What makes us who we are? Our history? Our actions? Our hopes for the future? Our desires for the past? The Cullens try to discover who they really are.
1. Chapter 1
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It was becoming an obsession.
Masen, she typed. Masen, Chicago. Masen family history, Chicago. Every search brought her less and less results, and she knew very few of them even had the potential to be helpful. And yet, she could not stop. All night she typed away, skimming through websites about Masen, Ohio and Masen Chemical Plants. None of them showed any promise--not that they should—not that Masen Surfactants should have some kind of link that stated their founder was somehow related to a seventeen year old boy who died of influenza almost a century ago. That would be ridiculous.
“Please, come to bed, love,” Edward whispered in her ear for the third time that night. “Its useless.”
“So cynical,” she smiled but did not look away from the computer. “Have hope.”
He shook his head, “But I see no point in this. Why try and find these people?”
“Because they’re related to you,” she kept typing. “They’re your family.”
“I have a family,” he insisted.
“But, Edward,” she finally turned to look at him, her golden eyes shining bright as they reflected off the computer’s light. “If I could just find one person who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone that remembers you…”
He smiled and brought her face to his, “I’m right here, Bella. You don’t need to remember me.”
They kissed, and she ran a hand through his hair before whispering, “I’ll come to bed soon, but I can’t just stop.”
He kissed her temple, as he stood up straight and smiled down at her, “So stubborn.”
Her father had died a month ago, so he didn’t push it. She needed a project to distract her. She hadn’t said a word when she’d first sat down and began typing. It was just after the funeral. It was the first time she’d seen her mother in seven years, and she couldn’t cry. She’d had to remember to fidget every few minutes. Her daughter had sung beautifully while her husband had accompanied her.
It was the first time he’d seen her identify as a Masen. She’d been a Swan for so long, and did not feel like a real Cullen until they had moved away from the beloved town of Forks. But now she wanted to be a Masen—or at least meet a Masen. It was an odd attempt to find family, but Edward understood it. She was reaching out, in the most painful way, to find what she had left behind forever.
Alice was not afraid of much. She did not remember being human, so there was no left over phobia of snakes or heights or clowns. She was becoming less and less afraid of not knowing what was going to happen, now that Jacob and Nessie were permanent parts of the family.
She was, however, deathly afraid of being alone. And she was alone, now. That was her own fault. Jasper had wanted to come, but she’d asked him not to. I need to do this on my own, she’d told him. She had not been alone for so long, and never when she had to do something so difficult.
9 Vandenberg Drive.
It was the only thing written on the sheet of white paper she held in front of her--the address of her only living family—Dorothy Daniels, daughter of her sister, Cynthia Brandon.
She had come up with so many ideas of how she would approach the door of her niece. She thought of procuring a Girl Scout uniform and selling cookies. She thought about pretending she was a journalist who wanted to interview her for some made-up story. She considered befriending one of her grandchildren and getting invited over. But as she stood and stared at the house Dorothy lived in, she found that she could not move. She could not see what was going to happen—not because of Nessie or Jake—but because she could not make up her mind.
They did not know they’d kept it this long.
They would probably be upset. At least, Bella would be upset. It was selfish. She’d wanted to give it all to charity, and they had kept it to collect dust in a storage unit. Nessie hadn’t needed a crib in more than six years, and her pacifiers were only used once or twice. They were almost brand new, in perfect condition. Bella was right; they should have gone to charity.
And they would now—after seven long years—it was time.
“So soft,” Rosalie held a blanket between her hands.
Esme smiled and took it, gently folding it and placing it in a box, “They’re all soft.”
She nodded and ran her hand down the cover of a children’s book that had never been read. Nessie was never much of a fan of the two words sentences and simple characters.
“Would you like to start on the crib?” Esme asked, and a distracted Rose picked her head up as if she had been woken from a dream.
“I suppose,” she whispered, placing the book in its designated box, and moving over to the white bars of crib.
“You don’t have to,” she shrugged. “We could save that for last, if you’d like.”
“All right,” Rose nodded. “Let’s do that.”
“Sure,” Esme sat by the box of blankets and stared at them. “This is harder than I thought it would be.”
“We kept them this long for a reason,” she shrugged.
“Yes,” she ran her fingers over the blanket on the top, and smiled at the memory of Nessie’s tiny—though not as tiny as it should have been—body sleeping peacefully under it. “But it’s senseless. We have no use for them. Other families need…”
“Right,” she nodded once.
“Thank you,” Carlisle whispered, his voice so low, Nessie wasn’t sure he was speaking to her. “It means a lot…that you came.”
“Oh,” she smiled. “No problem. It seemed…” she shrugged, trying to find the right word, “Interesting.” She’d never been to a real church before. It wasn’t something either of her parents found particularly important.
“I hope it will be,” he sighed. It had taken him many years to work up the courage to sit in a church. For years, he’d thought his skin would sizzle should he sit in a place of worship. Then, after he touched his hand to his father’s cross, he avoided the church for fear that the pastor would be able to sense his evil.
Edward’s presence had allowed him the excuse of fulfillment through discussion, making mass an unnecessary show of religious devotion. Esme had wanted to get married in a church. Edward had helped him come up with a logical reason not to.
It was his only fear.
“Are they going to sing?” Nessie asked, peering at the group of people clumped in the corner of the church with open books in front of them.
“I believe so,” he nodded. It was odd how little had changed. Of course, much had—Latin was now English, women wore pants, the pastor wore sneakers, and the room was air-conditioned—but the majority of it was the same. The singing, the Homily, the Gospel, the idea of it all—the important things—time had not touched them.
“It’s a beautiful place,” she whispered, unsure if he wanted to talk.
“Yes,” he scanned the church. There were candles and the Holy alter, and a baptismal fountain in the lobby. It had always been strange to him that churches were built like any other building. When he was a child, he imagined that angels had built churches while everyone else was asleep. He’d never spoken of this to his father, or anyone else for that matter, but he imagined it so hard that part of him still believed it as an adult.
Of course, now that he was awake through the night, he knew churches were built by men. He never saw any angels at night.
Sometimes he forgot her name. It wasn’t intentional; other things just consumed his brain space. Then, it would bother him all day—he knew there would be something he was forgetting, but he couldn’t remember what it was. And he wouldn’t ask anyone else, because they didn’t know he still thought about it at all.
Daisy Bellfleurs, that was her name—the first person Emmett had ever killed.
She was a pretty young redhead with freckles and blue eyes. He could still see her. She was reading on a rock in the woods—Alice in Wonderland, if his memory served.
He had been hunting—the correct kind of hunting—but her scent was too strong. Rose had tried her very best to stop him. Edward had been miffed about having to move. Carlisle and Esme and told him it was all right—everyone makes mistakes.
He looked her up every few years—no one knew about this. They would try and stop him; it wasn’t very productive or healthy to hold on to such memories, but he did not feel right about forgetting Daisy Bellfleurs—after all, everyone else had.
She’d had an older brother who’d married and died about twenty years ago. He’d had four children, who were now adults. Two of them had had children, too. Emmett thought about going to see them under the guise of some door-to-door salesman—just to see what they looked like. They’d probably never heard of Daisy. People don’t care about their great-grandfather’s sister who died when she was fifteen. They forgot her.
But Emmett never did.
“She doesn’t know you’re here?”
“You lied to her?”
“I would have told her if she’d asked.”
“She’s not around at the moment.”
Maria looked at him, nothing in her face, but volumes in her eyes. They were still bright red—vibrant, glowing. “You lost your accent.”
Jasper almost smiled, “Yes.”
“You sound ridiculous,” she sneered and turned into the house. She was in the next room before she realized he wasn’t behind her, “You coming?”
He followed her tentatively. The stench of human blood was powerful a mile away from the house. He could not image what it would be inside. But he’d wanted to do this for a very long time, and if Bella had taught him nothing else, she’d taught him that he had the capacity to resist if he wanted to.
He was almost sure of it.