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"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars – points of light and reason … and then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn't see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason for anything." Edward Cullen, "New Moon", Chapter 23

~AMN~

Prologue

Seattle, Washington – September 13, 1892

Esme woke suddenly, blinking with confusion into the still darkness. Upon hearing the soft whimpering of her three day old daughter as she rooted feebly in her bassinette, she realized why. Next to her, Carlisle's side of the bed remained empty; he had been called away shortly after supper to attend to their neighbor, Mrs. Renee Swan, who had gone into labor.

Esme smiled as she reached over and lifted baby Mary Alice, cradling her gently as she opened her nightdress and sighed as the infant latched on greedily.

"Such a lucky thing, little one," she spoke softly, stroking the baby's cheek. "A new friend, just your age, so close by."

Esme allowed herself to get lost in thoughts of an older Mary Alice – first seeing her running around with a little boy, then the vision changing to two little girls playing with dolls; their dark haired heads bent together as they shared secrets. She was torn from her reverie when the baby released her breast with a soft pop, her angelic face relaxed in sleep. She had burped the baby and settled her back in the bassinette when she heard a slight commotion from downstairs. Esme could hear Carlisle talking with their housekeeper in a hushed but urgent tone. Her curiosity getting the better of her, she had just fastened her nightdress and was preparing to get up to investigate when Carlisle appeared in the doorway of their bedroom, a small, whimpering bundle in his arms.

"Carlisle, what …?" Her question died in her throat when she saw the look of anguish in her husband's eyes.

"I'm sorry, petal," he apologized softly.

"Mrs. Swan?" Esme asked, already knowing the sad answer.

Carlisle swallowed thickly before answering. "She started to hemorrhage during the delivery. Dr. Gerandy and I did what we could but …"

Esme's eyes filled with tears, her heart breaking for the babe who had lost its mother. The Swans had only recently moved into the neighborhood and with herself and Mrs. Swan both in their confinement, Esme hadn't had the opportunity to make the normal house call that she usually did to welcome new families. Now she never would.

"The baby?" Esme questioned her husband softly.

"A fine, beautiful girl," Carlisle smiled sadly. "Isabella Marie."

Esme held out her arms, knowing the baby needed to eat and soon. Carlisle crossed the room, gently placing little Isabella into his wife's arms before sitting down beside her. Esme unfastened her nightdress once more and offered the baby her other breast, smiling when the infant latched on without hesitation.

"She's a natural," Carlisle sighed, grief still etched on his handsome face.

"How is Chief Swan?" Esme inquired gently.

"Devastated," Carlisle whispered, his voice breaking, knowing that if he were to ever lose Esme … He shook his head, trying to collect himself. "He wasn't even able to look at Isabella."

Esme touched his cheek, tears filling her eyes. "Oh, Carlisle."

"If he won't … if he can't …" Carlisle began.

"She'll have a home with us," Esme spoke without hesitation, her voice strong and sure.

Chief Charles Swan signed the papers two days later that gave Dr. and Mrs. Carlisle Cullen guardianship over his newborn daughter until such time that he was able to care for her himself, but it was only two weeks later that Chief Swan was killed in the line of duty while attempting to make an arrest. With neither Chief nor Mrs. Swan having any living relatives that could be found, the local authorities granted the Cullens their request to adopt Isabella fully.

Esme's vision of two little girls with dark hair, their heads bent together as they shared secrets, came true. Little Isabella and Mary Alice were raised together, sharing a twin-like bond and intuition. They loved their big brother, Emmett, and he was their fiercest protector, despite their constant teasing, as all sisters do to their brothers. Nothing made Esme happier than hearing someone remark on how much her children resembled each other, for though Isabella was not of her blood, the girl's deep brown eyes matched those of her adopted mother and sister exactly and she and Emmett shared the same shade of thick, wavy chestnut hair. Esme and Carlisle made sure that Isabella knew of the sacrifice and love her birth parents had for her, and that though tragedy had brought her to them, it had also brought joy in that she made their family complete.