Like Passion Fruit
by Mackenzie L.
*The Twilight Saga belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
"The flesh endures the storms of the present alone." — Thomas Hobbes
He feels, sometimes, that she is stitched inside of him.
An innocent flicker of her warm ruby eyes in his direction, and the world bent to her bidding. His heart thudded back to life when she looked at him. She looked to him for mercy, for aid, for care. And he gave as much of it as was acceptable for a man to give to a woman without the devotion of matrimony. It seemed ridiculous that they were holding back from each other, for what did they have left to hide? Everything hidden, it seemed, was already free.
Would it forever be an untended question that lingered on the air between them when they spoke, when they simply looked at one another? Why did they search for what was already in plain sight?
But for as many times it seemed obvious, there were times when it seemed unthinkable. The changes that would be made to accommodate such a revelation would be too great. At such a crucial time in their lives, how could they adjust to a rainstorm of sharpened stars from the sky?
It was hurtful to think on it, but Carlisle thought of it anyway. He thought of sinking to the ground by Esme's delicate white feet and begging her to accept his love.
Sometimes, he thought he would not even need to have her love in return. If only she would accept what he had to give to her... He could be content. And he had so much to give her. Every morning the sun filled his chest with more burdensome heat, the rays rested on his shoulders first light, then heavy. Esme walked past him, leaving the tendrils of her gentle feminine power in her wake, and the light chased after her longingly... Carlisle was left in her passing shadow, silently wondering if she had felt the heat from his heart as she walked beside him.
Indulging a fantasy was too easy for him. He pulled books from the shelves and filled his lap with literature to press out the force of his foolish desires. With every page he turned, his breath began a new rhythm as he pondered impossible scenarios.
He imagined a world where he was in power, where he manipulated the chains of control with ease and grace. Every fleck of dust moved in accordance with his wishes, and thus Esme moved by the command of his every wish as well. She neared him when he longed for nearness. She touched him when he needed her touch. She was quiet and still when he asked her to be quiet and still...
Her eyes were wide as she waited for his instruction, but seeing her so submissive made his heart ache. He did not instruct her or command her in any way. But the advantage of her stillness was too ideal for a man of flesh to pass over.
He instead took her hands her small, artist's hands into his own. He treasured every finger with his touch, watching her face as her eyes fluttered shut. The parting of her lips struck his heart like the blade of Perseus. This soundless promise that she offered to him, this invitation into the first innocent space of her essence it was a clamp around his throat. He could not speak, or think, or even feel for just that moment... Then suddenly the senses assaulted him ten-fold as he bowed his head to her unworldly beauty and took her offered promise.
Below, he held her hands. He barely touched her. Yet he kissed her lips this most intimate feature of her face where words and breath were born. In the softest of introductions, he pressed his own against hers, offering her his words, and his breath... all of which she was perfectly welcome to refuse.
But she did not refuse him. In this burning dream, she accepted him. And this acceptance was all Carlisle had ever wanted.
He flattered himself by imagining her kiss as a tremulous one. He indulged himself disgustingly in this world based on unproven theory: Esme's breath was fast, and her hands were shaking, and her body was warm. But he was slow, controlled, sturdy, giving her what she had no choice but to willingly accept. For he alone had invented this world. Here was where he was free saturate himself with fabricated love, to play God and never feel guilty.
But he did feel guilty. Even in the realm of fantasy, Carlisle felt guilt.
Because imagining what can never be is the most effective brand of torture that a man can offer himself. And sometimes it was worse to imagine something wonderful, if that something was also impossible.
He had ruined himself for good.
It was her name.
The name "Esme" just sounded far too seductive, too breathy. No matter how it was said, it made his skin tingle and his chest unbearably tight.
He couldn't quite grasp the syllables on his tongue because of his accent, and so the 's' was softened when he spoke it.
Ess – may.
He wondered if she noticed he was saying her name all wrong.
He wondered if she could tell how rich with desire his voice was when he uttered it.
Her name... Merciful Lord, why should a woman have a name like Esme? Other women, they walked around with perfectly acceptable names names that were stiff, chaste on the tongue. Gertrude, Anna, Ruth, Marie... Never Esme.
Esme was made to tempt the tongue. The name was like wine without the bitter aftertaste. Like warm, red romance, but softer, not garish. It was home, but not entirely comfortable. More like velvet than cotton, but inviting for the heart. There was a flow to the smoky syllables that felt like silk inside his mouth. One moment it was light, the next it was heavy. One second it was soothing, the next it stung.
The name Esme was an addictive battle between his lips.
Oh, if only Esme were between his lips...
There was soft, tender spot in the pit of his stomach that would often twist at the thought of her. A teasing burn of silky excitement, like nothing he'd ever felt before.
Nothing could soothe the sensation but sin.
So many nights he tried to tame the torture while she was in the room right above him. She was painting or reading or doing something insultingly innocent. And he was down here in his comfortable hell, writing in fury, in a mad effort to expel the demons from his trembling hand.
I feel her, day after day. Not an hour passes where I do not sense her touch somewhere upon me.
I have dreamt of her, taking her in a deep, dense garden somewhere. I have imagined our embrace, beneath a languid moon, between tangles of warm, exotic life, blanketed by sweet blue darkness.
I have envisioned her, lying beneath me on a bed of sunrise, her body melting into me like honey. Her hair spread out on my pillow, shining rays of caramel for my fingers to feast upon. She rinses me with her caresses, her artistic hands molding my shoulders like the most gifted sculptor. Her touch is so gentle for me, so caring it shatters my heart.
Only in my dreams will a woman touch me this way.
Oh, the things I could do to her.
And here, I despise the sound of these words. I know not know how to inject any honor into them. Lord, aid me with the use of a decent verb... The things I could give her? The things I could show her?
The ways I could love her.
Yes, that is all I have wished for. All of these cursed years, all of this weight, burdening me with every step – all of it would melt in the wake of her beautiful face staring up at me; her soft, vulnerable body, bare before me...
But no – I would kiss her first. Let her come to know the intensity of my love in small, patient steps. Her lips are longing to be kissed, I can see it. They would be so generous, I know it. Such a shame to let such fullness fall to waste. They seem to speak in slow motion these days. I wonder if she is as desperate to taste me as I am to taste her. It is possible for us to taste each other – just one kiss would satisfy our longing.
I need to love, dear God! And if I must love, let me love her. This love is so heavy, so rough on my poor, tortured soul. This love longs to be unleashed, only behind closed doors, only with her arms weak and willing around my waist...
My mind is that of a man maddened by lust. I am hiding behind this – this quiet appetite, this gentle explosion of endless passions. With such damned creativity have I been cursed... So many scenarios blossoming in my imagination. It is an unending stream – no, a stream no longer – now rapids.
Oh, my dear, innocent Esme... I can reveal nothing of my shameful plight to her. She would surely run from me.
The blasted blue ink smeared all across the bottom of the page, ruining all that was neat, clean, orderly. In its wake was left a sea of chaos, a branch of bitter blue webs spawning like disease on the corner of his journal. He tore the page out and tossed it into the fire. He couldn't bear to see it again.
And as he watched the ink fermenting and curling, teasing the flames to burn in a rainbow of indecent colors, a part of him wished he could bring it back. A flawless rendition was stamped in his mind, but he still wanted to look upon that original, soiled, blue-smeared copy of his spilling thoughts. He wanted the raw entry to make its return. Wanting this made his head fall into his hands.
He was forever cursed with this sentimental heart.
The inspiration for relief had not abandoned him; even now, his hands were still shaking, his hips felt weak, unstable. His thoughts were delirious, wandering through sensual forests of rain and loving heat. He wanted to lose himself, so dearly, but the threat was thrumming sure in his conscience. He was not alone. He was nowhere near alone.
He could not cure this ache anywhere safe, in any place of comfort. He was sentenced to escape, to flee away from his home, away into the cold, frightening world that lay beyond. It was a sacrifice for his sake, but sometimes the need was too great to ignore.
Sometimes he found himself, blanketed by nothing but the burn of pine and the swell of shadows. His breath came in like an erratic tide, tricking the moon with every fierce exhale. The night would be fooled into thinking there were two people out here, sharing the shade. But it was only him.
Sometimes the sky rained down over him, shattering against his naked back as if to shame him. The droplets sunk into his flesh, like tiny pins, sparkling as dull blue diamonds do in the dark. Nothing the night threw at him could stop the sin once it had begun. He was possessed by it, every mournful whisper of his spirit drowned out by the song of promised relief. He could feel it, hear it building like the off-tune hum of an orchestra in the pit, preparing for the first grand stanza of a symphony...
The symphony was never as sweet as its promise. It was a little like glass shattering on a table. Hard, quick, loud. Sharp. Satisfying. But as soon as it cracked, he stood back and saw the mess. Then the guilt... and picking up the pieces always pinched.
Amidst it all, he found himself murmuring her name, in the stripped silence of his delirious mind. Before the rupture of pleasure, he gasped for her, and the syllables kissed the center of his tongue. The echo of her name shuddered through his chest, tightening and unraveling every fiber until it had swept his entire body. Her spirit was fresh inside his heart for he had only uttered her name.
The forest was scandalized by the sight of him as he begged for breath, whispering words that no woman should ever hear from a man who was not her faithful lover.
All that Nature heard in the night was Esme. Her name was like passion fruit, pouring out of this strange, lonely blond man who desecrated these darkened forests. His voice was kind to it. His voice made it flow. His tongue had tasted it. His body had swallowed it.
But he could not savor the fruit of her name without the God-given gift of guilt.