Keep Me Close

Summary:The Volturi didn't leave without taking something with them. Esme is captured by the Volturi, and it's up to Carlisle to save her. But the Volturi have some tricks up their sleeves, tricks that will make Esme never want to go back.

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Chapter One

Carlisle's POV

The battle was over, Nessie was safe, and the Volturi had lost and left, albeit begrudgingly, producing harm on only one poor soul.

The departure was quick and easy, but the heartbreak of losing Irina wasn't. Poor girl, her sisters would be grieving for years, as would I if I lost someone that close. I couldn't imagine losing one of my children and I would rather die than lose my mate.

I thought of Esme, my soul mate, my wife. I smiled; she had helped me get through this horrible time. With Bella, Nessie, and the wolves, things had gotten 'complicated,' to say the least. All this time, she had been my rock, my place of higher ground above a sea of misery. I couldn't live without her.

"We did it, Carlisle," my son Edward came up to me, grinning. But then his grin faded and his face darkened. "They will be back though," he said, "I know they will."

"We will be ready. Bella can work on her gift and all will go smoothly," I assured him, though I hardly believed that myself. The Volturi were strong, far stronger than we could ever hope to be.

I loved my family, but Esme would always come first. When the Volturi come back, I will defend her before anyone else.

"I know you will, Carlisle," Edward murmured, reading my mind. "That's all we can really ask for, right? Save the wives and kids," Edward's smile returned and so did mine. Ever since Edward found Bella and had Nessie, he always seemed to be smiling, and it was very contagious.

"Where are the others?" I asked Edward as I glanced across the nearly empty field. The other vampires and wolves were already leaving, clearly uncomfortable with each other. I loved the wolves dearly but their stench is almost unbearable at times.

"They already went back to the house," Edward said, as if he was reminding me. I was surprised Esme had left with them since she usually waited for me.

After the Volturi left, it was mass chaos; a sort of excitement shook the vampires. Except for the sisters, Tanya and Kate of course, who were already grieving. I had gone over there to say my condolences and had lost track of Esme.

The only people I hadn't seen were my own family.

"Huh, I didn't see Esme, but then again, I didn't see any of them leave. I'm sure she's with them," I said, trying to cover up my worry.

"I swear, Carlisle, you keep Esme on a leash. You're always worrying about her and you never let her just go. She always has to tell you where she's going. Please, Carlisle, I know she is fine."

"Can you hear her?" I asked, still worried.

"Well, no. But she's fine, I promise."

I nodded and started to make my way back to the house when suddenly I heard something.

"NO!" A sharp scream echoed through the woods and I turned back to look at Edward who had already started running towards the voice. It took me less than a second to register the voice as Alice's.

Thoughts flashed through my mind as I prayed for my daughter's safety.

"This way," Edward yelled, veering to the right.

I followed suit, going as fast as I could. It was most likely a vision she had, she'd been having a lot lately. I couldn't help but think of Esme, what if the vision was about her?

Scenarios raced through my mind; scenarios where my dear Esme was in danger. But it couldn't be, she was safe with the others. Alice was probably seeing a sale she was going to miss by being here. That's all. Esme was safe.

Edward got there first, having a quick conversation with Alice who looked much paler than usual.

Edward was the only one talking. His voice was hushed, I couldn't hear him but I could tell it was bad news by Alice's expression. She nodded at Edward then pointed at me, her eyes filled with anger.

And then I saw it. It wasn't some type of anger in Alice's eyes; it was pity, sadness, which was geared towards me. She was shaking uncontrollably and Jasper wrapped a comforting arm around her. I felt a wave of calmness engulf me and mentally thanked my son. I wasn't sure what was going on but I needed to stay calm.

"Where's Esme?" I suddenly asked. She wasn't with my children and I couldn't smell her scent.

Edward looked at me sympathetically while Alice let out an estranged sob.

She mouthed something at me; I think it was "I'm sorry."

Why did she pity me, I wondered?

Then it hit me, like a two-hundred pound boulder. Esme wasn't around. Esme wasn't anywhere near here, her scent wasn't even close. She was gone, just like that. Gone or dead.

"Carlisle, I'm so sorry," Bella said.

"We'll find her," Rosalie assured.

"We'll kill 'em," Emmett reassured.

But somehow their voices barely got through, like they were talking on a cellphone while passing through a tunnel. I was somewhere else. She was gone. Everything that made this life worth living was gone, captured by the Volturi. While I was saying goodbye to people, they just picked her up and left, but how?

"How?" I murmured quietly. I clenched my fists. "HOW?!" I'd never felt so angry in my life.

"I think everyone but Aro and a few others left, and then they just grabbed her, threatening to kill you if she didn't cooperate. Or that's how it was in the vision." Alice muttered the last part almost silently, but I still caught the words.

"You SAW THIS HAPPENING! Why would you not tell anyone?!" My rage was so raw, so red, so unlike me. I was usually so in control, Esme always admired that about me.

"Oh, Carlisle, I'm so sorry! I saw it and thought it was some other reality, not this one. I thought it was what would have happened if it weren't for the wolves! I thought she was safe, we had Bella and the wolves. I went back to check on her, but she was gone! I thought she was with you and Edward! Oh, but I should have kept a closer eye on her since I saw that," she sobbed, burying her head in her hands.

Jasper pulled his mater closer into his arms, his embrace tightening in a comforting manner. Something about that angered me even further.

Why did he get his mate and I didn't get mine? Why was Esme stolen, and not Bella or Rosalie? What did they want with Esme? Were they using her as bait, or were they going to prostitute her? I shuddered at the thought of Aro touching her. But the idea wasn't far-fetched. During my stay in Volterra, Aro had many vampire prostitutes that he would keep. Another reason why I left the Volturi.

I shook my head. I shouldn't have been thinking about that, about what they can do, but it was true. All I wanted was my Esme, that's it. My love, I would find her and rescue her.

"We will get her back, I promise," Bella said, smiling sadly. I nodded solemnly.

"Carlisle," Edward said, rubbing his forehead. He was in obvious distress, but so was I. I had a better reason to be.

"What?" I snapped coldly.

"I heard Aro's thoughts, he's wanted to try something for a while…and I'm afraid he might try it on Esme."

"What is it?" I looked at him incredulously.

"It's very horrible, it's called blood-drugging."

I gave him a puzzled expression, "Care to explain what that is?"

"You give the vampire lots of blood all around the clock, giving small breaks in between. That vampire becomes so addicted to blood that they need it every half hour or so. It messes them up, pretty badly. Their memories fade and they lose everything. Makes their world revolve around it, instead of, well, you."

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