Author's note: Thank you for visiting my story! Not only do I want to share my writing with others, but I greatly appreciate any time you take to leave comments or reviews. This project of writing a series about Carlisle & Esme Cullen is not only because I love them as characters, but I am constantly striving to improve as a writer.
Part 2: The Kiss. 1921.
~ Chapter 1 ~
I always knew when he was approaching. He never came home at the same time, so it was not my internal clock alerting me; it wasn't because I anticipated him returning at a certain chime of the clock. I had spent the past few months trying to discern how exactly my body was working now, or not working, and how my mind processed things, how they filtered through my senses. I had realized quickly that it was his scent that announced his presence.
Scent overwhelmed me now to the point of distraction. The passing months filled me with more curiosity and wonder rather than subduing it like some of my other feelings. Sensations, temptations had overwhelmed me at times. I felt fear of myself and my own abilities, the things I craved. I noted the very subtle movement of my ribcage. It seemed more restricted than in life, although I felt neither discomfort nor the desire for a deep breath. I found I could cease breathing with no need for air in my lungs. But left to subconscious control, the air still entered and was expelled from my body.
With each intake of air, my entire being was pervaded with the complex mix of scents. I could smell not only the wood of the furniture, but distinguish between the oak door and cherry desk. I could smell not only the dust but the very elements that made it up. I knew now that the sunrise and sunset actually had their own distinct scents. The warmth of the sun changed the scent of things as did the cooling rays of the moon.
In the beginning, the scent of humanity had overwhelmed me. It was not a mere matter of keeping myself away from humans and anywhere they might have an accident. Regardless of the fact that we kept a residence outside of town, at times the scent of human blood, my life force, my weakness, my greatest desire, seeped in around the window frames; it lingered on anything one of them had touched. I smelled life everywhere and I craved it. I did not mourn mine. I did not miss it overall. Instead I craved it, the taste of it, the feeling of it reviving and energizing and satisfying me.
I wanted to learn to be around people again. Carlisle had mastered it to the point that he was exposed to it, literally had his hands in human blood daily, and managed to resist it. I asked him to teach me how and he approached the matter with a great deal of patience and attentiveness. In the beginning, I was nearly always in his or Edward's company—the three of us beginning to form a sort of family.
The first night that Carlisle had left me alone, I failed him. I knew the satisfaction of human blood, the taste of it, the smell of it, the incomparable rush it provided. The days following were torturous. We had been in opposition for the first time, but he had not been angry with me. He had not chastised me. His forgiveness hurt worse than my own guilt because I knew he was genuine in it and that I did not deserve it. I learned then that I could no longer cry.
Despite the fact that Carlisle had explained to me much of what he knew, trying to soothe my distress, to comfort me and assure me not be fearful of the changes, I had no real understanding of my own physical strength before then; for, not only had I overcome and killed a grown man as easily as if he was helpless kitten, but I'd done considerable damage to my living space after I'd begged to be restrained out of fear of myself.
"It will not work," Carlisle had insisted. "You are the only one who can control your choices. I have faith in you, Esme. "
I did not have faith in myself and still avoid social interactions with the truly living. I worried about Carlisle sometimes because his trust and faith in others seemed frighteningly naïve and did not make sense coming from someone who had endured as long as him. He meant only as well as he could do under the circumstances. I wondered sometimes if he ever felt similarly gripped by desire, if he ever really truly battled with himself over it because he never behaved as if he did.
I pushed back the delicate lace curtain at the window. I had to practice making my movements normal, human, careful. The wind had picked up outside, a fresh, cool, Spring night breeze that I felt, heard, smelled, almost tasted through the windowpane. And on it had come his scent and that is how I knew he was turning the corner, walking toward the door. I consciously inhaled, seeking to separate him from the rest of the smells in the air: the moisture, the dust, dirt, smoke, the foliage.
I tried to define it, label it, what Carlisle smelled like, but I could not, even with the extreme sensitivity of my senses, even with the new sharpness and quickness of my mind, my heightened sense of awareness. It was a complex and layered aroma, like a fine wine. It was comforting, but not in the way his knowledge or protection was comforting. It quickened something in me, something akin to thirst, but this was not violent. Carlisle did not smell like blood. Still, it was almost like longing this feeling. I was happy when he came home.
He opened the door bringing a rush of scents and sensations with him. His hair was at least soft enough to be tousled by the wind, the blond strands falling around his forehead. He brushed it back with one hand, making me wonder what it felt like, as his pale lips curved into a smile. He blinked, long lashes falling over his golden eyes. We don't really need to blink the way humans do. He looked how a surgeon returning home from a long night shift should look: pale, tired with faint shadows beneath his eyes. But he always looked like that; he always looked the same to me—perfect. He was so convincingly human at times.
"Hello," he said, his voice cheerful. I could discern every vibration of his vocal cords when he spoke: it was an almost tangible experience that made me nearly feel the tremble in my own throat.
"Hello," I repeated softly, surprised at the sudden subtly in my own voice. His smile broadened at my response and I was smiling back as he closed the door and stepped toward me.
"Would you care to accompany me on a stroll?" he asked, the smile still on his lips. It was almost as if he knew me better than I knew myself at times or that he could read my thoughts. I quickly learned that reading thoughts was Edward's talent and that Carlisle's ability to understand me was something else. "It's a beautiful night and there are still a few more hours before daylight."
I felt my own eyelashes flutter as I nodded—a leftover human reaction, I decided. I fancied that he was just paying enough attention to me to see that I was gazing out the window with a sense of longing. I decided not to tell him that my longing had nothing to do with the out of doors but with him.
He walked past me, stating that he was going to change out of his work clothes and I found myself trailing after him a moment later. Though I knew I would not feel cold, I should dress in something suitable in case someone passed by. I confess that I was well aware of my steps slowing as I passed Carlisle's room. Through the door I could hear not just the opening and closing of drawers, but the rustle of clothing down to the details: fabric being unfolded, the cloth sliding over his skin, a button slipping through a buttonhole, one lace crossing another. And his scent seemed to simply overpower me. I had to consciously stay focused on my purpose.
Entering my room, I found appropriate shoes, doubtless as it was that any in my collection would ever pinch my toes or be insufficient to keep them warm again. I felt like something of an actress at times, playing the part of a living woman. I was still new enough to this existence to retain human instincts that had been ingrained in me during my twenty-six years of life. I questioned my curiosity about Carlisle when I wondered if he too could hear my every movement through the walls, smell me through them and what he thought about that if anything at all.
Of course, Edward resided with us and I would have been able to discern his scent from any other. I could hear his movements, but he did not distract me the way Carlisle did.
That led to the question of if I was only enamored with Carlisle in some way since his venom had pervaded me and worked to transform my entire body into something new, more powerful, stronger, more enduring than I had ever been in life. Was this affection only devotion to the one who had saved me? Was I merely curious to learn from him?