Bridging The Gap
The story of Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen is very well known. However, what about that of the heart and soul of the Cullen family?
The vague outline of Esme's human life, put forward by Stephanie Meyer, leaves a lot to the imagination.
What happens between each of these guidelines? What is the attraction between the eternally youthful pair, the glue that holds them together?
When Esme Platt jumped from the cliff in 1921, she thought she had nothing left to live for. As she goes through the fiery transformation, and comes out the other side she finds two men who will forever change her outlook on the life she lost.
When the worlds of the preternatural and humans collide what are the aftereffects? A continuing story of pain, love and learning to trust the world once again. Continues through the Pre-Twilight life of the Cullen "parents."
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"Most of all I longed for death. I know that now. I invited it. A release from the pain of living. My invitation was open to anyone. To the whore at my side, to the pimp that followed. But it was a vampire that accepted."
-Louis de Pointe du Lac: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.
Like a thousand knives.
Or a thousand licks of fire.
Or one loss of a son.
It all started with a broken crunch.
I was floating in a sea of blackness.
I would have smiled but the muscles of my cheeks objected.
A bright light.
The clicking of a door.
Murmured voices from afar.
A beautiful voice,
Incomprehensible words nearby.
Next to my ear,
On my cheek,
By my neck.
What did the voice mean "I'm sorry"?
There was nothing to be sorry about.
I wasn't sorry.
I was happy, content even.
Something wet touching my neck.
A red light.
A blinding pain.
A broken moan.
A whispered apology.
Where am I?
What time is it?
Surely this is not right. Surely I'm not meant to suffer so much. Unless...
Is this hell?
Is the burning just my transformation from earth to the fiery pits below?
Was this my punishment for breaking the vows I spoke before God?
I can remember them now.
I, Esme Anne Platt, take you, Charles Michael Evenson, to be my lawfully wedded husband, my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
"For as long as we both shall live." Surely now the vows are void?
There is no way that someone could be alive and still be able to feel this pain.
I can remember something good in my life.
What was it?
It was bright.
I can remember the bad too.
A baby crying:
How long is left? The time seems to be ticking by at a snail's pace. So slow. Surreal. Not Normal.
Another lick of pain. Another ticking heart. Another gasping breath.
Wait was that me?
No, of course not.
Another murmured apology.
Please forgive me.
Who was there?
Whose grasp was my hand in?
A twitch of a toe.
A twitch of a finger.
Wait, that was new.
Something soft under my knee, under my elbow.
Touching something warm, natural, soft.
Smelling something crisp.
Lick of Sandalwood.
Whiff of the forest after a rain.
The licks have vanished.
Only the blaze remains.
So near to where I belong.
Let me go.
"Esme, can you open your eyes?"
I am compelled.
Only fire in my throat.
Can see everything.
Movement in my hand.
Head snaps to look at a man.
My mouth felt foreign to me as it molded the beauty of his name. All words seemed unfamiliar after the screaming. My eyes never left his, and I was rewarded by a smile as bright as the sun.
"It's really me, Esme." his voice sounded the same; he even looked the same. "Please don't worry. I understand if you are confused. You have every right to be." His voice sounded like the epitome of bells. It was perfect, smooth; it drew me in.
My right hand flew to cover the place above my heart. Surely my heart would have been beating a mile a minute. Under my hand, all I felt was a solid surface of skin and a stillness that originated from below the tattered remains of my green, cotton dress. Where were the rest of my clothes? How did the only thing I was wearing end up in this sort of state? My hand quickly left the skin of my chest and flew to cover my face, instinctively trying to cover up the telltale blush that would be painting my cheek. I was wearing little in front of a man, a man who I used to have feelings for.
I felt at my most vulnerable, not being able to deal with the instinctual impulse to defend myself, due to the awkward position I found myself lying in. Although, I was never able defend myself, and if I tried, it normally brought out worse consequences.
The skin below the smooth surface of my hand seemed different, just like the skin of my chest. It seemed stronger; the digits of my hand were leaner, my skin whiter, the nails of each finger were longer and sharper.
"Where am I?" I whispered. My voice had changed also and in shock, my hand flew to my neck. There was a clarity that I had never heard in a voice before, nevermind my own. If Carlisle's voice was like bells, mine was the same, just of a higher pitch.
"You are in my home," he answered gently. My eyes widened slightly in surprise before I turned my head away from the hypnotizing gleam of his golden eyes. I had only met him once, yet I knew he always spoke the truth. If this were the case about his honest disposition, it highlighted the fact that he had found me after a decade. Why now, after I had just found him again, was I suddenly skeptical? Was it because I did not want it to be the truth? Or, was it that I desperately wanted his words to be the truth? I wanted his words to become the balm on my broken heart, yet I did not wish to believe someone's promises once again.
My eyes roamed around the room, picking up things that I ordinarily would have passed by without a second glance. The room I was in was wide with a pale plaster covering the wooden walls. The heavy drapes were closed over a small window, the dim light of a dying day visible in the gaps below it. I was lying on a bed which seemed forgotten in the far corner of the room, almost as if it had never been used.
My eyes moved to a shadow in the room on the opposite side by the bedroom door. There was a quick flash of golden eyes like Carlisle's, and I started to pick up a hint of quiet breathing that I knew was coming from neither me nor Carlisle. There was someone else in the room with us. Instinctively, and before I could even consider my movements, my body lurched upwards into a sitting position, my back against the rough wood of the headboard as the shadow started to move. A footstep echoed ominously through the air as the person walked into the light. His coppery red hair shone first as he came into sight. He had the physical appearance of a teenager, his crooked smile and golden eyes had a trustworthy and open look to them and I suddenly felt sorry for my outburst.
"I am sorry for alarming you. My name is Edward Cullen; I am Carlisle's son," his speech was tinged with a slight Midwestern accent, one I could just remember growing up with. "Please believe me when I say that I know you are confused, but Carlisle and I will explain all in good time." He nodded his head towards his father and then turned smoothly on his heel, stopping and twisting his head towards me before leaving the room. "Welcome to the family."
I smiled after the young boy as the door closed behind him. "Let us start at the beginning, shall we?" Carlisle asked politely, grasping my hand in both of his stronger, larger ones. "You remember me from Columbus?"
"I do," I mumbled.
"I remember you too," he murmured almost inaudibly. I should not have been able to pick up any words he said yet I heard everything. "Well you can probably tell that I have not changed since that day. I have not aged since then and that fact reveals my secret." He paused, letting his words linger in the still air. I was confused, beyond confused. Seeing this, he continued, "Esme, I was born in the 1640's. I was changed by a vampire at age twenty-three."
A joke? It had to be a joke. Vampires were not real. Once again I started to question the faith I had in him. He did look the same as the first day I met him; however, that did not have to mean he was telling the truth about being a vampire.
"Can you remember falling from the cliff?" he asked gently, his soft thumb rubbing tenderly against my forefinger.
Cliff? I could not remember much before the pain. There were some blurred memories, silhouettes without faces, voices without words. A building, a hospital, something warm present in my arms. What was that? Something I had wanted; there was a little pain before the larger pain. Then there was no emotion - a hollowness that swept over me. Then... the cliff, the forest, the air, the sun. "Yes, yes I do."
He nodded kindly. "You were brought to the hospital with a broken neck. It destroyed me that you were already dead, but then you came back," he offered with a wistful smile. "I could not let you die just when I had found you again. I had to bite you to turn you. I‘ve acted irresponsibly and thus you have become one of us. I am so inconceivably sorry."
I cleared my throat uncomfortably, trying to find the words that I felt needed to be expressed. I had to tell him that I did not blame him. All that I was able to manage was a moan of pain caused by the presence of the furnace at the back of my mouth. My slim fingers hit the smooth column of my neck, rubbing with limp fingers in order to quell the pain.
"It burns," was all I was able to say, and it came out like a quiet weep.
"Oh Esme, how heartless of me to forget. You must be in so much pain." He stood up, not letting go of my hand on his journey. "Come with me?" he questioned hesitantly.
Was there any need to ask? I smiled, nodding slightly before testing my limbs. Where it would have ordinarily took me a number of seconds to clamber to my feet I was standing by Carlisle in less than half a second. A mortified expression crossing my face once I realized the state my dress lay in. Carlisle remained the perfect gentleman. He was either too oblivious to notice or too kind to mention it. His footsteps were slow and certain on the stairs as his hand gripped mine tighter.
Is it so bad that I like this feeling and never want him to let go? I silently pondered as we crossed the threshold. It may have been a trick of the wind, but I am sure I heard a slight snicker from inside the house.
"Where are we going?" I asked, as he led me further and further into the mysterious depths of the forest.
"To hunt," he said as if it were the most basic thing in the world. The word hunt indicated something more, something different. I could just say remember the hunting that occurred in the previous towns I had resided in. "Can you tell me what you think of when you think of vampires?" he continued.
"Vampires. From myths, books or stories. What we drink? How we live?"
I sifted through the fuzzy memories, like he asked. I could just vaguely remember reading Bram Stoker's Dracula, but I was too scared to finish it. The blurred black figures of the dog-eared book helped me to acquire a stereotypical view of the vampire that Carlisle and Edward had not yet seemed to meet. "Capes, red eyes, blood, coffins, burn in the sun, Transylvanian accent," I replied. It felt easier to say them out loud. It helped to organize the blurry thoughts in my drifting mind.
To my utter astonishment, Carlisle let out a full belly laugh before he tried to stop it with a polite hand. "Have we been reading too much Stoker, Miss Platt?" he asked jokingly. I poked him slightly in the side with my sharp fingers, to which he chuckled again, dropping my hand and jogging off into the distance. I shook my head playfully; he even acted like a twenty-three year old.
When I had managed to catch up with him, he was leaning against a tree, a playful gleam in his eyes and a wide smirk on his face. "I think I need to teach you differently. Vampires are immortal; meaning that not much can harm us, but there are a few ways in which we can die. We do not sleep in coffins, as we cannot sleep at all. We do not burn in the sun. We are faster than humans, stronger than humans and some of us have extra talents, also. I do not, but some do. As for our diet, you were correct in one sense," he mumbled as an afterthought.
He expected me to drink blood? Drink from the blood of a human? I heard myself gasp and my feet unconsciously teeter backwards, a hand flying out of habit to my mouth. "I cannot kill a human for my thirst," I whispered determined. "I cannot, and will not live that way. I'm sorry." I did not turn to look at him before I turned on my heel, only to be blocked by a blonde wall.
"Esme, please calm down, just let me explain. I apologize for not being serious, especially in these circumstances. Can I explain please?" I looked into his golden eyes and I saw him begging me without words. "There are some among our world who drink from humans. It is a way of life for many of us, Esme, you have to understand that. I have learned and practiced a different way for nearly two-hundred and sixty years. We can live off the blood of animals alone, and that is why our eyes are golden. I will never force it on you, but that is the other option available to you."
"You drink from animals?" I asked incredulously. Although I was new to this way of life, this sounded strange to me, but I could tell by the furnace that was in my throat that I needed some form of sustenance, be it human or animal blood as it was. I looked up to find Carlisle looking down upon me, with a kindly, patient look in his golden eyes.
"Do you trust me?" he asked, running a slightly shaking hand through his soft hair.
There had never been a time in my life where I had felt this degree of trust and hope, yet I did not know why. Why was it that after ten years of wandering alone in unchartered lands, I now felt safe? How was it that even after finding out his true nature, I still felt the same? I still felt like a sixteen year old with an embarrassing crush on the mysterious doctor that stood before me in the hospital. I never had the opportunity to test the trust that he now asked for. There was never a time that I needed to show trust with him except when he mended my leg and even then he was just a trustworthy doctor; I had not known him from Adam. Yet even standing alone, miles out from the nearest outpost of human civilization, new in the world of the supernatural, I felt as if I belonged. I did trust him. I trusted him with my life.
He touched my palm softly, to bringing me back to the present, and unconsciously my fingers latched with his. His hand did not quickly return the favor, just hanging loose within my grasp. I pressed my palm to my cheek out of denial and embarrassment and looked down at the green forest floor. Carlisle roughly cleared his throat before I felt the muscles of his fingers contract slightly, the silky skin of his hands coming into contact with my own.
"Do you, Esme?" he asked once again. I looked up into his eyes, and nodded. A weird shadow of something crossed his eyes before he smiled slightly, inclining his blonde head in thanks. We started to run together, our feet nothing but a whisper over the ground. The trees that surrounded us seemed to move out of the way for our oncoming feet, the boulders or logs that lined our paths seemed like nothing more than stepping over one of the many twigs that I could faintly remember cutting my feet on just days ago. The full moon, which hung proudly in the sky, reflected little light on our path, yet I was able to find my way as if it were day time. I was shocked as I expected need for a candle or lamp to be lit.
A light breeze blew against us as we ran, throwing the loose cotton of my dress backwards like a cape fluttering in the wind. I was attacked with different smells, sights and noises that I had never encountered before. I was bathed in the sweet smell of the man holding my hand, yet I could not stop my senses from ranging out. There was a nutty scent of some small creature in the undergrowth and a dampness to the ground, under which they hid. I could now hear the sounds of the different species that lived in the forest; the scurry of rats, the hoot of a wise owl, the crack of twigs under a hard hoof.
As soon as I heard the latter, I was pulled to a stop, not by Carlisle but by some unknown force from within myself. The more I listened, the more I heard. Coming from my left, I could hear the soft trickle of a stream, the water creating its own path over the smooth and eroding stones. From that place, I could also hear the lapping of a creature drinking from the brook, a gulping sound of water in its throat and a beating of a mechanism, pumping the desirable liquid I so needed throughout its body. My back bowed forward as my bare toes tried to find some leverage upon the sludgy decomposing leaves and mud that lined the forest floor.
Some internal part of me knew what I now was and the force that was pushing my muscles forward was not me. I was drawn in, enthralled by this unknown object just beyond the trees. The closer I got to it, the stronger the scent became and the stronger the pull became. The smell was rusty and unappealing, yet it belonged to the thing that my throat yearned for. Suddenly, something warm wrapped around my upper arms, dragging me backwards into a hard wall.
"No, Esme, let me," a voice pleaded above an animalistic growl that tore through the air, shaking my very core. It got louder as the thing holding me back became tighter. "You are okay," it murmured into my ear along with the cold breath and beautiful scent of Carlisle. The noise stopped as soon as it started when I realized it was him and I clapped a hand to my mouth trying to gather an ounce of control back.
Carlisle's arms dropped quickly and I watched as a flash of fair hair and white skin disappeared around the trees behind where the thing I wanted was hiding. There was a quiet cry from the animal and a sickening crunch followed by a thump of dead weight upon the leafy floor. Upon finding Carlisle, he was standing far away from a pair of deer, his darkening eyes following me as I walked into the clearing. He raised his arm and pointed to the pair. "Go, Esme," he called.
My body ghosted over to the deer with little input from my mind. I dropped to my knees next to the first fallen beast and the animal within me came alive. I placed my mouth to the neck of the deer, my teeth finding their way surely through the layers of fur, skin, fat and sinew before I found my goal. Easily, my teeth punctured the tough textured main vein of his neck and the red liquid I yearned for poured into my mouth, across my tongue and down my throat, dousing the burn as it went. My mouth quickly latched onto the deer's neck, my tongue lapping greedily at any loose liquid before the animal ran dry below me. I sucked the lost life from the both bodies until my mind told me they were done. I stood without having to think and it felt as though I had come back to myself. A sloshing feeling filled my stomach but the burn in my throat raged on.
I looked up to find Carlisle watching me from about ten feet, a small smile gracing his perfectly arched, cherry lips. The bodies of the animals on the ground lay between the pair of us and my eyes once again dropped to them. Their strong necks that I had just used as a meal, were broken, a large bite mark present in their brown fur. Legs spread before them, eyes wide and glassy, mouth open; they had tried fruitlessly to escape Carlisle, the predator.
Who had I become?
My chin dropped to my chest while my body began to thrum with a vibrating, pulling sensation, which could only be described as crying. There was the low sound of footsteps approaching and, before I knew it, I felt a warm hand touch the skin of my bare shoulder. His fingers felt almost anxious as they squeezed my shoulder sympathetically. I turned carefully, giving him an idea of what I was about to do and leaned into his chest, needing the solace that only he could provide. I buried my face in the folds of his cream sweater, basking in the scent of honey and sandalwood that had been my constant companion during my change. My small hands wound themselves around his waist, feeling the muscles under my hands as, his arms gently wrapped around my shoulders while I continued to weep into his chest.
"Shh, Esme. I'm so sorry; I know it's a lot to take in. Believe me, you did really well." He continued to soothe me by running calming fingers against the tattered remains of the dress that covered my back. His hands maintained a constant pressure; just a gentle brush of his smooth skin and yet, I felt rooted to the spot, like I would fly away from him and the earth if he was not there.
I started to think of the hand that I had drawn, or rather, the hand that I had been given. I must have been put through that torture for some reason. The pain of my life had resulted in me being here with Carlisle and in a new world. I did not know much about vampires or the mechanics of the transformation process, but I gathered that there was no way back to the human world. Would I have wanted to go back? If I could go back to my human life, I would only end up alone and lose my chance at this new and exciting life in the process. I knew that the preternatural world was where I would reside for the rest of my lifetime. I would have to work with the two options that Carlisle had presented to me. I could either become like the true vampires wandering the streets at night to search for human blood, or I could feed on the blood of animals. Even though the dull burn still continued in my throat, I was beginning to think that I would be able to deal with a life of animal blood, if I had someone supportive by my side.
As soon as this idea entered my mind, my crying immediately stopped; like everything in this new life, my reaction was shockingly instantaneous. I did not look up into his eyes for apprehension of what I would see there. Would I find a regular anger, a bemused look, fear, humor or pity? I could not look up so instead I looked at his chest. Where I expected there to be a patch of salty wetness from my tears, there was nothing except for a little crease from the pressure. I touched my fingers to my cheek, expecting a wet trail caused by the liquid that ordinarily would have fallen from my eyes. This time I found nothing except a lone, sad dimple carved into the inflexible, strong skin that molded over my bones.
"Esme, can you look at me?" Carlisle pleaded, his fingertips touching the place that mine had just occupied. I looked up slowly, feeling almost shy and exposed after being at my most exposed in the presence of him. His blonde eyebrows had risen over his patient eyes, causing slight indentations to appear upon his smooth forehead. A kind of pained smile pulled up one side of his mouth causing his skin to be marked once again with momentary creases that seemed out of place on his youthful form. He opened his mouth slightly, exhaling the air that he had obviously been holding as he held me throughout my breakdown, and I found myself swimming once again in his appealing scent.
"Would you like to go home?" he asked quietly, his finger dropping from my lip. His strong voice in the quiet air of the forest made my eyes snap open, unbeknownst to me that I had closed them. Unconsciously, I leaned into the silent support he offered me. I exhaled noisily and dropped my eyes to focus on the floor that surrounded my bare feet, as well as Carlisle's tan Oxfords. A finger to my palm startled me once again and I jumped about a foot away from the source of the fright.
"I'm sorry," he uttered quickly, dropping his eyes to the floor but never lowering his hand, which was still out in invitation to me. I gingerly placed my fingers on his upward-facing palm, his fingers gently closing around mine. We took off running at the same pace as we had when we left an unknown number of hours ago. In my human life, I had never been the strongest and I had never been the fittest, so I expected my legs to tire quickly and my speed to decrease the longer we ran on. However, as we neared the house, my legs felt like they could run an indefinite amount of miles more and suddenly Carlisle began to stretch to keep hold of my hand.
The house came into view not too long after we had taken off running. It was modest, but it seemed sufficient for two human men, nevermind two vampires. A long driveway ran from the right of the house, winding into the forest in the opposite direction to where we went, to the makeshift shelter that housed a black automobile. We both slowed to a walk a few yards from the wood, wraparound terrace.
"I am really happy that you are a part of our family now, Esme," Carlisle confessed suddenly, not turning to face me or slowing down. From the main building of the house, I was sure I heard a snicker. Carlisle heard it, too, and in response he let out a short, irritated sigh, that was overshadowed by the twitching of his lip upwards. "I also need to warn you that Edward is a mind reader."
That must have been the supernatural talents he was talking about. How could someone become a mind reader? Was it not enough to find out that the things I believed to be fiction were, in fact, completely real? Now, I also discover something that I believed to be an impossibility was actually very, very real.
Carlisle opened the door into the quaint and relatively bare living area. Around a burning fireplace two chairs, an ottoman and a small, worn sofa sat, surrounding an oak coffee table, which was cluttered with a number of scrap papers and leather bound books. Edward sat in one of the chairs with a large broadsheet in his hand and a tweed flat cap placed on his head. One of his two-tone, wingtipped shoes was crossed over the opposite knee and he looked up to the pair of us as we entered, dropping the newspaper and clumsily removing his hat.
"You're back," he said softly, but made no attempt to come any closer. His eyes dropped swiftly to our hands, still clasped between our bodies. He then caught Carlisle's eyes, which caused his father to smile in response, before his eyes rested on my face.
"How did you enjoy hunting?" he asked with an exhilarated air, rubbing his hands together. I shrugged indifferently and he chuckled, nodding slightly.
"Would you care for a wash, Esme? I cannot believe that Carlisle took you out in that state," he muttered audaciously, with a small chuckle. I looked up to the man on my left to see him narrow his eyes at the young boy and shake his head slightly.
"Would you relax, Carlisle, she's fine," he muttered huffily, possibly in response to a silent request. "As I was saying," he continued, turning his attention back to me, "we do not have much, but at least we have a bath. It is just up the stairs to the left. I also took the liberty of buying you a few essentials while you were out. I hope you don't object, again, it is not much but I had a feeling you would prefer something over nothing."
I marveled at the vast amount of strength it must have taken for Edward to be able to venture into a town full of people and not give in to his bloodlust. I was driven mad with just the scent of animal blood. I could not begin to imagine how long it would take for me to be able to go into town. How was someone as young as Edward able to do it? How was Carlisle able to face fresh blood every day? I wondered at their control, and then realized just how nice it was for Edward to go out shopping for me, a stranger that his father had brought into their family.
"Really, Esme, it was truly my pleasure. Maybe once you are fully settled, if you are staying that is, I could run back and get you the things that you truly want or require. On me," he added with a cheeky wink and grin. As if on cue, Carlisle stepped backwards a half step, gesturing with one hand for me to go ahead.
The stairs groaned a little as I walked up them; the walls of the staircase were lined with a large amount of different paintings and other decorations, including a large, wooden crucifix. The bathroom, like the living room was filled with the bare minimum; a large white bathtub, small basin, lavatory, drapes pulled shut over the window and a small pile of clothes and other things on the floor by the wooden door. I turned the silver tap of the bathtub, filling the small bathroom with a moist, warm steam that bathed my skin, turning to small cooling droplets of condensation when coming into contact with my skin. Once the tub was full, I stepped out of the tattered, spoilt remains of my dress, throwing it to the other side of the room before slipping into the steaming water.
I could not think of a time when I had enjoyed a simple bath more. The boiling water soothed my cool skin, washing away all residues of the dried mud and splattered blood that marked my white skin. The strawberry scented shampoo was much more appealing than any I had ever used before. Once the bath water chilled around me, I stood, my hair dripping wet down my back, and wrapped myself in a large, white towel.
I dressed in the pale blue sundress that Edward had acquired for me, finding it a suitable size and shape, much to my satisfaction. I dried my hair off quickly, letting it run in slightly damp tangles around my shoulders, then picked up the ivory and silver hairbrush and ran it through my flyaway hair, trying to smooth the curls into something at least presentable. There was a medium-sized oval mirror above the small, white basin and it occurred to me that I had yet to look at my new self. Once again the stereotype of the vampire being invisible when looking in a mirror sprang to the forefront of my mind, but if I had learned anything in the last hour, it was that few stereotypes were true. I wondered what I would see when I looked in the mirror. I had never been beautiful, as I was fairly plain in comparison to many people. Edward and Carlisle alike were handsome. They each had strong, perfect lines to each part of their bodies, even their scents and voices mesmerized me. I let my eyes rise from where my hands were clasped on the smooth basin surface and into the mirror, expecting nothing but a familiar face staring back at me, perhaps a little paler in color.
What I did, indeed, see there shocked me. It could not have been me. My shoulders, arms, and neck that peeked from behind the cotton fabric of the dress were smooth and seemed to have strengthened. The small, pale scar that had been present on my upper arm for many years had disappeared. The hair that lay atop my head was longer and lighter, both in color and texture, with more caramel streaks running through the brown cascading waves. The lips had become curvy and deepened in color; a small strip of pink streaked my pale skin above my cheekbones. When I looked into my eyes, my mouth opened wide, a shrill piercing scream rang through the air, crimson eyes wide in panic.
There was a symphony of panicked footsteps assaulting the staircase, that concluded with the bang of the bathroom door against the wall, and yet, I could not tear my eyes away from the reflective surface before me. Something strong molded to the shape of my upper arm and was pulling me backwards but the only thing I could see was a pair of red orbs before me that held a streak of familiar gold, which surrounding the black pupil. A black silhouette appeared before me, and I felt the rough texture of a jacket brushing the skin at the tip of my nose. I looked up slightly and caught how the light bounced off a shiny mop of bronze hair; the owner searched the room with a flared nose, his body in a very defensive position over me.
"Esme?" he whispered, turning around and grasping my hand in his. "Everything is okay, I promise. Your eyes will change, they will become like mine, like Carlisle's." He started to guide me from the room and I grabbed his upper arm with my hand, while I stared back at the stranger I resembled still in the window of the mirror, staring at me with down turned eyebrows. After the first few steps into the hallway and down the stairs, I looked up, never letting go of my death grip on the young boy's muscle.
Carlisle was situated at the bottom of the stairs, one foot on the bottom step, all of his muscles coiled for some sort of action. His wide, dark topaz eyes met mine and the small blonde hairs above his eyes relaxed, his taut jaw loosening. I heard a small sigh of what seemed like relief break through his slightly opened lips, his eyes dropping from my own and to the floor, in embarrassment. His unsteady hands brushed down the front of his Norfolk jacket that hung open over his slightly wrinkled, plain white shirt and tan trousers.
Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, I exchanged my death grip on Edward's arm for the hand of his father, my grip on his hand as tight as his was on mine.
"I have to leave for work now," he muttered, with an air of disappointment. He nodded towards Edward and slowly bent towards me, effectively stopping my breathing. His smooth, warm lips touched my cheek and he was gone, leaving nothing but his scent in the air and a tingling shock that ran over my skin, centering around the one place on my cheek. I stared off into space, into the place where I had last seen his plaid-clad back disappear into the night. It was absurd, but I missed him already.
There was a small chuckle from Edward, who was standing a few feet behind me during the exchange. His footsteps echoed, while he walked over to the piano. Was it wrong to be slightly annoyed by his gift already? The wooden stool groaned a little as Edward sat down upon it; his golden eyes roved over each key greedily, much like a child on a Christmas morning. His lean, perfect fingers carefully, but with an air of confidence, mapped out a symphony I had never heard before. His head, adorned with his beautiful, copper hair, leaned forward in concentration. My bare feet slapped in time with each touch of the ivory keys. Each strike to the steel string of the beautifully carved brown Steinway, which held a prominent place in the bare living room of the Cullen house, hung in the air like the sound of a delightful bell.
I found myself on the small wooden stool facing the piano, alongside Edward. The similar resin smell, that I used to immerse myself in during my youth at my piano teacher's house, was that much more prominent to my new nose. Edward took the place of the passionate, old lady from up the lane, Mrs. Anderson, I believe her name was. Her wiry hair was always pulled into a high bun atop her head; her half-moon spectacles took the place on the end of her crooked nose. I can vaguely remember the feel of the weathered, dry skin of her fingers on my wrist or lower back pushing and prodding me into the form of a pianist.
My fingers lifted of their own accord, finding the familiar position on the F-key before me. It took me a while to realize that Edward had stopped playing as the sound vibrated through the air, quickly becoming background sound and fading away. There was a playful huff from the young boy to my right-hand side, his bicep softly nudged my shoulder, knocking me slightly off balance. His head was shaking slightly, making his already unruly hair fall, becoming that much more uncontrolled as it fell over his slightly narrowed eyes. He would have taken the position of a parent gently rebuking their young child for a disobedient act in their household, if it wasn't for his crooked smile and slight glimmer of happiness in his golden pools.
My hand started making its own way towards the C-note and I soon became immersed in nostalgia, playing Chopsticks as I had learned from Mrs. Anderson. Memories of my own fingers, rotund with young age, playing on the walnut Conover upright she had stored in her spare room, were darkening and slightly blurred around the edges, but the image of each note as I read it from the yellowing pages before me were still there. Shoot, that was supposed to be a G. My hands made a horrendous slapping noise as my bare skin came in contact with my thighs; I had never been one to handle failure well.
A quiet, snickering laugh came from my side, shaking the bench and the foundations of the wooden house. I am glad he found it funny. Edward shuffled slightly towards me, his strong arm wrapping securely around my shoulder as I was tucked under his arm pit. The familiarity of his scent was not lost upon me: he had a similar scent to Carlisle. Honey was a prominent part of his scent just like that of his father, but it seemed softer somehow, as if there was a sweeter taste burried within it.
"Relax, Esme, you're doing fine," he chuckled. "You should be glad I let you play." I could tell by the way his fingers contracted on my shoulder that he was joking. "How about you play the lower hand and I will do the upper?"
My left hand came from my side at the same time that his right came from his, while his left hand still wrapped around me. As my finger touched the first his did also and soon it became a true composition. It was weird to me that even after such a change in my life, I was sitting here as if he was a great friend. My final note hung in the air only to be outdone by Edward, who finished with a flurry. I leaned my head against his shoulder and raised one eyebrow sardonically; fully aware he couldn't see it. With my elbow, I found the similar place that I had a few hours earlier with his father, just below his ribcage.
"It's rude to show off, Edward," I teased in a gentle reprimand.
A silent laugh made his chest rumble and, with one last squeeze to my shoulder, he stood, taking his position in the comfy looking, upholstered wingback chair that sat looking onto the fireplace. His eyes took a dreaming quality as the dying embers of the logs shone red and orange light onto his face.
"You sound like my mother," he whispered quietly, a sad smile pulling up the corners of his mouth as he looked at me. I stood, making my way over to the matching ottoman that sat upon the worn rug. The heat from the fire seeped through the expensive silk of my dress, warming my cold skin. The welcoming crackle of the fire was the only sound, as we looked at one another, as the warm colors of the burning logs lit the ever darkening living room.
"Tell me about her," I softly asked, with a tender smile.
He ran one of his hands roughly through his hair, making it even messier. He brought one elbow to his knee, shuffling forward on the chair and cupping his sharp chin in his open palm.
Please, I silently implored, using my knowledge about his gift that Carlisle had given me.
His face split once again into that trademark crooked smile. It was so asymmetrical, yet fit perfectly upon his balanced face. The teeth that were shown as his lip rounded up from the smile, glittered in the air.
"You remind me of her," he mumbled, reaching forward to touch my knee softly with his free hand. He opened his mouth once again and immersed us both in the childhood which would be fading quickly from his memory. It was worth it to sit with the dying embers of a comforting fire next to a new acquaintance that fate had brought me. I would not have chosen to spend the night hours any other way than sharing stories with Carlisle's son.