A Pair of Emerald Earrings
by Mackenzie L.
Summary: Carlisle takes Esme to India after she spots a picture of Bombay in a library book. When Esme decides she wants to take the Arabian Sea home with her, Carlisle must find a way for her to do so. Set in the 1940s. Canon universe.
This was going to be a one-shot, but as I was editing it, I got a little carried away. :) This will be a short story of five chapters, detailing the events of Carlisle and Esme's first trip to India.
*The Twilight Saga and all its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
On June 13, 2011, VH1 Big Morning Buzz invited Twilight actress Elizabeth Reaser (who portrays Esme in the Twilight movies) to read an excerpt from my story. You can view the video at this link: http(:)/www(.)breakingdawnmovie(.)org/elizabeth-reaser-reads-twilight-fan-fiction-on-vh1-big-morning-buzz-live/#comments
Sunday the Seventeenth
Every so often, a man finds the need to make change in his life. Sometimes the change should be a drastic one; sometimes it must only be a gentle nudge, a slightly different shade of color. For Carlisle Cullen, this familiar need for a nudge arrived in the autumn of 1946, after the war had finally reached its closure. It was then that Carlisle had insisted on a well-deserved break from the chaos of national housecleaning. He wanted to leave the country, for an indeterminate amount of time, with just his wife by his side.
Esme had resisted at first, reluctant that they should need to travel anywhere else when they had an island to call their own. Why whimsically sojourn across the rest of the world when paradise was already marked on their map?
Eager to persuade his hesitant mate, Carlisle had taken Esme to the J. Pierpont Morgan Library in Manhattan one early morning, with the urgency of a husband rushing his dying wife to the nearest hospital. There, he sat her down comfortably amongst the gilded halls and placed before her book after musty, leather-bound book in the hopes that at least one page would inspire her to change her mind.
Esme was more than inspired.
They had arrived at the library at six in the morning. It was well after closing time when they'd finally left.
With every crisp page she turned, her eyes brightened with renewed wonder. Every exotic encounter illustrated inside those books served her imagination as a passionate servant serves his master. Carlisle watched his wife with sickening reverence for hours, beaming to her every smile, his heart thudding back to life at her every enchanted gasp.
She was overcome with awe, tracing her delicate fingers over maps of the world, silently marking her plans for where to visit. She was a goddess, she was an artist, she was a hopeless romantic. And Carlisle was smitten with his wife, buried beneath stacks of open books, tucked against his arm as she asked him question after question about the places he'd seen in all his travels across the globe.
Esme had taken a particular interest in the encyclopedic smorgasbord surrounding Bombay, India. Her eyes lit up like hungry golden stars as she sifted through pages of photographs, admiring the ancient temples and Hindu artwork that would only impress her further. Carlisle burned with information on the place that any referenced work could never offer. When Esme learned that her husband had been to this fantasy city on the edge of the Arabian Sea, she was uncontainable. The more questions she asked, the more Carlisle felt his answers to be inadequate. If only he could take her there, right now…
They sat there together, huddled on the ground in the most obscure corner of the vast library in a sea of hastily collected books and papers. Ironic, how they had secluded themselves between the shelves, tucked far away from the world of which they spoke so passionately. The entire day was anything but wasted by their fruitless hours searching countless books and articles, scouring atlas after atlas – it was all frustratingly preparatory, and their impatience to finally embark on their fantasized journey was mutual.
"We should go here, and here, and—oh! And then here..."
The excitement in Esme's voice was delectable, and Carlisle couldn't help but grin as she continued to point out every inch on the map that had been draped across their knees.
"I told you that you would never want to return to our island again," he murmured, nuzzling the top of her head.
"Oh, I'd never dream of abandoning our island," she assured with a knowing smile, her breath invitingly warm against his neck. "In fact, I was thinking after every place we visit, we should go back to the island just to recuperate."
"Hm." Fighting the instinctual urge to make love to his wife in this pile of books, Carlisle pried her hand from the page to hold her fingers against his chin. "So where have you decided to go?" he questioned with a curious glance at the map on her knee.
He chuckled heartily and kissed her ear. "Well, that may take a few centuries."
Her fingers teasingly tickled his chin before drawing him close to brush her lips against his. "Then we're quite lucky to live forever."
If Esme wanted to go everywhere, then everywhere was where they would go. But they had to first pick someplace to begin. Carlisle pondered this problem for days, mentally cataloguing all the wondrous locations he could share with his wife as he made his way through the mundane workday. While he stitched up broken wrists and prepared vaccinations, his mind was adrift on the Indian Ocean. Luckily, a vampire could work rather well while severely distracted.
After a week's worth of thought given to the question, Carlisle decided on a place with which he was rather familiar.
Mumbai, Maharashtra was where he had decided to take her first.
Esme greeted him at the door that night, drowning him in her sparkling laughter when he revealed the unique name of their first destination.
"The accent suits you," she teased, her fingers tangled in his stethoscope.
"I may need to teach you some Hindi before we go," he mused, too close to her face to resist the suggestion of a kiss.
He touched his lips to her smile quickly, allowing her a moment to whisper, "I wouldn't mind that."
"I'll arrange everything for November," he promised.
But November was such a long way away.
Carlisle worked incredibly hard to plan their trip, and Esme helped the organization along in any way she could. It made it all the more challenging to be talking enthusiastically about it every night, just inching their way closer to the day when they would finally embark on the journey.
They passed each other in the hall every so often, and when they felt the need to stop for a kiss, one of them would whisper, "India," like it was their deepest secret. And for a while it was a secret. Until Edward spilled their plans.
Emmett and Rosalie, being the extravagant pair they were, thrust their passports beneath their father's nose and requested that they take a trip of their own while he was gone. Edward fumed that they could have the gall to exclude him, and suddenly the parents had a minor feud to tame.
Somehow, Carlisle had taken care of everything. He made simple efforts and crafty promises to appease each of his children, and they were, for the most part, begrudgingly satisfied.
When Carlisle finally marked an exact date of departure on their calendar, Esme found it even harder to contain herself. Each day dragged on the closer they came to Sunday the seventeenth. She sang it in her head like an addicting song, Sunday the Seventeenth, Sunday the Seventeenth. Now, when she stopped in the hallway to kiss her husband, she whispered the precise date against his lips.
Edward stalked past them, shaking his head.
"Darling, I don't know if you noticed, but our children have been calling us 'children'," Esme warned her husband one night in early November.
"Let them," Carlisle murmured, opening their bedroom windows to let in the crisp night air. "We'll have every right to be as child-like as we want when we leave." He smiled as he pulled his wife into a tight embrace, leading her toward the window.
"Eleven days," he whispered against the back her neck. A pleasant chill traveled up her spine.
Her eyes stumbled through the star-sprinkled sky, hesitant to flutter shut as Carlisle's hands locked neatly over her belly.
"I can't wait much longer," she all but whimpered, wincing happily as he garnished her jaw with feather-light kisses.
"I know a way to pass the time," he whispered hoarsely, tapping his fingers in mock-impatience against her hips.
The moon melted behind her eyes as he carried her back to bed.
After what seemed like centuries, Sunday the Seventeenth had finally arrived.
The day itself brought no fanfare. Instead, it had been raining non-stop since midnight well into the morning. Everything was gray, but because it was their day, it was beautiful.
The packing process had gone on for four days; Esme wanted to be absolutely certain that she had not left anything of great importance out of her list. She had taken the liberty of packing for her husband as well. Carlisle always thought he could get by on nothing more than a fountain pen and a journal, and maybe a few clean shirts. Maybe he could get by on just those things if they had been going to Isle Esme… but she suspected that the central trade port in India would appreciate a bit more modesty from their visitors.
All the thoughts of what they would do when they finally got there made Esme flush with delightful nerves. She had been to South America and to Europe before, but something about the exotic lands of Asia gave the impression that they were leaving for a new world altogether. Waiting years before being able to travel freely amongst humans had seemed a daunting expectation from the beginning. Carlisle had kept his faith in her throughout it all and well beyond. In the end, it had made the long road to control quite worth the struggle. Her life could not be more amazing now.
Esme was sinfully impatient as she waited for her husband to return from his last shift at the hospital that Sunday morning. Unable to contain her excitement any longer, she gathered up every book about India she could get her hands on and pushed herself into a corner to soak up the wonderful literature. The abundance of photographs, however familiar they were by now, still caught her eye. Magnificent temples set against a dry blue sky, exotic foliage and white sand beaches. It was like her island, but it was new, it was different, and most exceptionally, it was populated.
After an hour or two, Rose and Emmett peeked behind the bookshelves, curious as to the cause of their mother's enthusiastic squeals. Esme happily showed them the extensive list of plans for her exotic getaway, not so intentionally boastful about all she and Carlisle would see on their travels soon to come.
Emmett's rich laughter was encouraging as he took his place beside his mother on the ground, helpless to share in her excitement. "Maybe next time I could tag along?" he suggested, squeezing her arm. Esme giggled her consent, not without the customary kiss to her grinning son's dimpled cheek.
"Without a doubt, love."
Esme did not fail to notice the light that filled her daughter's eyes at the promise. In her graceful, quiet manner, Rosalie carefully folded her slender legs and joined the pair on the floor, gathering the weight of several books on her lap.
The sweetness of having a family to call her own was a blessing Esme had never taken for granted. Each member's company was equally enjoyable and precious to her for so many unique reasons. Carlisle as her husband, Edward as her philosophical musician, Rosalie as her beloved daughter, and Emmett as her source of humor in dark times. She had taken to calling Emmett her "sunshine son," and while Edward did not particularly favor the nickname, he could not argue that it was an appropriate one.
Together they formed a beautiful balance. Emmett's carefree nature lightened up Edward's more cynical attitude, while Rosalie's bold tendency to confrontation kept both boys on their toes. Esme treated all of her children with boundless love, and Carlisle made sure each of them received the proper dosage of that love.
Even in the midst of her flurrying excitement as she prepared to leave the country, it was saddening for Esme to leave her three children behind.
They wished her luck as they bid her goodbye – Rosalie with a light embrace, Emmett with his infamous bear hug, Edward with a gentle kiss to her cheek and one slightly pleading look that might have been saying, "Don't leave me with these two for too long."
The poor boy had the hardest time adjusting shortly after Rosalie and Emmett had wed. While Carlisle had tried to be patient and accommodating with their newlywed residents, it had been a tremendous adjustment for all of them to comfortably live under the same roof. The new couple were relatively more reserved now, but Edward often still longed to keep his space.
"We'll be back in a few weeks," Esme reassured with an apologetic smile of understanding as she returned her son's embrace. "I'll be thinking of you."
His smile warmed her heart to the point where she wondered if taking Edward along wasn't such a bad idea.
Carlisle cleared his throat behind her, in the gentlest suggestion that they not waste time. After a quick round of kisses for each of her children, Esme picked up her suitcases and followed her husband out the door. Once outside together, Carlisle brandished an umbrella against a sleek army of raindrops, holding the protective black blossom over her head as she stepped from the porch to the driveway.
He took her bags one by one and filled the back seat of the car, the closing of the door a mark of unsettling finality. Carlisle knew his wife would want to take one last (very long) look at their home before they left for good. So he patiently waited as she stood beside the car, staring up at the familiar facade of the house she had painted and renovated herself. His arm never tired as he held the umbrella high over her head, determined that not a single drop from the sky would find its nest in her hair.
After a prolonged minute of silent farewell, Esme turned to her husband with glittering eyes. "Take me away, Doctor Cullen."