I have to apologize, this chapter has been sitting in my DocX's inbox for a while because FFnet failed to notify me that Beta had sent it back.

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday season; wish you lots of love, health and wealth! Anyway, here it is, better late than never.

Thanks to Mackenzie for her Super beta powers and thank you all for reading.


CHAPTER VII

PROPOSALS THAT CAN'T BE BROKEN

The shopkeeper's bell announced Esme and Edward's entrance into the large boutique.

The view left Esme speechless.

She had never entered a sophisticated store like this one before. Beautifully carved wood panels covered the walls and a luxurious carpet concealed the floor from wall to wall, making the atmosphere warm and cozy. The place was furnished with expensive furniture, exquisite paintings from the Regency era, and marbled colored statues.

It all made Esme feel special. To think Carlisle chose this store for her…

Refined women were sitting on sofas and chairs, and were being brought the most beautiful clothes to select. Esme took a few hesitant steps as if she feared any of them would look at her with criticism or disdain.

It was something that used to happen often in Ohio. Her mother enjoyed socializing with high society groups, but their economic situation wasn't favored among the elite. Esme remembered that her mother always took her along to such gatherings in the hopes that she would catch the eye of a wealthy match. Unfortunately, her modest lifestyle and lively nature made Esme the center of gossip among the snobbish women.

Much to her surprise, this time Esme received welcoming smiles from both sellers and shoppers.

"This isn't Ohio, Esme." Edward whispered, following her closely. "Don't be nervous. No one knows you." He nodded towards a mirror in front of them. "What they see is what they take for certain."

The reflection showed a graceful young lady in an elegant outfit, accompanied by a young, handsome gentleman. Even Esme couldn't recognize herself. The barefooted farm girl who wore humble mismatched dresses was long gone. She looked like the classy woman she had always dreamed to be.

Nervously, she eyed the room around her.

She caught a glimpse of a woman smiling at Edward.

Suddenly, Esme realized that it wasn't only that woman who was smiling at him, but half the boutique. The corner of her lips twisted into a smile. They were all dazzled by Edward.

The boy cleared his throat. It was awkward for him to be in a room filled with women of different ages who were probably thinking inappropriate things about him.

"Good evening," an elegant lady interrupted. "May I help you?"

Esme immediately recognized a foreign accent. It was surely French.

"Good evening," Edward bowed. "Allow me to introduce myself; I'm Edward Cullen and this is Mrs. Cullen, Doctor Cullen's wife."

"Oh," The woman almost applauded with enthusiasm. "Of course!" She gave Esme a warm smile. "Doctor Cullen appointed us to select the finest clothing for Madame Cullen. Follow me, please."

Esme made a face. Did she call her Madame?

Edward smiled. Esme's thoughts amused him so much.

They were led to a private parlor with large windows that were framed by fancy curtains. Chariots pulled by horses and new automobiles could be seen passing by out in the street, but Esme's attention was captured by the sofas, chairs and stands around them.

They all carried the richest and most beautiful dresses, coats, hats and shoes.

It was a feast for the eyes.

"In this room you will find what we carefully chose for Madame. It all arrived from Europe last week. Everything will fit Madame's silhouette perfectly well, however adjustments can be made if wished." The woman stood by the door before leaving. "I'll leave you alone so you can decide on the attire you'd prefer."

The lady left Esme and Edward surrounded by the most outstanding collection of clothes Esme had ever seen in her life.

"This is extraordinary…" She didn't even know where to start.

"Why don't we simply take everything home?" Edward stood next to a perch that carried a dozen fancy hats.

"That would be senseless," Esme went by his side. "I don't need this much." She took a cream colored hat that had a beautiful pearly ribbon around it.

"But that would save me an evening of agony." He smirked.

She laughed softly. "I promise I won't take long."

Playfully, Edward placed a hat on his head, tying the ribbon under his chin. "I think Carlisle would love this one on you."

"You look adorable!" Esme laughed hard. "I'm sure he'd love to see it on you."

"I know. The color suits me." He chuckled. "Should we take one for him, too? Purple is his color."

The idea of Carlisle wearing a woman's hat made Esme's face turn deep red. "Edward!" She laughed.

"Excuse me," The woman who had escorted them in returned to the room with a box. She paused when she noticed the feminine hat on Edward's head.

He removed it immediately, placing it awkwardly on Esme's head instead.

"Yes?" Edward cleared his throat.

The lady raised an eyebrow at him. "Here is our most recent shipment of fans," She left the small box on a table. "Perhaps Madame will like a few to match her ensemble." She smiled warmly at Esme, but gave Edward an suspicious look before leaving the room again.

"She looked upset."

"I'm sure she was." Edward nodded. "We'll have to buy the fans too…" He went to sit on a sofa.

"I would like us to visit Carlisle after we finish," Esme sighed. She missed him. "He works so hard."

"He likes it." Edward shrugged. "He has an extraordinary…passion for his job."

"Yes," Esme began to take a peek at the dresses. "It's wonderful that his patients have someone like him."

Edward smiled. Except for the fact that she was a human, Esme was truly a marvelous woman for Carlisle.

He stared melancholically out the window.

Edward's lonely heart couldn't help but wish to someday, find someone as wonderful as her. Though being what he was, he doubted he ever would.

Edward believed he didn't deserve to be loved.

o)O(o

To Esme, there was something incredibly exciting about being driven in a brand new car, through the streets of one of the most important cities in the world.

Esme would've never dreamed about having this life.

She had casually found true love by falling off a tree and this forbidden deed led her to the perfect life she was currently living. Could it get any better? Esme didn't think so. She didn't need it to get better.

Happy, with the wind blowing on her face and through her hair, Esme stared out to the street. Cars of different sizes and shapes invaded the large avenue that would lead her and Edward to the hospital where Carlisle was working.

Edward was driving. He had been so patient with her when minutes earlier, at her insistence, they stopped the car to buy a snack for Carlisle.

Edward was so nice to her and Esme noticed he was always very intuitive. He always managed to figure out what was in her mind before she had said it.

Stores of all sorts caught Esme's eyes as the car moved down the street. There were colorful candy shops, bakeries that filled the air with the delicious scents of recently baked goodies, elegant boutiques like the one she visited, and a large bookstore just around a corner.

A bookstore! Esme noticed with delight.

Suddenly all her senses were focused on that place. The variety of volumes a city bookstore carried had to be remarkable.

"We could stop to take a look..." Edward casually commented.

Esme looked at him with surprise. Edward always managed to read her thoughts.

Uneasy, he cleared his throat. "You looked like you wanted to visit it." By the look on Esme's face, Edward recognized he had spoken beforehand. He was getting used to listening to her thoughts, but he had to remind himself that he couldn't respond to Esme's thoughts the way he did with Carlisle. It was difficult not to though. Her reflections were always so enjoyable and sincere; Edward couldn't help but respond to them.

"Can we?" Esme smiled. She was definitely interested in visiting the bookstore.

"Certainly." The boy began to search for a place to park their car. "But only for a few minutes; Carlisle would kill me if he knew I was taking you somewhere without his consent."

Just like in the boutique, the bell attached to the bookstore's door rang out as they walked in. The aroma of books embraced Edward and Esme. It was more than what she had ever imagined. Tall bookshelves covered the walls of the large store, all filled with hundreds of volumes.

"Surprised?" Edward inquired.

"More than surprised…" Esme began to walk among the shelves, running her fingers on the spines of the books, reading the titles. She had always loved books more than anything, they were the only escape she had from the constricted world she used to live in.

"You should see Carlisle's collection." Edward followed her. "It's fascinating…" He stopped to look at a music volume that stood in a shelf.

"Does he collect books?" Esme turned to look at him.

"He loves them as much as you do." Edward buried his face in the book he had found.

Esme cocked an eyebrow. "And how do you know that I love books?"

Edward mumbled something unintelligible; he was completely absorbed in the tome.

Esme smiled to herself. She would love to read to Carlisle. Maybe he could read to her as well.

She stopped before a shelf filled with what Esme's mother would call questionable literature. Ancient legends, folklore, Greek mythology. Esme was never allowed to have a copy in her hands, but now that she was a married woman and the lady of her household, she could own as many as pleased. She grabbed two books and continued onto the next shelf to select something on classic literature.

Edward happily closed the tome he had been reading. He was definitely taking the book home.

"Esme? I believe it's time to leave…"

Edward's words were cut off when he felt his throat suddenly burning in a very unusual manner. It was intense, almost unbearable. He lifted his gaze to find the object that had abruptly stimulated his desire for blood.

It was a young girl who was standing right next to Esme. A beautiful fair-skinned child with dark brown hair covered by a bonnet.

"Edward?" Esme turned to look at him, and so did the child. The girl's chocolate brown eyes were mesmerizing.

He took a step back, holding his breath, even if it meant Esme would notice. "We must leave." Edward immediately turned around and walked away, leaving his book behind. Nothing mattered to him anymore than leaving the place before he gave free rein to his most basic instinct. He quickly walked out of the bookstore, haunted by the terrifying monstrosity in him.

Confused, Esme picked up the book Edward had chosen and went to pay before following him out of the store.

Something in that child had bothered Edward, and she noticed it. It was reaction Esme had never witnessed in her life.

"Are you alright, Edward?" Esme asked as soon as she got into the car with him.

"Nothing is ever alright with me." He swallowed his own venom. "Let's take you to Carlisle."

He didn't say another word during the ride, and neither did she.

o)O(o

Large columns guarded the entry of the hospital. The architecture was impressive, just like most of the buildings in the city.

Esme walked into the wide open hall, observing every detail around her. Hospitals were always so solemn to her. The stiffness of the white color engulfed the place. If Esme could, she would decorate all hospitals in a different way.

A little bit of color to the walls here and there…

"I'll wait for you here." Edward interrupted her thoughts.

He was still shocked about the peculiar incident he had in the bookstore. It was as if the scent of the blood that ran in the child's veins had sent him over the edge of sanity.

Seeing Edward a little distraught, Esme agreed.

She began to walk towards the reception alone, when as if destiny had it written, she saw Carlisle standing across the hall, studying a chart.

Carlisle's senses perceived Esme's presence instantly. He lifted his attention from his papers to look at her.

Esme's beautiful figure was standing a few feet away from him. Her head was covered by a lovely hat and one of her arms was carrying a small basket. She was staring at him with the sweetest of all smiles.

The sight drew a smile on Carlisle's face as well.

His wife had come to visit him at work. How bizarre the whole picture was to Carlisle. Year after year, century after century, he witnessed moments like this with his colleagues. Never in all his existence had he dreamed of this happening to him.

Carlisle walked towards her, and his steps felt lighter than usual. It was ridiculous how in love he was with this girl.

Esme smiled when he reached her and Carlisle couldn't resist smiling back.

"To what do I owe the honor of your visit?" His voice sounded unbelievably attractive.

"I just wanted to see you," Esme shrugged in a lovely manner. "And bring you a snack. You must be terribly tired."

Standing a few meters away, Edward noticed that Carlisle looked like he would eat the entire basket for Esme.

The boy rolled his eyes and smiled. Seeing them interacting made him feel a little better.

"Come with me," Carlisle offered his arm to Esme. "Did Edward take you to choose your new outfits?" He walked her down the hall into a warm office.

As soon as Carlisle closed the door behind, Esme's fingers went to arrange his necktie. "Yes, they were lovely, thank you."

Her fingers tickled his chest with tenderness. Carlisle suddenly found himself resisting the urge to kiss her. "You don't have to thank me." He smiled warmly at her, cupping her hands on his chest.

Esme suddenly noticed she was in a small, cozy room with beautiful ornate curtains and wooden flooring. Her eyes moved to observe the desk with dozens of books and papers scattered all over it.

It had to be Carlisle's office.

Her attention went back to her husband, as he was sliding his arms around her waist to embrace her. Esme giggled softly when he tenderly kissed one side of her face.

"You are happy." Esme beamed, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"Your presence alone gives me so much happiness." He smiled. "I'm glad you came."

"I wish you could go home so we could be together." Esme rested her head on his chest, seeking his warmth and the sound of his heart.

"I promise to return before the night falls," He rested his chin on the top of her head.

Esme looked up at him. "Do you promise?"

A knock on the door distracted them. "Give me a moment." Carlisle went to attend the door, and Esme decided to peek around the office. She approached his desk with curiosity. There were a few forms Carlisle had been filling.

Esme smiled. She loved his calligraphy, it was just as perfect as Carlisle was.

Carlisle Cullen. Age: twenty three.

Esme took a step back as soon as she read the paper. Carlisle wasn't twenty three years old. A least, that wasn't the age he presented himself as in Ohio.

Discovering he had been lying didn't startle Esme, but she was surprised to confirm that her intuition had always been right. Somehow she always knew Carlisle was younger than what he claimed to be.

She softly placed the small basket she was carrying on top of the papers, as if trying to leave a message for her husband.

After finishing a conversation with a colleague, Carlisle closed the door. "I must go back to work."

Esme assented, not knowing what to say or if she should address her finding.

He approached her and took her hand in his, then touched it with a kiss. "I promise to return early tonight, my dear." The look in his eyes was sincere.

Esme gave him a faint smile. No matter the reason why he pretended to be older, Carlisle genuinely loved her.

Her smile grew. "I'll be waiting you…in my bedchamber."

"Esme…" He gave her a look filled with hesitation.

Her mind rapidly left the age issue behind. "I know that you are afraid to hurt me again." Esme's hand moved to caress his face.

"I afraid I'm not the gentlest creature in this world." Carlisle confessed with sadness. "There is no way I could love you or touch you without ..."

Esme placed a finger on his lips, reflecting on his words. Her lips twisted into a mischievous smile as she enveloped her arms around his neck. "Then you won't be allowed to touch me...and no more words can be said on this matter." Esme sealed her proposal with a kiss.

She left his arms and went to grab the doorknob to open the door. "I'll be waiting for you tonight, my love." She gave Carlisle a soft smirk before leaving the office.

Carlisle stood quietly in the middle of the room, completely stunned by Esme's suggestion.

Proposals of that kind definitely couldn't be broken.


Thanks so much for reading! Comments, hyphotesis, suggestions, notes and so on, are appreciated as Alive!Carlisle.

Next update will be up next week.

Have a very happy New Year!