Just a little context - this is after Esme has killed for a second time.


1922

Tanya

"Carlisle, old friend!" I smiled widely as I opened the door. I went to hug him but Carlisle intercepted me, shaking my hand instead. I had hoped he may have gotten over his aversion to physical contact given recent events. (Not that any of us truly understand what had happened in Carlisle's life over the last few years.)

"Hello, Tanya." Maybe I was imagining things, but his smile seemed a little forced.

I turned my attention to the two vampires behind him. "And these must be your new… companions." I wasn't certain what else to call them, having no idea what kind of relationship Carlisle had with these two vampires that he appeared to have changed on a whim after decades of claiming he could never change anyone.

I scanned them both. The woman, Esme, was beautiful like all females of our kind. But there was a haunting effect to her beauty. An aura of sadness surrounded her, though it was difficult to put my finger on why. I noticed her orange eyes were almost lifeless. Her expression was blank. Her gaze fell over myself and my coven but there was no reaction. It was like she was completely unfeeling. It was deeply unnerving.

I quickly focused on the – was he a boy or a man? – instead. Edward. I let my gaze travel from his head to his toes, appraising him.

Well, I'd certainly like to make him a man.

He grimaced then – though he seemed to be trying to hide it – and I remembered what Carlisle had wrote in his letters about Edward's talent. He had no doubt heard what I had just thought. I was in no way embarrassed by that fact but the grimace annoyed me.

Surely it can't be that bad a thought to you? I resisted the urge to grin wickedly at him only because everyone was watching me. I knew my sisters would understand perfectly but I doubted Carlisle would be impressed.

"Well, come in then," I ordered them cheerfully. They followed me through the doorway. I couldn't help but wonder exactly how unimpressed Carlisle would be if he was to know exactly what I had just been thinking. After all, when we had received his letter four years ago telling us with excitement about his new creation we had all jumped to the same conclusion.

Sure, he had denied it when Irina had asked, but it was common for people of that persuasion to be in denial. Carlisle struck me as exactly the sort of person who would refuse to admit to his own sexuality. I remembered his reaction when he had first learned of mine and my sister's sexual habits. His stuttered words about sin, of all things. Yes, Carlisle was exactly the sort of person who would fight against their own homosexuality.

So it had made perfect sense to us when we decided that Carlisle had obviously found his mate in Edward and we waited for the letter that told us the two lovebirds would be coming to visit us. Which we had received just a month previously, except with the added surprise that Carlisle had changed another human, as well. A woman, this time. Well, that managed to send our certainty over his sexuality flying out the window.

I was certainly looking forward to hearing the story of exactly what he had been doing for the last four years.

And since we were all now leaning heavily towards the idea that it was actually Esme who was, in fact, Carlisle's mate, it didn't even matter for now if I was to flirt with Edward for a bit. And he was certainly flirt-worthy.

We were all stood or seated in the living room now. I had led Carlisle to the armchair that was usually mine. Edward was stood beside him, his stance relaxed. Esme had sat down on the floor by his feet. I half-expected her to lean back against his legs as Carmen was currently doing against Elezear, but her posture remained stiff. I saw Carlisle glance down at her. The expression on his face was hard to place – he somehow managed to look worried and exasperated at the same time.

Sitting down next to Kate, I appraised them again. They certainly made an odd group of people. Edward was watching his two companions looking sullen. Esme's face was still blank of emotion, but her eyes darted around the room, taking it all in. Carlisle was still looking down at the top of Esme's head, his expression had finally settled for hopeless.

"Carlisle, how lovely to see you again, amigo," Carmen commented with a smile.

"Yes, it's been awhile since you were last here," Kate said. "But then I see you've been busy. Aren't you going to introduce us to your, um, charming companions?" I saw Kate's eyes flicker to Esme as she stuttered over her description.

"This is Edward and Esme."

"It's lovely to meet you all," Edward said. Esme had forced a smile in our direction when Carlisle had said her name but that was it. Somehow, when she smiled she managed to only make herself look more depressed.

"It's lovely to meet you, too," Kate said to Edward with a smile. I sensed another competition in the making. Hopefully, he would play along a little better than his creator. Not that that hadn't been amusing.

Edward snorted at something. It took me a few seconds to realize it was most likely my memories of our failed attempts to seduce Carlisle. The mind-reading thing was going to take some getting use to.

"Tell me about it," Edward murmured sarcastically.

"Edward," Carlisle said. His voice had a warning in it, as if he was scolding the boy. It was more like watching a child get told off then watching the interaction between two coven members.

"So where did you find Edward and Esme?" Elezear asked.

"At the hospital," Carlisle answered shortly. The silence that fell told us that was the only answer we were getting.

"Would you like to go and put your belongings in the spare room now?" I asked.

"Sure, thank you," Carlisle replied. He stood up from the chair. Esme instantly also stood up, as if they were on joint puppet strings.

"Thank you," she muttered. Her voice was chillingly devoid of any emotion.

"Yeah, thanks," Edward muttered dully. Carlisle shot him a meaningful look. "I mean thank you." His voice was laced with sarcasm. Again with the parent and child thing. Except now Edward was acting like a sulky teenager.

Esme was frowning at him but didn't say anything. It was the closest I'd seen her expression to something not harrowing.

As all three of them disappeared up the stairs, I looked towards the rest of my coven. All four of them wore the same confused expression I was sure graced my own face.

"Well, they seem interesting," Irina sneered.

I glanced upwards towards where I could hear Carlisle and Edward's voices coming from the spare room. There was no doubt they would also be able to hear us.

"Pobre mujer," Carmen murmured. I knew enough Spanish after living with her for nearly a century to understand that – 'poor woman'.

All three of them re-entered the room. Edward took the armchair with a smirk in Carlisle's direction. Carlisle rolled his eyes. I laughed at his antics, smiling over at him. He either didn't notice or was ignoring me. He was apparently going to be irritatingly like his creator about this aspect.

Carlisle perched himself on the arm of the armchair beside Edward. Esme stood on the other side, her gaze fixed firmly on our coffee table for reasons best known to her.

"Thank you for your hospitality as always," Carlisle said.

"You know you're always welcome here," I told him warmly. "And Edward and Esme, too." Edward smiled politely in my direction but Esme didn't respond. Our coffee table was apparently more fascinating.

"How about a group hunt?" Kate suggested eagerly.

"We hunted two days ago, sister," I reminded her.

"I thought our visitors might be hungry."

"I'm fine, thank you," Carlisle replied. "Esme? Edward?"

"I should be fine for a few more days," Edward replied. Carlisle looked towards Esme, who shook her head.

Carlisle sighed. "Are you sure, Esme?" She didn't reply. Carlisle and Edward looked at each other. Carlisle's eyes were pleading but Edward merely shrugged. I couldn't make heads or tails of the entire situation.

"How about a game then?" Kate asked, not one to be deterred. "We should have some cards somewhere."

Edward laughed. "I think you might want me to sit out of that one."

Kate giggled. "I'm sure we could find some game that you can't cheat in." She thought for a minute. I noticed Edward's eye widen in alarm just before she spoke again. "How about snap? You can't cheat at that."

Esme took a deep, gasping breath as though she was about to start sobbing. Her eyes shone with tears she could no longer cry.

"Esme," Carlisle murmured. His voice was tender and caring. He stood up from the chair's arm and moved around the back of it towards her. He reached his arm out to comfort her, but she stepped backwards as if to escape him. He pulled his arm back and froze. Her eyes bored into his for a few moments and then she was gone. I heard the room to the spare room slam shut. Carlisle stood in her wake, staring at the door she had just exited, looking utterly defeated.

Edward was watching Carlisle, concerned. "Carlisle?" he called.

"I'm fine, son," Carlisle said, but his voice was harsh and rugged. I was so taken in by his pain it took me a few seconds to recognize the importance of the word 'son'. So Carlisle saw himself as Edward's father. I felt the prick of pain at the thought – of having a creator who was also a parent. Instead I focused on Carlisle's family. Did he see himself as Esme's father as well? It seemed doubtful. She looked older than him (at least physically) for a start. Then what was she? His mate? I remembered her backing away fearfully from his touch, that was not the actions of one's mate. But judging by Carlisle's misery he wished to be hers. Or was it simply that he did not like to see his – daughter? Friend? Would-be-lover? – upset. Carlisle was compassionate enough for that to be the answer and yet it felt like more than that.

"What's her problem?" Irina asked.

"Esme has had … difficulties adjusting to this life," Carlisle replied cautiously. Again, it was very obvious that he was closing the subject.

Uncomfortable silence settled around all once more.

"So what would everyone like to do?" Elezear asked. The neutral tone of his voice was clearly forced.

Carlisle was clearly going to unresponsive, so I turned to Edward instead. "Carlisle wrote that you were very musical. We have a piano in the parlour, but none of us really use it. Both Kate and I attempted to learn but neither of us had the patience."

"I'm not that good," Edward said cautiously.

Carlisle chuckled slightly, breaking out of his previous melancholy. "Don't be so modest, Edward. He's a phenomenal piano player," he told us, sounding every inch the proud father.

"Well, you just have to show me," I ordered. Almost reluctantly, Edward followed me into the parlour. None of my sisters or Elezear followed – I assumed they planned to ambush Carlisle in regards to Esme.

I leaned against the top of the piano as he took his seat at the bench. He still looked incredibly uncomfortable and I was irresistibly reminded of Carlisle looking just as awkward in my presence decades ago.

Like father, like son, I suppose.

Edward chuckled slightly then. I'd all but forgotten about the mind-reading by now.

"You'd be surprised how easily people do," he commented.

"You must hear a lot of things you don't want to."

"Indeed. And for the record, Carlisle is my father and has never been nor wanted to be anything more."

"And Esme?" I asked.

"Nope, neither has she." He was smirking at me.

"I meant her and Carlisle." I wasn't irritated by his sarcasm though, just amused.

"That," he said with heavy emphasis. "Has become complicated."

"Has become?" I questioned.

He sighed. "It's not my story to tell."

I wanted to ask if she was Carlisle's mate or not, but I could tell he wouldn't be willing to answer. I suppose if I wanted to know I would have to ask Carlisle himself.

"You can try, but he won't give you a straight answer. As your sisters and brother are finding out in there."

It took me a few seconds for me to realize he had meant Elezear when he said my brother. Though we did view him as such, it was not usually a title we used aloud. We had always been sisters – no brothers. Well, except from…

I stopped my thoughts dead.

Edward was scrutinizing me.

"Sorry, I don't mean to pry-"

"But you can hardly avoid it, can you," I commented with a laugh.

"No," he said ruefully, shaking his head. "Carlisle is wondering why I haven't started playing yet. He's hoping my music will distract the others from their questioning."

"Well, we wouldn't want to deny him the chance to play the proud father."

Edward smiled weakly and then he began to play the first notes of the song. Carlisle had not been lying – he was a phenomenal piano player. I drunk in the sight of him – the brooding, handsome, piano player. A personal favourite of mine found by scouring the jazz clubs down in Canada. But Edward was so much more than those silly human men.

I watched his hands fly over the keys. So fast. So talented.

Unfortunately, we were then joined by Carlisle and the rest of my coven.

"That was beautiful, Edward," Carmen gushed as he finished the song. I pushed her comment away knowing she was not competition.

"Astounding," Kate added with a smile.

"Wonderful," Irina commented. Her smile was the pleasantest I'd ever seen her show to a new vampire.

This was going to be very interesting.

Edward was clearly uncomfortable with all our attention on him.

"Play another song, Edward," Carlisle suggested. Edward looked relieved to be able to turn his attention back to the keys. Nobody said much as he played the next song and I just stood and took in the sight once more. When the song finished, Edward began a new one instantly, obviously hoping to avoid comment.

I heard Carlisle gasp. His entire body had stiffened. Edward played on oblivious, focused only on his playing. From upstairs, I heard a large sob.

I tried to figure out what was so upsetting about the piece of music. It was a happy piece – a lover's piece. As you listened you could imagine watching two people falling in love. But then the music turned dark. Things did not end well for this pair of lovers.

The last ominous note hung in the air as Edward finished playing. He was just about to start another piece when Carlisle spoke.

"You, you changed the ending." His voice was laced with misery. Was it his and Esme's story that was told in the music?

Edward turned to his father - his eyes wide in horror. "Sorry," he stammered. "I didn't mean to. I didn't realize what I was playing. I never meant for you to hear that."

"It's OK," Carlisle said soothingly. "It's not your fault."

"Isn't it?" Edward asked darkly.

"Edward-" He was out the door before Carlisle could finish his sentence. I heard the back door slamming shut.

"What, what was that about?" Carmen asked cautiously.

"It, the song, it," Carlisle stammered, tripping over his words. "He blames himself."

"For what?" I asked.

"For letting go."

"Letting go?" Kate questioned.

Carlisle sighed. "It's a long story."

"We have time, you know," Irina pointed out.

Carlisle's eyes flickered to the doorway where Edward had just stormed out.

"I need to go talk to Edward," he announced and followed his son out the door. The back door slammed shut a second time.

"I know Carlisle's always been a private person, but this is ridiculous," Kate declared.

"The woman," Irina said. "Do you think she's Carlisle's mate or not?"

"She has to be," Kate said. "Have you seen the way he looks at her?"

"Yes," I told her. "Helplessly and wishful. Something definitely either happened or Carlisle wants it to. But no mated vampires have ever looked that miserable with their mates still alive."

"I still say she is," Kate argued. "They're clearly just having a lover's tiff."

Irina scoffed. "That looked like more than a 'tiff'."

"You know what I mean," Kate said.

"I wonder what it's about," Carmen said.

"Who knows," I said.

"She is his mate," Kate insisted.

"She can't be," I disagreed.

"Hundred dollars?" Kate asked with a smirk.

"We have three miserable vampires in our house – one who is our friend – and you're betting on them?" Carmen asked incredulously.

"Kate is betting on them," I corrected.

"Tanya just doesn't want to be proved wrong," Kate taunted.

"I would like nothing more than to be wrong," I corrected.

The back door opened and closed once more. A very harassed-looking Carlisle walked back into the room.

"Where's Edward?" Carmen asked, concerned.

"In the forest. He's too fast for me to catch up to if he doesn't want me to."

"I'll try," I volunteered.

"Tanya, there's no need for you to do that," Carlisle insisted. "Edward will be back in his own time."

"But I might as well try," I countered. I left before he could argue against me.

Finding Edward was easier said than done though. His scent criss-crossed all over the forest.

Edward? Can you hear me? I couldn't help but feel vaguely ridiculous shouting his name within my own head.

Carlisle's really upset you know. Apparently, I was not above guilt trips.

"I figured," Edward dropped down from the nearest tree.

"So why are you hiding up a tree from him?" I demanded.

"Because there's little I can do to help him," he replied. His voice was grave.

"How about you don't hide up a tree?" I snapped. This was not the conversation I had intended to have with Edward. I certainly hadn't expected to be this angry at him.

"I suppose I am making things worse, but I've all but given up trying to make them better."

"Well you shouldn't," I growled, still fuelled by my unexplained anger.

"Haven't you seen them?" he insisted. "What more can I do?"

"Keep trying!"

"It's useless. Why try?"

"Because you're lucky to have a father." I had meant to add 'like Carlisle', but I found the sentence stopping there instead.

Lucky to have a father because we no longer have our mother. I winced. So long I hadn't thought her and now I had twice in one day because of Carlisle and his son.

"You lost your mother?" Edward exclaimed.

I hissed furiously at him. I did not need his pity and I certainly did not need him in my head.

"Sorry," he said hastily. "I didn't mean to pry."

"I know," I reassured him, forcing myself to let go of my anger. "You can't help it, can you?"

He shook his head. "I lost my mother, too," he admitted quietly. "And my father, just before her." That part confused me for a few seconds until I realized he must mean his human parents. I couldn't even remember mine. "Though I suppose it's not the same," he continued.

"How did they die?" I knew it was hypocritical of me to ask him questions about his parents' death while being angry at him for unintentionally prying about my own mother, but curiosity over-ruled that thought. After all, he was the one to mention them.

"Do you know of Spanish Influenza?" I nodded, remembering the panic amongst the humans a few years back. "My parents both died of it. And I would of, too. But my mother recognized Carlisle, our doctor, for what he was – or at least something different – and she begged him to save me. To do everything in his power."

I watched him carefully as he explained, both intrigued and saddened by his tale.

So that's what changed Carlisle's mind about changing another after all this time.

"Indeed. You're right, of course. I should be more thankful for him than I am sometimes. As you can see today, I'm often a failure of a son."

"I wouldn't go that far, Edward. Carlisle clearly loves you deeply."

"Despite all I've done," he muttered morbidly.

"All you've done?"

"I've ruined Carlisle's life," he told me bitterly. "And failed both my mothers."

"Now don't you think that a little melodramatic?" It wasn't until after I'd spoken I realised the full implications of his words.

'Both my mothers.' Then who is the second mother? The only possible answer I could think of was Carlisle's cheerless possible-but-most-likely-not mate.

Edward raised his eyebrows at that thought.

"Well, is she?"

Edward's oh-so-eloquent answer was to shrug at me.

"It's not that difficult a question to answer. Either they've mated or they've not. Did you just suppress a shudder?" The last part was asked incredulously as I watched his response.

"Excuse me for not wanting to think about that. And using that logic, couldn't any of your human … consorts count as your mates."

I laughed. "Humans aren't mates. Though I suppose I have had a bit of fun with a few vampires that certainly weren't my mate."

"Exactly. Carlisle and Elezear are approaching. Apparently we're going on a male-bonding hunt, while you women are going to attempt to get Esme out of her shell."

"Lucky us," I murmured sarcastically. Carlisle and Elezear joined us.

"Ever tried polar bear, Edward?" Elezear asked. Edward grinned and a twinkle of excitement entered his eyes.

"I'll see you all at home," I told them and head back towards the house.

I found my sisters sat in the living room. Esme was nowhere in sight. A quick check of my surroundings told me she was upstairs in the library.

"Carlisle tried to talk her into coming down, but she's holed herself in there instead," Kate told me, obviously noticing the direction of my stare.

"Because I'm sure she'd be such sparkling company if she was down here," Irina commented sarcastically.

"Sssh," Carmen hissed. "She can hear you."

"She can hear you, too," Irina pointed out. Carmen looked vaguely embarrassed, though of course without the red cheeks humans associate with embarrassment.

"To be honest, I doubt anything we say is going to be able to make her more miserable," Kate pointed out. None of us could argue with that.

"There's something we're missing, there has to be," Carmen speculated.

"You mean a sensible reason why Carlisle has chosen to trail the country with a sarcastic mind-reader and a creepily silent newborn?" Irina said.

"Why did they come here? Did Carlisle say, Tanya?" Kate asked.

"He said he wanted to bring Esme somewhere secluded." At least he had in the letter, since he had said so very little about her since they arrived.

"So that means she struggling with this lifestyle," Carmen pointed out.

"Well, Carlisle shouldn't try and force it on her – it should be her choice," Kate proclaimed.

"And Edward's too. He's hardly a happy bunny," Irina chipped in.

"What was with the whole 'son' thing?" Kate asked. "I guess you were wrong there, sister."

"Well, when he sent us a letter three years ago telling us he changed a boy, what else was I supposed to think?" I defended. Like they hadn't all thought the exact same.

"Yes, we were all surprised when the latest letter said he'd changed a woman as well," Carmen murmured.

"But why?" I asked.

"Isn't that obvious?" Kate said scornfully.

"If you'd said that before they arrived I would have agreed with you quite readily," I replied.

"Just because it don't work out like he wanted doesn't mean it wasn't his intention," Irina said.

"True, but that just doesn't seem like Carlisle," Carmen said sadly.

"If he didn't change her for that reason, then why did he?" Irina commented sceptically.

Carmen shrugged.

I remembered the reason why Edward has said Carlisle changed him. Had he changed Esme for similar reasons? Sheer compassion rather than purpose? Though, of course, I felt it was safe to assume a need for companionship would have played a role in Carlisle's choice to listen to Edward's human mother's plea.

A different reason occurred to me then. Had he changed Esme to give Edward a mother again? I remembered his slip up about 'both his mothers.' Then again, anyone who wanted to be Edward's mother would also have to be Carlisle's wife. Was that what Carlisle had been imagining? A perfect nuclear family: mother, father, and child. Once I had considered it, it seemed so simple. I wondered what had gone awry with this plan. Had Carlisle simply chosen the wrong woman to try and complete his family with? For Esme, so cold and distant, did not seem like anyone's mother.

"Maybe he wanted to give Edward a mother."

"And himself a mate in the process," Irina said.

It was my turn to shrug.

"I'm going to go talk to her," Carmen announced.

"Good luck," the rest of us muttered. She left the room and we heard her enter the library.

"Maybe a night out would cheer her up," Kate suggested. Irina snorted.

"I think it'll take more than that," I said sadly.

"I doubt Carlisle would want us to anyway," Irina added.

Kate laughed. "Yes, he probably wouldn't appreciate us trying to turn his would-be mate into a succubus."

I rolled my eyes. "Of course we wouldn't do that."

"Why not? A little bit of fun might cheer her up," Kate said with a smirk.

"She's too young," I pointed out.

"I never thought I'd hear the day where you were trying to stop us from corrupting innocent minds, sister," Irina said dryly.

"I meant as a vampire. She's not even out of her newborn year. I doubt killing someone is going to cheer her up."

"Talking of corrupting innocent young minds, Edward's certainly a handsome young man, sister." Kate looked at me pointedly, smirking once more.

Irina sighed. "This is going to be another challenge between you two, isn't it?" Her voice was exasperated, but I could see she was fighting a smile.

"What's life without a bit of competition?" I said with a grin.

Both of them laughed. In the momentary silence that followed, I could hear Carmen and Esme whispering to each other. Just quiet enough for me to not be able to make out the words. Carmen had perfected that art ever since she realized we could overhear her and Elezear talking. For some reason, she had no problem with us over-hearing over things but she didn't like us listening in to their private lovers' conversations. I could only assume Esme was following her lead. It was shocking enough that Carmen had even got her to talk.

"Indeed," Kate agreed, also grinning. "Well you be joining our spot of fun, sister?"

Irina raised an eyebrow at us critically. "Considering this is Carlisle's son of all people, I think it would be more entertaining to sit back and watch you two fail."

"She makes an excellent point, Kate. He is annoyingly like his father."

Kate laughed slightly. A few seconds later her laugh became a lot more rambunctious.

"Care to share the joke, sister?" I asked.

"What if he's exactly like we thought his father was? Hell, we thought they both were to we got the letter about Esme."

"He seemed less than happy about the thought when he overheard me," I told them.

"Oh yeah, the mind-reading thing. Imagine that. Being able to hear the person's thoughts whilst having sex."

"It would make things interesting I'm certain," I said calmly. Though I was thinking through the ramifications of her words. It would certainly be a new experience and wasn't I always looking for those?

"So which one of us lucky ladies will experience it?" Irina asked. She, too, was now smirking.

"'Us'?" Kate asked.

Irina rolled her eyes. "I might you two, of course," she replied smoothly. But she was smiling. "You know what. I think I'll go check on Carmen and Esme now. Make sure the newborn hasn't completely depressed our sister."

Kate and I both laughed. "You do that then," Kate remarked.

With a final amused smile, Irina left the room. "She's right," I heard her say from upstairs. "He has no right to be angry at you for acting like a newborn. What I don't get is why you don't just leave if it makes you so miserable?"

"Excuse me." Fury was etched into every syllable of Esme's words. Clearly, Irina had just said the wrong thing. "I could never leave Carlisle."

"O…K," Irina said slowly, obviously bemused by Esme's reaction.

"She is so Carlisle's mate," Kate said.

"I think you may be right, sister," I agreed.

"And it appears to depress the living daylights out of her," Irina announced as she walked back into the room.

From upstairs, Esme's loud sobs could clearly be heard.

"Why though?" I asked.

Irina shrugged. "Maybe she'll tell Carmen."

"Can … can I ask you something a little personal? What exactly is Carlisle to you?" We heard Carmen ask. Esme gave no reply but Carmen gave a little exclaim of surprise.

Esme chuckled dryly. "I suppose it would be pretty difficult to tell, given how we've been acting."

"Why are you acting like that though? I mean, I guess it's safe to assume you don't always act like this. Has it just been like that since you killed the boy?" Carmen asked.

So that was it. It was a kill that had caused the cloud of depression to rain down so heavily on Esme.

"If you love him, and I've no doubt you do." All three of us looked at each other upon hearing our suspicions confirmed. "You should be able to turn to him for support."

"I…I can't. He can tell me that 'it was a mistake' and 'it doesn't matter', but he doesn't … he doesn't get it. How can he, when he's gone how many centuries without killing a person?" Esme's voice was desolate.

"It's only two, Esme," Carmen pointed out. I almost laughed out loud at the absurdness of Esme's overreaction. To be so depressed and bring down those you loved all because of two deaths while surrounded by those who had killed thousands. I probably should have felt more guilty about that than I did. But the past was the past and I couldn't change it. I won't lie and say I didn't even enjoy it. A dead partner was just never a good end to sex.

"Only two?" Esme asked incredulously. I stopped listening as Carmen began to explain exactly how many people she had killed, she would set the young vampire straight.

"All this because of two people," Irina muttered.

~o~ ~O~ ~o~

We returned home from our hunt that's sole purpose had been to give Carlisle and Esme some time to talk.

Beside me, Edward scoffed. I looked at him curiously.

"They haven't exactly been talking," he explained.

"Oh great," Carmen muttered.

"So what they've spent the last three hours ignoring each other?" Irina asked, irritated.

Edward didn't answer. Though I could swear he was trying to suppress a smirk.

"Esme? Carlisle?" I shouted as we walked into the house.

"They're in the guest room," Edward said. His voice held just the smallest hint of disgust.

"I say we drag her out with us and talk some sense into her," Kate suggested. "We were planning a night out anyway. Obviously she won't want to participate in certain activities our night's out usually consist of."

"I still maintain that there is no way on Earth Carlisle will let us take his mate on one of our night's out," Irina commented.

"Well, it's worth a shot," I muttered. "May as invite Edward as well, hadn't we, Kate?"

I heard Carlisle and Esme enter the room.

"Indeed," Kate agreed.

"Esme," I called my name as she turned around, "we were thinking of going out for the night, you what to come? You should come, too, Edward. I'd ask you, Carlisle, but I know you'd just say no." As I spoke my eyes settled on Carlisle and Esme's interlocked hands. Taking their appearances into account there was no denying they looked a little ruffled. I choked back a laugh. No, they hadn't been talking, but something else entirely.

If there was any doubt about her being Carlisle's mate it's gone now.

"Looks like you owe me hundred dollars, sister," Kate said, obviously her train of thought was the same as mine.

She wasn't going to be getting that hundred dollars from me anytime soon though. I distinctly remembered not actually taking her up on the bet.

"I think I'll stay at home, Tanya," Carlisle said.

"Me, too," Esme said instantly. Carlisle wrapped his arm around her waist and kissed her forehead. It was strange, after watching them both be so miserable and distant from one and other, to see them now smiling at me and being all lovey-dovey. An improvement, obviously, but it would take some time to get use to it.

Carlisle, who had always been so shy and timid and likely to hesitate away from any alien touch, was now stood with his arm wrapped firmly around a woman. A woman he'd undeniably been inside an hour earlier.

"What about you, Edward?" I spun around to face him "Surely you don't want to stay at home with the boring old mated couples?" Edward looked uncomfortable. He was pretty much taking Carlisle's place in that department.

"There's no need to look so worried, Edward," Kate chimed in. "We'll bring you home to your mommy and daddy in one piece."

From the corner of my eye, I saw Esme look away awkwardly. I remembered once more Edward's words about 'both his mothers'. He obviously hadn't told Esme this.

You should tell her, Edward. It'd be good for all three of you.

Edward would get a mother and Carlisle would get his perfect nuclear family.

"Well, I'm not-" Edward begin to protest to Kate.

"Oh, come on, Edward. Have a little fun," I insisted.

"Yeah, you don't want to be stuck at home with the, how did you word it, sister? Oh yes, boring mated couples," Carmen said.

"Especially not a boring married couple," Elezear added with a grin in Carlisle and Esme's direction

"Married?" I asked, spinning around to face the pair of them. Kate and Irina echoed me. Smiling brightly, Carlisle and Esme were both holding up their left hands. A wedding ring glistened on both of their ring fingers and on Esme's there was also the sparkle of an engagement ring.

Kate let out a low whistle. "That's a hell of a rock you got there, Esme." It certainly was.

Trust Carlisle to go the whole hog. He wouldn't accept just having a mate, he wanted a wife. In fact, I would have been willing to bet that Esme wasn't his mate in the direct sense of the word until after they were married. It was something no other vampire would ever consider and so typically Carlisle.

"Congratulations," Irina said.

"Yes, congratulations to the pair of you," I said, warmly.

"Right, let's go get ready," Kate announced.

"You, too, Edward, you're coming," I insisted.

Edward shuffled uncomfortably.

"Go, Edward," Esme insisted. I was beginning to rather like her now that she actually talked.

Edward gave a long-suffering sigh. "I don't have any choice in the matter, do I?" he asked.

"No," all three of us answered at once.

We all headed to our separate rooms. I listened into Carlisle and Esme as I got ready.

"Do you have any idea what you just got our son into?" Carlisle asked Esme.

"What? He's just off out for a nice night out. Right?"

Carlisle chuckled. "Right, love," he agreed. A little condescendingly in my opinion.

"I know that look, Carlisle Cullen. What aren't you telling me?" Esme said forcefully. Yes, I was definitely beginning to like her.

"Do you know what a succubus is?"

"No. Should I?"

"No… let's just say that's what the sisters are," Carlisle answered teasingly. I had never heard him sound so relaxed and happy before. He certainly didn't go round teasing people when I had last seen him.

"Oh!" I heard the distinctive metal ding of a vampire hitting another vampire. Very gently, by the sound of it. Most likely just a small tap. Either way, I was quickly growing rather fond of Esme. "Tell me!" she insisted.

"Let's go check on our son," Carlisle said, in an obvious attempt to dodge the matter. I was kind of let down when Esme allowed him to get away with it.

I was concentrating on fixing my hair when I heard Esme squeal about how dapper Edward looked. I had to laugh slightly when she then pointed out his tie was crooked.

"Stop being such a mom, Esme," Edward told her. A silence followed. I had been correct in assuming Edward had never told Esme he thought of her as his second mother.

"You look smashing, son," Carlisle said.

"Thanks, Dad. Thanks," I heard Edward pause.

If you can hear me, just say it. I'm sure it'll make her and Carlisle happy.

"Mom," he said.

Wasn't so hard now, was it?

There was an impatient knock on my door. Abandoning the awkward lock of hair, I went to open it to Edward.

"You shouldn't have made me do that," he whispered.

"He called me Mom," Esme muttered in the other room. But she didn't sound happy.

"Can we go?" Edward said tensely.

"Of course," I agreed. My sisters, having obviously overheard the conversation, meet us at the doorway.

The last thing I heard before we left the house was Esme saying, "I don't deserve a son."

"Sorry," I muttered to Edward as we slowed down along the main road away from our house. We were in no rush to get anywhere and the depth of the snow meant no car would be on this road tonight. You could barely tell it was suppose to be a road. Our footsteps trailed behind us in the foot deep snow. On the off chance anyone saw they would just assume we were unfortunate car passengers who had been walking for help. Even if we choose to run again and therefore stopped leaving footsteps, it would just be assumed we had not survived the roguish winter weather.

"You were trying to help," Edward replied calmly. Both of my sisters looked at us with intrigue.

"I didn't expect it to make her miserable again." And God knows, I didn't want to.

"What did she mean?" Kate asked Edward curiously. "'I don't deserve a son.' I mean she's Carlisle's mate, wife even. Boy does that sound weird. And you're his son. It's only natural that she should be your mother."

"It's a… sensitive issue with Esme," Edward answered carefully.

"Did she have children her previous life?" I asked. I wished I hadn't when I saw Kate and Irina wince. We all know who had been my inspiration behind that question, even while I tried my best not to acknowledge it.

Edward hesitated for a few seconds, before nodding.

Irina hissed violently. "What the hell was Carlisle thinking, changing her? What of her children?"

"Sister," I called consolingly. "We should not judge before knowing the whole story." For surely Carlisle of all people would never do that?

"Her son was already dead at the time of Esme's change," Edward answered. "Please don't ask me for further details then that. Just know that Esme did not live a happy life and she is thankful to Carlisle for saving her, as she views it."

"And you don't?" I questioned.

"Oh, he saved Esme," Edward muttered. "She will recover from her slip-up and go back to being her usual cheery self soon enough."

"And you?" Kate asked. She had obviously picked up on the bitterness in his voice, too. "Did he save you?"

"Depends who you ask," Edward replied.

"We're asking you," I pointed out.

"Then yes, Carlisle did save me from dying of Influenza." I noted how carefully worded his answer was. Carlisle saved him from dying. Whether he was thankful about this like Esme was uncertain.

Edward sighed. "So where are you taking me anyway?" he asked. It was an obvious end to our interrogation of him.

"Just a little place for a few 'drinks' in Denali," Kate answered.

"Let's go then," Edward said and began to run. He was faster than all three of us and remained in the lead until we got to the outskirts of Denali and I pointed out he didn't know where we were going. He simply laughed and led us straight to outside our favourite spot.

"How did you know that?" Kate exclaimed.

Edward tapped his temple in response, smirking at us. It was a very devilish smirk.

Kate and Irina headed inside. Edward made to follow them, but I caught his arm. He looked at me curiously as I attempted to guard my thoughts. I didn't really know how best to do it and was currently just singing the Russian National Anthem rather loudly hoping it would disguise my other thoughts.

"Yes, Tanya?" he asked politely, though I could see the curiosity burning in his eyes.

"If you found your mate, like Esme has, could you then view yourself as truly saved?"

Edward sighed. "You can't save me, Tanya," he said gently. He was holding the door open for me.

"I can try," I replied, turning around to face him as he followed me into the bar. I laughed merrily, smiling at him. "I rather think Carlisle and Esme would like a daughter-in-law."

Edward raised an eyebrow at me. "I didn't think that was your style, Tanya."

"People can change," I told him. I was walking backwards now to keep him in my line of sight. "Though if you'd just prefer a one-night only deal, that's fine with me."

"Unfortunately, Tanya, I am, as you keep saying, annoyingly like my father in this aspect."

"So I have to go the whole hog then? Wedding rings and all?"

"Tanya," Edward began cautiously.

"I jest, Edward. I'm not exactly the marrying type. Let's go and find my sisters."


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