Carlisle snapped out orders, out loud now. “Emmett, Rose, get Jasper outside.” She and Emmett wrestled him outside, and Esme followed.
“I’m so sorry, Bella,” she said as she walked out, her voice filled with remorse. She meant it, too. I didn’t think I would ever understand that.
When everyone except Carlisle, Alice, and I had left the room, I let Carlisle see to Bella. I didn’t know if I could trust her to his ministrations, but I didn’t have a choice at this point; I didn’t know much about medicine. I had to face it; my business had been more about breaking human bodies than mending them. I’m a vampire; that’s what I do.
We lifted Bella up onto the table, and Carlisle applied an improvised tourniquet to her arm. Wow, really? I wonder if Rosalie meant to cut that deep...probably did.
“How are you, Bella?” Carlisle asked.
“I’m fine,” she said, and gasped at the pressure Carlisle put on her arm. “You can go, Edward.”
“I can handle it.” I didn’t want to go. Now Carlisle had her in a very vulnerable state; I didn’t know what he intended to do.
“You don’t need to be a hero. Carlisle can fix me up without your help. Get some fresh air.” Of course, she thought I was staying for some stupid sentimental reason. I still didn’t want to leave her like this.
“Ugh! Why are you so masochistic?”
“Edward, you may as well go find Jasper,” Carlisle chimed in. “I’m sure he’s upset right now, and I doubt he’ll listen to anyone but you.” Go. Now. That as a ‘voice’ that promised dire consequences if I defied him.
“You might as well do something useful,” Alice added. It’s not like you were any help here, loverboy.
I couldn’t endure the double-team, and left the house quickly. I didn’t go far, though. I wanted to know everything I could about what was going on in there. I was painfully aware of Carlisle’s presence there, so I concentrated on building a link with Bella’s mind, hopefully something Carlisle wouldn’t be able to detect. Once I was sure of my connection (at least as sure as I could ever be), I settled on the roof and let Bella’s thoughts and feelings flow over and through me. The first thing I noticed was that she was distinctly uncomfortable around Carlisle. She thought it was because of her sensitivity to blood, but I knew it was her sensitivity to Carlisle.
Bella was obviously no psychic, but she could sense there was something off about Carlisle. Every living thing could, it seemed. In spite of his smiling face there was extreme danger and cruelty simmering just below the surface, waiting for the right avenue to come out.
Bella watched in astonishment as Carlisle began carefully removing the pieces of glass from her arm. “Wow, how can you do this? Even Alice and Esme…”
“Years and years of practice. I barely notice the scent anymore.” Yeah right, you once likened it to working at a confectioner’s shop. For a while you get sick of candy, then a particular sugary thing catches your eye, and you just have to taste it. “Barely notice it,” my a-- my foot.
“Would it be harder if you took a long holiday away from the hospital? Then you weren’t around blood? Crap, why was she asking a question like that?
“Maybe. I’ve never felt the need for an extended holiday. I enjoy my work too much. If by “work” you mean pissing me off on a regular basis, then yes, you do enjoy it too much.
Carlisle examined her arm once more. “There. All done.”
I could sense her gathering her courage. She was going to ask Carlisle about...oh boy, here we go.
“So, in the beginning, why did you even try a different way than the obvious?”
He smiled. “Hasn’t Edward told you that story?”
“Yes, but I’m trying to understand your thinking…”
“OK.” He threw some alcohol pads into a glass bowl and set them on fire. “You know my father was a clergyman, and he had some pretty extreme views about his faith. Even though I didn’t agree with him, I have never doubted the existence of God, or at least, some deity. This probably sounds odd coming from a vampire, but I’m hoping there is still a point to existence, even for those such as us. I guess I’m hoping we’ll get some measure of credit for trying.”
Gag! Damn but he’s good, though. I think I would choke on that much hogwash.
“What about Edward?”
“He agrees with me about God, I think, and that people have souls. By the same token, though, he believes we have lost ours. Now, looking at things in that light, if you believed as he does, could you take away his soul?”
It was not a question she was ready for, and she had no answer. So she argued Carlisle about him turning her, and he changed the subject to something else she would want to hear.
“It was Edward’s mother who made up my mind.” I sat up on the roof, suddenly interested. “Her name was Elizabeth Masen. His father died in the first wave of influenza. Edward gets his looks from her, you know. Same bronze shade to her hair, even the same green eyes.
“His eyes were green?” She tried to picture it. So did I.
“Yes, she loved her son. Even tried to nurse him from her sickbed, which was probably what did her in. I came to see her on her deathbed. She lurched up and ordered me, ‘Save him! You must do everything in your power!”
Bella was staring wide-eyed at the story. I was interested too. Carlisle had never told me anything about either of my parents. Why was he telling Bella now?
“There lay Edward, dying, and beside him, his mother already dead. I looked at Edward, and sick as he was, he was still beautiful. There was something good and pure about his face.” Sure, in the ‘you sure got a purty mouth’ kind of way.
“So I stole him out the back door while everyone was preoccupied, and carried him to my home. I wasn’t sure what had to be done. I settled for recreating the wounds I’d received myself, long ago in London from my own transformation. I later felt bad about that; it was more painful and lingering than necessary.”
That last part was completely true. Not the part about him feeling bad, the part about it being more painful than necessary. I remembered that, remembered it well. He enjoyed it. A lot.
“I wasn’t sorry, though. I’ve never been sorry that I saved Edward.” Or Rosalie, right? Then you had two vampires bound to you, creepy old man.
“Well, I suppose I should take you home now.”
“I’ll do that,” I said, making an entrance in the doorway.
“Carlisle can take me.” Oh, she was worried about me ‘losing control.’
“No, I’m okay, I’ll do it.” No way would I give Carlisle another one-on-one session with her. What the crap was all that stuff about my mother?
Carlisle, did I really have green eyes?
Yes, and they were very pretty. Black Irish, your father was, and your mother was Irish too. Figures.
We drove home, and I met her in her room, as per our usual arrangement. “It’s getting late,” I said, and quickly scooped her up and tucked her into bed. I lay down next to her-outside the blanket, chaste and unscandalous as you please, with my arm around her. She leaned into me and sighed.
“Thanks,” she whispered.
“Hey, I was thinking, since it’s still my birthday, I’d like you to kiss me.”
“We’re greedy tonight, aren’t we?”
“Mm-hm.” She tilted her face up to mine.
I obliged, and met her halfway. This would be our last kiss for quite some time, so I made it something to remember. I kissed her harder, more urgently, threading my fingers through her hair and holding her head against mine.
She responded enthusiastically, more than I anticipated, moving her mouth on mine and thrusting her body up towards mine through the thin blanket. This was what I was hoping for, somewhere down the line, this complete surrender to me.
I stopped kissing her and pushed her gently away. She collapsed onto her pillow, gasping. “Well, that was a little out of line,” I said.
“I certainly didn’t mind.” I bet you didn’t, you lusty wench.
“Go to sleep, Bella.”
“No, I want you to kiss me again.”
“You’re testing my self-control.” There was actually a bit of truth to that. “Stop pushing your luck, and go to sleep.
She pouted, but settled in to sleep, curling into my body.
Sleep well, Isabella Swan. If everything goes as planned, it’s the last time you will for quite some time…