18. Chapter Eighteen
Carlisle dragged himself out of bed, it was 8am on Saturday, six days since he listened to hell. He hadn't avoided me on purpose, but the hurt he felt had overwhelmed him. Picking up his phone he quickly sent me a text, "Sorry about walking out, something went wrong, I was unprepared x" I got ready for another appearance. today at a Barnes and Noble. It was a Christmas drive to promote children's literature. I was here, setting up with our interns. "She's quiet." Dan said. "All week." Replied Laura. I looked up at them, "Since I appear to be the topic of goddamn gossip; I've been quite. You're all so damn bright." The interns looked at me. "I'm not a fucking sideshow. I'm going through some stuff. Now back to work, set up, and shut up." I turned and went to get a coffee at Starbucks. Carlisle quickly grabbed a shower, over the week he hasn't eaten much, he was awaiting the dreaded phone call from the MOD about her final wishes and when she would be arriving at Brize Norton, his heart thundered, no one would be there to greet her, she would be alone and he didn't like that thought. Shutting the shower off he wandered into his bedroom. He'd made it out of the house, and to downtown. Traffic was busy as to he expected on a Saturday. Once he'd parked, he made his way through the crowds towards Starbucks he wanted caffeine and quick before reality bit him. I finally made it to my destination. Daylight by maroon 5 had to come. I felt myself tearing up. I stood there waiting, trying to distract my mind, and my emotions. He was next in line, the person in front paid, his turn, "Triple espresso please." The assistant nodded and eyed him up and down, that didn't phase him, he was trying to be normal. My heart pounded. The song was killing me. "Next ma'am," I was in a daze. Just as he turned, he saw me. His heart pounded, he took a few steps towards me. I looked like I'd had a bad week, well of course I had, thanks to him, "Excuse me." Carlisle gently said to me. I looked up about to cry. I hugged him tightly. His arms gently wrapped themselves around me, "I'm sorry." I whispered, "It's the song." Tears started streaming. He moved both him, and myself to a table near the window. He sat me down gently, "Calm down love." I swallowed, seeking numb. My heart was breaking. He took a sip of espresso, "That day I left," he swallowed hard, a lump rose in his throat, "my best friend Ara must have accidently rung me." A tear ran down his cheek, "I listened as an IED blew her away." He rubbed his face and inhaled. He would never get used to the fact she had gone. I looked at him, pushing my coffee away. My heart broke for him, and for myself. I whispered, "I'm so sorry." I stroked his hand gently. Carlisle's thumb rubbed my knuckle, "She had been through enough in her life, she didn't deserve to go that way, " breathing, "she was a week away from leaving," He look into her eyes, "I'm sorry I never phoned, I'm heartbroken I'm sorry to drag you into this." I shook my head. "I snapped at my interns. They're gossiping, I thought because we weren't intimate," he sighed His eyes grew wide, "No love, it wasn't that at all." He sighed, "All I can say right now is sorry." I shook my head. "There's more to me that um, I've never spoken about. If we move forward, I will need to be honest at some point." Carlisle nodded his head, "The same goes for me." He tried to smile. I just felt bad. I sighed. I always kept a picture of the both of them in my pocket. I handed the photo to Carlisle. "That's Amy." He studied the picture, "So lovely, she has your eyes." I nodded, "That's Scott." He imagined us together, the perfect couple. He gave a small nod, "Striking features." I was letting him in, a bit. I swallowed, "You're the only person besides him that I can let in." I nod, understanding. Pulling out my phone, I flick until a picture of myself and Ara appears, "This was taken beginning of the year at the winter fair in London." I handed her the phone. I looks at her, she was breathtaking. I looked up at him, "You were so happy." Smiling, "I was, so was she, any time we spent together was like a piece of heaven," sighing, "she could brighten your day, anyway I have let you in on a piece of me, no one else knows except you." I smiled faintly, and nodded. "I'm sorry you were the one to have to," I inhaled deeply, "I'm sorry you had to do the rape exam back on October, after Charles." My heart literally was panting. I couldn't believe I was apologizing. I felt horrible. Whispering, "You shouldn't feel or have to say sorry," swallowing, "you're safe now and if Ara was here she would have kicked him into oblivion." A small chuckle escaped my lips. I looked at him, "My cousins divorcing him." "He is scum of the Earth," balling my fists up, "it's about time, people like that should be locked up in a place where they can never escape." I nodded, "he's free until trial" He banged his fist against the table, "He shouldn't have been allowed." I tensed up, "Lawyers, and money." Sighing he looked at me, "Greed and power, just two of the many evils in the world." I nodded, and looked down. "He's extremely smart. It's how he never was caught." I twisted my napkin in my hand. Carefully taking my hands gently in his, "I may have failed Ara but I won't fail you." Carlisle leaned down, and kissed my hand. I swallowed. "It's not," I stopped. I couldn't break his heart. I wasn't fragile, just damaged. Deep within him, he couldn't divulge the past, it was toxic, especially what it had done to Ara, taking a deep breath he spoke, "It's ok, breathe love." I broke the silence whispering, "Carlisle that wasn't the first time he's hurt me." My hands started to tremble. "Scott was my first. That's how I see it. He was who I gave myself to, because I loved him." I said it, and it was killing me. He would run now hearing this. A well respected doctor, had a radio dj who had more dirty laundry, then a college campus. His heart thundered, words got stuck in my throat, she had laid bare a demon, perhaps it was time to lay my demon on the table, "Someday he will pay," whispering softly, this was going to kill me, "Ara's father died when she was ten, six months later her mother started dating a new guy," swallowing, "Christmas eve, Ara was 12 when it began, he used to beat ten bells out of her, mess with her head," breathing, "one day Ara snapped and broke his jaw, two years later he paid her back, he crept into her room." Tears were streaking down my face. I swallowed hearing the words come from his mouth. I gently wiped the tears. He I couldn't tell him the rest, he'd leave or kill Charles, neither of which I needed. The pain was too much to handle, he couldn't tell her the rest, Ara would kill him if she knew he'd told someone but there again she was dead now, he gently kissed my hand. It started, a flashback. I was in a coffee shop the last time I'd seen Charles. My heart started thundering., Growing concerned he spoke, "Are you ok Esme?" When I didn't respond, he gently shook me. October started replaying, I looked around. "Hun, please answer." Carlisle pleaded. I looked at him, "Rosalie McCarty. She was a therapist in front of me at the coffee shop. Charles was in there, and I pretended to ignore him, or try. He started to cause a scene. She stepped in and asked if I was ready to go. She knew something was wrong. She was a total stranger. Well after that, well that's when he attacked me a few weeks later." Anger boiled in his veins, I could tell he was just glad someone helped me. He didn't have any words, instead he was taken back to the night Ara screamed out, she knew he was outside, his heart continued thundering. I looked at him, then stood quietly. I should have remained quiet. He was upset, and I couldn't hurt anyone. I grabbed my coffee, feeling my heart breaking. I was leaving now. I wasn't deserving of this great guy. He took off after me, and gently grabbed my wrist and pulled me against his chest, "I'm too shocked for words, plus I had a flashback." He kissed my forehead. I buried my face against his chest, "He'd ambushed me Carlisle. He was seething, "Dirty tactics from a creep, shhh love, its ok." I whispered, "Are you working today? If not, I was going to ask if you wanted to join me. I have to do a toy drive this afternoon. I'm at the book store. I'd love company." He looked down at me smiling, "I'd love to, I'm on late shift but have to go home and make sure the Ministry of defense hasn't left a message for me." Taking a deep breath, "Will join you in an hour or so, if that's ok?" I nodded, standing on my toes to kiss him. He kissed me back, "I will ring you when I'm on my way, where you going to be?" I smiled, "Barnes and Noble, over on Pine St." He nodded sliding his coat on, "Okay, see you there lovely." I smiled, and walked out with my coffee. I popped my ear buds in, and turned on some music. He started walking towards his car, "I'm sorry Ara." Smiling at the sky. I walked down the street, and quietly became lost in thoughts. "You coming back? The interns are afraid. What did you do? Lol." Steve sent the text. I replied, "Gossipy little shits." Getting home, he listened to see if he had any messages, there was one, "Good day sir, I am Sgt Lee Henderson, I will ring you on your mobile as this is important, goodbye." His heart sank, putting the kettle on, his mobile rings. I kept walking, I wasn't feeling great. I never felt so crappy before. I just had so much going on. I took a deep breath before walking inside. "Well hello there." Steve smirked. "They're so obnoxious. Does there need to be a memo. Esme lost her husband, and child several months ago. It's the first holiday without them?" Steve wrapped an arm around my shoulder, "They're kids Hun." I looked at him, "I'm not much older then them." Steve looked at me, "You married young. You grew up fast. They're kids, and you're not. They're weekends primarily revolve around drunken stupidity. Nursing hangovers, and living off of Ramen noodles. You drink coffee. Nurse the grief of losing two important people in your life, and you eat well, when you are hungry. Different circumstances." I stood with Steve, as our event started. Half an hour had gone, didn't feel like doing anything but I'd promised Esme I'd keep her company, hopefully it'd take my mind off things. He finally left, and was on his way. After he arrived, he parked, I head for the bookstore. Walking in, it's a little busy but I make my way through and wave at Esme. I smiled seeing him. "Whoa who's the hottie." Laura spoke. I looked at her, "Taken." Smiling he made his way to me, and kissed me on the forehead, "Busy?" he was smirking. I nodded, and looked at Laura. "This young lady, who's my intern, asked, "Who's the hottie?." I thought you should know that you're quite handsome. Laura went red, and Steve laughed. "Well I have to agree with Ez, but I'm a married man." Laura, and Dan looked a bit shocked. "Oh please don't tell me you didn't know I was gay. That's not my brother in those pictures." I laughed. Steve winked at me. Carlisle chuckled, "Would you mind if I stole this hot young thing?" looking at me he winked, "It would only be for two minutes?" Steve shook his head, "Just don't take her near Fifty Shades of Grey. She'll turn fifty shades of red." I shook my head, "That's my mom not me. Oh and your husband." "Maybe one day," Carlisle winked at Steve, "Come on cutie." We walked out back. I died. Nobody knew of his past, only Alice, and myself, but I walked with him quietly. He cleared his throat, "Two things, one I had a call from a Sgt. Henderson, the transporter plane has been delayed, he is ringing me when it lands, then I will have to fly out, get the funeral sorted." He hung his head for a second, "Two, would you like to accompany me to London?" he was nervous. I was taken back, "London?" He fidgeted, "Only if you wanted to," sighing he looked up at me, "Ara will be all alone, she has no family, except me." There, he'd let another slip. He cursed under his breath, "Damn it." I looked at him, "I would love to." I kissed him, feeling his lips against mine, made my heart flutter. Hugging me, he spoke into my lips, "Thank you. Strange, Ara arranged my fathers funeral, took care of everything." he kissed me on the cheek. I smiled, "Alright babe. I hate to do this, but we need to get back." Holding me by the waist he smiled, "Okay, lead the way love." We started waking back, when I looked up at him, "What time do you have to leave?" He smiled, "Around 4pm, need to eat before work." I nodded, "Here until 5:00. It's for a good cause." I smiled. He was reaching into his pocket, and handed me some money, "For the charity." I smiled, "How about to buy a few books, and donate them." He chuckled, "Okay then, shall we go and choose?" I shook my head, "Hate to be the mean one, but I need to stay here. I'm supposed to be working." I winked. He pretend to pout, "Okay beautiful." Kissing me lightly on the cheek, he took off to looking at books. With a smile on his face, he picked up warhorse, one of Ara's favorites. I sat down signing bumper stickers. "Who am I making this out to?" I asked, as I finished the one before. The voice of my death spoke, "Charles." I looked up, and my jaw dropped. He stood in front of me. "So nice to see the face behind Esme in the afternoon." He leaned down whispering, "Even better to feel her at night." I was frozen to the spot. He placed the books on the counter, looking over in my direction. Righ away he knew something wasn't right. "I'll be right back." He was walking over, and his blood boiled. Carlisle grabbed Charles by the scruff of the neck and shoved him outside. In a dark voice he spoke, "Stay away." "Someone twisted your pants." Charles laughed. Carlisle's phone fell out, and Charle's picked it up and started scrolling through the pictures, "Oh wow, now there's a stunner, I could nail her, was she too hot to handle for you?" Snatching his phone back, Carlisle was fuming. Charles was referencing Ara, he spit through gritted teeth, "She's dead, now get out." With that he walked off, and Carlisle walked back in, furious. Steve rubbed my back. "There's no way." He motioned to the interns to hand out stickers, and let us be. I went back to the counter, "Sorry about that." My voice was low. "No worries." The assistant added up the books, and I paid. "There we are, ten books," he smiled and held my hand, "I nearly lost it, are you ok?" He nearly thumped Charles one, because he had referred to Ara like a piece of meat. Steve shook his head, "Take her to a quiet corner ok. She needs to talk to you." "Thanks." Carlisle smiled at Steve and took me out back, we could both do with fresh air. I held onto him tightly. I felt jarred. Rubbing my arm he spoke, "Take a deep breath, take your time." I inhaled deeply, and whispered, "Why does he do this?" He could hear Ara's voice, she was always good at sussing out motives, "To try keep a tight grip on you, to scare you." I held onto him, "It worked." He took a deep breath, "Because he's broken you once, he holds the power." Holding me tight he spoke softly, "Don't let him succeed." I just feel sick. I don't want to be here anymore, I sighed, "There's a lot more to it." Looking at me, he asked, "You mean there's more to it?" I wasn't sure if he was ready to hear this. I shook my head. "I can't do this to you." "Tell me when you feel more comfortable, not like this." he kissed my cheek. I placed my arm out in front of me, and pulled up my sleeve. I took my cuff bracelet off, and my watch. The scars were there. His heart was pouding, and he felt nauseated. The color from his face, drained. He thought to himse, "Why do they go for the vulnerable ones?" He didn't have words but he kissed the scars. I watched him, whispering, "I started cutting when I was 13. It was off and on. My biological father, he wasn't my father for a reason. Then I met Charles when I was fourteen. Things seemed good." I exhaled. My scars remind him of Ara's scars, but she hid them, "I'm sorry." He hung his head, feeling defeated. I looked at him, "You're the only one to ever touch them, and not make me flinch." This is where it came out, "How late are you working tonight? I should explain things to you:" Coughing he replied, "Working 7pm to 7am." I shrug. I nodded, "Oh ok." I swallowed, and felt like I shouldn't have exposed my scars. "I'm not being rude, I promise. Just my head is full. I could pull a "Sickie" from work?" He grinned mischievously I smiled, "No you don't deserve my sadness." He took my hand and put it on my chest where my heart beats, "Neither do you, if Ara were here, she would tell me that a problem shared is a problem halved." he spoke smiling. "I will only tell you of my part, if you're ok with it. If not, then I will keep it put away." He nodded, and looked at me. He spoke calmly, "I'm sure, anything to help you." he bowed and kissed my hand. I smiled, "Thank you. Smiling back he kissed me, "Anytime." He whipped out his mobile and rang work, explaining he had a migraine and a dodgy stomach. I waited quietly. Steve sent a text. "Sign a bunch of stickers, then take off if you want." I could tell he didn't like lying. He weighed telling them that his best friend had died, he sighed, "I'll go buy a few more books," rubbing my cheek, "You sign some stickers." I kissed him back. I just felt like I was taking him away from his grieving. He knew that when he saw Ara's coffin, he'd break down. The grieving process would begin. His last piece of home, gone! Sighing he walked in and started looking at books. I started signing, I just felt nervous. What if one of these people knew Charles. My life was in the news. Lucky my identity, well... Carlisle had his hands full, must have had close to twenty books. Most of them were well had been Ara's favorites. She loved reading. His mind couldn't stop revolving around her, maybe because her missed her like crazy. He waited in line to pay. Steve came over, "You're white. What is it?" I spoke softly, "What if he's watching me now?" Carlisle noticed right away, I didn't look too good. He quickly paid for the books handed them over and decided to have a check to make sure that idiot wasn't watching. A few minutes later, he walked back in. Charles was no-where to be seen. Steve rubbed my back. "I just can't do anymore photos." He melded, "Agreed." Carlisle looked at me, "Come on, home for you, rest, doctor's orders." Winking. Steve nodded, "Seriously. She has like a ton of sick time. She can use." He patted my back. I looked at Carlisle slipping my coat on. Smiling he asked, "Your place or mine?" I swallowed, "I have clothes in my truck. I always pack a few days worth." "Okay then, my place it is, don't worry, there's three spare bedrooms," whispering, "just to let you know, there's quite a few pictures of Ara and I around the house." I coudl tell he hoped I didn't mind, they were memories of happier times. I looked at him, "Um," I stopped myself. Staring at me he spoke, "Say whatever is on your mind." I bit my lip, and twisted my hands. Steve spoke up, but softly, "She's been sleeping alone for several months now. She doesn't sleep. She'll wind up on the couch. That's what I think she was going to ask. Would you share your bed with her." He became flustered and red in the face through embarrassment. I felt bad because he started tripping over his words, "Well, I, i, I, um well, " He rubbed the back of his neck, "We can work something out." I shook my head, "You can work if you want. I can go home." I pulled at my bracelet and watch, pulling my sleeves down. I could tell mood swings, would be sending him on the verge of a headache. He was not in the mood for mood swings, "You can either come with me to mine or you can go home, I'm not forcing you to do anything. I took a deep breath, "You just seem uneasy. I don't want to push you." I signed a few more putting the cap on my marker. Whispering he leaned in, "I'm not usually like this, her death has put me out of sorts," smiling, "of course you can share my bed." Steve squeezed my shoulders. I'm swallowed, "Hormones, and grief. I'm being a bitch." Steve smiled, "You were hurt pretty bad, and never healed. You rushed back to a comfort you knew." I looked at Carlisle, "Steve was the emergency contact, besides my mom." Carlilse leaned down to kiss my forehead, "Take your time, there's no rush." Steve nudged me, "Talk to him. You both care about one another dearly." I closed my eyes, "They were killed. I walked away with a broken ankle, concussion, and some bruising with on my chest, and stomach from the seatbelt." Steve sighed, "Refused to take it easy. Likes to leave out she has pins in her ankle. She's been doing physical therapy. She's a lot better now. Still has some issues." I swallowed, "Headaches worse then migraines. Once a month." I slid my foot out of my boot and moved my sock. "Not a huge amount of scars. Technology." I tried to offer up a smile. Carlisle looked at Steve, "My best friend of thirty years, blown up by an IED six days ago, her phone rang me, I listened to her final moments." He was sighing, "We are both broken, in different ways." That's when Carlisle looked at me, "Esme, see you have struggles. We will see each other through." Steve smiled, "Sometimes heartache, shows us who we need, and who we want. You both need each other." I smiled, and slide my shoe back on, and kissed him. Snorting Carlisle grinned, "True, I guess, life hands us more than we can handle." I was rewarded with a kiss back. Steve nodded, "Absolute truth." Carlisle turned looking at Steve, "Want to see a photo of her?" I was trying to get to grips, showing her off every now and again is a good start. Steve nodded, "I would love to." He smiled. Carlisle flicked through the photos on my phone, aha found the one. He handed his phone to Steve, "A year ago, new years eve, she wore a dress as we were going out partying." Steve smiled, "Beautiful girl. Amazing features." Carlisle smiled, "She had a huge tattoo of a dragon on her back, when I asked her why a dragon she said I'm made of myth and laughed." Steve smiled looking at me, "Esme has her tattoo also. Two hearts overlapping one another. Simple lines, but the meaning is deep, like Ara's." He was sighing happily, "That was the first time she had worn a dress." I start chuckling at how uncomfortable she felt. I knew deep down, he cared about her. My question was, why hasn't they been dating. They were perfect together. I noticed he looked at me carefully, and could tell there seemed to be a question burning on my mind, "Ask away." He smiled, showing me it was ok. I looked at him, "The two of you were perfect."" How come you weren't together?" He burst out laughing, "Love, yes we had an attraction, but it was more brother sister love. There was no sexual magnetism." Again sighing, "I saw her as a sister, a connection that defied the norm, for her I was big brother, mickey taking, always getting us into bother but when she needed me I was there." Then he was smiling, "She was always there when I needed her. I smiled, and understood, "like Steve and I." He nodded, "Exactly and thanks to some idiot, ruined her chances of ever finding happiness." I swallowed, and had to just block out my own pain, be there for him "Anyway, that story belongs in Hollywood in a movie, I hope she's found peace." He refused to ruin the happy atmosphere. "Movies are made up of ideas of someone's fantasies they'll never live." Steve's jaw dropped. "Jesus Esme. feeling a little deep are we?" Carlisle was smiling, "That'd be one fantasy they'd find a nightmare." I chuckle at Steve. I looked at him, "I was married to a theatrical person, who was an English teacher." I slid my coat on, with my scarf, and gloves. Carlisle came over holding my hand, "Come on then, to mine we go, thanks again Steve." Steve nodded, "bye you two. Be safe." I walked with him quietly. Looking back Carlisle smiled, "We will," walking gently, "grab your stuff from the truck, I'll drop you off tomorrow to pick it up." I nodded, and walked towards my truck. He walked a few paces behind, sliding my hand on her waist I kiss her neck. I smiled, and felt my stomach flutter. I was feeling good. I had this amazing man, and he was not judging me. I could tell, he wanted to make her feel safe, with him at least, my soft skin and amazing eyes. I hit the remote button on my keys, and opened the back. He stepped back and waited. There was a chill in the air. I reached in, and grabbed my bag. "It's a small rolling bag. It has everything I need." He was chuckling, "You travel light." We started the short walk to his car. "It's packed tightly." I walked quietly pulling the bag behind me. "So what are we?" Winking he smiled at me, "Practicing." he wrapped his arm around me. I nodded, "Ok." That left me still a little confused. I prayed I wasn't setting myself up for heartbreak. "I'm kidding love, I can officially say boyfriend girlfriend." He grinned, pecking me on the cheek. I blushed, "I I love." The words fell off my lips so easily. Like they were meant to be said, "Awe, so cute." A smile spread across his face, and opened the car door for me. I climbed in quietly. Looking around his car. He was modest, but enjoyed nice things. He reved the engine to live, and could hear Ara calling me a show off, onto the road we go. He gently rubbed my hand before concentrating on the road ahead. I smiled, and looked out the window. For a moment, I expected to hear Amy, I looked in the backseat when it was quiet. Soon enough we arrived at my place, getting out I open the door for Esme, "Welcome to my place." I looked around. He was right on the water. It was beautiful. I climbed out carefully. "My piece of heaven, welcome." With that I grab her bag and we head inside.