You Can Keep the Sea
"Esme, my darling..."
Her eyes glittered under the moonlight as she looked up at him from her bed. "Yes?"
"What if I told you there was a way you could keep the sea?"
Her expression was confused but her eyes were full of wonder, just as he knew they would be. The moonlight glinted off her flawless skin where she lay beside the open window, her head cocked to one side on her pillow. The shallow depth of her dimples conveyed curiosity, and Carlisle was unable to resist kissing both in turn before he took her hand and pulled her gently to her feet.
She teased him by pretending her knees were too weak to stand properly, and he played along with a silent smirk, indulging her wish to be carried. A sigh of delight slipped like silk-thread to his ear as he opened the door and took her out into the night.
"Are you going to try stuffing the entire sea into my pockets?" she whispered with a drunken sounding giggle. Carlisle's humble smirk broadened.
"Don't be ridiculous, Esme. You have no pockets."
"Well, no, not the conventional kind..." she murmured suggestively, trailing a discreet finger across her bust.
Her teasing prompted him to quicken his pace toward the gentle rage of the ocean at the end of the beach.
She wore a thoroughly confused look as he planted her in the sand near the shoreline then bent over to scoop a heaping handful of sea water in both his hands. Before she could anticipate his move, he boldly poured the water down the front of her dress.
Esme shrieked and stumbled backwards as her mischievous husband doubled over with boyish laughter. She gave his chest a solid push toward the water, trying in vain to knock him backward while he carried on laughing.
"You're wicked, you know that?" she huffed with a begrudging smirk as she attempted to pat her dress dry.
He gave her a tender smile, his eyes drifting down to appraise her beautifully soaked breasts. "You asked to keep the sea," he innocently reminded.
"I had something a bit more romantic in mind," she muttered, picking out a strand of seaweed from her brassiere.
"Well, the night is young. There might be something more romantic still in store for you," he said agreeably, linking her arm in his as he began to walk along the shore.
"Carlisle, now I'm going to smell like salt for the rest of the night," Esme complained, wriggling uncomfortably in the drenched fabric of her dress.
"That's nothing a good licking won't take care of, darling," he whispered into her ear, touching his tongue to the curve of her jaw to tease her.
He felt her shudder in his arms and smiled up at the moon.
The sky above them was the muted black and blue color of a fresh bruise, tainted from the humidity. Beneath it, the ocean reflected shivering silver moonbeams in the water. Carlisle could hear the sea calling for him in the darkness; every wave born out of the ocean's womb was roaring out his name. The palm leaves of the trees above him rustled in mirthless laughter. He was a little nervous for the moment that was soon to come; everything surrounding him, suddenly personified in his mind, was proof of this.
Carlisle imagined that night gulls were chuckling at him, insects were blinking at him, the sky was attempting to protect him. But in the midst of it all, Esme was the only one who mattered. She was only one whose stare made him warm, whose gentle giggle excited him, whose hand gave him a feeling of security as she walked along the coast with him.
She strolled alongside him with her hand against the plane of his hip, her fingers rolling affectionately up and down the space as if she were strumming a guitar. He started to falter in his pace, distracted by the soundless chords she was playing on his pants pocket.
"You're hiding something from me, aren't you?" she suddenly asked. Her voice had the beautiful bite of suspicion.
Carlisle immediately straightened his posture and feigned innocence. "What makes you think that?"
"You were nearly hyper just a moment ago, and now you're too quiet," she pointed out.
"I'm just enjoying the night with you."
His pace unintentionally quickened as he walked along the sandy beach beside her.
Esme smirked. "I know you're hiding something. I can tell."
She brushed his hip with her hand, sending a pleasant jolt through his leg. "I can feel something hard in your pocket." Her fingers crawled over his waist and down his thigh, trying to feel the shape of what was hidden beneath the fabric.
If she kept touching him like this, the earring case wouldn't be the only "something hard" she could feel.
Carlisle sighed in defeat, knowing his wife had discovered his secret. He slowed to a standstill in the shallow tide, holding her hand against the rim of his pocket.
"Then you should reach inside and take it," he whispered.
Her eyes lit up as her fingers dug inside his pocket to take out the small wooden box, studying it warily with her fingers and eyes.
"It's not going to be more sea water, is it?" she asked, her eyes full of warning.
He chuckled, shaking his head. "It's much better than that, I promise you."
"And less wet, I hope."
"Should I open it?" Her voice was suddenly faint and mystified.
He gently placed his hand over the lid before she could lift it to peek inside.
"Step into the moonlight first," he ordered her softly.
Esme smiled wide and followed his instruction, her feet tenderly crushing the sand as she moved out of the palm's shade and into the spotlight of the brilliant moon.
"Is right here good?" she asked, standing so close to him that the tips of her toes were kissing his.
"Right here is perfect," he approved.
"Now I can open it?"
He nodded as if mesmerized, his eyes never leaving the tiny box in her hand. She bit her lip in anticipation and slowly raised the thin wooden lid with her thumbs.
"Oh..." She gasped in awe as the hidden earrings were revealed under the moonlight. Set beneath a thread of miniscule diamonds, two perfect green stones twinkled up at her; their humble size only made them more endearingly mystical. "Carlisle, are they...?"
"Emeralds," he replied, a soft note of pride in his voice, "to match the sea."
"They're so beautiful," she sighed, touching the bright green jewel with her fingertip. "I don't know what to say."
"Say you will wear them for the rest of our stay here and never take them off," he said with a silly smile.
She giggled softly as he picked a single earring from the box and gently hooked it into her pierced earlobe. "I would, but we'd have to make more of an effort to be less rowdy than we have been so far," she chided, "or I could end up losing one."
"In that case, just wear them tonight," he teased with a winsome smirk.
Esme stood on her tiptoes and kissed his crooked smile. "I think I'll do that."
With her permission, he carefully slid the other earring into her naked ear, stroking her long hair behind her ears to appraise the jewels beside her exquisite face.
"How do they look?" she asked, her expression almost shy, as if his disapproval were even conceivable.
"You look enchanting," he said in a voice battered dry with honesty, bowing his head to touch his lips to her forehead as the wind tossed their hair into affectionate tangles.
Esme looked down, bashful. "I suppose I must now return the favor somehow..." she mused, depositing the small wooden earring box back into his pocket. Her hand lingered there securely even after the box was safe inside, but he didn't mind.
"Esme, you know nothing in return is necessary," he said as he began to walk up the beach again, her hand still clinging to his pocket. A ticklish chuckle escaped his lips as she tugged him tighter, resisting the direction of his walk.
"But I have been meaning to give you something as well, Carlisle," she insisted.
He stopped to stare down at her, his eyes drawn up in curiosity and lit with subtle excitement. "A gift?"
She smiled in a way that made him both thrilled and slightly uneasy.
"Yes." Her gaze drifted down his legs then back up again, settling on his lips. "A... gift."
"Do you have it with you?" he asked, earning a tiny shriek of amusement as he pretended to search her flimsy dress for something she could be hiding.
She shook her head as she stumbled away from his grip, causing her new earrings to glitter wildly in the moonlight. "It's back at the inn."
"You've sparked my curiosity, darling," Carlisle said warmly. "I must see this gift now."
Her face was glowing with glee as the ocean breeze swept her long curls behind her still wet shoulders, making her look like a resurrected sea goddess under the stars.
"Well then, come back with me and I'll show it to you."
She sprung ahead of him, barely making footprints in the sand with such a light, quick step. Laughing, he chased her up the beach, through the barricade of palm trees and back into their dwelling. The cheaply made plywood door creaked its welcome as they stumbled upon each other on their way inside, and Carlisle was surprised by the brief thought that he would be missing that creaky door whenever their trip came to an end.
Esme hooked her delicate fingers into his pockets and pulled him deeper into the darkness, the swish of her dress leading him in the right direction. When she had him where she wanted him, she let go of his pockets and drifted into the corner of the room where she rummaged through her belongings. While his wife searched in the shadows, Carlisle re-lit a few of the candles that had gone out from the wind while they were gone.
When he looked over to her corner, Esme stared back at him in the dim light with mischievous eyes, standing by the window with her hands clasping a tightly bound cloth.
"Before I give you your gift you must make some subtle changes to your wardrobe," she said, clearly enjoying being so cryptic with him.
He cocked his head in confusion, smiling wryly as he wondered what on earth she was leading up to.
"You brought your boots, didn't you?" she asked eagerly.
"Several pairs..." He nodded. "Which ones did you have in mind?"
A sweet yet wicked smile crossed her lips. "You know the pair."
Reaching into the cupboard where they kept their shoes, he swiftly collected the leather boots that nearly reached his knees - the oldest pair he still owned. He had worn them well before they were married, and being so well made they had yet to fall apart even after decades of running at vampire speed through the forest. He had them taken to the cobbler once every few years of course, but it was only because Esme was so insistent that he keep those boots for as long as possible. Something about them had her smitten, though Carlisle was never quite sure what it was.
Esme's eyes were shining with approval as he perched himself on the window ledge and made a slow show of sliding each boot onto his legs.
When both boots were fastened, he stood up straight and tall, waiting curiously for her next command.
"Now come over here," she sung sweetly, and he obeyed without question.
He watched as she turned over the bunched brown cloth in her hands and undid the frayed strings that bound it. Inside lay the sheathed pirate's dagger that she had collected from the harbor flock. The wicked gleam never left Esme's eyes as she approached her husband and bent gracefully to tuck the dagger into his right boot.
"I must confess I wasn't quite expecting this," Carlisle murmured, shifting his right leg experimentally with the added light weight.
"You encourage me to wear gaudy jewelry," Esme accused, rising up to stand at her full height. "Why shouldn't your wife encourage you to wear a deadly weapon?"
Her ankle playfully nudged the heel of his boot, her body brushing his front as she came closer.
"Is there something about me wearing a 'deadly weapon' that appeals to you, Esme?"
There was a hopefulness in his voice, a quiet strain of knowingness that delighted her. He could see the light fill her eyes as she stepped back to take in his appearance.
Esme stood by her secret assessment. With his loose, wheat-colored shirt, wind-battered trousers and dark, knee hugging boots, her husband easily fit her fantasy with justice. Though it was invisible now, knowing the sharp pirate's dagger was concealed in his right boot made him look beautifully intimidating as he stood before her, engulfed between the moon and candlelight. His windswept blond hair and eternally handsome face made him look like a painting brought to life.
"It makes you seem like a storybook hero," she finally told him, smiling fondly in spite of her own antics.
Carlisle laughed infectiously as he stepped forward and drew a loving arm around his wife's slender waist. "So how does our story end, my love?" he asked, nose pressed to her warm neck.
"You carry me back to the sea and we spend the entire night together, waiting for the sun to rise," she said in a matter-of-fact yet wistful voice.
He grinned out of her sight. Esme clearly had her answer planned for a while.
Raising his hand, Carlisle beckoned one emerald earring with his finger and whispered into her ear. "And you can keep the sea after all..."
A/N: Well that concludes my little story. I hope you enjoyed it! My apologies for taking so long to write each chapter, but thank you to everyone who read along!
On June 13, 2011, VH1 Big Morning Buzz Live invited Twilight actress Elizabeth Reaser (who portrays Esme in the Twilight movies) to read an excerpt from my story. I can't convey the extent of my excitement when I discovered this. I am amazed and bewildered to have this recognition! If you read this, thank you so much, Liz! As a fanfiction author whose work is done only for free, you just gave me the greatest payment I could ever ask for!