Did you fall in love with the warmth of her flesh or the warmth of her soul?
1. Chapter 1
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She had once remarked about the color brown, revealing to me that she loved it because of its warmth.
Ironic, really, that that was exactly how I felt about her. Her strong scent could fill my nose, her unbelievable beauty could fill my sight, her lovely voice could fill my ears.
But nothing could compare to her warmth.
When she snuggled into my arm every night, before gently drifting into those subconscious dreams that I would never experience again, all of my brooding thoughts left me and all I could think of was the warmth spreading softly through my arm, to my torso, to my chest.
Where my heart was.
Funny, that if I listened really closely, I could almost hear it beat again. The mind can play tricks on you, can play a familiar sound over and over again inside of itself until you begin to suppose that maybe it is a real sound rather than one composed by the confines of your thoughts.
Esme came to talk to me one night, while Bella slept soundly on the bed. She appeared at the window, never taking me by surprise or causing me to start (she wouldn’t even if I couldn’t read her mind.) She smiled, and I opened the window for her, and she seated herself on the floor, patting the space next to her. I took the hint and sat next to her.
She watched me with an expression on her face like none I had ever seen before and I quirked an eyebrow at her, ready to read her thoughts and find out exactly what an expression such as the one she wore was supposed to say.She’s dreaming about you.
“I’m afraid that even I can’t see the dreams of those around me,” I said, shaking my head slightly. “How could you possibly know?”
“I may not be a mind-reader, Edward, but I am a mother,” she murmured quietly. “She always dreams of you.”
I sighed. Even in her dreams, a place which was enjoyed only by the human, she was with me. It haunted me that she would want to spend that precious time with me. As if I were ever worthy of that attention, that love.
“You know,” Esme continued. “She doesn’t care about the cold of your skin. As long as your soul is still warm, she is content to spend the rest of her existence with you.”
I stared into the eyes of the only mother I would ever have memories of.
“Ignoring the part about my nonexistent soul,” I said irritated, bringing a frown to her features. “I must say that she should care. I’m not human, Mom. I’m not worthy of anything as pure as her.”
“But she believes you are.”
“She wants me to change her, Mom. She wants me to damn her to this existence that I have been damned to. She wants me to take her warmth away.” My mind could almost convince me that tears were able to form in my eyes. Almost.
In the second that I said the last word of that sentence, Esme was holding me in her embrace, stroking my hair as I dry sobbed into her shoulder.
“Edward,” she whispered into my ear. “My sweet, sweet Edward. Did you fall in love with the warmth of her flesh or the warmth of her soul?”
I couldn’t answer. Closing my eyes and burying my face into Esme’s hair, I just shook my head. But she knew what my answer was.
“You listen to me,” she said, pushing me back so that she could look me in the eye. “She will always be Bella. She will always be embarrassed of your loving stare, even though you may not be able to see it physically. She will always be stubborn, always be compassionate, always be yours. Even if she doesn’t warm your body, she will always warm your soul.”
I gave her a dark look, and she sighed.
“Don’t give me that look, Edward. How can you love without a soul? This was supposed to happen. You will be together forever somehow, so why fight it?”
“What about her parents, her friends? What about children, what about growing old, what about her life? Do you want me to take that away from her?”
“Oh, Edward,” Esme said, placing her hand on my cheek. “You believe that what you are doing is best for her. But, is it really? Look at her, Edward. Would she be content with growing old as you stayed young? A life knowing that one day she’d have to leave you alone on this earth, would that be an enjoyable one for her?”
I stared at the bed holding the love of my life, my one reason for existence, and shook my head. Esme pulled me into her arms once more and spoke the one sentence that rang through my head for years afterward. For the rest of eternity.
“Be selfish, Edward.”
I looked at her inquisitively, urging her silently to elaborate.
“Be selfish and by giving yourself what you want, you will be giving her what she wants as well. Stop thinking about what you think is best for her and start paying attention to what will make the both of you happiest. Be selfish.”
I watched as she let go of me, kissing my forehead lightly, and crept out of the window once more, her parting words running through my head in a sort of never-ending marquee.
Bella stirred in her sleep, and as I watched her, warmth rose to my heart once more.
And I wasn’t even touching her.