The Lure of Esme
All Human....Carlisle and Esme get pregnant against all odds - what callenges will they face, especially when someone from the past pays them a visit? *CURRENTLY NOMINATED AT THE TWILIGHT AWARDS*
I don't own twilight - Stephenie Meyer does.
7. Chapter 7
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It was the morning of my baby shower - a day I thought I'd never get to experience. Yesterday I received a package from my sister, Mary, from Ohio. She had called and said she couldn't make it, as her kids were sick and her husband was out of town on business, but she promised to fly in once the twins were born. I was disappointed, but I understood.
Alice, Rose and Bella had gone completely crazy with the baby shower. Alice and Rose had done all the decorations - all blue and pink of course - while Bella had taken care of the food. She had spent the previous afternoon and evening getting everything ready - including a two-tiered cake and several different appetizers. This morning she was finishing everything and making sure the guys were out of the house before guests started arriving.
I was standing in our room, looking at myself in my new white dress and fixing my hair when Carlisle walked over and stood behind me.
"Have I told you how beautiful you look today?" he asked softly.
"Not in the last half hour," I smiled back at him.
"Well you're stunning. Would you like a gift before everyone gets here?"
"Sure!" I replied eagerly.
Carlisle took his hand in mine and lead me downstairs and into the garage. Parked next to his and Rose's Mercedes was a brand new black Escalade.
"We figured you were too young for a mini-van," Emmett said.
"It's perfect," I said. It truly was - and I was thankful to be spared the mini-van experience.
"Wow. I thought only Rose cried about cars," Emmett said again.
"Wait - you haven't seen the best part," Carlisle said. Inside the car were the matching car seats I wanted; I was completely stunned. "I had them delivered to Bella's a few weeks ago," he added.
"You're too much," I said and kissed him on the cheek, grateful to have such a thoughtful husband.
"Okay, okay," Alice said. "Time for the boys to go play for the day."
"You're saving us food, right?" Jasper said.
"Since when do you care so much about food? Isn't that Emmett's thing?" Bella asked.
"Hey, you're lucky Emmett and I didn't dive into that cake you made," Jasper said, chuckling.
"Yeah, that looked pretty darn good," Carlisle agreed.
"Of course we'll save you guys some," I said.
"Please take it easy today," Carlisle said to me.
"I will, dear - don't worry," I replied as I smiled back at him.
Once the boys were gone and Carlisle was off to work, my guests started arriving. We played all sorts of different games including being blind folded and guessing the type of baby food - which Angela won - and taking a roll of toilet paper and guessing how big of a piece you needed to rip off in order to make it around my belly, which my good friend Michelle won. After we all ate I started opening my gifts. I was just getting to Alice's gift when the door bell rang.
"I'll get it," Rose said.
"Thank you dear."
"Esme, Rosalie tells us Carlisle surprised you with a new car," Michelle said, clearly impressed.
"Yeah, can you believe it? I thought he was just getting me the double stroller I found online. I had no idea he'd do that," I said, shaking my head in wonder.
Rose walked back in the living room carrying a large bouquet of tulips and roses and a blue box with a white bow.
"Who are those from," Alice asked.
"Not sure. I didn't read the card."
I turned my attention back to Alice's gift - two matching white baptismal outfits.
"Alice, they're beautiful," I said holding them up.
"Where did you find those?" Mrs. Webber asked.
"The last time we went to Seattle, I found them in a store there."
I finished opening my gifts, saving the flowers and blue box for last. The scent from the flowers filled the room and it reminded me of my garden in the summer. I was stunned when I read the card:
With the impending arrival of the twins,
Don't forget to take time and pamper yourself.
I opened the blue box. Inside was a bottle of perfume with an Italian name. I opened the top and took a whiff and just about passed out; the scent was very strong.
"Who is it from?" Rosalie asked.
"It's from your father's college friend, Aro."
The rest of the party passed quickly. Once everyone had left, I started helping the girls clean.
"Esme, sit down, we can handle this," Bella said after I yawned.
"I can help."
"Carlisle wanted you to take it easy. Just sit, everything's almost done anyway," Rose said.
"You girls are too good to me."
As I sat down, the phone rang.
"Hello," I said.
"Mrs. Cullen, it's Aro Volterra. How are you?"
"Very well, thank you. What can I do for you?" I replied.
"Well, I was wondering if you and Carlisle would join me for dinner tonight?" Aro asked.
"Oh, yes we'd love to. Where were you thinking?" He had gone to the trouble of sending an unnecessary gift, after all - Carlisle would be disappointed if we didn't go, especially after his friend had gone to such trouble.
"How about that new Italian restaurant on Hyland street?" he asked.
"Perfect. How about six?"
"That would be wonderful, Esme. Oh - I do have a favor to ask of you - I have a surprise for Carlisle; it would be best for me if you didn't mention me in the plans - I want to completely surprise him."
"Oh...well, of course, Aro. That's fine, I'll keep your secret," I said, chuckling. After the surprise Carlisle had given me this morning, I was grateful to have something that would surprise him back.
"Wonderful. I will see you then," he replied eagerly.
Later that afternoon, after I'd awoken from a nap, I called Carlisle to let him know of our plans. I told him I had a surprise for him, and to meet me at the restaurant at six - he'd have to go there directly from work. He sounded confused, but excited; I smiled in anticipation.
A couple hours later, Edward dropped me off at the Italian restaurant on his way to Bella's house. This was a fairly new restaurant, but everyone in town seemed to be raving about it. I carefully pulled myself out of the car, careful to try and keep my balance in my heels - not really a great choice when you're this pregnant, I thought. Oh well...at least Carlisle would think I looked nice.
I listened to the swish of the black fabric of my dress moving as I made my way to the hostess. As soon as I told her my name, she escorted me to the far back corner of the restaurant, where I saw Aro waiting. As we approached, he stood, pulling out a chair for me.
“Esme...so nice to see you," he said, as he reached for my hand. He placed a solitary kiss on the back again - for some reason, he seemed to do this instead of merely shaking hands.
"Hello, Aro. It's nice to see you as well. I assume my husband is running late?" I chuckled, glancing down at my watch. It was only ten minutes, but I knew how Carlisle could get stuck at work sometimes.
"Perhaps a little, but I'm sure he'll be along soon," Aro said somewhat dismissively. He looked distracted. "Ah - here he is now..."
I turned my head to see my husband approaching our table. Yes, something at work must have delayed him slightly, because his expression was utter irritation...he looked angry, almost. Well, I could only hope that Aro's surprise would help to calm him, to make him happy.
“Isn't this a surprise?" Carlisle asked as he sat down next to me. "Esme, dear, I had no idea we'd be meeting anyone else here," he added dryly.
I smiled guiltily - hopefully whatever Aro had would make up for Carlisle's less than wonderful mood. "Hello, dear. I missed you today - we had the perfect baby shower," I added, gazing into his eyes. That reminded me...
"Oh! Thank you so much for your - gifts, Aro. They were unnecessary, but I do appreciate them," I smiled, not sure what else to say. It was very thoughtful of him, but it still seemed just a little strange that he'd sent perfume...to me, that is a very personal gift. Then again, men don't realize these things, and he was trying to do something nice, after all.
Carlisle seemed even more shocked. "Gifts?" he asked; his voice was almost seething...he must have had a horrible day. I hoped he hadn't lost a patient or something terrible like that. Perhaps dinner out had been a bad idea.
Aro spoke next, seeming to sense the tension. "Yes, dear friend...I sent your lovely wife a floral arrangement - simply to add to the shower decor, you see. I also sent some perfume, as I had absolutely no idea what to buy for a baby - not to mention two babies," he laughed softly. "I went the non-traditional route, I'm afraid; how could I not send something, to such a good friend's wife? I thought perhaps she could use something for herself," he said, glancing back at me. For a second, I thought he looked irritated.
"If you don't like the perfume, Esme, you can exchange it, of course," Aro continued, gazing intently at me. He seemed to sense my confusion at his comment. "You're not wearing it," he added.
Oh. How on earth had he noticed I wasn't wearing the perfume? Suddenly I felt almost rude - I hadn't realized it would offend him so much. Truthfully, it was too strong a scent for my liking, but I certainly wouldn't tell him that - someone goes to such trouble to do something nice, it would just be rude to tell him I didn't care for it.
"I'm sorry, Aro. I just didn't get to it in my rush to get ready - I tend to move a bit slower than the average person these days," I laughed, glancing at Carlisle, waiting for him to laugh along with me. I was surprised to see that he still looked very disturbed...even more so than before. What could be bothering him so? Reaching over, I lightly squeezed his knee, trying to snap him out of it. It worked; he quickly glanced over at me, then at Aro, and seemed to recover himself. The beautiful smile I loved was back in place, although there was still tension in his eyes. I would just have to talk to him later.
"So, what is this surprise all about?" Carlisle asked, glancing at the two of us.
"Ah...I have something for you, Carlisle - something I believe you will enjoy immensely," Aro said, reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a small piece of paper, and held it out for Carlisle to take.
After a few moments of studying it, Carlisle slowly looked back up at Aro. "How on earth did you get this?" he whispered, shocked.
"A friend of mine from back home, who specializes in Pediatrics, called and said how disappointed he was that he could not go. I thought of you, and had him send his ticket to me so I could pass it along," he finished proudly.
What my husband was holding was something he'd been dying to get his hands on - a ticket to a prestigious, special reservation-only medical seminar, with the newest of everything there. I immediately knew the importance of such an event...there was so much one could learn there. After a few moments of silence, Aro interrupted our thoughts.
"I hope you enjoy yourself, Carlisle. You'll have to tell me all about it when I return." I noticed Carlisle's eyebrows raise; he almost looked hopeful, though I had no idea why. Aro continued, "Unfortunately, I'll be out of town this weekend as well - I have to return home, to resolve some real estate matters - paperwork, you know." He smiled kindly at us, then excused himself from the table.
"How wonderful - you've been dying to go to this seminar, dear!" I exclaimed, truly happy for my husband.
"I'm not going, Esme." Carlisle looked conflicted about something.
"Why?! I happen to know how much this would mean to you...why wouldn't you go?" I asked, dumbfounded.
He sighed heavily, eventually raising his eyes to meet mine. "I'm worried about you," he said quietly.
Now it was my turn to sigh, but this time it was in irritation. "No. Carlisle, everything so far has gone brilliantly with this pregnancy. All of our appointments have been great, our doctor has nothing but positive things to say. I am not helpless, and I won't let you sacrifice the one thing you've been looking forward to so much because you think I am. You've been saying how much you would love to go to this thing for months. We have a house full of teenagers that are more than willing to watch out for me, and that's enough - I'm putting my foot down, Carlisle. You're going to this seminar. Period."
He seemed to be thinking, very seriously. Eventually, he looked up, gazing intently into my eyes. "I will consider going, if you promise me that Emmett will be with you for the entire two days...he needs to agree to staying with you before I decide."
Smiling, I agreed to his terms. I knew Emmett wouldn't care about two days of hanging around the house - he'd throw a video game marathon or something. Just as I reached over to kiss Carlisle on the cheek, Aro abruptly returned to the table, smiling.
"Perhaps we should order," he said, focusing on the menu in front of him. Almost instantly, a waitress appeared. As the only female present, the attention was firstly directed at me out of courtesy. There were so many fancy, intricate dishes listed - shamefully, I set the menu down and looked at the waitress.
"Do you have Chicken Parmigiana?" I asked, slightly embarrassed - such a simple request, when there was such an incredible, extensive menu; unfortunately, I could not help my cravings. The waitress nodded, seeming to almost roll her eyes. Glancing at Carlisle, I saw him trying not to laugh - he knew all too well it was my favorite. Then I looked over at Aro, who looked slightly incredulous. "I can't help it, it's my favorite. I know it seems ridiculous, ordering something so simple in such an incredible restaurant like this," I said sheepishly.
Aro stared back at me, then smiled intently, and said - "There's nothing simple about something that's classic. When you truly appreciate the essence of something, well...isn't that what makes everything worthwhile?"