Esme heard Carlisle got up from his chair and opened the window, but the wind blew away the papers lying on his desk. He sighed softly, closed the window walked back.
She could hear everything going on in his office. The sound of him taking books from shelves, the sound of him opening and closing drawers, the sound of his nib hitting the edge of the ink bottle, the sound of a match striking, the sound of him opening the windows. She knew it takes two steps to walk from his desk to the window. Five steps from the desk to the fireplace. Twelve steps to get from one end of the office to the other.
Nevertheless, Esme had no idea what he was reading, what was in the drawer, what was written on the paper, what he was thinking when he was pacing,
Sometimes she wondered whether he was reading the novel she had mentioned. Was the mini-portrait she gave him kept in his drawer. Whether it was his diary that he was writing and whether there were any words about her in it. When he opened the window, was he expected the sunrise as much of as she did? Did he know, that she was upstairs listening surreptitiously, counting his every step?
All she could do was counting his steps,
Two, Five, Twelve
Two, Five, Twelve…
She didn’t dare to talk to him since that accident happened.
I covered his mouth.
I touched a man’s mouth.
I put my hand over Carlisle Cullen’s mouth.
Lying in her bed, those sentences rolled and echoed in Esme’s mind like a magic spell, she could hardly concentrate on anything.
Have I gone mad? Have I lost my mind? Was I flirtatious? The answers to all these questions seemed to be yes, and she hated to admit it.
She just wanted to stop him from blaming himself. Why did he always apologize for something that wasn’t his fault?
He was decent. Such a person should not be always ready to apologize and immerse himself in self-blame. He should relax, he should smile, he should accept people’s praise without feeling guilty.
When she looked at the doctor standing in front of her, watching him tormenting himself days ago it was like someone cutting her heart with a rusty knife.
All because she loved him.
She had always loved him, from the moment he showed up at the kitchen door and became the first person in her human life who listened and interested in what she was saying; from the moment he gently soothed the frightened sixteen-year-old girl and cured her broken leg; from the moment she opened her eyes and he stretched out his hands to her; from the moment she discovered that he had not given up on her whether she was lost, frightened, angry, or sad; from the moment she realized that he was also vulnerable and imperfect.
She loved his compassion, his patience, his integrity, and his honesty. She admired his self-control, his courage in choosing a medical profession, and his adherence to his principles.
If she could. If he allowed her to love him. if she could be his
But she didn’t have the guts to say the word even in her own head.
It was weird. After living under the same roof with him for more than 6 months. She still trembled when she called him by his name.
If she could be his wife. Esme thought.
She would spend every second of her life pestering him to remind him of the virtues he possessed. She would boldly and passionately repeat her love to him. She would protect him from sorrow, for her embrace would be his refuge. She would tell him to the hunt after his eyes had darkened; She would stroke his face with her hands and kiss his frowning brow and his sad lips.
She remembered, under her palm, his lips parted and quivering, trying to say a few more words. She had no idea that his thin upper lip and the firm line between the lips could be so soft to touch.
His breath sprayed on her palm like a flame. His breath leaked from the loose joint between her hand and his lips, and the scent lured her to be closer to him and made her forget how inappropriate her behavior was.
She wanted to hold up her hand to her nose and to check if his smell still lingered on it since a few days had passed. But her burning shame made her put her hand down as if she had done something so disgraceful.
She moaned and pulled the pillow over her head and pressed it to her face. However, Esme forgot Carlisle’s silver cross, now hers, was placed on the pillow before. The cold silver fell off, hit her chin, slipped down her neck and touched her bite mark.
She retched her trembling fingers toward the cross, she could have picked it up and put it aside. But instead, the moment she touched it, she pressed it against her skin.
Does it feel the same as his lips pressed against her neck?
She pressed the cross again and closed her eyes.
She saw him standing by her bed, his broad, bare shoulders blocking the light from the window and casting shadows on her body. His pale golden hair glistened like he was wearing a crown of gold leaves.
The gentle smile on his lips was as usual, but the lust in the depths of his black eyes she had never seen it before.
He bent down and tenderly imprisoned her in the bed. The silver cross on his bare chest swept across her neck. His lips parted, spraying his sweet breath on her face. He took her cheek in his hand and brushed her lower lip with his thumb.
“Feel it.” He whispered in her ear, his voice was unfamiliar low and rough.
To feel his touch as soft as falling snow or the unbearable weight he put on her chest? To feel the coldness of the silver cross or the heat of his breath? To feel God’s mercy or to feel him?
“Let me comfort you, let me heal you, let me guide you.” He said, like he was reciting the climax of a poem. His voice was getting lower and lower, and the fragrance from his breath grew stronger and stronger.
Comfort was wheat, Heal was sweet cinnamon, Guide was spicy musk.
“Follow me.” He took one of her hand, pressed it beside her head, their fingers interlocked.
“I will.” She gasped eagerly, “wherever you go.”
He finally kissed her, soft at first, then heavy and pressing.
His hand was on her back, and she could feel the grip, as if he were saying, “We’re not close enough.”
He ventured to stick out his tongue and licked the bite mark on her neck, leaving her shaking and holding her breath. In contrast to the warmth and softness of his tongue, his teeth that scraped the scar were sharp and tingling.
As her hand pressing the cross against her body moved, his tongue and teeth went south, toward her collarbone and her breasts…
“Esme, would you like to go hunting with me?” Carlisle knocked her bedroom door.
Esme opened her eyes suddenly, let go of the cross, clutched the sheet beside her, and gasped for air.
She didn’t answer.
He signed and walked away.
One step, two steps, three steps…like a countdown.
“I’ll come with you.” She jerked the bedroom door open
“Great.” He said with a big smile on his face.
Thank God. Everything is still the same, Esme thought.