Today it’s my turn to take the stand. To show Esme how much it mattered to me that she was so supportive, I had two dozen red roses delivered to the house from 1800Flowers. She was very pleasantly surprised and gave me a huge hug and kiss for them. She put one bouquet in the living room and one in our master bedroom. I was set to testify at 10 a.m., and had asked a few days before if it was possible for my entire family to be there during the process. Of course the DA made sure to reserve seats for them all behind him. Everyone in my family went that day including all of the Watchers. Talk about a group gathering.
In the first row behind the DA sat: Esme, Rogue, Alexander, Amy, Keith, and Corin. Second row were: Peter, Edward, Bella, Nessie, Emmett, and Rose. Third row were: Jasper, Alice, Leah, Seth, and Jacob. And in the last row were Michelle and her parents.
I was standing outside of the courtroom gathering my thoughts before being called. Esme and Rogue stood outside with me. Esme kept rubbing my back to sooth me while Rogue was trying to keep me calm. And surprisingly, I was. I knew what I had to do, what I had to say up there. The defense could try to discredit me all they wanted, but I wouldn’t let them win. At exactly 10 a.m., the bailiff called me into the courtroom. I took a deep breath and followed him in.
Esme and Rogue walked in behind me and took their seats in the front row. I had one hell of a cheering section. I walked past the DA and defense tables where I knew she was sitting, staring at me. I walked to the stand where I raised my right hand and swore to tell the truth, and then was seated. I was wearing a suit and tie that morning. The DA got up first and walked up to me.
“Please state your full name and occupation for the court,” he said.
“Carlisle Cullen. And I work as a doctor at Hanover Medical Center.”
“Thank you Dr. Cullen. Can you please point out the woman who you knew as Ashley O’Donnell?”
I looked over at where she was sitting and pointed to her without blinking. She was wearing a flower dress with flats. Her hair was done nicely and she had make up on. She, however, was chained to both the floor and the desk. When I pointed at her, she blinked and smiled a hopeful smile at me. I directed my attention back to the DA, which, I could see out of the corner of my eye, made her frown.
“Please tell the court how you became acquainted with Ms. Cunningham?”
“Certainly. The hospital was in the process of hiring new staff, which included nurses. And while I was out for a few days on vacation, Dr. Connolly hired her along with 4 others who have already testified. My first day back from my vacation was when I met her along with the others. Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Clark were both to work for me while the remaining three nurses were taken up to the NICU.”
“It was Ms. Clark who eventually became the object of Ms. Cunningham’s rage and was attacked by her in the parking lot, isn’t that correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Only because she was trying to get between you and me! Don’t you get it?” Ashley boomed from her seat, staring straight at me. Everyone looked at her like she had two heads.
The judge rapped his gavel. “Order! Ms. Cunningham, you are to remain quiet during these proceedings, do I make myself clear?” the judge asked, sternly looking at her.
“Yes, your honor,” she said quietly while her attorney tried to quiet her down. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
“Continuing. Dr. Cullen, when did you notice something was out of the ordinary?”
“I would have to say it had to be around the time when my wife and I ran into her at the grocery store. When my wife and Ashley, or Ms. Cunningham, rather, shook hands, my wife later told me that Ms. Cunningham all but tried to rearrange her knuckles. Like she was showing dominance. My wife having a pretty strong hand shake herself wasn’t fazed, but still said that was beyond bizarre.”
“Yes, that certainly is. What about in the hospital or at any gathering? Wasn’t there a ski party at some point organized by Ms. Clark?”
“Yes, there was. That was another time when I felt Ms. Cunningham was acting inappropriately. She knew how to ski but insisted that I give her pointers, which I was glad to do. However, when we got to a certain point she pretended to fall and purposely pulled me down with her. I can’t really describe the look on her face but it would be that of someone who was ready and looking to be kissed. I was shocked and immediately revolted. She was aware that I am a married man. To still pull a stunt like that was ridiculous. I was feeling pretty uneasy after the fact. My family and I left the party not long afterward.”
“Dr. Cullen, do you believe Ms. Cunningham is mentally ill?”
“No, I do not.”
“Because she poisoned a good chunk of my staff multiple times, she killed patients, and had others code that barely survived, some with life long side effects. She knew the difference between right and wrong. Yes she stalked me and sent me a massive amount of flower arrangements with pretty creepy cards, but I believe that she uses the insanity defense only to suit her needs. She knows perfectly well what she is doing. She attacked Ms. Clark with a butcher knife. She admitted to me that she did it as well as all the other things. I have been a doctor for many years, Mr. Allen, and I know an insane person when I see one; Ms. Cunningham isn’t one of them.”
“But Dr. Cullen, in Ms. Cunningham’s mind, you were in a relationship. Wouldn’t that qualify her for the defense of not guilty by reason of insanity?”
“What goes on in Ms. Cunningham’s mind only Ms. Cunningham knows, but from what I have seen these last several months, Ms. Cunningham used the whole insanity gambit to cover up her actual crimes of poisoning, attempted murder, and murder.”
“If you had to classify your relationship with Ms. Cunningham, what would it be?”
“I didn’t have any relationship with Ms. Cunningham. She was a staff member at the hospital, nothing more, nothing less.”
“A staff member? You—you . . . how could you? I was the most important person in that hospital! Why are you lying?” Ashley sputtered and attempted to stand up but couldn’t due to her restraints. A few officers moved in to make sure she stayed seated.
“Ms. Cunningham! One more outburst from you and you’ll be removed from the court! Now sit down and be quiet!” the judge said coldly, rapping his gavel.
While everyone remained where they were—waiting for the defense and officers to calm Ashley down—I glanced at my family, who were all sitting there like shocked statues, shaking their heads.
Just then I heard a voice in my head; Rogue’s. “Don’t worry Carlisle, it’s almost over. Just remember to remind the jury every chance you get that she’s a killer and not an insane one. She’s using all her yelling to throw the DA off track. Of course she still believes you are in a relationship, but regardless, the most important thing is to keep hammering away at the point that she is a danger to society, has killed before, will kill again and has to receive death.” I nodded. The DA shook his head to clear it and looked away from the defense table to continue.
“Continuing. I hope all of these ridiculous outbursts aren’t hindering your testimony, Dr. Cullen.” The DA looked at me.
“Not at all, we’re all used to drama from her. One of my children called her a drama queen. Because when Ms. Cunningham doesn’t get what she wants, she throws these fits and tantrums. It’s quite childish really, for an adult. It’s also a way she used her supposed insanity to throw people off what’s really happening.”
“So are you saying she’s done this before to take attention away from something she was doing that was harming someone?”
“Correct. Most of the code red’s or poisonings would happen and then she would start acting out, so we would pay more attention to her as opposed to those that were in need of our actual help.”
“Let’s go back to the night that all of this came to a head. Can you please explain to the court what happened?”
“For starters, I arrived at my office to find one flower arrangement without a note. After doing my first rounds, I went back to my office to find 3 more. None of them had notes, and at first I thought that they were sent to me by mistake, but then when I asked the delivery guy who was still on the floor and he said that they were in fact for me. Because they didn’t have notes, I gave them away to some of my patients, who were extremely pleased to have them. Why waste beautiful flowers when you’re in a hospital? Continuing, when I returned home, my living room was nonexistent because of the literally hundreds of flower arrangements that covered it. There were notes this time and they were beyond creepy. I’m sure Agent Kramer has already shared those with all of you.
“After that, I had gotten an emergency call from Dr. Connolly saying that Ms. Clark had been stabbed. One of our patients coded and barely survived but was able to ID the woman who was in his room prior to his code red. I, and Mrs. Melanides, along with her husband and other family members, then rode to the hospital where we all met Agent Kramer and the rest I believe you know.”
“What did you do with all of the flower arrangements?”
“After Mrs. Melanides took several photos of them and sent them to Agent Kramer, we took them out in large garbage bags and burned them.”
Ashley’s eyes grew wide at that last part. She mouthed, “Burned them.”
“Burned them? Isn’t that a bit severe?”
“I don’t think so. After everything that we have been through we didn’t want to wait until the next trash day and look at them.” I shook my head and shuttered at the memory.
“No further questions,” the DA said and nodded toward the defense. “Your witness.”
As the defense attorney was trying to determine whether it was safe to stand up since his client didn’t seem all that stable, the door to the courtroom opened and Agent Kramer walked in. He found himself a seat next to Seth. We nodded at each other. He then looked over at Rogue, who felt his presence and smiled when she saw him. After that, he kept his eyes trained on Ashley. Rogue apparently texted him about Ashley’s outbursts already. He wanted to make sure he was there if anything else happened. Finally the defense sighed softly, stood up, and walked toward where I was sitting.
“Good morning, Dr. Cullen,” he said. This was the same way he opened with Rogue and then proceeded to badger her until the DA spoke up. I knew a lot was on the way but kept my cool.
“Good morning,” I said clearly.
“Tell me Dr. Cullen, isn’t it true that you gave my client a ride home from work her first day at work?”
“Yes, it is true. It was pouring rain and she was standing by the bus stop getting soaked.”
“But Ms. Cunningham had a car.”
“That I didn’t know until much later.”
“You didn’t give any of the other nurses a ride home when most of them don’t have cars. Why single out Ms. Cunningham?”
“I am aware other nurses don’t have cars, however, every nurse and doctor ends on different shifts so it’s not like I could just wait and give everyone a ride. Ms. Cunningham and I happened to end at the same time that day.”
“Isn’t it true that when you drove Ms. Cunningham to her apartment, you sat in the car for another 10 minutes or so, getting to know each other?”
“Yes, that is true. Is there something wrong with trying to get to know the person you’re going to be working closely with?”
“Of course not. But there is something wrong when you give that person hints that you are interested in them.”
“I beg your pardon? What hints?” I asked suspiciously.
“Well for starters, telling my client that you know she’ll find that right person in the future and soon. You can’t see that as being a little too forward?”
“Objection! Council is reaching,” the DA said.
“Sustained. Mr. Woods stay focused,” the judge said.
“My apologies; allow me to rephrase. My client clearly felt that you were coming on to her with that comment.”
“I can’t control how someone will feel based on something I say.”
“Dr. Cullen, you are married, correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Very happily.” What kind of dumb-ass question was that? I thought to myself. Edward and the Watchers smiled after reading my mind.
“So you would never leave your wife for my client, is that correct? Despite making her believe that you would.”
“I would never leave my wife for anyone, especially not your client. And I never said anything regarding leaving my wife for Ms. Cunningham. That is all part of her make-believe world where she pretends to hide from facing the truth about what she has done,” I said.
“What????? Part of my make-believe world????? Are you out of your mind?!? You love me! I know it . . . I feel it! You’ve smiled at me! You drove me home, no one else—EVER! Your wife is ugly! I bet you even sleep in separate bedrooms because of the fact that you can’t look at her! Pathetic! I’m beautiful and perfect for you! I can make you so HAPPY!
Ashley was screeching at the top of her lungs by this point, as the judge rapped his gavel and ordered her to be removed from the court. Agent Kramer and Rogue jumped into the fray to assist the other officers. She was resisting as they were ordering her to stop resisting.
Everyone was looking at her with wide eyes, including the jury. As she was literally being carried away she screamed out again.
“He came here for me today! He came to see me! Because I’m beautiful and he missed me! I love you and you love me, Carlisle! I know it, damn it! I know it! I will KILL as many people as I want. FUCK THEM AND FUCK ALL OF YOU TO HELL!”
That last portion was howled so loudly that I thought the walls would shake. Holy hell . . . what a freak! At that point the defense, who was shaking from head to foot, said, “No further questions,” and the judge dismissed me from the stand. He also called it an end for the day.
From then on, Ashley wouldn’t be allowed to be present at her trial. She would sit in her cell while the others testified. That was a good thing, especially for Charlotte who really was stressing about seeing her again. I’m glad she went ape shit on me and caused herself to be removed from the room so that Charlotte wouldn’t have to deal with her. I couldn’t care less though, granted that performance was something else and a half.
As my family and I left the courtroom and court house, I knew only one thing: I really, really needed a glass of wine, or three.
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Before the trial even started I was asked not to be in the courtroom for the whole entire thing, as we weren’t sure how Ashley or Carrie would react. It wasn’t really known if she would behave when I took the stand, but that’s a risk everyone, including me, was willing to take. I didn’t think I wanted to be there, to tell you the truth. Hearing all of that from the beginning, was just way too much, even for me, to handle. None of the others from hospital were going to watch the trial either. They were going to come when it was their day to testify, and that was it.
The only one who pretty much sat through the whole trial was Rogue. After being in law enforcement for such a long time, things like that were still of great interest to her. She was with the feds for 15 years, but was apparently also a consultant to the CIA for another 20 at some point, years ago. She knows government secrets we can’t even imagine. But of course, you know her . . . our enigma . . . she’s not going to tell us anything. Not like we want to know the government’s secrets. We have our own to keep and live with.
But I digress. I, along with Esme, was going to attend Rogue’s testimony because we wanted to see how she handled it to better understand what we would have to do. This was all new territory for me. I had never participated in the human world that much. But thanks to Ms. Cunningham, none of us immortals had much of a choice. The trial had started on a Monday, and by Wednesday they were ready to start with the eyewitnesses. So that was the day Esme and I went to court because Rogue was up first. We had received our order of testifying: Rogue, then Agent Kramer, then Mr. Yang—who was allowed to give a videotaped deposition since he was still in the hospital and nobody, including the judge, wanted to jeopardize his health.
After Mr. Yang, it was Bill, Shandy, Carol, Melanie, and Betsy. Followed by the 4 nurses that Ashley poisoned, and then it would be my turn. After I was done, the DA was bringing the 3 residents that saw Charlotte being attacked by Ashley in the parking lot and who ultimately saved her life. And lastly, Charlotte herself. I had spoken with the DA; the defense had very few, if any, witnesses to bring forth—other than a slew of psychiatrists. In any case it was going to be interesting.
On Wednesday Rogue took the stand. Esme and I sat in the very back row behind the DA. Just before she took the stand, the bailiff asked everyone to rise.
“Would everyone please rise for the honorable Judge Justin Hollister.” Then the judge walked out of a little room and sat down in his chair before the court.
“Please be seated,” he said. Everyone sat down. “Will the prosecution please call its first witness.”
“The prosecution calls Rose Melanides to the stand,” The DA said.
Rogue walked into the courtroom looking sharp; she had a black suit on with a red business shirt underneath. Her long black hair was done up in a French braid and she had very minimal makeup. She was also wearing low healed black shoes. She looked like she worked as a top ranking manager at Morgan Stanley or something. The bailiff walked up to the stand which she was standing next to.
“Please raise your right hand.” Rogue complied. “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”
“Yes, I do,” she said without hesitation. Afterwards she sat down on the witness stand. She had her now-famous poker face that betrayed zip emotion.
“Mrs. Melanides, can you please tell the court what you did and do for a living,” The DA who was standing not too far from her said.
“I worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington DC for 15 years, and since then have continued to be a contract consultant for them as well as other agencies both domestically and internationally.” Rogue spoke clearly.
“Thank you. Now would you please tell us how you came to know Ms. Cunningham, or Ashley as you knew her?”
“By accident, actually. I moved to Hanover with my husband and family fairly recently. We live about 3 miles from the Cullen property. We became friends with the family almost immediately and I was on my way to see Dr. Cullen and his wife when I caught Ms. Cunningham sneaking around on their property.”
“What do you mean caught sneaking around? Can you please be a bit more specific?” The DA asked.
“Certainly. The Cullen’s are very private people and have ‘No Trespassing’ signs all around their property. To have someone hiding in the bushes spying on the house isn’t exactly something that happens every day.”
“Could Ms. Cunningham been invited to visit the Cullen’s? Do you think it was a misunderstanding?”
“Absolutely not. Ms. Cunningham was stalking Dr. Cullen. He never invited her to his property. And even if he did, a normal person would walk to the front door, not hide behind the bushes in front of the house near the mailbox. Besides, Dr. Cullen was surprised to hear that she was there. He told me himself that he never invited her, and he was even surprised she knew where he lived, as no one from the Hospital had ever been to his house. Other than Mr. Connolly and his head nurse Mrs. Keller, nobody knew his address.”
“Can you please tell the court what happened after you found Ms. Cunningham in that location?”
“I asked her what she was doing here, to which she lied and said that quote, ‘I was waiting for Carlisle.’ For starters, according to Dr. Cullen, she had never called him by his first name before, and secondly, why would anyone wait for someone hidden in the bushes? When I called her out on it, she became nasty and belligerent.”
“Did she leave soon after?” The DA asked.
“It took a little convincing but she eventually left, yes.”
“You have worked with Agent Kramer prior to this, isn’t that correct?”
“Yes he was my partner during all my years with the FBI.”
“Whose idea was it to use Dr. Cullen as bait to lure out Ms. Cunningham in order to arrest her?”
“His; agent Kramer’s, that is.”
“Thank you; no further questions,” The DA said and, as he walked back to his seat, he acknowledged the defense and said, “Your witness.”
The defense attorney looked nothing like the crisp and polished DA. He was a man in his late 50s wearing an old graying suit and tie. He had horn-rimmed glasses. Because of the sheer amount of people in the courtroom, I couldn’t see Ashley properly. The one thing I could see was the top of her head and it was blond again. The defense attorney stood up, buttoned his suit jacket and stepped forward toward Rogue, who continued to sit on the witness stand and wait for the cross-examination. The poker face never betrayed an ounce of emotion; she was the consummate professional. The jury could see that. The jury itself was surprisingly diverse, given our small town. There were seven men and five women. Four of the jurors were African American, and one was Asian. It was obvious that a few were students at Dartmouth.
“Good morning Mrs. Melanides,” the defense attorney greeted.
“Good morning,” Rogue replied.
“Mrs. Melanides, isn’t it true that you attacked my client while she was on the Cullen property and you omitted it from your previous testimony to cover up your actions?”
“Absolutely not, on both counts. I answered the questions I was asked for starters.”
“You physically attacked my client, did you not?”
“I acted in self-defense. When I told your client to leave the property she hauled back and attempted to punch me in the face.”
“You verbally threatened my client with bodily harm if she didn’t leave and then you nearly broke her arm and pushed her to the ground and kicked her, isn’t that true?” His voice rose dramatically.
“Absolutely not, your client is lying.”
“Or perhaps it is you who is lying, Mrs. Melanides!”
“That all depends on how you look at it and who is on trial here,” Rogue replied, her eyes narrowing. Uh oh.
“You didn’t answer the question,” the defense retorted.
“Objection! Badgering the witness!” the DA hopped up and said.
“Sustained. Mr. Woods, stick with the questions. The witness is not on trial here,” Judge Hollister warned.
“No further questions, your honor,” Mr. Woods said, and returned to his desk where Ashley was sitting with a cocky smile on her face.
It was the first time Rogue had looked at her. But instead of getting a rise out of Rogue, she would be disappointed as the DA said, “Re-direct your honor.”
“Mrs. Melanides, apparently there has been some confusion with this fight according to Mr. Woods, would you please tell us exactly what happened?”
“Certainly. As I mentioned, when I asked repeatedly for Ms. Cunningham to leave the property, she hauled off to punch me in the face. Thanks to my extensive knowledge of martial arts, that didn’t happen as I caught her fist, brought her arm around to her back and then pushed her to the ground. I did not kick her or in any other way cause her bodily harm. She ran back to her car shortly after that. That was the end of our confrontation. The whole thing from the time I found her crouched in the bushes to when she ran to her car lasted a maximum of seven minutes.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Melanides. No further questions.”
“If there are no further questions from either parties, you may step down Mrs. Melanides,” The judge said. Rogue nodded and got off the witness stand.
She walked past the DA, with whom she shook hands and proceeded to walk toward where Esme and I were sitting. Ashley’s eyes followed her the whole time and they grew wide when she saw Esme and me getting up just as Rogue passed us and follow her out the door. Neither I nor Esme spared Ashley a glance, though I could feel her eyes boring a hole into the back of my head.
Next to take the stand was Agent Kramer, who was waiting outside of the courtroom to be called. Rogue approached him and he smiled.
“Nice job, Rose! I loved how you put the defense in his place. She actually had the balls to say you kicked her. Cry me a damn river!”
We all laughed.
“Thanks, Scott. You’re up next so do what you do best . . . play poker!” she said with a smile.
“Aye-Aye, boss!” he said with a salute. Just then a bailiff came to get him. “Showtime! I’ll give you a call once I’m done. Tell Alexander I said hello.”
“Will do. Good luck, and kick ass!” she said with a wink. He nodded and disappeared into the courtroom.
We then exited the courthouse altogether. Esme and I had come by car, and Rogue had apparently flown there. But we invited her to drive back with us. She agreed. I knew it was still a few days before it was my turn to testify. Rogue said that Agent Kramer would probably spend at least 2 days on the stand as he’s the lead investigator in this whole case. There’s a ton of paperwork and Ashley’s giant list of charges to go through and process. So according to Rogue, it won’t be until the following week before I get to go up there and tell my story. The whole family promised to be there, as did all of the Watchers. I have no idea where the heck they will fit everyone. But at least I get to enjoy a few more days before reliving that nightmare on the stand.
In the coming days, the others would testify about everything they knew, saw, and experienced. Because Ashley poisoned pretty much everyone accept Carol, Shandy, and Bill, there was a lot to talk about when it came to her favorite poison of choice; arsenic. As each testified and left the stand, they said it was like lifting a giant boulder off their shoulders. It took longer than a week to go through all of those people before me. The 4 poisoned nurses had just finished up their testimony, which was short compared to some of the others. I knew that the following day it was going to be me on that stand. Oh boy.
As Rogue had said previously; ShowTime!
To be continued . . .
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The day after Rogue told me, told all of us, that I was asked to testify in court against Ashley, I was still trying to figure out what was to be done and said. I obviously had to do it; there wasn’t exactly an out. I had to testify. I told Rogue I would do it and the rest of the family looked on worriedly. She called Scott Kramer and told him to relay my message and consent to the prosecutor. Now we had to wait and see what would happen. We knew that Ashley was in the county jail awaiting the start of the trial. The prosecutor had over 400 pages of the indictment ready for the judge to read. She had already been found competent to stand trial. Her attorney had tried to get the grand jury to rule that she was legally insane, but the fact that she had done this in multiple states and was convicted in both, threw that notion out. Now she was going to stand trial.
Meanwhile, our Denali cousins had left. Marcus left with them as he and Tanya were now all but inseparable. I had a feeling there was going to be another wedding soon. Alice was all but jumping out of her skin with joy of that prospect. Marcus was very grateful for everything we had done for him. He’d had lengthy conversations with Alexander and they had gone on quite a few walks together prior to his leaving. So the neighborhood was a bit quieter but not by much. When you have Watchers and Wolves plus some Vampires, quiet is not something that happens often.
What made this upcoming trial bearable is the new gift that Rogue bestowed upon us: the ability to digest, taste, and enjoy food and beverage. My family and I went to the grocery store and stocked up for the first time ever. Then Esme and I went to the wine store and bought some amazing wine. We plan to go wine tasting after this trial is over. When we had the Watchers and Wolves over for dinner, everyone was able to eat and drink. We had hunted the previous week and were full that way, but it was still nice to enjoy a few glasses of wine and enjoy some of Esme’s exceptional cooking. On this particular night she made lasagna, Greek salad, eggplant parmesan, and garlic bread. For dessert she made tiramisu and an apple pie. Everything tasted absolutely heavenly.
I have determined that my favorite things to eat are green apples, chips and salsa, lasagna, and green tea ice cream. I also love semi-sweet red wine. I never thought I’d utter those words again after being turned. Being so used to saying that my favorite type of food was a nice juicy lion or bear was normal. But having a perfectly grilled steak or filet mignon is definitely a new thing for us all. Rogue, it turns out, was a great cook and Alexander would often brag about her cooking. She made killer stuffed peppers. They were absolutely delicious when she made them for us. As soon as Esme tasted them, she immediately wanted the recipe, which Rogue jotted down for her.
Getting down to business, Rogue told me that I had an appointment with the prosecutor and she said not to worry because he was just going to prepare me for the trial so I would know what to expect. So the next day, I got up, put on a suit, and made sure I looked like the consummate professional. I got into my car and drove downtown to the office of the District Attorney (DA). My appointment was at 10 a.m. When I got there, I parked, walked into the building, which looked like a very modern office building made out of primarily glass, and after checking in with the guard and going through the metal detector, I took the elevator to the 5th floor. After that I walked into the office, said who I was and sat down. I didn’t even have to wait 5 minutes when the DA walked out and introduced himself.
“Dr. Cullen, thank you very much for coming. My name is Christopher Allen and I will be trying this case.”
“Thank you Mr. Allen. Anything I could do to help.” We shook hands.
“Please follow me. We have everyone set up in the big conference room.”
“Everyone?” I asked as I followed him.
Before I could get the answer I was seeking, we had gotten to the conference room which was all see through because of all the glass and I saw some familiar people sitting there. As soon as they saw me, their eyes lit up and they all stood up; before me were Bill Connolly, Betsy, Melanie, Shandy, Carol, and Charlotte. I walked into the room and walked over to Charlotte first. I was so thrilled to see her here even under these circumstances. I could tell she was still very slim and limping a bit but her eyes were shining again and her face was split into an ear to ear grin. I felt like she was another one of my children. As we hugged, I saw Betsy wipe tears away. We all remembered the night we almost lost this sweet, sweet girl.
“Well howdy, Dr. Cullen. Fancy meeting you here,” Charlotte greeted me with her usual bright sense of humor. Everyone laughed, even the DA.
“Hi, Charlotte. It’s so good to see you. How are you feeling?” I asked.
“Eh, well you know—getting stronger each day,” she replied with a smile.
“Well that’s wonderful to hear. Does that mean you will be coming back to the hospital or have you decided to stay in Texas?” I asked tentatively.
“Naw, I can’t stay in Texas . . . too hot, remember? No I’m coming back here. Now I kind of have to anyways,” she said with a little wink to the others.
“What do you mean kind of have to?” I asked, puzzled. She hesitated for a fraction of a second and then stuck out her left hand on which I saw a diamond ring.
“Ben proposed! We’re getting married!” She was absolutely beaming.
“Oh my dear, that’s wonderful! Congratulations!” I said hugging her again.
“Thank you so much!”
Then the DA cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry to interrupt this but we really need to get down to business. There’s much preparation to be had before the trial.”
“Yes of course,” Bill spoke up. I quickly walked around shaking hands and hugging those in the room before taking my seat at the table. I was sitting between Charlotte and Bill.
The DA than began to speak. “I want you all to be prepared for what will happen in the court room. Ms. Cunningham will not be able to harm you or touch you as she will be shackled to the floor and table. She may scream something out but will be quickly removed if that happens. Do not be afraid of her. I will ask you questions regarding everything you saw and experienced. Do not leave anything out.”
He then proceeded to pass out a paper with questions on it. We all looked at them very carefully. I know I read each one at least twice before I refocused on Mr. Allen.
“These are the questions I will be asking you. I want you to familiarize yourselves with them. They are standard questions. Nothing out-there. However, when it’s time for cross examination, the defense will try its best to discredit you or throw you off track. They may even become belligerent. Your greatest impact is to stay cool, calm, and collective. Remember, the truth is on your side. We have a mountain of evidence but we need witness accounts, too. I know that Rose Melanides will also testify. I will call her to the stand first so you can understand what it will look like. From what I gathered from Agent Kramer, Mrs. Melanides is a former FBI agent and that will greatly help our case as her record with the bureau is absolutely spotless and she has testified in many cases previously.”
He took a sip of water that was in a Poland Springs bottle in front of him. We all had bottles in front of us as well as pens and yellow pads in case we wanted to take notes. I saw that Bill, Betsy, and Charlotte were diligently writing on their pads as the DA spoke.
Mr. Allen continued. “As you know we have her on tape pretty much confessing to you Dr. Cullen of practically every crime. We have her interrogation by Agent Kramer, all of your eye witness accounts. Not to mention the horrendous attack on Charlotte, and I’m so sorry that you will have to relive that on the stand but it’s the only way.”
“I understand. I want her gone,” Charlotte said gravely.
“And that’s what we are aiming for. I am not going for anything less than the death penalty on this one. We are also calling to the stand the three residents who found you in the parking lot after the attack and another very important witness is the patient Mr. Yang who survived Ms. Cunningham’s attempt on his life. As he has yet to be discharged from the hospital, he has graciously agreed to a video conference during the trial. I still want to speak with the judge on that one. Perhaps if the patient just gave a deposition as opposed to actually being present, even via video. I do not want his health to suffer,” Mr. Allen said thoughtfully.
At that point he let us just take in everything he had said and process it. Afterwards, we all stood up and shook hands. He understood that we needed time to review everything and prepare properly. He also said that if at any time we had any questions to call him; he gave us each his business card which even had his cell phone number on it. This man was very dedicated to his job and he wanted to make sure this case was closed once and for all.
After we left the office we stood in the parking lot trying to digest everything. We agreed that we would get together after trial as we had been asked not to speak to each other about it. No one wanted to give the defense ammo that we had practiced or made something up. We all wanted to have the trial go off without a hitch. So after hugging everyone, I got back into my car and looked at the clock. It was 1 p.m. We’d been in there for 3 hours. Talk about time flying by. I knew very much what I wanted to do and that was to go home.
I drove barely above the speed limit and when I pulled into the driveway, I sighed with relief. I sat there behind the wheel with the car turned off until I heard tapping on the window. I hadn’t realized that I was lost in thought still sitting in the car. When I looked up I saw that it was Esme, looking at me with concern. I smiled and got out. First thing I did was give my wife a real big hug and a very long very intense kiss. Then we walked back into the house where I headed straight to the kitchen, a location I almost never entered prior to Rogue’s little gift, and opened the refrigerator. There on of the shelves, in a Tupperware container, were two stuffed peppers left over from when Rogue cooked for us. While I got them out and warmed them in the microwave, Esme poured us both a glass of wine.
Then as I toasted my wife and as I chewed on the absolutely mouthwatering peppers, I explained to Esme everything that had happened that morning and what I had to do for the upcoming trial.
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***Hey guys! If you want to make the stuffed peppers mentioned, I’m attaching the recipe in the link below! It’s one of my best known dishes. Hope you enjoy it too! Bon appetite! ~xoxo Olga <3
The Watchers are home! And they brought Tanya and Marcus back from their hunt. When they flew in, it was one hell of a sight to see. Edward said that Tanya was thinking that it looked like an armada of warriors flying in a tight formation. It was also cool how they brought the other two home. It seemed that their hunt had gone awfully well considering the fact that they were not only standing very close to each other, but they were holding hands.
I think Irina’s message was dead on. I really hope nothing but the very best for Tanya and Marcus. They deserve to find happiness. I’m very glad that they were able to put their pasts to rest. I knew that they would soon be leaving. So we wanted to spend as much time with them as we could. We had heard from Carmen and Eleazer since and Tanya explained that we had figured it out on this end. Amazingly Zafrina had come to the very same conclusion as we all did regarding why Irina had come to Tanya. She had a special message and she wanted her to move toward the one man who could make her truly happy and leave the sadness behind: Marcus.
As soon as the Watchers touched down, everyone ran and hugged one another. Nessie squealed when she saw Michelle. Those two hugged until I thought they would pass out from not breathing. I watched from the porch and Rogue stood a little ways away and watched as well. She was smiling and her eyes were full of ancient wisdom. What I thought at that moment was how even keeled she and I were. I was considered the patriarch of my family while she was the leader of the Watcher armada. When our eyes met, she read my mind and smiled in answer. I walked off the porch at that point and walked over to her; we hugged each other without speaking. Sometimes words were just not needed.
I shook hands with Alexander and made my rounds ending with Michelle, who opened her hand and gave me a little marble elephant she had gotten in Africa. The Watchers had brought us each a gift of some sort that had elephants included in them. Apparently, elephants were considered symbols of good fortune and luck in Africa as well as other parts of the world. We all loved our gifts and said thank you. Who would say no to a symbol of good luck? Lord knows with everything that was always happening in our lives, we could use all the luck the world could provide under the circumstances.
Other than Michelle and Nessie, the other two who seemed to be incredibly happy to see each other were Alexander and Marcus. The two cousins were off to the side talking. With the sheer amount of people in our front yard, you couldn’t hear what they were talking about. Corin and Seth were holding hands and talking excitedly. Keith was off to the side waiting for Leah and Bella to return from their walk, which happened a few minutes after the Watchers return. As soon as the two ladies broke through the forest and Leah saw Keith, she shot away from Bella’s side like a bullet out of a gun and bolted into Keith’s waiting embrace. Bella walked at a slightly faster pace with a smile. She was happy Keith was home too; she knew how much Leah had missed him. Wolves without their imprints were not themselves and though she tried to keep Leah’s mind occupied as much as possible, she still knew how lonely she felt. Leah of course appreciated Bella’s efforts immensely.
Now that everyone was together again, Esme called on Bella and Rose to help her in the kitchen to create a welcome home feast for our arrivals. After planting kisses on Edward and Emmett respectively, the two smiled at each other and flew into the kitchen after Esme. Since it was a beautiful day, Edward, Jasper, Emmett, and I brought out tables and chairs to have the meal outside. Alice grabbed Nessie and Michelle to help her decorate for an impromptu gathering. In an hour everything was ready; the food made, decorations which consisted of a zillion candles hanging from trees, little sconce like shapes also adorning and crisscrossing overhead, and soft New Age music playing from our backyard invisible speakers. Everyone who ate was sitting at the tables next to their significant others and chatting away while we vampires sat at the tables, also chatting while the others indulged in the amazing food Esme and the ladies prepared.
Amy and Peter brought back wine from South Africa that they wanted to have the wolves try. Edward even let Nessie have a bit since Michelle had a glass as well. It was Nessie’s first taste of wine. Just then Rogue stood up with a glass of wine. She came over and brought it to me. Before handing me the glass, she waved her hand over it and something sparkly and shiny fell into the glass. Whatever it was dissolved instantly. She handed the wine glass to me. I looked at her with raised eyebrows. She, better than anyone, knew that vampires can’t eat or drink human food because of the fact that our bodies don’t absorb it. But she persisted. So I took the glass with everyone staring at me. Well everyone but the Watchers, who were watching with little knowing smiles on their faces.
The thing that surprised me first was that usually human food or beverages don’t smell pleasant to me but this wine, smelled well, like wine. I took a sip of it and was absolutely stunned when, instead of tasting like a nasty sweet beverage, it tasted like pleasant semi-sweet wine. It was the first time I had wine since being turned. Oh my lord! But how? How did Rogue do it? Everyone else, all the vampires and werewolves—well anyone who wasn’t a Watcher or Peter—were staring at me as my face must have gone through the gambit of expressions and emotions.
Edward spoke first. “Carlisle? Are you saying that actually tasted like wine to you?” He all but whispered in shock.
“Yes, it tastes like wine. And pretty good wine, I might add, if my memory still serves me,” I said, and took another sip.
“Can I try?” Bella asked.
She was the last out of all the vampires in attendance to be turned so she would definitely remember this better than the rest of us. So I handed her the glass and she took a sip.
“Holy crow! This does taste exactly like wine! Rogue, what did you do to it?” she asked, looking at our cheeky Watcher leader who was giggling nearby.
“Oh come on now. I can’t be giving all of my secrets away now,” Rogue said with a giggle.
“All of your secrets?? We don’t know any of them other than the fact that you’re super woman,” Seth squeaked nearby, only to be shushed by a laughing Corin.
“So what does this mean exactly?” I asked uncertainly.
“Well, after speaking with everyone else, I’ve decided to give you guys a choice. Basically, I can make it so that you can actually consume human food without being revolted or having the need to throw up. It won’t fill you and you’ll still need blood to sustain yourselves but at least it’ll make you fit in more with humans. You won’t always have to avoid the food situation anymore. Of course it’s up to you. It’ll also make cooking for Esme, Bella, and Rose a lot easier since they can now taste what they are cooking and not just guess that it’ll taste good. You can enjoy human food and the only difference is that, unlike the wolves, us, or Nessie, human food won’t fill you. You will still need to hunt. But at least you can enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and then to relax,” Rogue explained as we all listened with our mouths all but hanging open.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Actually none of us could. For centuries and millennia even if you count Marcus, we’ve all assumed that eating human food would never be possible again. And here we had the opportunity to feel more ‘alive,’ if you will.
I looked at my family as in all of my family and we all took a few minutes to decide. The Denali’s were okay without this new advantage as they never went out into the human world much as is, with Alaska being so remote and all. Besides, Carmen and Eleazer were not with us and couldn’t take part in this new prospect. Rogue said that if they changed their minds, they’d be more than happy to fly out and do what needed to be done. Everyone agreed to this.
Which reminded me: what, exactly, did she have to do to bestow us with this new element of ourselves? Rogue reading my mind as always just asked all of us vampires who wished to partake in this little ceremony to come stand in a circle and hold hands. My whole family came together and we held hands. Rogue stood in the middle of our circle. She put her palms together in an almost prayer like position and then lifted her hands just like that toward the sky. She closed her eyes and suddenly she began to glow. Brighter than we’ve ever seen her glow before; she was glowing this very yellow gold color. All of a sudden we felt this glow envelope us all. I could hear a cell phone going off in the distance but no one was reaching for it. Everyone just sat there transfixed at the glowing orb of light that surrounded the Cullen clan.
It felt like you were being showered with sparkles. That’s what it felt and looked like. I sort of understood now what she had done with the glass of wine because she was doing the same to us now. We were her glasses of wine. She was changing us, some part of our vampire DNA, to allow for us to be more human even if in this small part. I know that a few people within our circle were thinking the same because I saw more than one person with tears glistening in their eyes. Than the glow disappeared and we were able to see each other and Rogue fully again. We were all given a piece of garlic bread to test if whatever mojo she put into us was working. I remember smelling the garlic bread and it smelled divine. I was the first to bite into it and what do you know: it tasted delicious. The others followed suit and closed their eyes, as if they had died and gone to heaven.
Food tasted like food! It didn’t taste nasty and disgusting anymore! Now if I felt like having an apple just to enjoy the taste of it, I could! The wonders never cease when it comes to the Watchers. Finally, we all became aware of the incessant ringing of a cellphone, which turned out to be Rogue’s. The ringtone she had for it was Guns N Roses, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Apparently she loved Slash’s guitar riff at the beginning, so that’s what was repeating itself over and over again. She frowned as she picked it up and looked at the number. Her eyes looked very serious and concentrating as she stepped away to answer the call.
According to Edward, he couldn’t read her mind as she had blocked him off. So something was up. But we couldn’t focus on that because we were all too busy tasting everything at the table and each time a new flavor hit, our taste buds would sing with joy. It was quite an adventure. Everyone was enjoying themselves and/or laughing at our reactions except for Amy and Corin. They were fully concentrating on Rogue. I guess that’s what happens when you are second and third in command of a powerful leader. If something seems off, no matter how happy and jubilant the surroundings are, you are always on alert. It’s not even that she said or did something that got their attention; it was just that they were so used to it that it was like second nature to them. The other Watchers including Alexander paid them no mind. Everyone was used to this. If something was to happen, Rogue would tell them so they just continued to laugh at us the whole time.
When Rogue got off the phone she came back to us. Her face was serious and thoughtful. Everyone stopped talking and looked at her.
She sighed, looked at me, and said, “I think it’s a good thing that I did this with you guys now because you are going to need that whole bottle of wine as soon as I’m done telling you what’s doing, Carlisle.” Before I could ask what she meant by that she continued. “That was Scott Kramer. Remember him? The FBI agent I worked with? Well he just called because Ashley has been extradited back here to stand trial for her crimes here. She’s already gone to trial in both Oregon and California. Well, they weren’t trials because she pleaded guilty for a lesser sentence. Oregon gave her 5-10 years, California 25 to life with the possibility of parole, and here the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty. Both states agreed to let her come here for the final trial. The absolute minimum that she can get here is life without the possibility of parole, and that’s what her defense attorney wants. But the prosecutor isn’t buying the plea bargain. They aren’t offering her anything. Reason I’m telling you all this, is because the prosecutor wants you to testify against her. He will be calling on Charlotte, Betsy, Bill Connolly, Melanie, Carol, and Shandy from the hospital as well. Scott wants me to take the stand just to put that last nail in her coffin so to speak.”
As I listened to her explain the whole litany of legal lingo, I can’t say I was surprised. I knew sooner or later this was going to happen. And she was absolutely right; I will need that bottle of wine which Edward handed me without hesitation. Everyone was frowning now. It never ceases to amaze me how one phone call or one thought can make such a wonderful evening go from pleasant to unpleasant in the matter of seconds. I poured myself the glass and sat there staring into the distance and remembering again all that nastiness as it happened. I knew I would have to give Rogue an answer soon enough. I didn’t want to be subpoenaed by the prosecutor.
But for now I just stared at the growing twilight, lost in thought, and sipped the exquisite red South African wine.
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Having Marcus here has been interesting. He’s gone hunting with us a few different times and with different sets of people. All have agreed that he’s a natural. As we get to know him better, we’re finding a lot of really cool things behind the façade. I really want to find out more about his history from the beginning but I know that it would remind him of Didyme and that’s still a pretty sore subject so I’m leaving well enough alone. The other day we were hanging around the backyard; well most of us anyways. The Denali’s were still here. Leah and Bella went on their usual hike. Nessie had gone to the Dartmouth campus to learn how to take photos with Rose and Alice. That left the rest of us to just chill.
Emmett and Jacob were wrestling while Seth acted as the referee. Jasper and Edward were busy arguing politics with Garrett. Kate and Esme were looking on and rolling their eyes at the men, while Esme was showing Kate her by now dog-eared crocheting book that Alice had gotten her in Japan. I was alone on the porch sitting in a rocking chair I had recently purchased. I usually don’t buy or pick out furniture on my own but I was walking downtown with Marcus as part of his test of being around humans and not wanting to eat them; he passed with flying colors. But I digress. So we were walking along and in one of those vintage stores, I noticed this beautiful oak rocking chair. We went in and after purchasing it, brought it home much to the surprise of Esme. But she fell in love with it instantly. So now I was enjoying my book, on the porch, in my new chair.
Tanya was sitting on our two person swing in the backyard by herself, but what got my attention was that very soon Marcus joined her. He was very hesitant. I really hope Tanya would give him the benefit of the doubt. Having super hearing meant everyone could hear everyone’s conversations, but we always tried to ignore so people could at least get some sort of privacy. When Marcus walked over to Tanya he spoke first startling her; she was lost in thought.
“Is this seat taken?” Marcus asked Tanya quietly.
“Ah . . . no . . . no, it’s not,” she stammered.
“Yeah . . . s-sure.”
“Thank you.” He sat next to her.
They were both quiet for a while, while the rest of us continued with what we were doing. Emmett and Jacob’s grunting and yelling drowned out any conversation anyways.
“I . . . uh . . . wanted to tell you that I was very impressed with your hunting skills,” Marcus told her. He looked at her sideways as if afraid to even turn to her.
“Really? Thanks. It’s nothing special,” Tanya said with a shrug.
“I would have to politely disagree,” Marcus said with a small smile.
“You know, you should smile a lot more—it really lightens up your face,” Tanya said softly and then looked down.
“Thank you. I will try. When I’m in your presence, smiling comes easily,” he said boldly. If Tanya could have blushed she would have.
Then Marcus stopped. He frowned and realized that he was vibrating. His phone was in his pocket again and it was going off. He fished it out and looked at it.
“It’s Alexander,” he said to Tanya then picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Marcus, it’s time to tell them,” Alexander said on the other end. That got all of our attention. Everyone stopped what we were doing and looked at Marcus with raised eyebrows.
“Are you sure?” Marcus asked clearly unsure.
“Yes. It will help you with your future.”
“All right, I will.”
“And please tell Carlisle that we will be home in a few days.”
I nodded that I heard.
“Where are you anyways?” Marcus asked for all of us.
“Whoa.” Said Jacob. Then they hung up. And Marcus looked at us.
“What did he want you to tell us, Marcus?” I asked quietly looking concerned.
“It’s nothing bad . . . well it’s nothing bad about me. OK, that didn’t sound right either . . . ” Marcus was trying to figure it out in his mind while we waited patiently.
“Take your time,” I told him gently. He took a deep breath and got off the swing. It’s as if he didn’t want to make Tanya feel uncomfortable.
Then he finally spoke. “What Alexander wanted me to tell you, is that he and I are related.” He allowed a moment for that to sink in. When we were all breathing again, or at least blinking, he continued. “I am his great cousin times 5, basically, as Alexander is 532 years older than me. That is why he hated the Volturi more than any of the other Watchers. He hated Aro with a passion because I was the last surviving human in his bloodline and Aro turned me, effectively ending the bloodline and any chances of continuing his ancestry. Aro’s last name was Volturi. I don’t remember if Caius had one. My last name isn’t Volturi, it’s Melanides, just like Alexander’s. So that makes me Marcus Melanides. When I joined the Volturi and the Watchers came to us that very first time, or at least it was the first time I saw them. Alexander knew instantly that we were related and he nearly killed Aro right there and then. If it wasn’t for Didyme who begged for Alexander to spare Aro’s life, he might have killed him then. So Aro was safe and well, you know the rest. What did Didyme get for saving her brother’s life? Her own death because she loved me.”
He finished that last sentence with a whisper. His eyes had filled with tears and he turned away. We were all just trying to process everything that Marcus had just told us. Dear lord. Marcus was innocent. A total innocent! All these years all he did was exist because his reason for living was taken so cruelly away from him; he never left the Volturi because he had nowhere else to go. He wasn’t ready to give up the lifestyle so he didn’t join Alexander. That’s technically all that his crimes had entailed. But many of our closest friends still feed on humans. I knew then that Marcus was just a body, an empty shell when he was with the Volturi. He never actually wanted to kill anyone. He was just there because of Aro’s ability to manipulate and one of Aro’s gifted member’s ability to cut ties of families.
At that moment I looked at Tanya who was coming to the same conclusion as I was. She squared her shoulders and walked over to him. He still had his back to us as he was fighting back tears that would never fall. She put her hand on his shoulder. He knew it was her and turned to look at her. His face was unsure like he was afraid what he would see. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Marcus had fallen in love with Tanya.
Her face though still conflicted, had genuine compassion in it. She was feeling really bad for Marcus. Edward nodded at me, meaning my thinking was correct. She couldn’t combine him with the Volturi anymore; none of us could. He was their puppet used to show their power until they had gotten enough gifted members. They were even worse than we originally thought. I think we were all once again thankful that the Watchers had gotten rid of them. They were like parasites!
Marcus and Tanya were still standing there and looking at each other. At that point, Tanya realized she was thirsty and decided to go hunting.
“Carlisle, I’m going to go hunting. Marcus, would you like to join me?”
He looked surprised, but nodded. We let them go alone. I knew they needed the time to themselves. Tanya turned toward the forest and ran with Marcus, only hesitating for a split second and then running after her.
The rest of us sat back, all lost in thought in silence. We all knew that the one thing about life, or even our own life, is that every single day you learn something new. Learning was a part of living and we were all glad we had learned what we did that afternoon. Even though it did leave us at a loss for words as we all went through every encounter with the Volturi. I know I saw a lot of things through different eyes now. The revelation was astounding but at the same not really surprising. At least this piece was good news.
It also meant that Tanya had to figure out what her feelings were for Marcus and I knew she had them. A nod from Edward meant he knew, too. Edward was finally let in on what had transpired with Tanya seeing Irina so he wouldn’t be feeling completely out of the loop. That’s not something he’s accustomed to. A grunt from Edward confirmed my suspicions. Thinking back to Marcus and the fact that he’s survived thus far the way he has gave me a new sense of warmth toward him. It will be great when the Watchers return. He seems to feel comfort being around Rogue and Alexander in particular. Well it makes sense now considering he and Alexander are related.
Meanwhile, my family and I are just taking everything in . . . one day at a time.
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Holy crap! Marcus! I know I was not the only with the stunned expression. As everyone stood frozen, someone had to say something. I realized that someone would have to be me.
“Marcus! Um . . . I’m sorry for the silence but it’s just so shocking to see you here,” I finally managed to get out, trying to shake the cobwebs that seemed to have blocked a path between my brain and mouth.
“I’m sorry, Carlisle. I didn’t mean to startle you or your family. I’ve been coming this way for a while. I finally made up my mind after speaking with Rogue,” Marcus answered still holding his hands up towards the wolves.
“You spoke with Rogue? When?” Edward asked.
“A week ago I would say. I finally got the handle on those cell phone things. She had come by to see me when she was in Greece resting. She told me about the Children of the Moon. Nasty business, that. So she gave me her number and told me to call her if I needed anything. I always admired her. Alexander is a very lucky man. So I called her a week ago and she said that she and the others were leaving and I could come see you,” he explained.
At that point before we continued to question him, I waved off the wolves so Marcus wouldn’t be so stilted. He nodded toward me and relaxed as the wolves sauntered back into the forest to phase back and put some clothes on. We were also joined by the others from their hike, and to say they were surprised to see Marcus, was an understatement.
Just looking at Marcus made me think a lot has changed since we last saw him. For starters his hair was a lot shaggier looking, and it also appeared shorter. He looked like he had a bit of stubble on his face; he probably drew it or had something put on that was fake. Whatever it was, it looked pretty authentic. He was wearing a white shirt with rolled up sleeves about 1/4th up each arm. He wore jeans that looked slightly faded and they were tucked into tan cowboy boots. He had a chain of some sort around his neck and a leather bracelet on one wrist and a watch with a leather strap on the other. A picture of the before and after is below.
Marcus was actually looking modernized and quite handsome. Edward heard my thoughts and nodded his agreement.
Marcus’ eyes were pitch black, however, and that worried me. Why hadn’t he fed? Finally, I invited Marcus into the house. We were doing what Jacob would often describe as “standing around like freaking statues.” It was time to sit down and hear the rest of this story as, obviously, there was more of it or he wouldn’t have come here. Once everyone was inside and seated or comfortable at least we waited for Marcus to tell us what he was doing here. Emmett and Jasper still stood by him just in case he would try something though it seemed highly unlikely considering how outnumbered he was.
“I know you are wondering what I’m doing here. I obviously haven’t come to harm you. Actually, I have decided to leave Greece altogether. There is nothing for me there anymore. I can’t live there because it reminds me of Didyme and I can’t go back to Volterra because that’s not home either. So after careful consideration, I decided to try something new. I wanted to come here and learn from you, Carlisle.” He gestured toward me.
“What do you mean?” Bella asked.
“I want to try this ‘vegetarian’ lifestyle of yours. I realized that you were right all along, Carlisle. When you first came to us all those centuries ago and tried to persuade us to change our food—so to speak—we should have listened. I should have listened. Killing humans for their blood isn’t good enough for me anymore. That’s why my eyes are pitch black. I haven’t fed in a long time. I couldn’t stomach anymore what I used to eat,” he said. We were all astonished by this revelation of course.
“What made you have your epiphany?” Tanya, who was standing next to Kate, asked curiously.
He glanced at her as if for the first time. “Well it happened in Greece, actually. I was out hunting and realized that I would have to cross a river to get back to my home. There were boats I could take but I realized I had no money with me. A kind, old human man granted me access to his boat so I could return home. He saw my red eyes but pretended he didn’t. I had a feeling he knew what I was. This man risked his life ferrying a vampire across the river for free just out of the goodness of his heart. I thought about it all the way across that river. My God . . . what have we been doing all these millennia? We’ve been destroying families! That’s when it all changed for me.”
I know we were all processing what Marcus was saying. He actually wanted to become a vegetarian. Wow! Talk about a 180. Of course I was willing to teach him if he was willing to learn.
“All right Marcus. I’m definitely willing to help you with that. As you are in obvious need of immediate feeding. So we’ll take you—um Edward, Emmett . . . and erm . . . Tanya?”
I don’t know why I mentioned Tanya’s name but it’s as if something told me that that was the right thing to do. Great. Now I’m hearing things too? Tanya looked up at me surprised but then nodded like it seemed logical for her, too, all of a sudden. I could see the wheels turning in her head. Wonder what was on her mind? So when everyone assembled it was Edward, Emmett, Seth decided to go in wolf form, Tanya, Marcus, and myself; we walked outside of the house after quick hugs and kisses from family. I could tell more than one person was anxious about this little outing of ours.
Then we took off running. I was in the lead with Marcus in the middle surrounded by Edward, Emmett, and Seth. Tanya was running sort of between Marcus and me. Marcus understood he was totally surrounded by some of the most powerful members of our family because until he was fed properly, we were still weary of him. No matter how docile he was, as he always was actually, none of us could forget that he was once a member of the Volturi. And they had caused us pain and suffering. They nearly cost us our very lives if it wasn’t for the intervention of Rogue and her Watchers.
I got the feeling that he wanted to start fresh. And he did reveal that he had always voted against our destruction but because of the other two “chuckleheads” (Seth’s phrase) was always overruled. We, unlike the Volturi, gave second chances to people. Especially if they proved trustworthy.
The thing about Marcus was that, the other two were always in charge and barking orders that none of us really ever got to know Marcus alone as his own individual self. I think he came here partly because of the whole ‘trying something new’ and also because he wanted companionship from people he admired but could never get close to because of the other two “numb-nuts” (Jacob’s phrase). Soon enough my thoughts were interrupted with Edward saying we’ve come to a prime location for lions, deer, and bears . . . oh my!
“All right, well let’s start here. You’ll watch how Carlisle does it and let your instincts take over,” Edward began explaining.
“Now watch me and follow what I do,” I added, as I closed my eyes and focused on the sweet smell of a nice juicy bear about a mile to our west then I took off running after it. It just sat there as we all approached. I had the others climb up the trees and hang out up there while I stalked the bear. It felt that danger was near and it stood up on its hind legs and roared. Yeah OK . . . nice try there Yogi but you’re no match for me. Then I flew out from my perch and tackled it to the ground. I latched on to its neck and drained it dry. Very soon it was lying on the ground, lifeless.
Edward chuckled from his perch on the tree. When everyone looked up at him, he pointed to Seth who was perched high on a boulder and said, “Seth was just thinking that now that bear is dead, we can use him for a rug in one of the cottages.”
Everyone laughed. Good ole Seth could let out tension in any situation like air out of a balloon.
“Good one, Seth!” Emmett was on the ground in seconds and bumped his fist to Seth’s nose.
“All right gentlemen and lady,” I said nodding toward Tanya, who smiled.
She and Marcus were perched on the same tree only different sides. I noticed something interesting then. Marcus couldn’t keep his eyes off of Tanya. Well he was trying very hard in fact. He didn’t want her to catch him staring but a few times she did and I could tell that there was major conflict on her face. It made me for a second think about the message Irina had given Tanya last time she visited her: ‘Don’t be afraid to love. Even someone who seems unlovable.’ Is this what she meant? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I could tell Edward’s eyes were all but bugging out of his head. Oh right . . . he wasn’t around when we had that conversation. I shook my head like not now.
“All right, Marcus, so do you have any questions or do you want me to show you again, though granted I’m full but maybe someone else can,” Seth grunted and that was a no brainer really.
“I’d like to see one more time and then I can try for sure,” Marcus said cautiously.
“Any volunteers?” I asked.
“I’ll do it.” Tanya surprised me by flying out of the tree as if she was shot from a slingshot. I don’t think she was particularly comfortable with Marcus just yet. Especially with all that staring.
“Alright Tanya . . . what’s on your menu today?” I asked with a wink and she giggled. Edward just then turned to Marcus with a puzzled expression on his face. Whatever Marcus was thinking got him really confused. Poor Edward he is really out of the loop.
“Ummm, I think I’ll try a lion.” All of the men whistled with appreciation. “What? You think girls can’t wrestle a little itty bitty lion? Isn’t this the 21st century? Women’s lib and all?”
Everyone laughed. Then Tanya bolted south and we all ran after her. When we smelled a lion nearby, we all got back up on the trees and Seth found a giant log to perch himself on. This time Tanya took over stalking the creature. And stalking was the best way to describe it. I mean it looked a bit like a seductive dance with the beast. And just like that it was all over, she attacked him with a speed of a lightning bolt. He didn’t stand a chance. She was very proud of herself when she was done; so much in fact that she drop-kicked the lions body into the forest.
“Any questions?” she asked dusting her hands off and looked at her appreciative and awestruck audience. The awestruck member of the audience was Marcus.
“So Marcus, what about it? Want to try?” Emmett asked.
“Might as well. I will definitely not be anywhere as good as you. So please let me know if I’m not doing something right.” Ironically he was looking at Tanya the whole time he spoke and then he finally looked at me very nervously.
I clapped him on the back and said, “Don’t worry, just use your instincts. It’s not human blood but it’s blood nonetheless so your body will still crave it. Now close your eyes and try to take in everything you hear.”
Marcus did as he was told and his eyes flew open moments later and he pointed to the north. “Are those deer?” he whispered to me.
“Correct!” I smiled and we all took off running with him leading the way and me running beside him.
Once we nailed the location of the deer, we took to the trees and boulder for Seth as it was Marcus’ turn to take over. He hesitated only for a second and then attacked with extraordinary speed and strength. He was proving to be a fast learner. He drained all 7 deer before he was done. He had gotten some blood on his white shirt but nothing to cry home about. He did fantastic. As he looked up at us, his pitch black eyes were now slowly turning gold like ours. And he sighed, closed his eyes, and just stood there as he took in the sensations of becoming strong again but with a different food source. One that was acceptable to him now. Then he opened his eyes and smiled up at us triumphantly. We all came back to the ground after that and each of us came and shook hands with him. He definitely proved he was willing to learn.
I knew that it would be a few more of these trips before he became 100% comfortable with this hunting process. He was welcome to live in the guest house that we had standing empty on the grounds for now and then who knows where life would take him. But I had a feeling he was going to become a natural in no time. Just then, Marcus’ cellphone rang making all of us jump. He had forgotten to take it out of his pocket. He fished it out and after looking at the number smiled and answered it.
“So how did you do? Are the deer to your liking?” the female voice on the other end asked.
“Actually a lot better than I thought I would. I mean Carlisle nailed a bear and Tanya took down a lion, so mine was very small compared to theirs,” he said modestly.
“Don’t underestimate yourself. You’re headed toward a wonderfully happy life, my friend. Just trust yourself and trust your instincts,” she said. We were still trying to figure out who he was talking to.
“I thought you didn’t use your telling the future power?” Okay, well that was a huge hint . . . he was talking to a Watcher and only one came to mind: Rogue.
“In this case I had to and considering Carlisle had just figured out who you’re talking to, please tell him and the rest of the family we all send our love. We will be home in a bit.” You could tell she was smiling.
“I think he heard you loud and clear. I hope you return soon. I want to talk to you about something,” Marcus said softly.
“Yes, I know.” She chuckled as Marcus rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“Yes, I figured you would. You Watchers can’t let us normal folk alone with all of your powers.” We heard Rogue laugh out loud at that one. It had all of us all smiling.
“All right guys, have fun hunting I got to go, the others are waiting.”
With that they said goodbye and hung up. Marcus shook his head. After 3,000 years of knowing each other, he still couldn’t get a handle on Rogue’s powers. I wondered how long it would take the rest of us. Edward grunted at my thought. I was just really glad the Watchers were on our side. They were the most powerful allies we could have on planet earth! After our hunting trip was over, we headed back toward the house. The others wanted to know what happened so Seth, after phasing back, gave them a play by play. Everyone wowed, especially on Tanya’s kick ass moves. But all were happy Marcus succeeded in his first vegetarian hunting trip.
Then Esme and I took Marcus along with the bag that he was carrying over his shoulder, which we didn’t even notice until we got back. Talk about preoccupation. He said he was carrying some clothes and a few personal items. He figured once he settled permanently somewhere, he could figure out things like clothes and furnishings. Well the clothes thing would have to be expanded while he stayed with us, too. Alice promised to take him shopping, which made a lot of women groan. Bella and Leah actually volunteered to tag along because, for starters, they wanted to keep Alice in check, and secondly, they seemed to understand Marcus’ style and wanted to make sure Alice adhered to that instead of just getting a whole closet full of Gucci and Versace when the poor man just preferred some Levis.
That night with our new guest in his guest room and everyone at their respective homes and rooms, we had a lot to think about. I laid my head on my pillow with Esme next to me. And even though we don’t sleep, I did close my eyes just to rest them. About 20 minutes into my day dream, if you will, who would pop in my head? Irina. She smiled at me, nodded, but didn’t say anything. It was weird but it was like I knew what she was thinking. Finally she did speak: ‘Help her Carlisle. She is afraid of risking it all. Tell her never to give up and to start everything with a clean slate.’
Hmmm . . . now I was sure that she had to be talking about Marcus. I couldn’t push him and Tanya together. It’s something they have to figure out on their own.
But if I have to be the catalyst to making sure Tanya doesn’t make the biggest mistake in her life by running away……so be it. We shall take it a day at a time and see what happens.
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I think it was very brave of Michelle to come to us with her secret. I can understand how hard it must have been to keep it from us. Not everyone is open minded, and there are plenty of ignorant people out there who just like to hate for the hell of hating. Some humans remind me of the Volturi. They wanted to punish and exact pain and harm on people for their own entertainment and pleasure. It’s quite sickening.
But we’re not like that. We treat everyone equally. We were told by Michelle’s parents that Kim may move up here permanently so she can be closer to Michelle. That and the fact that New Hampshire is one of the few states where it’s legal for gay couples to marry—if that is to ever happen between them, of course. I’m sure Alice would get a serious kick out of planning that wedding. Hell, what wedding does she not get a kick out of planning?
Moving on. Our house is a lot more full than it usually is. The Denali clan is visiting. We do these trips back and forth to each other a few times each year. Only Carmen and Eleazer weren’t with us as they had been invited to the Amazon rainforest by Zafrina and Senna. I don’t know what they were doing down there, but they will tell us at some point.
So it’s only Kate, Garrett, and Tanya at our house. Kate and Tanya are pretty used to the wolves by now, and Tanya always has a great time teasing Seth. It makes Leah very happy because now Seth is getting a taste of his own medicine with the practical jokes, and she’s getting a reprieve.
It turned out that this visit was more than a social visit for them. Tanya had been feeling a little out of it and wanted to speak to me in person, as well as in private, about it. So one particular day when everyone was hunting, patrolling, or hiking, she and I sat outside on the porch and had a conversation.
“All right Tanya, what’s been bothering you?” I asked gently.
She sighed and looked out into the distance. “I think I may be losing my mind.”
“What makes you think that?” I asked, surprised.
“I think I’ve been seeing things?”
“Well maybe not necessarily things,” she said cryptically.
“Tanya, I can’t decipher what you’re saying . . . so you’ll have to just come out and say it.”
She looked at me with anguished eyes. I couldn’t understand what she was so afraid to tell me. What she said next stunned me into silence.
“I’ve been seeing Irina. She’s been coming to me,” she said quietly.
I didn’t speak right away because I had to wrap my mind around what she had just said. Irina was killed by the Volturi, everyone remembered that. So if what Tanya said was true—and I knew she wasn’t lying or making it up. It had rattled her enough to come to me in person—then I had to figure this out. There was only one explanation: she was really seeing Irina. That my thought of heaven existing was real. That Irina was in heaven and had some sort of message for her sister.
Before I could say anything, she spoke again. “That’s why Carmen and Eleazer went to see Zafrina. They wanted to know if that type of thing was even possible, and Zafrina is a very spiritual being. If anyone has a connection to that world, it would be her.”
Well that explained the absence of the other two and what they were doing in Brazil. I was very curious as to what they would find out. I always admired Zafrina and I know she and Bella had gotten close when the amazons were here for that battle, when Irina lost her life. We saved Nessie and our family from destruction, but at the price of Irina’s life. So now I wondered about this vision of sorts Tanya was having.
“So when Irina comes to you, what does she tell you? Does she actually say anything?” I asked.
“At first she didn’t say anything. She would just come and stare at me. I wasn’t even sure it was her. And she would always come when I was alone. Never when the others were there. Finally, one day near our house . . . I was just walking around, ironically thinking of her, and all of a sudden she stepped from beyond the forest. I was so startled I literally fell. She walked—no more like floated, over to me and smiled. I instantly felt at peace. I wasn’t afraid anymore. She looked at me and the first words out of her mouth were ‘please forgive me.’
“I told her I wasn’t angry at her. I knew she was talking about what happened before she died. I told her I wasn’t angry, that none of us were. I had gotten off the ground by then. Then she said, ‘I’m all right. I’m safe and happy. I’m with mom.’ That shocked me. She said she was with our mother! That made me instantly happy. She was closest with her. It was what she said next that surprised me. She looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Don’t be afraid to love. Even someone who seems unlovable.’ When I asked her what that meant, she just smiled repeated it and drifted away. Then she vanished. I have no idea what that meant. I still don’t.”
When she finished recounting the event, my mind was racing. I had no idea what that meant, either. ‘Don’t be afraid to love. Even someone who seems unlovable.’
Hmm . . . obviously Irina was trying to give Tanya a message of something that was to happen in the future. But what exactly did it mean? Maybe Zafrina would have an easier time deciphering that. Tanya had come to me to see if my medical expertise could lend a hand in this. But in all the centuries I’ve existed, I’ve never heard of spirits coming to vampires.
The Watchers weren’t home and said they would be gone for a while, so I couldn’t ask them. I had a feeling Rogue would know something about this. Lord knows after walking the earth for around 3,000 years she must have seen and heard it all.
Tanya and I both sat there looking baffled but composed. This was definitely different. Just then, we saw the wolves return. They had phased back and were walking and joking with each other. Suddenly, the smiles on their faces faded and they whirled around to the east. Without warning, all three started to run due east and phased back into wolves almost simultaneously. They disappeared into the forest soon after. Tanya and I looked each other. Wonder what that was about? We both stood up looking wearily into the forest for any signs of danger.
“We have company.” I heard Edward’s voice also come from the east.
He must have heard the wolves thoughts as they raced toward what I understood now was a new scent. He, Emmett, Rose, and Jasper had gone hunting and were just returning when they were nearly run over by the wolves. Kate, Garrett, Bella, Nessie, and Alice went hiking. They were still a good ways away, and I felt good that they wouldn’t be here for whatever, or whoever, was our new visitor. This was sort of like déjà vu from when the Children of the Moon were here.
Edward read my mind and shook his head. “No, the scent belongs to a vampire. He’s alone. The wolves are thinking they recognize the scent but can’t place from where. Looks like he changed course and is running here with the wolves giving chase; he should be entering our backyard in a few seconds.”
Just then a vampire did breakthrough the forest line. We were standing in defensive positions with Jasper and Emmett at the front, prepared for anything. At first none of us recognized him because he looked so different: younger and in different clothes. The wolves came to a halt behind him growling menacingly. He held out his hands to them pleading.
“Please don’t hurt me! I haven’t come here to cause you harm!”
It was when he turned his head to look straight at me and our eyes met that I realized in total shock that I was looking at Marcus!
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Ringing the door bell and waiting for someone to open up was really hard. I had no idea how Ness or her family would take my news, my secret. I’ve had this secret for a long time. I mean, technically it wasn’t a secret as my parents and the other Watchers knew. But ever since the Cullen family has come into our lives—including the wolves—and Nessie became my best friend . . . well, it became a secret.
Nessie opened the door, obviously surprised to see me. I took a deep breath and stepped into the house. My parents had wanted to come with me to support me, but I wanted to do this myself. I was, after all, an adult. Yes, I was seventeen when I was chosen, but that was 500 years ago. So I guess you could say I’m around 517 years old.
I saw the whole Cullen family, plus the wolves, in the living room sitting around. They looked up and welcomed me inside. I sat down on the couch and Ness came up and sat next to me looking concerned. Boy, I hoped they were open minded people.
Carlisle spoke first. “Michelle, do you want us to leave you and Nessie alone?”
“No . . . I mean what I have to say . . . you all need to know. Or rather, I want you to know. Everyone else does.”
“All right then, whenever you’re ready. No rush,” Carlisle said with a comforting smile.
I gulped, then started talking. “Well, I know that Nessie has been feeling like I’m keeping something from her and that I don’t trust her enough to tell her. And half of that is true, and that’s the first part. I do trust you Ness . . . I’m just scared that what I have to say, you won’t accept, and I’ll lose you as my friend,” I said, looking down.
“No way! You haven’t killed anyone in cold blood or harmed someone have you?” Nessie asked me.
“Of course not! Why would you even ask that?” I asked, surprised.
“Because that’s the only thing I won’t accept about you Michelle . . . other than that anything you tell me, I’ll accept.” She spoke surely. I, on the other hand, was not so sure . . . but I knew I was stalling. I had to just spit it out.
“Stop stalling, Michelle. Whatever it is, we can take it,” Leah said. She was sitting on the other side of me.
“Yeah, I am stalling, aren’t I? Well, Nessie you have been noticing that I have been on the phone a lot, texting and speaking with someone. I have. I’m guessing everyone has been thinking I have a boyfriend. It’s something like that. I actually . . . um . . . have a girlfriend. I like girls instead of boys.”
There was silence as I knew they were digesting it.
“So you’re saying you’re a lesbian, basically,” Alice said softly. There it was: the “L” word I was afraid to speak out loud for fear of the reaction. And here Alice just said it.
“Yes, Alice. I am a lesbian,” I said, holding my breath and waiting for their reactions.
“That’s it? That’s the secret you were afraid of telling me . . . telling all of us?” Nessie all but screeched.
I nodded, pressed my lips together. “Yes.”
“OMG, Michelle! I don’t care who you date or who you like or what your preference is! I was scared that you had another best friend or something!”
“No way, Ness! You’re my only best friend,” I said with a small smile.
“Oh goodie!” she clapped her hands like a little girl and everyone laughed. I still had no idea how the rest of the family felt.
That part was answered by Rosalie out of all people. “Michelle, I think I can speak for the rest of my family when I say that it doesn’t matter to us. We accept everyone, regardless of whom they like or who they marry or who they are. I’m sure the wolves feel the same.”
The wolves smiled agreeingly.
“I mean, come on Michelle, you were afraid to ‘come out’ to a bunch of wolves and vampires? Doesn’t that seem a bit strange that you’d think we wouldn’t accept you because of who you like to date?” Seth pointed out.
“Seth is right, you’re in the middle of a supernatural cluster-fuck—pardon my French—and it’s kinda par for the course for things to be different around here,” Jacob explained, and everyone laughed again.
Then Nessie hugged me, followed by Leah, Seth, Jacob, and everyone else. I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it! Or maybe I could. I had been thinking of the worst-case scenario for so long, I never thought about the best possible outcome; that they would actually be all right with it. That Nessie wouldn’t abandon me. I had dealt with homophobia years ago, and since then have been very careful about disclosing that part of my life. But the Cullen family and wolves have become a part of my extended family, so I felt like I had to tell them. Especially now that I had a girlfriend in my life.
“So—tell us!” Nessie said, bringing me back to the present.
“Tell you what?” I asked with a blank stare.
“Tell us about her! What’s her name? What’s she like? Duh!” Nessie rolled her eyes
“Oh, okay. Well, she’s also a Watcher and I’ve known her for the last 15 years, but we’ve only been seeing each other for the last 5. Her name is Kim and she lives in Oklahoma. She was very close to that killer tornado in Moore. Obviously she got the hell out of dodge, but she has also been a volunteer with the Red Cross—so she was one of the first on the scene. That’s how we met originally, through the Red Cross. She is 307 years old. So I’m older in that caliber, but she was chosen at the age of 27 so she looks older,” I explained.
“Oh wow, that’s really cool! Will we ever get to meet her?” Nessie asked curiously.
“Yeah. She said she would come up here once she’s no longer needed in Oklahoma. With all of these tornadoes, it’s a crap-shoot really.”
“It is tornado season,” Jasper explained, speaking for the first time. I almost forgot he was in the room.
I yawned inadvertently. It was time to wrap up the night. “All right, it’s definitely past a lot of people’s bedtimes, apparently. So let’s go get some rest everyone,” Carlisle said, clapping his hands together.
We all got up and Nessie hugged me; I hugged her back. I was very grateful to have met her. Everyone else then lined up to hug me, and Emmett joked that it looked like the receiving line for the president.
I was ready to fly home. Ness and her parents were walking back to their cottage and the wolves were making their way back to theirs. As I stepped outside, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I flew into the air with a huge smile on my face and was ready to get some sleep; stress-free for the first time in a while. It was good to get stuff off your chest.
A picture of Kim and I is below. Hope you like it, and her. She’s very special to me.
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I love being on vacation as much as I love being a doctor. Esme and I spent two weeks on the island. We spent the whole time exploring, swimming, and making love.
The weather was beautiful. We were sparkling and we didn’t care. We would swim deep in the water, around coral reefs, and we saw different fish. Even came face to face with a barracuda. It just looked at us with a bored expression and swam on. I was able to really enjoy my life without thinking about what was going on.
We had called home and heard that Nessie had her cast removed and was getting her full strength back in her leg. Charlotte’s parents had arrived and took her back to Texas to heal from her horrific attack. They have been trying to persuade her not to come back here, but Charlotte wants to. Her boyfriend is here and she really likes the hospital. But for now she’s back in her home state recuperating. I don’t want to seem selfish, but I’d love for her to return to us. She’s a sweetheart and has made the hospital a much more cheerful place to be.
My family was handling things at home just fine without me. While we were still on the island, we sat by the waterfall one day and this beautiful bird flew by. I realized that I really wanted to sketch it. So I’m going to ask Alexander to give me a tutorial on drawing so I can draw beautiful things too. I’ve always admired artists.
Coming home was bittersweet. We love our little island and it’s such a perfect escape from everyday life, but we had to return to our family and my job, of course. Bill can’t handle the hospital and this aftermath alone.
After another boat ride, 14-hour flight, and short trip in a town-car, we were back in Hanover and in our driveway. The family came out to welcome us home. Nessie bolted out of the house first and ran to me for a hug.
“Welcome home Grandpa and Grandma! I missed you both very much,” Nessie said, hugging me first, then Esme.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Esme said, kissing Nessie on the top of the head.
“How was it?” she asked.
“Wonderful, it was nice and warm and beautiful as always,” Esme related.
Edward and Emmett helped carry our bags inside and took them upstairs. They didn’t have to, but I had a feeling that we were missed. I noticed that two people were missing from our family and those were Bella and Leah. As soon as I noticed their absence Edward said that they were on their usual hiking trip. They said that they would try to get back for our arrival, but must have gotten stuck somewhere along the way. As soon as Edward started worrying that something was wrong, Keith called and said that he had been flying in the area and said the two of them were sitting on a log talking. He didn’t want to bother them so he flew by without bothering them. All was well.
We did have two sour pusses in the house. One was Alice, because Bella was spending so much time with Leah. She felt that she was losing her best friend. I couldn’t believe it. Alice was actually jealous! And of Leah out of all people. Everyone including Bella had told Alice that no one would ever replace her and the only reason she and Leah were spending so much time together was because they had a ton in common and were still discovering it now that all that bitterness had been put behind them.
It was so refreshing to see Leah finally letting go of all of her ghosts. She was hardly ever angry anymore. The only time we saw her frowning was when Seth would play a practical joke that she would find annoying. Otherwise, she was always smiling. She was an incredibly pretty young woman when she smiled. Even Jacob felt better about having her in the pack because now her thoughts weren’t about how bitter she was and how much she hated her life, rather they were about her next hiking trip with Bella or her next date with Keith. When that was brought to her attention, she would blush and look down. She’d still apologize for being such a “bitch” for all those years. At this point, it’s water under the bridge for us all.
The other sour puss, amazingly, was Nessie. I noticed her moping around the house, seeming out of it. Not even Jacob could cheer her up. I had to get to the bottom of it.
As she was pacing in circles around the living room, I stepped in front of her and stopped her mid-thought. “All right Renesmee, what is it? And don’t tell me ‘nothing’.”
I only called her by her full name when I was serious.
She looked up at me with wide eyes, took a deep breath and said, “I think Michelle has another best friend or someone secret in her life.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Because she’s on her cellphone a lot all of a sudden and she’s texting someone, and when I ask her who she’s talking to, she doesn’t tell me.”
“Maybe she has a boyfriend or something.”
“But why wouldn’t she tell me? Why hide it from me?” Nessie asked.
“Well, she is allowed to have other friends, isn’t she?”
“Yes, but why keep it secret? Even if she had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t get jealous. I’d be happy for her! I think she doesn’t trust me,” Nessie pointed out sadly.
“I think that she trusts you. I just think that when she becomes comfortable with whatever it is, she’ll tell you. Just don’t bug her about it. Give her some space and when it’s right, she’ll tell you,” I soothed with a smile.
“Yeah, I guess so . . . I won’t bug her anymore.” Nessie didn’t sound convinced.
I’ve heard Jacob talk to Edward about it; apparently Nessie feels like she’s not good enough for people. She thinks that she isn’t good enough to have a best friend like Michelle. No matter how many times Bella and Edward had told her, she still feels like she’s no one special. I don’t know why this sudden feeling of sadness has befallen my granddaughter, but I was hoping that it wasn’t a long term thing. Could a hybrid suffer from depression? Something to look into in my journals later.
As if my thoughts were being read, the doorbell rang. Rose opened the door and there stood Rogue. She smiled and Rose invited her in promptly. Rogue’s eyes landed on Nessie then on me.
“Welcome home, Carlisle. How was your trip?”
“Thank you, it was much needed. Thank you for recommending it.”
“Listen, I didn’t want to bother you tonight, but I had a feeling something was up and was wondering if I could speak with Nessie . . . alone.”
Nessie’s eyes widened.
“Is there a problem?” I asked concerned.
Rogue smiled. “No, but I figure I can help with teen angst.”
I understood. Nessie grabbed her jacket and followed Rogue outside. Rogue then put her arms around Nessie and flew into the air. They flew for a little while until they were on a mountain in the region. Finally, Rogue touched down. She motioned Nessie to sit on a rock near her, which Nessie did. They sat quietly for a while.
“I know that you have been feeling inadequate recently. I wanted to talk to you about that. Whatever you tell me stays here on this mountain just between the two of us. I know sometimes it’s hard to speak to family,” Rogue told her.
Nessie frowned. “I don’t know . . . I just feel weird. Like not good enough, you know?”
“Not good enough for whom?”
“I don’t know . . . my family . . . Michelle . . . you guys . . . ” Her voice trailed off.
“All right, let’s start at the beginning: Why your family?”
“My family is full of these kick-ass vampires who are so strong and powerful. I feel a little too human sometimes. My boyfriend is a werewolf as is Seth and Leah which makes all of them strong and powerful.”
“Well, here’s something you have to realize: Strength doesn’t only come from muscles or gifts or talents or powers. Strength comes from the heart. Yes, your family is a combo of vampires and wolves, but they all have normal human qualities just like you. They are all capable of love. And love is the most important thing. Being powerful isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, believe me.”
“Yeah right! You can do anything you want. Even create tornadoes! You can fly and heal people, how is that not amazing?” Nessie asked incredulously.
“Because it’s too much responsibility, Nessie. Because my power comes with a heavy price; I have the lives of over 1 million Watchers in my hands. They all depend on me. Don’t get me wrong, I would never trade who I am for a regular mortal life. But it’s not all fun and games as you saw when Michelle got hurt. You have an amazing life Nessie, you know why?”
She shook her head. Rogue smiled.
“Because you get the best of both worlds!” Nessie looked puzzled so Rogue continued. “You get to be both mortal and immortal all at the same time, and very few people have that quality. I think there are about 5 of you in the world. There are over a million of us and many millions of vampires, plus a whole chunk of wolves. But there’s only 5 of you guys, and each one is unique. On top of that, you have a gift of projecting images and questions through touch. Do you have any idea how special that is? Nessie, you don’t have to be strong or immortal or powerful. All you have to do is be you. Be Nessie: love, care for, listen, and just be you. And every single person who hasn’t fallen in love with you, will.”
By the time Rogue finished speaking; Nessie had tears running down her face. Rogue put her arms around Nessie’s shoulders and let her cry all of her frustrations out. Rogue stroked her back and smiled into the distance.
She knew all of this all too well. She remembered long, long ago when she was still mortal having the exact same conversation with her mother. Back before she was chosen; she was still just dating Alexander, or he was courting her rather. She didn’t understand how someone so handsome would have any interest in someone as plain as her. Her mother had smiled, wiped away her tears, and said the same thing she just told Nessie.
When Nessie’s sobs abated a bit, Rogue was brought back into the present.
“All right, well that takes care of 75% of your issues. Why are you doubting Michelle—or how does she fit into this equation, rather?” Rogue asked as Nessie looked at her sheepishly.
“Well she’s keeping secrets from me and I don’t like it. I feel like she feels she can’t trust me. I tell her everything and now I feel like we’re drifting apart . . . and it hurts.” She whispered the last part and looked down.
“Well, I can give you some relief of that. Michelle trusts you completely. She loves you like a sister. Yes, she does have a secret, but just like with you, I can’t say what it is. When she is ready—and I think it’ll be soon—she’ll tell you exactly what it is. The only thing I ask is for you to have an open mind. She’s pretty terrified of your reaction; actually of the reactions of your whole family. We Watchers already know and are fine with it.”
“Is it something bad?” Nessie asked surprised.
“No. It’s just something she needs to tell you herself.”
“Okay. I understand.”
Rogue smiled at her. “So are you all right with everything, or is there something else you’d like to get off of your chest?”
“No, I think I’m all right now. I think I have to walk around a bit to clear my head, but I’d rather do that near the house. It’s getting a bit chilly up here,” Nessie said, shivering.
“Yes, the wind is starting to pick up but then again we are on top of a mountain,” Rogue said and winked.
Rogue put her arms around her again and off they went back to the house. When they landed outside of our house, they hugged and Nessie ran into the house while Rogue flew to her own home. Nessie really seemed different.
Bella and Leah were back by then. Bella and Edward had been patiently waiting for Nessie to get back. When she looked at them, it seemed like there was something much lighter about her. Whatever had transpired between her and Rogue seemed to help her in a positive way making her parents breathe a sigh of relief; I joined them in that. Just then, the doorbell rang again. Nessie went to open it and was surprised to see Michelle standing there.
“Hey Nessie, how are you? I was wondering if we could talk. I have something to tell you.”
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*DISCLAIMER: There are sexual acts referenced here; reader discretion is advised, especially if you’re under 18 years of age.
I took Rogue’s advice. Esme and I booked a flight to Brazil, to Isle Esme. At first I thought Canada or Aspen, but then I decided I needed a total change in scenery. I needed to see crystal-clear water, palm trees, and my wife in nothing but a bikini. I was over the drama.
When Rogue came and told us what the final report said, I was ready to run away. But do it in a smart way. The first thing I did was go hunting with Esme. My eyes were pitch black and I knew that once I had some deer and bears in me, I’d be able to think clearly.
So while we were hunting, Alice took the opportunity to book our flight through expedia.com. We would fly first class Continental. Yes we do have the private plane but it was off to get repaired. Last time it was used, it flew near a thunderstorm and was hit by lightning, so it needed to have some of its wiring redone. It wasn’t going to be ready for this trip. We didn’t care, as long as we were leaving, that was perfect with us. Alice also called our house keepers on the island to get the house ready for our arrival. After packing, we left that evening to hugs and kisses from our family and Watchers.
We had a town car drive us to the airport and our flight was on time. We got on the plane without incident. Our seats were by the window and in the aisle. Our plane was a 747-400 series, and we were on the second floor of the plane. The pilots were up there, too. We spent most of the flight— which was around 14 hours long—talking quietly about what had just occurred so we could get it out of our systems and really enjoy the vacation.
Once we landed, we took a taxi to the harbor and got on a chartered boat. And we were off to our island to have some private time. It was another 45 minutes before the boat came to a halt at our dock. We took our suitcases and walked up to the house. It was evening again. The lights were on and the bed was made; the whole house was ready to be lived in. After I brought our suitcases into the bedroom, we unpacked. Then while Esme took a shower, I went for a run. I loved the smell of the island.
When I got back, I heard Esme humming away in our bedroom. I walked slowly toward the homey sound. She was finishing putting things away. I saw that she had put my diary on my side of the bed and hers on her side. She’d also brought a few books that we both love to read from our home library. Just as she reached for the last article of clothing, I came up behind her and put my arms around her waist. I slowly kissed her neck as she exhaled a content sigh.
“I take it your run went well?” she asked.
I didn’t stop what I was doing, but made a noise affirming her question. I kept kissing her neck on one side, and then moved to the other side as she giggled. She then rounded on me and looked into my eyes with all the love she felt for me, and I felt humbled. I was also very aroused; I wanted my wife and I wanted her right now. No more delay, no more issues, or drama. Now was our time to enjoy each other.
I put my hands on both sides of her face and brought her lips to mine. They were soft and supple. I kissed her and her lips parted until our tongues were dancing together in perfect harmony. I started to unbutton the blouse she was wearing as her nimble fingers did the same with my shirt until both parts were open. I took her blouse off of her shoulders without breaking the kiss as she took off my shirt. We dropped our clothes on the floor. Then I pulled up her skirt as she undid my jeans. I picked her up and set her on the dresser in the bedroom. We were just not going to make it to the bed across the room . . . well not that first time anyway.
Our breaths were coming fast as we were touching each other and kissing. I removed her panties and pulled down my own underwear, and then I took her in one majestic thrust as she moaned and arched her back. Then we were moving together as one as I propped my hands against the dresser on each side of her body.
We moved faster and faster, until that amazing feeling started in the bottom of my stomach. By the sound of her moans, I knew she was feeling the same. As we moved even faster, the sparks flew for us both as I felt myself giving her parts of myself with the act of love0making, as well as with my heart.
When we came off of that high, I sagged against her as she rubbed my back soothingly. Then I helped her off of the dresser and we removed the rest of our clothing and got into bed. It felt like we were lying down on a heaven of feathers. She looked at me with that famous mischievous glance of hers that she only gives me in private, and without warning she hopped on top of me and straddled me. Just like that we were connected again. Lord, I love this woman. She shows everyone her soft side, her courage, and to me she often shows her take-charge side, especially when we are making love.
“You liking it up there?” I asked her as she sat straddling me with a satisfied smile on her face.
“You know what they say, ‘save a horse, ride a cowboy,’” She whispered seductively in my ear.
“Yee-ha!” I said, making her giggle.
Then we started moving again. Before I flipped her over suddenly, making her gasp and bringing her under me. My turn. I knew just how to move to maximize pleasure. When you spend nearly a century with someone, you learn all of their likes and dislikes. I don’t like to brag, but if I make my wife satisfied, I’ve done my job as a husband and a man. Esme started to moan again as I moved my lips down her neck and latched onto one of her nipples and began to suckle. While my lower body took care of business down south, my mouth did some work on her upper torso, especially her breasts. They were beautiful; just like every inch of her. They were the perfect size; they fit in my hands and were ample. My mouth moved from one breast to the other, drawing out her reaction while enjoying the sensations myself.
We were moving at the same time and again exploded simultaneously. When we were done, we decided that we didn’t want to stay in bed; instead we went into the bathroom to take our favorite lavender bath. I filled the tub up with water and placed rose petals in the water while Esme poured in the lavender. I love that smell. We got in and just lay their luxuriating as the sun was coming up. What a perfect way to spend that first night on our special island.
This is a short entry today because, to tell you the truth, I’d rather enjoy the island and make love to my wife than write. I promise to write again soon. Enjoy your day everyone!
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