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."
5. Think Of You
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"And so, too, I speak of love: he who is held by it is held by the strongest of bonds, and yet the stress is pleasant. Moreover, he can sweetly bear all that happens to him. When one has found this bond, he looks for no other."
- Meister Eckhart
I was once told by Aro, my old friend from Volterra, Italy, that if there was one thing in the world that a vampire had a hard time handling, it was change. Whether it came in the form of modifications in the world itself, feeding, or shifts within a coven, change was wrought with struggle, but I, like with everything else, seemed to be the exception to this belief.
Emotions were the one thing in this life that I failed to master. For years into what only could be considered an empty existence I resembled nothing more than an impassive, cold member of the night. For years I lived a solitary existence and felt like I did not belong on the Earth. I was alone in that world until I found Edward and then he quickly became the first building block to the person I am now, three years following our union. His mannerisms and the beliefs he holds, among all else, caused an emotion I had only ever witnessed in Volterra to pulse around my system: love. Edward has indeed changed me, and while I watched the ardent love that passed between the three Italian brothers and their respective mates, I knew that with the man I now call my son I discovered a different form of this unique emotion. I had found, for myself, a brotherly love, a degree of dependency, and an eagerness to just be in his presence.
Three days ago I found something more. The women I found broken became another piece of my being almost instantly. Her shape seemed to fit precisely into the lonely gap in my heart; the gap that had been seeking its complementary piece for centuries. Emotions that I had never comprehended beat through me within the seventy-two hours she had lay before me, and the four precious hours I had with her today. My facial muscles worked more today than I believe they ever have before. When I heard her scream resound from behind the closed bathroom door it felt like my whole world had fallen apart at the very seams. To watch her hold onto Edward's arm because I had been frozen in a spell of terror to fix the problem which was mine to solve. However, watching the reliance she already had on my son switch to me made the seemingly unused muscles once again spring to life.
My fingers still tingled from her touch, my lips still tasted like her soft, creamy skin. While it seemed now too forward an action to undertake, particularly a quarter day into knowing her, it was a need to be connected to her in any way possible. While work was not the place I wished to be tonight it was a needed break from the hopeless mess I became when her scent surrounded me. The walls of the hospital broke through the trees ahead of me, yet still I could sense her in the air. Was it that she now seemed, to me anyway, the final piece of the puzzle that I resembled?
The pale rays of sun that emerged through the small window of my office alerted me to the time, yet no light could brighten my unusual grim mood. I threw my stethoscope and lab coat onto the worn leather chair after shutting the door behind me, each of my movements lacking the grace and gentleness they normally possessed. My feet gave way under me and sent me plummeting to a sitting position on the floor opposite my desk. I passed a hand wearily over my eyes as the stack of paperwork from the terrible night wobbled precariously on the edge of my desk, mocking my already glum disposition.
Saving Esme had been a selfish act to undertake and last night's shift only highlighted the my mistake as I watched many of my patients slip away from my grasp, but rightly following the natural path. I was in the hospital not two hours before our first serious case came in. A young man was carried in by his crestfallen and drained colleagues from the logging industry. He was an unfamiliar face, but from a familiar occupation, and the bones of his left leg were crushed beyond the line of restoration. There was no choice but to take the leg. This procedure then resulted in a heavy loss of blood, which consequently took his life. From then on I lost three more, three names and faces I can still remember, three families I could not console, three people whose more lives were lost at my hands.
I lost a young girl aged seven to lung disease. Her parents had awoken in the hours prior to midnight by her gasping breaths and brought her to the hospital weeks too late for us to do anything but give her painkillers and a bed to live out her last hours. I lost a pregnant woman and her unborn child; the woman's placenta had become detached and the fetus was asphyxiated. I performed an emergency cesarean but it accomplished nothing but an early end to the mother's short life only an hour after the death of her child. Finally, not two hours ago I lost an elderly women to pneumonia, and with each body that came and went, either dead or alive, I saw a vision of Esme's broken, bruised and bloodied body on the beds before me.
As I pushed myself from the floor and took a seat in my chair I looked out of the window. At least the dreary weather now seemed to match my mood, the water droplets running down the window pane to their own rhythm. I pulled the paperwork towards me used my supernatural speed to sign the large stack of papers that sat before me. I stood and walked from the hospital and into the gloom that imitated my very self; my shirt, trousers and hair stuck to my skin as I walked slowly through the forest. Ordinarily I would have ran home, exhilarated from a day at work, or with the knowledge of what lay for me at home, yet today I could not get my feet to work any faster than a humanlike jog.
I sensed that I was being followed by someone so I inhaled the surrounding air. I found nothing except the familiar scent of honey, sun and flowers that I knew to be Edward's scent. I continued slowly on my way before he appeared, stepping out from behind a nearby maple tree, and at once I knew something was wrong.
His chin was to his chest, his long eye lashes casting half moon shadows on his cheeks under his blackened eyes. His eyebrows met in the middle and set yet another shadow down over his eyes. The muscles in his jaw and his nose were vibrating as his lips pulled back over his white teeth, glistening wet with venom. Rain ran from his hair, the drops resembled tears. While I knew he was my son, the instinctive part of me pulled my body into a slightly defensive crouch, echoing the bend at his middle and the claws that his hands had taken the form of.
"Did you know?" were the first words the stranger snarled at me through clenched teeth. Anger and frustration seeped from his pores as he walked forward, his gait abnormally animalistic, and trigger my instinct to crouch closer to the ground.
Know what Edward? I asked him silently.
"Did you know about him?" he spat back at me. "Her son? Her husband?" His feet carried him over to me and yet he didn't stop until his hands clenched around my white, cotton collar. "Answer me," he yelled, shaking me.
The part of me that I had bottled up in the hospital snapped and my hands hit his muscular chest, the sound of rock beating rock resounded throughout the whole forest and a flock of birds disappeared from above. He staggered back, his feet finding no purchase in the wet ground, and his lips pulled back further as he bared his teeth and let loose a growl, but then all sanity seemed to snap back into the pair of us as quickly as it had disintegrated. His posture straightened as he stood upright and brushed an awkward hand through his tousled hair. My breaths evened out as the flaring anger that had just occupied my body disappeared and was replaced by calmness and uncertainty.
"I'm sorry," he muttered, with an apologetic smile.
Me too, I offered back almost immediately. What's wrong?
He brushed his hand once again through his sodden hair before he pinched the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb, exhaling in a large sigh. "Esme..." he paused, his sharp teeth biting his lower lip indicating indecision on his behalf. His golden eyes flickered to me, and I was glad that they had regained some resemblance of decorum, before they flickered away. Something was buried in the depth of his molten pools, his face becoming blank as he looked out into the vast forest behind me. "Oh God, Carlisle. Her husband...her child," he was sobbing now, a broken sound that was unfamiliar to me when it came from the permanently strong boy before me.
"Carlisle...How much do you know about her human life?" he asked seriously.
"Not much, Edward." I had met her once a whole decade ago, the years prior to this date and the years subsequent to it where an unknown to me. Everything I know I have already told you.
"Carlisle, there are some things that you should know," he muttered, pausing for a moment. "She was pregnant before she jumped. Her son died four days ago," he mumbled with the down turning of his eyes. "The worst thing Carlisle is that the baby was not born out of love but out of malicious intent and possessive behavior on her husband's part. Carlisle," Edward stuttered, clenching his eyes together almost in pain, he continued, "he beat her, terribly. It is lucky she got out of it alive."
A red haze filled my vision, my eyes turning color as the mist descended over my body, a cloud over my judgment and a cover over my conscious thought. "Carlisle? Carlisle, Father," a man's voice sounded over what appeared to be the growl of a ferocious animal. He beat her, the growling got louder.
I had never been one for violence; it was one of the main reasons why I had left Italy a century ago and under no circumstances could I fathom violence to a woman to be acceptable. My breathing became labored as my unconscious dragged images of a pair of filthy hands on the soft, vulnerable flesh of the woman I had come to care for. Her beautiful, heart-shaped face wore the battle scars of his abuse, the alabaster, supple skin of her limbs bloodied and broken as they were when I found her.
"Carlisle?" a voice asked again, an innocent face I recognized swam before me, a scared look in his dark topaz eyes. My form was shaken by a force with a tight grasp. "You seriously need to stop. You will scare her if she sees you like this." I blinked, the haze fading slightly but still remaining around the man before me, my breaths still not evening out as my chest heaved up and down. "Think of her, think of Esme."
A breath was expelled from my mouth, her smile swimming into my vision, her scent clouding the bloodlust and metallic taste that was present on my tongue. My feet carried me away from Edward who stood frozen, alone in the forest. "She is in your room, Carlisle," he called, helpfully at me.
Napoleon Bonaparte was once cited as saying "a true man hates no one." Well, if that was the case then I guess I was no longer a true man. I hated her husband with a passion that ran through my body, heating all the venom to a boiling mixture. I hated him with a rage so strong that I would have gladly given my whole life and stepped into the Volturi's burning fire just to pull apart his body limb from worthless limb.
My footsteps sounded ominous, even to me, as I ran towards the centre of my soul. The brass handle of the door seemed so vulnerable in my hand and the creak resembled a lost woman's scream, angering me further. My footsteps creaked on the staircase and did not stop until I was in my room and looking at the woman who was now safe.
She sat upon the chair I had so often occupied over the last couple of years we had lived here. Her caramel curls were piled into an attractive bun at the back of her head, a shy smile pulling up one corner of her mouth. She placed her book on the table and stood up.
"Carlisle?" she asked timidly, as all I could do was stand and stare at her, hoping to fight the storm that was threatening to burst my normally calm banks.
My knees felt weak as I tried to take a step forward, my emotional vulnerability being exposed as my feet unconsciously faltered resulting in me on my knees before her. A clamoring bark of sheer rage came from between my tightly clamped teeth before I pressed my pained forehead into my palms; a rare quivering convulsed through my body as I wept uncontrollably for the past.
"Carlisle?" a quiet voice whispered once again from across the room. There was a quiet tap on the floorboards as her heels and floral scent came closer. Her body joined me on the floor, breathing in unnecessarily shallow, quick, and panicked breaths, and fanned a hypnotic haze that overwhelmed me as her warm and soft skin passed through the cotton fibers of my shirt around my bicep.Her small hands gave a pleading pull, not enough to actually bring me pain but enough for my head to rise in surprise. She tugged again, persuasiveness influencing her every move.
My eyes finally met hers, a crimson sea with radiant golden ribbons floating within it that resembled blood oranges. Her tawny eyebrows were scrunched together, conveying an unknown emotion, and I relished the tiny crease that appeared in the smooth skin of her brow. Her mouth was raised in a half-hearted, doleful smile and the small dimple that resided on the right of her mouth winked at me. Her
She launched herself to her feet, an action so unbelievably lithe it resembled Edward's leonine grace. It was hard to consider over the last day that she was as strong and agile as Edward and I, when our sheer anatomy overpowered her thin, womanly form. Our angular lines and sharp edges looked more menacing compared to the gentle curves of her body after the horrendous childbirth I had learned about from Edward. The softness of her cheeks also highlighted her difference, in comparison to my son and me. The enticing cream pillow of soft skin and the sinewy muscle buried underneath the blanket caused the first reaction from me since I fell to my knees what felt like decades before.
The internal storm had not been entirely seen out which resulted in my movements becoming once again uncharacteristically harsh and rough. I raised my hand; tremors of ire still pulsing around my body and caused my hand to seemingly act on its own accord. Her perfectly feminine cheek called my name as my fingers came forward.
The pads of my fingers were little under an inch away from her skin when a beguiling heat started to move between her face and my finger. Yet, before I could connect the pair of us she was on her feet about two feet away from me, her hands raised in defense before her, her eyes becoming dark pools of fear as she gazed down upon me with a drawn face and a open mouth.
"Esme?" the words left my mouth like a quiet prayer to the angels, a questioning tone buried within it. I tried pushing myself to my feet, a doctor's instinct to see if she was in anyway harmed came to the forefront of my mind covering all else in its wake. I got to one knee; the irony of the situation was not lost when she whispered the broken plea, "Please, please don't." Wrinkles appeared in the skin by the side of her eyes, her eyes crinkling as she pressed a fist to her mouth to catch the broken sobs that flooded from her.
"Esme?" I asked once again, standing to full height and taking slow measured steps towards the crumbling woman. Each forward step of mine was duplicated with a backwards one from her, her eyes slowly becoming akin to a stalked deer as she got closer and closer to the perpendicular corner of the room. Her back roughly hit the wooden paneling and a modicum of dust and wood splinters settled into her hair and shoulders, yet she did not stop moving backwards. I halted my steps and she fully pressed herself against the wall as if it was a savior. She removed all space between her skin and the wood like a necessity as she tried without cause to put as much space between us as she could.
"Please," she sobbed at me, my mouth dropping to match hers, "leave me alone. Don't hurt me." Her defeated moans lost all comprehension as she looked at me through her eyelashes. How she thought I would hurt her was beyond me. I raised my hands, palms forward in a contrite action of understanding and yet she still flinched, watching my hands warily for any sudden movement.
My foot moved backwards, dragging over the cracks in the floorboard as I backed away from the terrified woman before me, and with each step backwards it brought no reaction from her. Her eyes shut tightly of their own accord; her hands covered her whole face from view while she bent from her centre as if I had physically beaten her.
The door closed softly behind me, an action I hoped to bring her some solace from the fact that I was gone from her presence. It had always been my technique as a doctor and as a father to get to the bottom of a problem and never try to do any harm to any of the people I come in contact with. It seemed that with the one person I have ever urged to hold while they were in so much pain, this technique was not suitable. Some action I had performed while in the room upstairs had awoken some sensitive creature within Esme that had remained dormant for little over a day and I, for once, could not fathom what it was, what I had done or how to fix my obvious mistake.
As I found the leather chair in my study, the room below where Esme was, I heard a muffled groan and a cry of pain. There was a short bang as the floorboards creaked due to the pressure of her slight weight, her cries becoming louder and more intense. Murmurings of broken pleas to God and the unknown man she thought I was fell from her mouth as I sat below her, unable to find the remedy for my actions this time. I turned in my chair to look out the small window of my office as the rain continued to pour against the brittle glass. Each raindrop hit the window at a high force before they slid quickly down the pane of glass, each droplet signified for me one tear that should have ran down Esme's face. I closed my eyes, leaning my head back against the chair. The raindrops became my tears as I silently wept for the damaged woman I so urged to console.