father?" I was really concerned for this girl. There were only trees around for quite some distance. So where had she come from?
"They're at the fair. I can't find the fair." –she sobbed.
I remembered the small road turning away from the one I was on, with a wooden sign announcing the presence of a country fair. I looked at the girl again. She'd walked a surprisingly long distance.
"The fair's over that way, sweetie. Did you walk all the way here?"
She nodded. "I was chasing butterflies. Then I fell down that mountain."
The 'mountain' in question was a fairly low, rolling slope, but I realised, what the girl didn't, that the fair was just on the other side of that graduated slope. I could just see the top of a tapered tent.
"Well, why don't you get in, dear? I'll take you to your parents."
I smiled to enforce my words, and the girl agreed immediately with no little joy. Oh, how dear, trusting, and innocent these little ones were!
As I helped the child in, my throat constricted painfully. The girl's hand was so wonderfully warm, and soft, and plump… I shut the door next to her with a bang, holding on to the handle with such a strong grip that it was bent out of shape when I let go. I took slow, deliberate steps as I walked back to my side of the car.
Control. Control, Esme. It's a child. A child. A baby. Remember Edward… At this sudden remembrance of my long-dead baby brother, I actually stopped short for a brief moment. I hadn't thought about him in years. The dull pain that came with his memory did much to cover the burning thirst.
I took a deep breath. Today was proving to be a day filled with memories of my human life. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing remained to be seen.
As I drove down the rickety road to the fair, the girl's eyes were fixed on me. I tried not to smile at her obviously curious gaze.
"What's your name?" –she asked soon enough.
"Esme. What's yours?"
"Bettie. You really are an angel, aren't you? It's alright, you can tell me. Momma says there are angels, but Bert says there aren't. You are an angel. I can show Bert."
The smile refused to be reined in. "Well Bert may be wrong, but I am not an angel, Bettie, I'm sorry."
I glanced at her. She looked disbelieving. This time, I had to bite my lip to prevent myself from laughing.
"Can you fly?"
"Do you live in a house?"
"With doors and windows?"
"With other people?"
"Why a doctor?"
Her strange questions amused me, and had I not been a vampire, I'd have had crashed the car from being too engrossed in our conversation.
"Because he's my husband."
This seemed to disappoint her a bit. "Angels don't marry, do they. Is your husband an angel?"
Yes. "No, but to me he is one."
Surprisingly, she understood this. She smiled. "He must be very nice. And very pretty."
I had to laugh at this one. What a perfect way of describing him! "Why, yes, he is. Do you know him? His name is Carlisle Cullen."
She looked delighted. "Yes I do! He's momma's doctor. She always goes to Doctor Cullen."
I frowned slightly, so slightly that Bettie couldn't see it. I wondered exactly what she meant by always. I certainly didn't ascribe questionable motives to Bettie, but I could to her mother.
So starting today, no woman would even think of having a chance with my husband. I'd be marking my territory, and the ladies had better back off.
An increasing spate of people walking down the road alerted me to the nearing fair. As I stopped the car at the rickety wooden gateway, the smell of warm blood and sweat mingled with the crisp pine scent of the trees surrounding the clearing with the fair engulfed me. Irresistible.
So I quickly reached into my purse, pulled out a linen handkerchief and pretended to cough. In reality, it was Carlisle's and I was sniffing his scent, knowing from experience that his scent always soothed and calmed me. It did.
Thus fortified, I descended from the car and walked around it to help Bettie down. As I was doing so, I could hear several murmurs.
"Who's that swell thing?"
"Look at those furs!"
"And that hat."
"Driving by herself dressed like that!"
"But that's an old car. The new model's much better-looking."
"Probably isn't as rich as she looks."
"Is she an actress?"
"She could be. There are so many these days!"
The endless, unvarying comments chaffed at my self-control. Really, was humankind so, so… petty? Had I once been one of them? I hoped I hadn't been so terribly petty. I felt sudden respect and understanding for Edward, our Edward. If people only spoke like this, heaven knows what unspoken thoughts were in their heads!
Trying my best to ignore the yet murmuring crowd, I made my way to the gate, where the ticket-seller stood.
"Good evening. This child Bettie tells me her parents are here at the fair and that she got lost. Could you in any way find them?" –I said, slower and softer than I had to Bettie. I was nervous again. The dear child might attribute any small discrepancies to me being an 'angel' but worldly adults were not so easily fooled.
To my increasing nervousness, the man did not respond. What had I done wrong?
"Excuse me? Sir?"
Blinking rapidly and shaking his head as though coming out of a trance, the man stammered, "Y-yes ma'am. I'll see what we can do. What are her parents called, ma'am?"
"Well? What are their names, Bettie?"
"John Parker and Mary Parker," she said clearly, as though reciting from a book. I smiled at her in thanks and turned back to the befuddled ticket-seller.
"Well, you heard her."
"Yes ma'am. Right away, ma'am. Here, Tim!" He stumbled over to a man who seemed to be his brother, going by their resemblance in looks. "That lady there's found the girl. We need to find her parents." His whisper was clearly audible to my sensitive ears.
Tim replied with an impressed whistle. "The lady's parents? Well, I wouldn't mind having a few words with them, alright."
"The girl's parents, idiot! Their name's Parker. Go find them."
"Say, why should I go? You go find them, I'll stay with the lady."
"Well, I spoke to her first!"
"And that makes her yours?"
I sighed and shook my head slightly. Humans.
"Have you found them?" –I called out in an effort to break their pointless argument.
Both men looked at me and turned a similar shade of red.
"But we will. Immediately! Come on, Jim!"
Rolling my eyes, I turned back to my companion, wilfully ignoring the stares of the coming and going throngs of people.
"Esme?" –Bettie asked as soon as I turned to her.
"Why do you speak so slowly?"
I blinked self-consciously. Damn. "What do you mean?"
"That was fine, but you are probably pretenning. Do angels speak slowly?"
I smiled. "I don't know, Bettie."
She narrowed her eyes at me. "You're lying. But angels can't lie. But if you're not lying, angels should know. And if you are lying, then only angels can know and you have to be an angel. But angels can't lie."
Her weird logic widened my grin. Although most humans would probably have been flummoxed by it, I, with my fast-thinking vampiric brain, followed her every thought process perfectly. So I explained to her, "This particular reasoning, my dear, has led you to think of a paradox."
She frowned. "Parabox?"
I laughed. "A paradox. When the right answer may be wrong and the wrong answer may be right."
She seemed to seriously ponder over this. I squeezed her hand gently and added, "But it isn't a real paradox. Because if I really am not an angel, then you wouldn't have any paradox to worry about."
It didn't take long for her to realise it, clever young thing that she was. "You're right," she admitted reluctantly. "So are you just Doctor Cullen's wife?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Then you are very pretty."
"Thank you, Bettie."
"Doctor Cullen is pretty too."
Even speaking of him was enough to cheer me. "He is. I'll tell him you said so."
"Twice," she reminded me sternly.
"Twice," I agreed, grinning. "I won't forget to tell him."
The new voice was a loud, deep feminine voice clearly in distress. A voluminous blonde woman was soon kneeling down before me, gathering Bettie into her arms.
"Oh, I am so glad you are safe! Where had you run off to, child?"
"I saw butterflies."
Mrs. Parker noticed me at that moment. "I'm sorry, and you are?"
Her belligerent tone irked me. "My name is Esme Cullen and I found your daughter wandering about near the main road. She has walked a lot and is very tired. You should have her rest somewhere."
The woman took in only a part of my speech. "Cullen… are you a relation of Dr. Carlisle Cullen?"
"I'm his wife."
"Oh!" Surprise, awe, dismay –every expression, although fleeting, went fully observed by my sharp eyesight.
"Nice to meet you," she said uncertainly. Oh! Such pettiness –I'd had enough of this.
"And you, Mrs. Parker. I must be going. Good-bye, Bettie."
"Don't go!" –the child cried immediately. "Stay."
Her plea nearly undid me, but I thought of Carlisle, the memory of his scent still fresh in my mind. I couldn't stay too long. I couldn't make friends, forge bonds. Not with humans, and certainly not with human children.
"I have to go, dear, but I'll see you soon!"
With that I quickly rushed away, certain that if I heard any more pleading, I'd stay and risk turning Bettie into one of my kind. I knew perfectly well what that would lead to.
But as I started my car and drove back toward the main road, I couldn't help thinking if it wasn't worth all the pain and trouble. I hoped I'd never find myself agreeing with that thought.
The small, modest hospital at Chippewa Falls was one-storied, but it had its own pretty little garden, and even a small field to allow some cars and two ambulances to park. I sought for and found Carlisle's gleaming roadster among the few parked motors. He wouldn't be using that this evening, I thought smugly, and stepped out of my car. As I slammed the door shut, a man walking into the hospital saw me and dropped his bag with a loud crash.
Really, what was wrong with these humans? I glanced at my reflection in the side-view mirror on my car. Did I really look that nice?
Oh. Nice was an understatement.
I was already pretty damn perfectly beautiful with my vampiric looks. To add to that, I had painstakingly primped, powdered and curled myself into the latest trend. My lips were unnaturally red, thus bringing out my natural pout, my eyes were lined carefully with kohl, making the gold of my irises stand out, my slender frame was dressed in conservative but obviously expensive clothes, shiny buckled shoes framed my small feet, a beautiful felt hat perched on my finger-waved hair and a smooth fox fur draped over my shoulders.
Having been insensible to fashion, style, and outside opinion for so many years, I had taken extra pains today to make my appearance perfect and à la mode. It turned out I had made myself too perfect.
Oh well. All the better, I supposed, since my perfectness would give the nurses some pause before shamelessly pursuing my husband. With that thought giving me courage and confidence, I strode up to the hospital doors.
Even before I entered the building the scent hit me. It was so strong, so potent that I froze in my tracks, my hands balling into fists and my nails tearing through my delicate white gloves.
Good God. How on earth did Carlisle work here? All day, everyday? My respect for him increased tenfold. Oh, how I loved that brave, strong man!
Keeping him and his own strength in mind, I walked inside. A fresh wave of the smell hit me, but other than stopping to breathe completely, I did not change my stride nor my expression.
The nurse at the reception desk didn't see me until I was right in front of her.
The nurse then looked at me –only to have her jaw drop.
I saw that no words were forthcoming, so I continued speaking, taking care not to speak too slowly, "Is Doctor Cullen in?"
Her jaw snapped shut and she mumbled, her words barely clear, "Who's asking?"
Her rude words irritated me again. What was it with human women and their petty insolence? "I'm his wife."
Her jaw dropped open once more. "H-his wife?"
I smiled sweetly at her. "Yes. Could you please tell me when he should be done?"
The meaning of my sweet smile was not lost on her. "Soon, I –I think. Would you like me to have him called?"
"Oh, no, not at all. I'm happy to wait." I had to see his expression of surprise myself. I couldn't give that pleasure to this irritating young woman.
Her eyes narrowed sharply. "I think it would be better if I let him know right away." The nerve of that woman! Did she think I was an imposter or a trickster of some sort?
I took a small, quick breath while focusing as much as I could on the thought of my husband. My growing anger was not helping in keeping my thirst in the background.
"I told you, Nurse-?"
"Carruthers." Carruthers! The nurse who always tried to flirt with Carlisle on the telephone! That bitch.
"Well, then, Nurse Carruthers, I told you I'd like to wait. There is no need to disturb my husband in his last few tasks for the day."
"And there is no reason to not inform him right now!" –she huffed importantly. "Excuse me, but I will-"
Everything –anger, fear, anxiety –all of it faded away. It was his voice and there was nothing more around me. I turned to my left, and there he was, standing at a doorway: perfect, pristine, and, to my intense delight, perplexed.
"Carlisle," I whispered and floated to him, remembering only at the last moment not to run in vampiric speed.
"Esme?" –he repeated, the shock in his voice deeper. I simply couldn't hide my smile. That look was one to die for.
"Yes, darling," I murmured and took his free hand in mine. He dropped his bag and brought his other hand to rest on mine, too. "What on earth are you doing here?"
"I came to see you."
"But –but why? How?"
"But Esme," he looked adorably worried, the kind that made him pace and ruffle his own hair with frustration, and the kind that made me smother him with kisses. "The risk you took. And you're inside the hospital, and how-"
At this point I had to cut him off for several reasons. Firstly, because that worried look of his was irresistible. Secondly, because I really didn't want him to worry. And lastly, because Nurse Carruthers was watching.
I cut him off in the best and only way I knew. I kissed him.
And it wasn't just any kiss. It was slow, deep, and exploratory, my hands roving his back, his own wrapped around my waist, the kind of kiss that would have made me collapse had I been able to.
Also, it was the perfect kind of kiss to mark my territory. Mine, it said clearly. Take that, Carruthers, you jealous windbag.
When we let go, I grinned, picked up the bag he had dropped and led him toward the doors. Carlisle had a very familiar expression on his face, a fixed, intense, hungry one, the kind that made my insides burn with fire. If we had been in the privacy of our house, we wouldn't have stopped there. But both of us were intensely aware that we were together in public, the first time in our nine years together. I was sure we were both determined to make it a success.
Nevertheless, Carlisle did not speak another word, but simply walked to the doors with quick, impatient strides, dragging me along with him. I remembered to turn around at the last moment; with a wicked grin and a "Have a nice evening, Nurse Carruthers!" I exited the doors in Carlisle's tow, feeling extremely triumphant.
Carlisle still didn't slow down even outside, not until he led me to his roadster in the empty parking field, and before I could even expect it, he pushed me up against the car, his lips covering mine. This kiss was more heated, more urgent than the one inside. Had I not squirmed away from the kiss, I don't think we'd have ever stopped.
"Darling, we're still in public," I wheezed in between kisses, and somehow managed to hold him away. "Wait until we go home."
He blinked and shook his head lightly, but when he looked at me again, his eyes still held that raw hunger. "Do you have any idea how desirable you look right now?" –he demanded me.
I grinned and circled my hands around his neck. "Not as much as you do. All. The. Time."
I barely got to finish my words before we were kissing again, and this time, even I didn't want to stop…
So I suppose we were lucky when a loud screeching sound close at hand interrupted us. We jumped apart and looked behind me. An entire side of Carlisle's roadster was now dented inwards, exactly where I had been pushed up against it.
We glanced at each other guiltily before bursting into laughter.
"Oh dear. I'm sorry, Carlisle," I giggled as he inspected the dent. "Don't be," he said, grinning, "I don't regret it one bit. In fact, if it weren't hampering the movement of the door, I'd have left it as it is. Makes for a nice memory, don't you think, my love?" He stroked my cheek gently, his thinly-pressed lips bearing testimony to his effort at self-control.
"Yes it does," I replied softly, clutching his hand and kissing it gently. We remained still and unmoving for a moment, both trying anxiously to stay in control.
Then, with an empathizing smile, Carlisle turned back to his car and, with a few quick raps, restored the door to somewhat its original form.
"Leave it be, darling," I said, gesturing to my car with a sly grin. "I'm driving."
"So what really made you do all this?" –Carlisle asked me as we made our way back home.
I hesitated. "I… got bored." This statement was met with silence, so I hurried on, "I'm sorry, Carlisle, it's just that I've been so lonely and it always seems so long before you're back home-"
"Shh." Carlisle's hand sat on my lips for a moment to silence me, before moving up to stroke my hair gently. "Actually, I'm surprised you lasted this long."
I glanced at him; he had a warm smile on his face. "Really?"
"Of course. I couldn't stay in the same place for more than two months when I was a Newborn."
"Really?" –I repeated, my voice drawling with increased interest.
He grinned at my changed tone. "Indeed, madam. Before I was the old fogey that I am now, I was quite the impatient young vampire."
I giggled all the way through his words, since he had changed his accent to his irresistible English one. Forgetting the car, the road, and all else, I leaned toward him, and, pressing my lips against his ear, murmured, "Nevertheless, you still are quite spry for an old fogey, my darling." He turned his face to face me, and before we knew it, we were kissing again, slowly this time, relishing each caress with abandon.
I realised that day that being a vampire had its perks. We barely let go of each other all through the journey back home, since we didn't meet a single vehicle on the road, and yet I drove faultlessly. Immediately after we did return home, Carlisle swept me into his arms and carried me straight to the bedroom, neither of us speaking, both of us craving for the exact same thing.
It was much later in the night, as we lay in bed listening to owls hoot in the deep reaches of the forest, that Carlisle spoke again.
"Tell me about today." –he said, stroking my hair, his glorious eyes fixed on me.
I smiled and traced patterns on his white chest. "What do you want to know?"
And so I told him. I told him about the shirt I had ruined, about the thrill of dressing up after such a long time, the thrill of driving after such a long time, of meeting Bettie, the fair… all the way until I heard his wonderful voice whisper my name in the hospital that evening.
"You've been so brave," he breathed after I had finished. "My darling." He kissed me gently on the forehead, and had I been human, I'd have blushed with pride.
"Thank you, my dear," I smiled. "It was all for you. Now I can accompany you everywhere, as any wife ought to accompany her husband."
"Most wives don't accompany their husbands everywhere, Esme," he grinned.
"Well, naturally, not everywhere," I replied defensively. "I definitely won't accompany you to the hospital, for instance." I shuddered. "How you manage to work and keep yourself in check under such heady temptation I can never know."
"Was it too hard to enter the hospital today?" –he asked anxiously.
"I almost turned back," I admitted. "But then the thought of you right there, barely a few rooms or hallways away, waiting for me… I had to go on."
"Thank you for the effort, dearest. Your surprise made my day a momentous one."
"You're welcome, dearest," I replied with a light kiss on his nose. "My day was pretty much momentous as well."
He smiled, but immediately, I sensed something was wrong. His smile didn't reach his eyes, and ended too quickly.
"Carlisle, what's wrong?" –I asked, concerned.
He glanced at me and snorted . "You know me far too well, Esme."
"What's wrong, darling? Tell me." –I pressed him.
"It… was just an errant thought, Esme. Leave it be."
"I'd still like to know what it was," I insisted.
He shifted so that his head was in his hands and he was facing the ceiling. "I don't think I want to say it," he sighed. "Your mood would be destroyed."
I sat up and thrust my face in his view, my hair falling from either side of my face and onto his cheeks. "My mood has turned already, so I think it's best you told me what it was." –I said firmly. With another sigh, Carlisle sat up, too, and cupped his hand on one of my cheeks as I moved back.
"I don't want to hurt you. I don't…" his voice faded, and then strengthened again, "I don't like hurting you."
I mirrored his position and placed my hand on his cheek as well. "Carlisle," I said softly, "you could never hurt me."
We stared at each other solemnly for a long moment before Carlisle relented.
"I was thinking about… the child." –he admitted.
"Yes. You," he hesitated, then continued gently, "you must have missed talking to children."
That little part of my heart that always twisted at the thought of little ones seemed to contract. "I have," I said in a small voice.
Carlisle sighed yet again, a deep, mournful one this time. "I –I wish I could do something, Esme. I wish you didn't have to bear that pain all the time-"
I hushed him. "Remember what I told you. One can't have everything."
"No." We sat silently for several seconds, before Carlisle broke it, his voice harder than I'd heard lately. "Esme?"
"When I wrote you that letter for our anniversary two years ago, I had been thinking… a lot."
"I know. So was I. We'd been through so much."
"Yes." He paused. "I was thinking about every single moment I'd spent with you –the first time I met you, the day I found you in Ashland, the day you woke up, our wedding day… And I knew then, that I loved you more than –more than anything the universe holds. Nothing –nothing could mean more to me than you."
I clutched his hand and squeezed it gently. It had been some time since either of us had expressed our love for each other so eloquently.
"Do you know what made me so certain of that?"
He didn't answer immediately. "Do you remember what I told you of the Plague of the Immortal Children?"
My throat constricted tightly, even as my heart twisted even more. Yes, of course I did. How could I ever forget that horrible, heart-wrenching story?
"Yes," I wheezed.
Carlisle took my hands in his, his eyes so sombre that it frightened me. "If you ever asked me to do what those countless doomed covens did… I'd do it."
Air whooshed out of my lungs. I stared at him mutely, shocked to my core that Carlisle had uttered those words.
"Y –you mean…" I stammered.
"I mean if you asked me for an immortal child, Esme," his voice was low, determined. "I'd give you one."
"Carlisle, you couldn't!" –I gasped, anxiety bringing lucidity back to my voice.
"I could, and I would," he muttered. "You are my everything, Esme," his shook with his emotions, "and I'd do anything –anything for you. Even if it meant assuring a painful end to both our lives. As long I could make you perfectly happy for even a little while."
"Stop!" –I cried, and placed my hand on his lips. "I can't…" I shuddered. "Don't say that, please, don't. Please, Carlisle. If –if I ever turn mad enough to even think about such a thing, you must stop me. You –you cannot go along with my scheme, you mustn't. Promise me."
He stared at me. "I can't."
"You have to," I cry. "Promise me, Carlisle. Promise me you'll stop me. Promise me you'll never consider such a thing again. Please."
"Your dearest wish in the world is to have a child, Esme," he said. "How can I promise to not honour that wish?"
I wrenched myself away from him and sat up, on my knees, so that I towered over him physically to drive my point home. "Never, Carlisle Cullen! I cannot bear to imagine you letting go of your principles so thoughtlessly, and to make you endure so much, to make a child endure all that pain! –never, Carlisle! Promise me!"
Carlisle stared at me, frozen.
"Promise me, Carlisle!"
He didn't even twitch.
"Promise me. Please!"
Then he stirred. He uttered a low murmur. "I promise."
I slumped back down onto the bed with a shuddering sigh of relief.
Cautiously, his arms encircled me, and I laid my head on his shoulder. "I never imagined you had such strong feelings on the subject." –he said softly. "I'm sorry for distressing you."
"No," I mumbled against his smooth shoulder. "We needed to discuss this." I looked up at him. "Now we know where we stand."
He nodded. "Honestly, I didn't think you would be so opposed to the idea."
I remembered thinking it about earlier that very evening as I had driven away from the fair. I told Carlisle about it. "I didn't know I was opposed to the idea until this very moment. I cannot, I simply cannot have you do such a horrendous, selfish thing, Carlisle."
"What, I'm not allowed to be selfish, now?" –he grinned, attempting to joke. It worked; the tension in our moods dissipated.
I smiled, "You are allowed to be selfish in almost every way, my love. But not here. You are my conscience, dear husband of mine, and I cannot have you fan the flames of my temptation."
He sighed, but I was glad to note that he was still smiling. "And you," he breathed into my ear, "you are my temptress, and it is highly refreshing to have you be my conscience, as well."
I chuckled. "I serve to please."
His hands moved lower until they rested on my bare hips. "It would please me very much to be pleasured at the moment."
My fingers entangled themselves in his hair and I breathed against his lips, "With pleasure, my love."
Thus was the pleasurable end to a pleasant day.
Oh-kay, so I apparently can't write a single chapter without some drama. Oh well.
First of all, PROPS!
So I found this lovely picture of a young woman in the late-twenties era, and boy, it's like someone's seen what Esme looks like in my head and taken a picture of her! Please refer my profile page for the lovely picture of a woman who is my Esme's doppelganger.
Also, you'll find pictures of Carlisle and Esme's cars.
Second of all, the story image is back to twenties' lovey-dovey couple! Yay for cuteness!
Third of all, REVIEW. Please. Pretty please.