I don't own Twilight.

Umm... so... yeah... I'm officially writing this again. It was on hiatus for two years. I always intended to go back to it. It was never abandoned. And now here we go again.

If you need to reread the whole thing I don't blame you at all. I had to do that, too.

Remember the warnings for this story are pretty strong, and it above and beyond earns its M rating. This chapter is mild, though. No real warnings for this one.

Thank you to KR2009 and anhanninen for believing in my ability to jump back into this story, and for holding my hand and kicking my ass the whole way. Best pre-readers ever. Also a huge thank you to Mackenzie L for not giving up on me and for being an amazing beta.

A special thank you for this chapter goes to pugridesshotgun for playing the role of Esme's attorney and helping me iron out the legal details.

Here we go! Hope you all enjoy!

October 22, 2004

Columbus, OH

"Make a wish, baby."

Esme sat in the booth across from me in her favorite retro style diner.

I pulled out my lighter and lit the lone candle on the cupcake between us. The lady at the counter stopped wiping the bar and glared at me but didn't say anything.

The birthday girl smiled and closed her eyes before blowing out the flame.

"What did you wish for?"

She threw her straw wrapper at me. "No way am I telling! Then it won't come true."

"Come on, babe, you know that's fake! I would tell you."

She rolled her eyes and took a bite. "You wouldn't even wish for anything."

"Of course I would. I would wish for a naked Esme."

She laughed and reached across the table, pretending like she was going to punch me.

"You're so ridiculous," she said.

I tossed some money on the table and reached for her hand as we slid out of the booth. I pulled her into my arms as soon as she was on her feet.

"Happy birthday, Esme. I love you."

October 22, 2008

Seattle, WA

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Alice screamed as soon as we entered the restaurant.

Every single person in the restaurant turned to stare at us, making me want to hide behind Esme. She was smiling, though, and squeezed my hand as we walked toward the table where Alice and Jasper were waiting for his.

This whole birthday dinner had been Alice's idea. Esme hadn't wanted to do anything except hang out at home, but Alice convinced her she wouldn't turn twenty-one every year and that we should celebrate. She and Jasper were planning to hang out at the apartment with us after dinner and have a few beers. Maybe some shots, too. Even though she could get on my last damn nerve faster than anyone, I was glad Alice made this suggestion.

My girl was definitely worth celebrating.

Alice jumped up from the table and threw herself at Esme. Most of the time I swear the girl's on crack. Esme loves her, though, and she has seriously kicked my ass when I needed it.

She glared at me while she hugged Esme. I shifted my weight, feeling awkward. Then she released Esme and wrapped her arms around me, making me feel really awkward.

"You better be treating her right," she whispered.

She pulled back with a smile, like she hadn't basically threatened me, and sat down beside Jasper.

"I'm so happy you guys came," Esme said.

"Of course," Jasper said, raising his glass of water to her. "Anything for my favorite customer."

Esme laughed. "Don't tell Carlisle that."

"This douchebag? Nah, he knows he could never compare to you."

Was this fucker flirting with my girl? I liked Jasper but I would not hesitate to beat his ass.

Esme put a hand on my knee and glanced at me out of the corner of her eye. Yeah, my girl could read my mind sometimes.

"Hi! What can I get you guys to drink?"

I looked up to see our waitress standing beside me, probably a lot closer than she should have been. Her name tag said Lauren, and she definitely stepped a little closer when she caught me reading it, probably thinking I was checking her out.

Jasper smirked at me.

She was pretty, sure, but I learned my lesson with the whole Kate thing. It was a miracle Esme didn't break up with me over that. We were still friends, I guessed. We still had class together, and she didn't seem to have any hurt feelings over the night of the party, so I figured we were good.

Esme hadn't been that easy.

Even after we talked and she forgave me she was still distant for a while. I knew she still didn't trust me sometimes.

Right now, for instance. She stomped on my foot and cleared her throat. I realized I was still staring at the waitress.

"Yeah, I'll have a bud light. You can skip the glass, too. I'll just take the bottle."

She looked right past Esme to Jasper. Esme looked ready to murder her and spoke up before Jasper could say a word.

"Yeah, I'll have a white sangria, thanks." She gently shut her menu and smiled at Lauren. She was being completely non-threatening but I could tell she was on the verge of a physical assault.

Nobody needed to be arrested.

"I'm gonna need to see some ID," Lauren said.

Esme tensed beside me, but pulled her license out of her wallet. Seriously, these girls and their dramatics.

Lauren wrote her drink down and then continued to Jasper, but I kept my eyes on Esme. She and Alice were looking at each other, talking with their eyes or some shit. I didn't even know, but they did that all the time, and the next time they spoke it was like they were reading each other's minds.


"I'll be right back with those," Lauren said, tucking her pad into her apron and smiling at me again before disappearing.

Esme rolled her eyes, but still didn't speak. I leaned over and kissed her cheek, getting a small smile out of her. She reached for my hand and linked our fingers in her lap.

"So," Alice said, "how are classes going, Carlisle?"

I knew this was coming. She acted like my damn mother. She and Esme talked almost every day, but whenever she saw me it was an interrogation.

"They're fine," I mumbled.

She raised an eyebrow. Christ, what did she want from me, to check my homework?

Lauren brought our drinks in record time, and Esme immediately took a large sip of her Sangria.

"Oh my God, that's so good," she said.

Jasper and I laughed. "Slow down, kiddo," he said. "You're gonna be drunk before we even get to the apartment."

"Good," she replied with a smirk. "I'm the birthday girl. I can drink however much I want."

"True that," Alice said, raising her glass. "Hey, maybe we can get free dessert since it's your birthday!"

"I'll get a free dessert," Esme said. "You guys can pay for yours."

"Ugh, rude!"

Esme stuck her tongue out at Alice across the table right when Lauren came back to take our orders. I was last this time and when I handed her my menu there was no way to miss the way she brushed her fingers over my hand. Even I noticed that shit.

I thought Esme was going to jump out of the booth and attack her, and I really didn't want that shit to happen. It was nothing, but she didn't see it that way. I wasn't an idiot. I knew she was seeing Kate on my lap at that party.

I rubbed her arm under the table and leaned in to whisper in her ear.

"Don't be jealous, baby. She's nowhere near as beautiful as you, and this is your night. I want you to enjoy it."

She smiled and placed her fingers over my arm, turning her face toward mine. "I know, and thank you for tonight. I mean it. It just pissed me off to see another woman's hands on you."

I nodded and rested my forehead against hers. "You're so hot when you're mad, though."

She laughed and gave me a quick kiss before returning to her drink.

"Are you two finished?" Jasper asked, earning a slap from Alice.


When our food came, Alice informed our waitress that it was Esme's birthday and could they bring her a free dessert, but no singing. Lauren didn't look pleased, but agreed, thank God. Alice would have thrown a damn fit if she'd said no. It was listed right on the dessert menu that anyone with a birthday had their choice free. Alice probably would have thrown the thing at Lauren's face to make her point.

Lauren came back with a plate that had the largest lava cake and a side of ice cream, and put it in front of Esme.

"Happy birthday," she said. "Here's your checks whenever you're ready."

Alice snorted and tried to cover it with a cough, making Esme laugh. Lauren scowled and walked away.

"What is your problem with her?" I asked Alice. "She was just telling Esme happy birthday."

"It was her tone, dumbass. She was being condescending. She probably wants Esme to burn in hell since she obviously wants you."


Jasper looked just as confused as I did.

"You can tell all of that from how she spoke to Esme?"

"And from her behavior all night."

Yeah, she had been kinda flirty, but it was harmless. Esme knew better than to worry.

I shook my head, laughing, and turned to Esme. "Can I have a bite, baby?"

She smiled at me and raised her fork to my lips. The cake was good, but my Esme could make a better one. She loved to spoil me with cakes and cookies. There were always sweets to eat at our place, and she was the best baker I knew.

"Ugh, get a room," Alice said.

Esme laughed, but I scowled and slipped my arm around her waist, pulling her closer. "Maybe we'll just kick you out early tonight," I shot back.

"She's just kidding," Jasper said. "Should we go?"

I nodded, throwing down some money for the check, and slipping my arm around Esme's shoulder as we walked to the car.

The drive to the apartment was short, and Jasper's car pulled in right behind me.

As soon as we walked in, Jasper headed for the kitchen and pulled four beers out of the refrigerator. He popped all the tops and passed them around, raising his own.

"To Esme's birthday," he said.

The night passed in a haze of beer, smoke, and laughter. It was exactly the night Esme wanted. Just her good friends celebrating her day. Nothing over the top, even though I would have given her anything she asked for.

By the time Alice and Jasper left it was 2 a.m., and my high was long gone. I collapsed on the bed fully dressed while Esme removed her piercings and pulled her shirt over her head.

"Why was Alice such a bitch to me tonight?" I asked, sitting up

Esme stopped undressing and turned to face me, looking at me like I was an idiot.

"You were kind of a dick to her."

"She thinks I don't deserve you," I told her. "Jasper let that slip a couple weeks ago. Like she's so fucking perfect. She parties just as hard as we do. She's not the saint she pretends to be."

"Yeah, well a couple weeks ago you didn't deserve me."

Was she ever going to let that go? Probably not.

She came forward and rubbed my arm. "Baby, I don't want to fight right now, okay? Not on my birthday. There's much better things we could be doing."

"Hmm... I agree." I wrapped my arms around her waist, pulling her down so she straddled my legs. "Did you have a good birthday, baby?" I asked.

"I did," she answered, leaning forward to kiss me slowly. "Thank you."

I grinned and laid back, pulling her down with me. "Don't thank me yet, beautiful."




Three days later I came home from work to find Esme sitting on the couch reading a letter with her bottom lip between her teeth.

"What's wrong, babe?"

"It's the family's lawyer in Ohio. Something about my trust."

"Excuse me? I thought you lost your trust for running away with me."

"So did I," she said. "He wants to meet with me."

That sounded an awful lot like a trap. "Babe, I don't know if that's such a great idea."

"I know." She looked up at me. "You think maybe I should ask a lawyer here to look at it? Explain the situation?"

I shrugged. "Can't hurt. I just don't really trust your family."

"Neither do I, but I don't know how much control they have over this stuff. I never paid much attention. All I really knew was my grandfather set up a trust to be paid out when I turned twenty-one. I thought my parent's could refuse to hand over the money or whatever, but now I'm pretty sure they can't do that. Unless it's spelled out in the trust that they can. I don't know."

I could tell she was confused and frustrated, having her old life brought up again. But if my girl was really entitled to her trust fund, I was gonna do whatever I could to help get it for her. She deserved it for putting up with those people as long as she did.

"I'm gonna text Alice and see if she knows of any good attorneys."

I nodded and wandered to the kitchen, pulling a bottle of water out of the fridge.

I sat down beside Esme and offered her the water bottle while I glanced at the letter. We had both written off her trust fund as something that would never happen, but it had never mattered to either of us. All we wanted was to be together.

"What do you think, baby?" I asked her while she fiddled with her phone, anxious for a reply from Alice.

"I don't even know what to think. I'm terrified at the thought of possibly having to go to Columbus. I never wanted to go back again. But if I can find someone here who will look at this for me, I can't say it's not exciting to think about — not having to struggle for every penny anymore."

I had to agree with that. We worked way too hard to be as broke as we were. And when you added school on top of work, we were both constantly exhausted and on edge. It would be great to take that pressure off.

Alice texted her back with the name of someone Jasper knew who helped him set up the tattoo shop. Hopefully he would be able to help us, or could lead us to someone who could.

Esme called the number and made an appointment with the secretary for the next day. Since it would just be an initial meeting it wasn't really a big deal for him to see her the next morning.

I rubbed her arm as she put the phone down on the table.

"Well, I guess we'll see, won't we?"

She nodded. "Happy twenty-first birthday to me."

I laughed. "That's my girl."




The next morning Esme woke me up way earlier than I wanted to on a day we were skipping school.

"Babe," she said, shaking my shoulder. "We need to get ready."

I groaned and rolled over. "No."

"Carlisle, seriously. I'm freaking nervous about this. Now get up."

I rolled toward her and yawned. She kept biting her lip. I knew she was worried about what the lawyer would say.

I kissed her forehead before climbing out of the bed. "Okay, baby. Let's get going."

After we were both showered and dressed we followed the MapQuest directions we'd printed the night before to the guy's office.

"You okay?" I asked Esme when I pulled the car into the parking lot and we got out.

"Yeah. It's just weird. My old life coming back like this."

I nodded and put my arm around her shoulder. "It is."

We walked in and she told the receptionist who we were. We didn't have to wait very long before a tall man came down the hall toward where we were.

"Hello," he said. "You must be Esme. "He extended a hand to my girl. "Jason Jenks. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Thank you," she replied, before turning to me. "And this is my boyfriend, Carlisle."

I shook his hand and then he led us back to his office.

"So," he said, taking a seat behind his desk. "What can I help you with today?"

Esme pulled the letter out of her purse and slid it across the desk.

"When I was born, my grandfather set up a trust fund of one million to be paid out when I turned twenty-one. I basically ran away from home at eighteen under not the best circumstances, and my parents verbally threatened my trust. I thought I was losing it by leaving, but yesterday I got this letter from their lawyer. I guess I just need to know what's going on and what my options are."

He read through the letter and then looked back up at Esme.

"I can definitely help you out with this. It is going to require some communication between me and their lawyer, but there is no reason for you to meet with them. Not if you want me to act as your representative."

She nodded, visibly relaxed to hear that she wouldn't have to return to Columbus.

"Okay," she said. "Where do we go from here?"

"Well..." He pulled out a legal pad and a pen. "I'm going to need some information about your life. I need to become familiar with the situation surrounding the trust if you want me to handle its transition for you."

"Like what?"

"Why did you run away, as you put it?"

"I was being forced to marry someone I hated."

I didn't know whether I wanted to laugh more at the directness of her answer or the way the lawyer's eyebrows shot up.

"Well, since you were not a minor when you left home, that won't factor into anything with regards to your trust."

"I'm sure my parents hate me now. They'll try to take the money from me — say I'm unfit or something."

She was starting to panic. I grabbed her hand and rubbed the back of it, trying to calm her down.

She smiled at me before continuing. "My family has lived in Columbus for a long time. My great-great-grandfather started a small dry goods store that is now a large grocery chain. Image is everything to them, and Carlisle was just about the opposite of what they wanted for me. I know them. They'll do anything to keep my money."

"I assure you we won't let that happen, Esme. I'll need to talk to the lawyer in Columbus and get the trust transferred."

They talked a little more before we left, and by the time we got back to the apartment I could tell a huge weight had been taken off her.

"They have to pay, don't they?" she asked as we sat down with some lunch.

"Sounds like it, babe. We should probably wait for him to get back to us once he's talked to them and everything."

I didn't want to bash her hopes or anything, but I still couldn't bring myself to trust her family not to try and screw her over. We didn't have any money to sue them with if they didn't pay.

She nodded. "You're right. I'm getting a little ahead of myself."

"Nah," I said. "I mean, we both thought this was a lost cause. It's crazy to have it brought up so suddenly."

"I had been thinking about the last couple weeks," she said. "As we got closer to my birthday. I mean, I knew it was supposed to be paid out when I turned twenty-one. How could I not think about it?"

"Yeah, that's true."

I picked up both our plates and took them to the kitchen while Esme went to lie down. Thinking and talking about her family like she had wore her out. I climbed into the bed beside her and pulled her into my arms to take a nap together. No matter what happened with her money this was something I wouldn't sacrifice for anything. My girl was worth giving that money up when we left and she was worth possibly not getting it now.




A week later I was sitting on the couch pretending to do my homework while I watched TV when Esme walked through the door, her phone against her ear.

"Mhmm," she said. "Okay. So you can handle all that for me?"

I stood up, confused as fuck about what was going on.

She nodded. "Thank you so much," she said before hanging up.

She stood there, holding her phone and staring at the ground.

"Esme? What the hell was that about?"

When she finally looked up, she was smiling.

"We're rich."

And so it begins...

Things are gonna get messy from here, but try to trust me. Have faith. And as always thank you all so much for reading!