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"Where are you, baby?!"
"Please, please, please!"
My screams were fruitless; she was already gone by the time I got back to the house, her scent lingering like a forgotten perfume. The room wasn't messy and distraught as I had thought it would be, but clean and organized, only missing a few pieces.
Her makeup and toiletries.
Yet her coveted jewelry box and wallet still sat on the dresser, untouched in my wife's hurried departure. I rummaged through them, expecting the cash and gold to be gone, but everything was in its rightful place, tucked away in the correct folds.
I threw the jewelry box at the wall, the glass shattering as my wife's favorite earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets fell to the floor. I noticed every single one of them had been a gift from me whether it be from a birthday or anniversary. Her favorites had been from me.
Something about that touched my heart, igniting another wave of anger to roll over me. She did this, she ruined everything. She took my Esme away from me, her claws digging into my wife's delicate skin, her lies abusing her naivety. And to think I trusted her, I treated her as a daughter! I declared her a part of this family and look what she did! She sunk her teeth into my marriage, the single most important thing I have left in this life. She took away what's rightfully mine, what's always been mine.
I run my hands over the jewelry, memories spiking as I touched the silver and gold bands and chains, the gemstones shining in the dim light. I picked up an achingly familiar necklace, the jade stones twinkling slightly. I had given Esme this for our anniversary last year. She had wanted it for months, but kept denying my push to buy it for her.
"It's too expensive," she told me.
But nothings too expensive for my Essie, so I went out the next day and bought it for her, giving it to her on the crisp September day below her favorite tree, a tall maple in the back yard. She had been elated, thanking me randomly throughout the day, much to my amusement. She too got me something, a new shirt and tie for work and something extra special after dark.
The day had been picture perfect, a beautiful memory of untroubled times. But nothing good can stay, not when there's evil in the world. Then again, what is evil? Is Bella evil for doing what she did?
With clouding my brain I might just answer 'yes' to that question, but I know later, when this is all sorted out and life is peaceful once again, I will regret thinking such a thought. Evil exists in the world, I know it does, but it doesn't exist where love flourishes and I know Bella is capable of loving someone. Who that is, I don't know, nor do I care at the moment.
I rushed out of the room, flying down the staircase, almost running into my largest son. He shuffled a bit, allowing me to walk around him. I noticed his face was sullen, his arms crossed indignantly.
Why is he mad? His wife didn't leave him.
Emmett shot me a look as I passed, growling slightly as if he could have heard my malicious thought. I shook my head at him, narrowing my eyes to show dominance. I'm the leader of this coven and it's my responsibility to keep everyone in line, even during such a traumatic and uncertain time.
Emmett growled again before becoming silent. Rosalie staggered in from the kitchen, Renesmee and Jacob in tow. Jacob held a large bottle of Gatorade in one hand and a bag of chips in the other. Nessie reached into the bag and pulled out a handful, munching on the salty crisps absentmindedly.
Why is everyone so calm?!
Nessie and Jacob ambled over to the couch, plopping themselves down easily and flicking the TV on to some Brazilian news station. Rosalie walked over to Emmett, grabbing his hand and tugging him back into the kitchen. I could hear their voices through the wall as they talked, but their conversation seemed to have little to do with Esme, Edward, Esme or Bella. Where was everyone and why is no one taking this situation seriously?
When I arrived at the house mere minutes ago I immediately rushed upstairs, hoping my love hadn't left yet, as Alice's vision had foretold. Edward jumped into action grabbing his wife and pulling her aside, immediately bombarding her with questions. Alice and Jasper assisted Edward while the others left, caring little about family problems apparently.
But as I stand here now the living room is empty, aside from Nessie and Jacob. No Edward, no Bella, no Alice, and no Jasper. So where is everyone?
I thought about racing outside and searching for Esme around the island but decided against it. My wife always completes a task, whether it be finishing her garden for the spring, or running away from her husband. For all I know she's probably in France by now.
With Edward and Alice's help I will be able to find her, but first I need to find them and find Bella. Speaking to her might bring some questions to light, or just put them back into darkness. I already know she's a liar by what Alice said, but she still might be able to help us.
"Where are the others?"
Nessie turned around on the sofa, wiping her greasy palms on the white fabric. Esme will be livid when she sees that.
If she comes back, that is.
"The others? Oh, you mean Mom and Dad? They went out a couple minutes ago along with Alice and Jasper. Said they needed to talk or something like that. Told us not to worry."
I sighed, frustrated by my granddaughter's lack of information. "Please tell me you have half a clue about what's going on." My brow creased as Nessie raised an eyebrow.
"Of course I have half a clue! Esme left you because you don't love her anymore, and Mom wants to get with you because she loves you. Oh! And Dad's 'in love' with Esme so he left to go find her." Nessie made air quotes around 'in love', her face surprisingly serious.
"Why didn't you tell me that first?!" I cried, my mind trying desperately to decipher the new and unwanted news. Nessie shrugged nonchalantly.
"They told me not to. And besides, I saw this coming from a mile away; I mean you forgot about Esme's birthday last year. Obviously you made your mind up a long time ago. As for Mom and Dad, I've been hearing them argue and bicker all of my life, their splitting is more of a relief than anything else." She slumped back into her seat, crossing her arms stiffly. Jacob pulled her into a tight embrace, resting his head on hers. "All I want is everyone to be happy and in love. If that means cutting apart a few couples and pasting them back together, so be it."
Truthfully I did forget Esme's birthday last year, but not because I didn't care or God forbid didn't love her anymore, but because I had been working a double shift at the hospital and the thought simply slipped my mind. I apologized and she quickly forgave me but I still felt extremely bad for not remembering such an important date. The next day I ran out and bought her the priciest gift I could find, a honking pair of diamond earrings. I think she wore them once then tucked them away, telling me, quite politely, that they were 'a bit flashy'. Alice found great amusement in the whole situation, as did Edward.
But just because I forgot one thing doesn't mean I no longer adore and love my wife. I married the woman of my dreams and that will never change. She's my one and only no matter what. It's disgusting to think that my complete and utter devotion to my wife was so bottled up and rarely shown that my own granddaughter thought I no longer loved my better half. She thought I loved Bella.
Though, I'm not sure whether I'm more surprised by the fact that Nessie assumes I no longer love Esme or the fact that Edward ran away to find Esme. Surely it can't be because he harbors actual feelings for her, feelings of physical attraction, or love. He must just be going to find his 'mother' like a good son, the son I raised to be a good man, a man who would never intrude on another man's relationship.
Surely Nessie's lying.
"Edward's gone?! Do you know which direction he went? Did he take the boat? I bet he searched the island didn't he? He's probably long gone by now, and he's got the upper hand what with his mind-reading capabilities. Dear God, what has happened to my family?" I whispered the last part quietly, hoping my granddaughter didn't hear the desperation and anxiety in my voice, though I'm sure she did.
"Yes, he's gone. I'm not sure if he searched the island first, probably not since if Esme were on the island he would have been able to hear her thoughts. I know he didn't take the boat since I didn't hear the engine start, and yes, he does have the obvious upper-hand. Good luck." Her tone was almost mocking as she flipped to a popular reality TV show. I grimaced at the normalcy of the scene.
How many times have I sat on that sofa with my wife, watching TV, snuggling quietly, away from the world? How many? How many times did I take it for granted?
How fast things can change when the world moves faster than you do.
"Do you know what direction he went?"
Jacob eyed me annoyingly, his mouth forming a slight scowl. I promptly ignored him, most certainly not in the mood for his teenage hormones.
"How am I supposed to know that? Come on, Carlisle, she's your wife, you go find her. I think that if Edward finds her first then she's his, I mean doesn't that seem fair? Winner gets all? Plus why even bother? You got Bella outside who would willingly give you her life and your running after this woman who up and left you without even saying goodbye? She doesn't seem like much of a prize, does she? By the way, I found this ring on the floor. Think it's hers. Edward told me to give it to you, said it might help give you a little 'closure'."
Nessie reached into her pocket and produced a simple diamond ring, the sparkling jewel set in a sleek white-gold band. It glittered hauntingly, almost teasingly.
Nessie tossed it toward me. I caught it easily, making sure it didn't slip through my fingers. Jacob smirked.
Yet, she did.
Sure enough, it was the ring I gave Esme all those years ago. Every detail was there, down to the engraving inside the band, 'With my love'.
I gingerly took off my own ring, inspecting it carefully. The engraving I had placed inside was still apparent, 'I see no end'. I slipped the ring back on, my confidence suddenly and comfortably boosted. Nessie eyed me from the couch; her hands perched under her chin reminding me of her days as a child.
"Give up the fight, Carlisle. There's no use. Isn't it obvious enough? She doesn't want you. Please don't make this harder on yourself; you'll only get hurt worse." Jacob nodded at me, his eyes bored.
"I think Bella's a better catch anyway," Jacob added. Nessie cast him a dark look, causing the shape-shifter to shrug.
"At this point and time neither of your opinions matter. I thank you both for giving me the information you did and I hope the best for your parent's marriage, Nessie. Hopefully I will see you both soon, and hopefully Esme will be with me." My voice sounded strong and steady.
Nessie rolled her eyes. "Oh Carlisle, you're almost as stubborn as your son."
And with that the young couple turned back around, their eyes immediately transfixing on the pixels in front of them. The act was small, and completely normal, but somehow it made me feel that much more alone. Who do I have if my own granddaughter won't even help me?
Who do I have?
"What? No, I'm not trying to threaten your village. I'm really not, I promise you that. I'm just passing through, I'm so sorry if I trespassed on your…whatever this is." I eyed the other villagers with trepidation, unsure of what to think of the small, tan skinned people.
"Passing through?" the man said his voice thick with accent. His hair was cut short, small beads tying the loose strands to the top of his head where a halo of tribal-looking tattoos decorated his skull. He was very short compared to my 5 ft. 6 height, and rather skinny as well, maybe even malnourished. A sudden wave of sympathy for the poor man came over me.
"Yes, just passing through. I don't want to hurt anyone, I'm just trying to get out of the country," I explained slowly. I didn't know the tribe's native language and with my flurried mind I hadn't been able to pick up on any common words. "I'm trying to get away from my husband."
The man eyed my suitcase hesitantly, his hand going to his pierced ear, tugging at the stretched lobe habitually. He glanced at the other villagers, who seemed rather amused by the tall, pale woman who happened to come across their village by accident in her search for Brazil's borders. Quite honestly, I am too.
"You don't like husband?"
The man's English was butchered at best, but it would have to do. They didn't seem to have any ties to Portuguese or Spanish in their native language, which are the only two that would have helped me. I don't spend a lot of time studying small, minuet languages in the jungles of Brazil. Maybe I will after this.
Then again what is after this? What are you going to do, Esme? Find a job? Get a new husband? Try to kill yourself again? Face it; you don't have a future outside the Cullen Clan.
"Uh, well, it's a very long story, and I really must be going. See, he's probably looking for me by now and I really don't want him to find me so I think I'll just be leaving –"
A small girl, maybe five or six, rushed out of the crowd of villagers that had formed around me. Her hair was long, or at least longer than the rest of the women, and a tiny, hand sewn doll was dropped over one arm. Her eyes were deep brown, and sorrow filled. My heart instantly went out for the girl, my maternal instinct kicking in.
"Wait! I don't want you to leave, stranger. You look like my mommy, are you my mommy?" the small girl asked, latching both arms around my legs. I patted her head affectionately but pried her off, careful not to hurt the fragile human.
"Orphan. Mother from town far away. Husband killed her for being a bad wife," the village chief clarified, rather sadly, his expression suddenly drawn.
I eyed the little girl again. Her eyes were brimming with tears, her doll hanging limply in her arms. An orphan.
"I'm sorry, but I'm not your mommy," I told her, crouching down to her height. I could feel the warm mud sticking to my pants but chose to ignore it.
Her bottom lip quivered as she pouted, a tear flowing down her gaunt cheek. Her eyes were glassy as she stared at me, and for a moment it was almost like she knew who I was, who I really was.
"I'm sorry, but I really must be going. I have to get away, before my husband finds me," I explained, standing back up. A stray ray of sunlight darted out from between two trees and I quickly dodged it, earning me a few confused stares which I sealed with a sheepish smile.
"Just a bug."
The little girl came towards me, wrapping her arms around my legs again. She didn't seem to mind my cool temperature, much to my surprise, and no one seemed to care enough to stop her from hugging the kind, but odd, stranger. Her warmth was somewhat comforting, but also scary.
When was the last time I hunted?
Days most likely. Isle Esme has a way of distracting even the most determined and strong-minded people, turning them into rather lazy, sex-driven people. While on Esme Isle I rarely hunt, choosing instead to spend my time with my husband or think about my husband, or sometimes both.
What a joke that was. Forever and always? That is what he said, what he promised.
Till' death do us part.
Yet here I am, Carlisle, still very much alive (or close to it) and abandoned by you because of your selfish and unreasonable needs. You were once my everything, my own personal God, my savior and Omega. What happened? When did your all-encompassing love dry up like an oasis in the desert? When did Bella become your muse?
What stupid questions.
There's no one to answer them. Carlisle is gone, finally with his true love and for once in my second life I am completely alone and expectedly lost.
Like the idiot I am.
So what's the rush? Why run out of here like a maniac trying to run from a husband who isn't even going to come looking for me? I suppose I could stay here for a few days, relax and hunt a little to regain my strength. Maybe there are other vampires out there, one's who I could befriend and turn into a family like the one I once had.
Could I really do that though? Could I really just forget about my own children so fast? Could I forget about Carlisle so fast?
I love my family too much to let them go now, but I have to. The family I once knew, once adored, is nothing but ruins now. The bonds we had formed over the years were snapped quickly, almost nonchalantly, as if no one bothered to remember what the Cullen family once stood for.
Honor. Courage. Virtue. Love.
What do we stand for now? What have our morals become?
Dishonesty. Adultery. Envy. Lust.
There's nothing left for me to hold on to. Obviously they don't want me anymore, or maybe they just don't need me anymore. That must be it. Carlisle came to his senses, recognizing the useless lump as his wife, and promptly removing her from the equation.
I always thought Carlisle was much too good for me. When I married him I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have such an incredibly handsome man doting on me all day, every day. He worshipped me, and in return I worshipped him. We were each other's king and queen, living in a castle that we had woven ourselves. A castle made from our adoration, but a castle that was destined to one day fall, and fall it did.
I still love him though. Even after all the hell he put me through I still admire him with the eyes of a newlywed. If I knew why maybe my decision to run would have been easier, or at least smoother.
I felt a tugging on my pants and looked down. Two brown eyes stared back at me, framed by dark lashes. "Come with me," the girl said firmly, grabbing my hand.
I noticed the other villagers were back to their daily lives, milling around the small village restlessly. The women were down by the river, dipping intricate baskets into the rushing water, hoping to catch a few drops of the precious, but mucky, liquid. Children ran about, picking at the mud with thin twigs or helping their mothers gather fruit by the water's edge, their faces cherubic with glee. The men were deeper in the forest, their scent still palpable in the air. I could see the outline of bows in some of their hands. A few of the younger, more able-bodied men had animals slung over their shoulders, causing them to walk pompously with their fresh kill. The smell of blood hit my nose, causing my throat to burn slightly.
"How long was I standing here?" I asked the little girl as she rushed me toward one of the small wooden shacks near the river. The sound of the rushing water was almost comforting.
"Long time. Chief said to leave you alone, but I didn't want to. He said you were thinking about somethin'." She grinned, showing off an empty gum line, red with gingivitis.
She hovered at the crude opening to the shack, switching from one foot to the other, her palm sweaty in mine. "This is my auntie's house," the girl explained. "Auntie's sick and doesn't like company, but you're special. She'll like you." Her promise was sealed with another smile.
The floor was packed mud, only slightly less sticky then the wet substance outside. The roof was thatched and hung low, perfect for children or small humans but not so much for myself. The walls were made out of various trees and palm leaves, neither of the materials doing a very good job. Sunlight was blocked by thick mud which had been packed tightly into each corner, going from the ground all the way up to the roof. The air was stale and earthy, an odd but not exactly revolting combination. The girl motioned for me to sit next to her. I squeezed in, crossing my legs gracefully.
A sunken form stood out in the dimness of the hut, her black hair hiding her face from view.
The little girl probed the form, poking the woman lightly.
"Auntie, wake up! I made a new friend today," the girl said, unashamed to have such a strange visitor associated with her.
The woman stirred, sitting up slowly. Her face was lighter than the others, though blotches of red made the fact hard to distinguish. Her hair was glossy and long, reminding me of the girl's. Her eyes were a dark green color, though they appeared almost black due to the darkness of the hut and the shadows residing around them. She was a little more than skin in bones, her blatantly obvious ribcage and cheekbones reminding me of my time with Charles, where my diet suffered tremendously. She was a pretty girl aside from her illness and she appeared fairly young, late twenties to early thirties at most. She smelled of cancer and urine. I bet she was quite the prize in her teenage years, before the illness over took her.
"Mitä? Who have you brought?" The woman looked incredibly weak and tired as she rubbed her eyes, her cheek coated in a thin layer of dirt. I fought the urge to help the poor woman.
"She showed up in the village, sy'y. She said she was running from her husband."
The woman stared at me for a moment before turning back to her niece. She whispered something in their native language, causing the girl to shrug, shaking her head.
"She is a good lady, sy'y. You judge too quickly. I brought her to you so you could tell her your story. I think she needs to hear it." The girl's voice was hopeful as she talked to her aunt, her tongue almost clicking with excitement. She bobbed on her knees impatiently as she allowed her aunt to think over her words, the sick woman licking her lips seriously. I shifted uneasily, suddenly aware of my obvious intrusion on this family's life.
I made a move to stand, but was caught by the girl's hand. "Wait! Don't go! Auntie is going to tell you a story!" Her pleads were quieted only when I sat back down, the girl clapping her hands happily. "You won't regret it angirũ!"
The woman nodded, smoothing her skirt down gently, her eyes catching a sudden twinkle, as if the thought of telling a stranger a story is a joyous thing. Maybe it is for these secluded people, surely it is for this ailing woman. She smiled sadly, wrinkles of depression and sickness forming by her eyes, only increasing her somber appearance.
"There's a reason I am sick today, why I am dying at such a young age, completely childless and completely alone aside from my little Mitä. I never stood up to evil, and because of that I was cursed. What is your name dear?" the woman asked suddenly.
"Esme. Esme Platt," I said without thinking. The words were almost instinctual, making me sick with the thought of losing my husband's memory. My right hand went to my left, twisting at my bare ring finger with distaste.
Shouldn't have taken the ring off, Esme. It was all you had left of him.
"Mitä told me you left your husband, and now he is searching for you. Are you scared of him?" She asked, curiously. Her head was tilted slightly, her dark hair framing her long face and prominent cheekbones.
I thought about the question for a minute. Was I scared of Carlisle, like I had been of Charles? No, I don't think so. I'm not scared, just frustrated and confused. "No. I don't think I am. I'm mad at him for what he did to me but I'm not scared of him. I just really don't want him to find me."
"He hurt you?" she guessed, almost instantly.
I nodded deftly, "Yes. He loves another woman."
The woman sighed, closing her eyes. The action was odd, but somehow familiar. I realized the gesture reminded me of something my mother used to do, when she was trying to calm down me or my younger sister. She always said it 'helps clear the mind'. I wonder if the woman knew how comforting the little motion was.
"Hmm…" the woman mused, lightly tapping her chin with a slender finger. "This might be worse then I once expected. I knew you were different the second you stepped in here, Esme but I didn't think something so life changing had happened to you. I suppose you would call what's happened to you today life-altering?"
The woman's near perfect English surprised me, forcing me to only nod in my amazement.
"Well Esme, I think I might be able to help you, but you must listen to everything I say. I have seen much more then I had ever wished and I only share my painful memories in the hopes that you won't have to endure the same."
She stopped for a moment, inspecting me with squinted eyes, as if appraising a piece of jewelry. A strand of hair fell from my pony tail and I pulled it back swiftly, never breaking contact with the woman.
She nodded, clasping her hands together almost regally. I shifted uncomfortably, an odd feeling mounting in my stomach. Something didn't feel quite right, but I didn't want to run, not now. The woman's presence was hypnotizing, almost like spell pulling me closer and closer, suffocating me slowly but surely. Yet the feeling wasn't as painful as it was different. Did she know I was a vampire? Something told me she did, and something also told me she wasn't completely human either. Not vampire, but not human.
"Every day sins are committed by millions of people in every country on every continent. They are all terrible, though they are not equal in their atrociousness. One resides over all the others. It is committed thousands of times more than the others and it severs more bonds and necks than any other sin. Do you know which sin I am talking about?"
"Anger?" I guessed weakly, transfixed by the woman's words.
"No. Anger is violent but it can also be killed with a blunt sword and a quick knife. Envy is the real killer, the snake in the night."
"Yes my dear, envy. Envy destroyed my life and it might just destroy your life if you are unable to stop it in time."
"Well, how do I do that?" I asked the strange woman. I noticed her eyes had gone from a dark green to a pale blue, the darkness shrouding the orbs only slightly. The oddness of the situation didn't seem to fully register in my brain.
"You have to find its source and kill it," she said simply, leaning back on the wooden wall, her arms crossed over her grass top stiffly.
I opened my mouth to say something but was stopped by a something cold being shoved down my throat, forcing me to shut my eyes. A scream arose in my lungs, my breath catching in my muffled gullet. Pain seized my body as I fell to the floor, mud caking my body. I squirmed, trying to break my capture's hold, but failed, their grip vise-like compared to my own. Something kicked me in the back, cracking my spine and a rib, their fragment pinching my long dead organs. Venom pooled in my mouth, causing the vampire to wince slightly.
"Dumb bitch," he muttered, his foot colliding with my head. Darkness was quick to take me, thrusting me into an opaque world as the man tied something over my eyes, something dirty and made out of cotton fibers.
"Have fun in hell."
The vampire pulled something, causing an explosion to echo in my ears along with the familiar sting in the back of my throat. The scent of blood overwhelmed me, my thirst near unbearable.
I could hear women's cries, and children's wails, but none of it seemed real. My reality was so simple, so utterly ordinary that something so violent and hostile couldn't possibly happen to me, or at least that's what I thought. I thought Carlisle would always protect me.
As the bulky vampire pushed me into some sort of crate venom spilled from my eyes, drenching my shirt and skin. Mascara ran down my cheeks, catching in a few strands of hair that had fallen from their tie. The engine below me rumbled to life.
Someone grabbed my waist, pulling me out of the crate roughly. He pushed me down on the hard metal of the truck bed, his mouth hot against my ear.
"You thought you could run, Esme, but you can't even do that."
Who is the masked vigilante? Wait and see! And please review for another chp!