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Bridging The Gap

Summary:
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."
Canon, EsmexCarlisle,


Notes:


8. Ruby Over Diamonds

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4170   Review this Chapter

"I never knew what life was until it ran out in a red gush over my lips, my hands!"
- Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

*****

Esme POV

"I love you, sweetheart," he mumbled tenderly into the skin of my chin, as he kissed and nibbled along my jaw line. Mumbling incoherently in response, my head unconsciously tipped back granting him further access.

It had been little over a month since our first declarations of love, and our relationship had moved strongly and quickly. Yet, the pace did not frighten me. It was in times like these when I could remind myself that I wanted this. I had longed for these quiet moments with the family I desired for just over a decade, and now I had even managed to find the one man I saw myself in the arms of. My love for the blonde savior from my past had only grown over the two months we had been together and it now consumed my very being so I felt myself complete.

Pulling my legs over his lap, Carlisle's head settled into what seemed to be his favorite resting place in the crook of my neck. A contented purr rumbled in his chest as his soft blonde hair stroked against my cheek, his tongue tracing the line of my collarbone.

It still seemed surprising to me that I could receive as much adoration and devotion that I did from Carlisle. My last relationship, the only relationship I had experienced bar this one, left little to be desired for. Yet, one look from Carlisle or the soft, imperceptible inflection of British in his accent had me burning with an insatiable desire that I could not comprehend. Carlisle had continued to be nothing but the perfect gentleman, he would, should I say could, stop himself when and if we got carried away, our animalistic tendencies seemed to carry us a little. Where I shuddered at the touch of Charles, I melted at Carlisle's. Where I once longed for Carlisle to be my first, there was still a large part inside me that yearned for him in that way again. Where I was bound to Charles in life, I wished and desired to be with Carlisle in death, my only for the rest of eternity.

As Carlisle became more carried away while I ran needy fingers through the silky waves of his hair, Edward sighed dramatically from his room upstairs. While Edward had adapted well to the change in my relationship with Carlisle, and the changing family structure, it did not help matters hearing our thoughts. By human standards we were relatively quiet, but vampire hearing was a powerful sense, especially when coupled with my slight wanton thoughts about who he saw as a father.

Carlisle chuckled into my shoulder, his perfect lips pressed against my skin. "Do you want to join me on a walk?" he asked, raising his head to look at me with dark topaz eyes. "I fear I am beginning to exasperate Edward," he added with a smirk. His thoughts were starting to annoy Edward? Did that mean his thoughts were on par with mine? Carlisle used my lack of response as a yes as he lifted me from the chair, tucking my hand over his arm as he escorted me from our house.

From upstairs, Edward let out a brief sigh of relief as the front door shut behind us. Sorry Edward, I called, like a reprimanded child after being caught by their parent; for fear that it had been my coveting thoughts about Carlisle that had become too much.

"Its fine, Esme," he called in response.

Carlisle smiled adoringly down at me, as he aided me in crossing the rough terrain. "I thought private conversations were banned, Miss Platt," he reprimanded, lightheartedly, as he placed his arm around me, cuddling my body into his side.

"There are exceptions to every rule, Mr. Cullen," I countered, maneuvering out the way as his fingers tried to tickle my torso.

His greedy hands grasped at my hips lifting me easily onto his back. I pressed my lips against his neck as he started to run into the forest, his vocal chords quivering under my mouth as he laughed. "Have I told you "I love you" lately?" he pondered as the forest became nothing but a green blur.

"You may have mentioned it once or twice," I teased, running my fingers through his slightly ruffled hair. "Remind me?"

He turned his face to mine, catching my lips quickly under his own. "I love you, Esme Platt."

It was then I smelt it. Carlisle's lips were turned up fully in a joyful smile; my lips were pressed against his shoulder as I rode on his back when the wind changed directions. From the east came a delectable scent, one which no matter how much the scent of Carlisle surrounded me it could not go unnoticed. It was a scent that faintly lined the cotton fibers of Carlisle's work shirts, no matter how much he tried to rid it. However, this time it was stronger. Where, until recently, I had been overcome by my hunger for the blonde doctor, I was now over taken by my thirst for the unsuspecting human a short distance away.

My vision clouded with red as all my senses locked onto that smell. All the power I had acquired from Carlisle's venom two months earlier pulsed in my muscles as I fled from Carlisle's back.

At once, a voice I recognized came to me which was accompanied by a steel-like grip around my wrist. Esme, stop, you don't want to do this," I recognized the firm command from Carlisle. Yet, as his scent intermingled with the other glorious scent, my tongue tingled more; my throat throbbed with thirst as my body pulsed with the protective need to save my meal. I threw my competition off, not even comprehending the crash of his body hitting the floor, and I ran.

My potential meal came into my vision about a mile away. His matted, long brown hair hid is face from view as he bent down, tending to the injury visible through the rip in his muddy trousers. A feral snarl ripped through my teeth, I watched as a pool of red liquid ran from the gash to his skin. The man's hair flew around his face as he turned inquisitively in my direction. His large, dark green eyes met my dark crimson ones in wonder, which then turned to fear. His heart beat faster, the rhythm driving me forward so by the time his mouth opened to scream or cry for help it was cut off by a gargle of death as my teeth latched onto his neck.

The sweet allure of his blood pulsed through my veins, warming my permanently cold limbs. As someone pleaded my name it was cut off by the gurgle of blood in my mouth when I snarled. I pulled until each last drop of his blood had hit my throat, and even when he was dry I could still not let him go but kept sucking. Annoyance starting to creep into my bloodlust once I realized he was done. He was dead.

"Esme, sweetheart, remember who you are," the same seraphic voice pleaded. Throwing the defective body aside, I whirled on the threat once again to find nothing but the man I loved facing me with a picture of pain and clemency on his angelic face. "This isn't you," he raised his hands defensively, pleading with the creature that had taken possession of the person he had fallen in love with. "Please, come back to me."

With one final low snarl, the creature released me. All of the animalistic actions of the past few minutes disappeared as I crumbled to my knees. I shook with sobs of depression that wracked through me as I yearned to stop that addiction from taking hold of me again. I sobbed with the pain he must have surely felt as he died.

I was in his arms before I realized, kneeling in the mud I fell onto Carlisle's shoulder and let the misery engulf me. As Carlisle opened his mouth to speak I already knew what was coming; an apology, an assertion of his still undying love for me, so I did all that I could do. I pushed him away.

I had already made up my decision, in the moment it had taken to turn my back on him. Carlisle had lived on this earth for far longer than I could comprehend. He had seen things that I could not imagine and still he had yet to kill any man, he had yet to harm in the way that I had just harmed him. If the instinctive part was still within me, the part which had just caused me to act so out of place, even after I had found the one reason not to do so, it just demonstrated the requirement for me to leave his life well enough alone. Leave Carlisle and never return to endanger the life of the two men I loved, and while doing so turn my back on the life I had been given.

"Esme, please don't push me away," he pleaded, placing a gentle hand on my shoulder.

I flinched under his palm, my entire body locking down as I shifted from underneath him, my feet carrying my body away from him. "I can't Carlisle, I'm sorry. Just let me go." Each word stabbed at my already broken heart like a knife, each footstep away from the centre of my world diminished my self control and self-worth that bit more.

His warm fingers roughly circled my wrist, tugging at me with a strong determination until I hit his chest. The bark of the nearest tree was sharp against my back as Carlisle's body covered mine. His lips attacked mine with a sheer carnal force I did not know he could possess. "No," he growled, his black eyes meeting mine as he pushed himself closer. "I love you, don't leave me," he beseeched into my ear.

"I've got too," my poor attempt at explaining my thoughts were cut off as Carlisle grasped my chin, forcefully pulling my face to look at him.

"No, Esme, please stay with me, stay here," he pleaded in a tone that made the frequent sobs bubble from my chest. My resolve weakened as I saw the pain rush through Carlisle's eyes.

"Carlisle," was the last word I said to him. My lips held onto the two syllables like a lift raft. As if holding his name tightly would stop my decision. Without a last look at the broken man I turned and ran into the forest. The last whimper of his love for me and his uncontrollable sobs followed me as I fled the scene.

~*~*~*~

One Day Later
Carlisle POV

Esme... Esme... Esme.

Her name echoed in time with each footstep of mine across the wooden floor.

Each tick of the clock.

Every heart beat of a patient in the opposing wards.

Each drop of rain against the floor outside.

Esme.

*****

The rain thundered across the asphalt outside the main door of the hospital, the scene not unlike that which occurred a month earlier as I donned my hat at the door. My posture portrayed that of a gentleman who had just experienced a terrible night at work, or one who was despondent echoing the terrible weather. As my feet tracked over to the automobile I had drove to work the night before I knew that these ideas did not even begin to scratch the surface.

My brow was turned down in a constant frown; the muscles of my face had no inclination of changing it. My heart, already leant to someone else, was now lost. Each unnecessary blink, every time my eyelids would close, I could see her running away from me. It was now that I understood that which I had just believed a month ago. I needed her, truly. It was an unnatural dependency, yet before yesterday I was in no way inclined to alter it. I wanted her. Every minute of a normal day I yearned to hold her in my arms, yet today was different, and today I wanted every part of her. I wanted to touch her, to feel her, to talk to her, to love her, to hold her, to desire her. I wanted her back.

It was selfish of me to feel this way, yet some part of me could not help it. I had never had to deal with the grief of killing a human; however I have had to deal with the despair of putting two humans through the pain of the transformation, and bringing them into this scant existence. I had sheltered Edward, now I know maybe two much, from humans; Esme being possibly one of the first. Where I had thought this was the right thing to do, maybe I was mistaken.

I had built up my "immunity" to blood by coming into contact with humans and the offending liquid. Yet, what had I been trying to do when I urged to keep two newborns locked inside, except when hunting? When inside they could build up mental strength and some degree of self control, yet if they could not comprehend the mental strain that would possess them how could they hold onto that semblance of willpower they had developed? People needed experience to proceed in any form of life, ours is only a tribute to that. Esme could not have been expected to do anything else. Edward would have been hard pressed to maintain his strength that situation. I was fortunate that I had escorted Edward hunting during the first years of his new life and never having to encounter a human, nevermind one who was bleeding so freely. I was lucky that I had managed to flea civilization as a whole during my first months because with both Edward and I, if placed in the same situation, would have acted the same and possibly worse than Esme had.

I now wished she would have stayed with us. Not for my own selfish reasons or for Edward but so that I could share the blame that she had already placed upon her thin, young shoulders. It was in turn my fault.

I shifted into auto pilot as the car maneuvered the small streets of Ashland, when I finally arrived home I situated myself by the window on Edward's piano stool. I stared out into nothingness. I had not comprehended a loss like this before. I was ignorant to believe that the only loss that I could suffer would be that of a life in the hospital, or a loss of my humanity in the earlier years. Now, I knew that there was more to lose than such things. I would have happily given away all of the material possessions that made so many men envious to ensure she came home. I would have given my life to guarantee she was safe and in my arms again.

The sun moved slowly from the east to the west bringing an extra bout of rain that beat against the glass. The wind shook the foundations of the house as lightning flared up. Edward's slow footsteps on the stairs coincided with an almighty thunder clap.

He moved almost sluggishly around the room. I could feel his worried stare glance off my turned back on more than one occasion. Without Esme in our lives we were both transported to the moments just after I had found him. We had lived mainly in silence, except the occasional playing of the piano. Our conversations came from recounts of our past or those times when he would find something he cared about in a book. Other than that we lived like any other distant father and son. When Esme came into life we became a true family, we were already bound and Esme was the glue that brought us all together and made them bonds tighter.

"Carlisle?" Edward asked from across the room.

Yes, Edward?

"Did you have a good shift at work?" he asked, and once again we fell into the pre-Esme conversations.

It was manageable, son. I answered, internally scoffing at the term manageable. Manageable meant that I could deal with things; manageable meant that my life still went on. Manageable was not the right term. If I were any natural human being my mind would have been so crammed with my crippling grief that I wouldn't have been able to function, much less continue to my job. I had just been able to smile evenly at the patients as if to tell them everything would be alright for them when I didn't know if it was true for myself. I had just managed to do my duty to the patients and do my job as my internal structure was breaking.

"I will be in my room if you need me, Dad." Edward mumbled after a few moments in a tense silence. I did not miss the assertion of my father status, and I thanked Edward for reminding me that I was not completely alone no matter how much it felt like it.

The hour was approaching twelve at night and the lightning flashed again, this time, however, highlighting the hauntingly beautiful body of a woman standing sodden on the lawn. Her crimson eyes were like a beacon of hope as I pushed the front door out of my way, pulling her into my arms as soon as I got to her. As her soft hair, turned a dark chocolate by the rain, stuck against my skin I laughed wearily in relief, choking with a sob of pure heartache as her scent hit me for the first time in what felt like years.

"Esme," I whispered in thanks, onto the smooth, supple skin of her neck. My vulnerable body ached with the lack of interaction as my arms encircled her tighter; her arms hanging uncomfortably limb by her sides.

I pulled her into the house, sitting her in front of the blazing fire that I had yet to notice had been lit up. Her tiny frame was swamped by the pale dress that hung loosely around it; her eyes were large in fear as she shrunk into herself when I sat down.

I thought we had passed the level of uncertainty, and fear that had hung around us. As we both sat, Esme looking at every in the room but me I was once again reminded about the day a month ago.

"I'm sorry," we both muttered at the same time, turning to me in surprise her eyes widened considerably more.

She cringed further back onto the sofa cushions, placing her hands over her glorious face. "I'm a monster," she uttered, pitifully into the palms of her hand, her delicate shoulders trembled helplessly and so I had no thought but to wrap her securely in my arms. It made my heart soar when she visibly relaxed in my hold; any wariness she had felt towards me ran from her body as we completed the other.

"I hurt you, I'm sorry for pushing you," she mumbled into my now damp shoulder.

"You didn't," I reassured her, my arms contracting around her even more, healing the heartache with her closeness. "Esme, I am only in pain when you are. Your pain is my own, I want to help, I need to help. I turned her chin towards me, "Esme, Edward and I would have done if we were in the same situation. Please, my love, don't berate yourself so."

"You've never hurt anyone," she contradicted me. I had yet to understand why she did not hold any blame towards me for turning her into the stereotypical "fiend". "How can you still love me? I am a monster..." her fragile voice trailed off piteously.

"You're not," I whispered back without delay, fiercely pulling her lips to mine. I melted once again into the bliss of being in her presence as I pressed against her urgently, drawing a small, needing moan from her that I caught with my tongue against hers.

We kissed together in the warmth of the fire for an immeasurable amount of time. I took the time to memorize her once again. Everything was different now, everything was better. I would take nothing for granted, and as I touched her face I found myself again. I had time, she had given me time back, and I would use every minute of it looking at her, loving her.

Esme pulled away first. A greedy moan made its presence from my mouth as her lips became missing. Her breathing was a little ragged as she looked at me more scared than before. "I love you," I continued, "no matter what happens you will always have my heart."

Her plump lower lip trembled like a hummingbird's wing, almost too imperceptible to distinguish. She placed her face against my heart, my murmurings of my love in her drying hair never ceasing. The atmosphere became quiet as we sat there; the only sound save our unneeded breaths was the wind blowing faintly against the house.

She sniffled somewhat, her slight hand wiping automatically at her flawless cheeks to wipe away the invisible residue of her cries. "I love you, too," she whispered finally, looking up at me with tender eyes. I could have died right then. I felt complete, everything that had happened in the last day disappeared and it only me and her. Her killing and our time apart meant nothing to me as long as I could keep her forever.

"Marry me," the words reflexively left my mouth, my subconscious telling me things that my conscious mind would not have dared to hope for. One hundred emotions played in the eyes of the woman still in my arms. I knew she loved me, her actions and last declaration paid homage to that, yet I did not know if this was too big of a step too quickly. All I did in fact know, now more than ever, was that I could no longer be without her.

I moved to kneel on the floor in front of her, gently taking her face between my palms, my thumbs working over her cheeks. "I do not have much to offer you, but I promise to adore you for the rest of eternity and onwards. Esme Anne Platt, I love you, I want you, I need you. Please, please be my wife."

She looked at me seriously, her tawny eyebrows folding in disbelief. She then smiled. No matter what the weather represented outside I felt my whole world light up. Her smile was like the sun.

"Yes," she whispered, her small hand brushing my hair behind my ear. "Yes," she repeated, pulling desperately on my tie until we were face to face. I stared at the greedily, she was mine. My eyes started to burn in desperate need to cry, as she closed the gap between us, kissing me with a ferocity I did not know she had.

Her hands slipped around to the back of my neck, pulling tenderly at the hair at the nape of neck. One of my hands clumsily grasped at her hip while another wound into her hair, crushing our mouths together.

"I love you," she whispered raggedly against my lips before her tongue met mine, the world around us began to spin hypnotically.

My lips pulled up into a smile as I separated my mouth from hers. The lack of contact was too much as I grasped at her hands, leaning forward to sprinkle loving kisses across the smooth skin of her cheeks and forehead and the violet skin of her eyelids. "I love you, too," I murmured back, bringing our intertwined hands to cover my heart.

A hand slipped free of our clutched pair, as Esme ran soothing fingers over my face. Her light touch diminishing all the pain I had felt in that one day we had been separated as it ran over my cheeks, nose and through my hair. Leaning forward again I nuzzled my forehead against hers, before I caught her lips briefly.

"I love you so much," I uttered, touching my nose against hers. I pulled her to my chest while laying down against the pillows of the sofa, a happy groan leaving my mouth. "Mrs. Cullen," I murmured with a smile into her ear, thanking the benevolent God that I the only person I had ever wanted to share my name had found me again. "I love the sound of that."

Her eyelashes brushed against my cheek as she closed her eyes, snuggling closer in my arms. She sighed happily, her heavenly scent leaving me in a state of euphoria. "I do too, Mr. Cullen."