“This is insane,” Rosalie repeated again, strutting past the dining room and into the front sunroom.
She had been roaming from the sunroom to the dining for an hour now, finally being able to vocalize her dissent from the night’s activity and discovery. The morning light had come and glimmered through the large windows hours ago. Since then Jacob, with the rest of the wolves, had gone back to the cottage. Renesmee was with them, troubled still over what information she had been able to get from the others. Bella had gone with her to the cottage and only returned recently. She stayed at Edward’s side in the living room, shielding him for the privacy of everyone. It wasn’t really needed since most were being forthright with what they were thinking.
“How can you just accept this? Are you even thinking?” Rosalie demanded from the front room.
Carlisle stayed seated in the dining room chair, staring at the oak wood table and listening to her movement. It was the only thing he could do, his mind was bouncing between ideas and excuses. None would satisfy her. Esme stood in the corner behind him, poise to spring up at any moment. Rosalie’s anger has been climbing all morning and it made Esme uneasy. Emmett stood in the doorway watching her pace back and forth. He tried a few times to get a word in, but mostly just waited. Alice and Jasper camped by the front stairs, on a mission to see what all this led to per Rosalie’s demand.
“Like, do you even know this woman enough to take her word for any of this? So what if she has our eyes! So did Alice and Jasper before they came to us!”
Carlisle silently nodded. “I really can’t explain it, but I believe what she is saying is genuine. She came straight to me at the hospital.”
Rosalie came back into the room and slammed her hands on the table, the wood cracking at the base. “So can I if I know the doctor’s last name!”
Emmett was instantly beside her just as Esme wrapped an arm around his shoulders. There was a moment of cool down, Emmett pulling her away from the table. Carlisle remained silent. Rosalie puffed a few times, darting her gaze everywhere except for at him. After a few minutes, she went back to pacing through the rooms. Emmett went back to the doorway.
“Can you trust this woman? Who is she Carlisle?” Emmett asked gently.
Carlisle shrugged at the table. “Best way to answer that is my sister.”
The silence was terrifying. No one knew how or what to ask next. Nothing was calming Rosalie and besides the anger, she had several good points being made.
“Okay, so sister. Why does she care about what happens to you?”
Carlisle broke from the table to look at Emmett, confusion on his face. “I’m not sure I’m following.”
Emmett bobbed his head as he spoke. “I’m not saying anything vindictive or anything but like, you’re killer old Carlisle. Love you but it’s true.” There were a few chuckles in the house. “Being that, why now has this decided to rear its head? And why would a ‘sister’ come to find you in order to circumvent a problem suddenly?”
Carlisle paused to ponder it but Edward sounded off from the living room.
“She said it had already happened to her. She made rash decisions she thought would keep everyone safe but it didn’t.” Then lower. “It was odd about how she went on doing it all.”
Emmett nodded his head to the information, not entirely convinced. “So what says that you’ll be any different?”
Rosalie paused beside him with a truly worried look. She then looked to Carlisle, the words failing her again.
Esme let out a defeated sigh and started to rub his shoulder in absent thought. Carlisle went limp at the thought from Emmett, the worry and trouble slowly eating away at him. He didn’t enjoy this, none of this. His family was wracking their brains around an issue of his, it made him feel exposed. There wasn’t anything he could find endearing of it. It all just crept at him as selfish. He didn’t want that. He stood up and went to the window, turning his back to the rest of the family.
The forest was still in the bright sunlight, the trees spanning miles in every direction from the house. The window was propped open, only the slightest, and from the crack, Carlisle could smell the fresh sap and the wet grass. The pack’s scent was barely there anymore, only Jacob’s scent was there, faint. Below the window was a small gardener’s box with some flowers planted in a quinte row. From the brisk wind, he guessed that the poor things wouldn’t last for long. Maybe a few days and then a cold snap would kill them. Still, the pale blues and eggshell flowers were pretty. They reminded him of the colors Carine wore yesterday.
My sister, Carine Cullen. His head was spinning at the idea of having a sister. He couldn’t remember much of his human life, but he would have remembered a sister. Or that his dad was gone for long periods of time. Or there being another woman around them. But no, nothing came up in his mind. Not before, and not after the terror. And being so close in appearance, to an uncanny level, there had to be a reason. He couldn’t place it but there was something, familiar about her. But was it safe around her?
Edward moved into the other room. “She seems to have hope that Carlisle can avoid the mindset she had, and therefore the mistakes and assumptions she made.”
Carlisle turned back to his family as Edward and Bella appeared in the living room doorway. They stood adjacent to Rosalie and Emmett. Edward was deep in thought, Bella’s eyes glazed on him in concentration.
“There were some things she knew. The reaction from Rose,” A few glances went to the angry woman. “The protectiveness of Esme and I.” He felt Esme slide closer to him, their hands brushed each other. All he did was nod in Edward’s direction.
Edward paused for a long moment, his mouth parting a bit. Almost like he was trying to speak but wasn’t able to. Carlisle eyed him just as long, silently calling for his son within his own mind. After a minute or so, Edward cocked an eyebrow and shook his head. “I don’t know.” He admit in a huff. He then lightened up with a smile. “She sure wasn’t expecting Jasper.”
The room went light with chuckling. Jasper and Alice joining beside Emmett and Rosalie, the two brothers fist-bumped quickly.
“I may have overdone myself then. I wasn’t expecting Carlisle to go feral on us.” Jasper jested lightly.
Carlisle couldn’t help but laugh with the room, happily embarrassed.
The house silenced instantly when the doorbell rang out. Rosalie took a quick step towards it but Emmett placed his arms around her, lovingly but restrictive. Jasper eyed to the front, and then to Carlisle with a poised face. Alice tried to give him a smile but fell short of a grimace. Esme squeezed his hand and stepped for the door. He held tightly, stopping her and looking at Edward.
“She’s here.” He said grimly, almost regretfully.
Carlisle turned with a smile at Esme. “It will be fine.” He gave her a quick kiss on the top of her head before nodding to Edward. Effortlessly he slid to her side. Jasper hung back in the side room, leaning on the bookshelf and absently reading the spines of the books. They gave each other small smiles but neither abandoned their positions.
Taking a deep breath he opened the door and met Carine smiling on the porch.
She gave him a smirk. “Do you remember me, Carlisle?”
He rolled his eyes and chuckled. “My little sister. How could I forget?”
She ducked into her hand for a moment, peaking out to him. “Little? Oh dear, you’ve already started running with the narrative.”
He nodded confidently. “I think it’s a great detail to the story. Why not have a bit of fun?”
She agreed enthusiastically. “I believe there was tea offered?”
He went to nod before freezing completely, glancing into the side room with Jasper in it, and then absently at Carine. He listened to the others, hearing a few shuffling and one set fluttering over to the kitchen. After a few seconds, with soft tinkling of fine china cups, the footsteps went off towards the back of the house.
He blinked and looked down the porch to a quint sitting area by some bay windows. On the table was a small tea set with two cups, a decorative kettle, and a tray, all in a pastel blue and white. He gestured to it and led Carine over to it. They took seats beside the table and for a moment eyed the decorative piece.
“This is so cute.” Carine awed in a whisper. She gently traced the rim of one of the cups with her finger. “I got one of these a while ago. Green and white, Hale accidentally chipped it once. They wouldn’t stop apologizing to me.” She chuckled lightly and looked to Carlisle. “They never mean the damage they do, don’t they?”
Carlisle took a moment to think. Hale. Rosalie? It had to be since Jasper had only adopted the last name for the sake of coercion within the family. A small memory came to mind where he had unpacked the set when they had moved houses. In the midst of placing it, Rosalie had absently turned into him. There was no time to move and they bumped into each other. There was a crack on the bottom of the tray because of it, kept together with some industrial glue and precision handling. Now it was barely noticeable but Rosalie was panicked in thinking she had broken the fragile thing. It took a bit of convincing to calm her and to not apologize to Esme either.
He nodded slowly. “She’s a good girl. Once you get past the thorns.”
Carine kept looking at the cup, lost in thought for a moment. With a brush of wind rustling through the porch, she looked up. “Where would you like to start?”
There was a few seconds of hesitation, and then “Anywhere I guess.”
Carine nodded and sat up straight. “I don’t know how father-”
“Not him.” Carlisle quickly and roughly cut in. “Sorry, anywhere but him.”
Carine didn’t speak again, just stared at him, waiting.
Carlisle sat back and closed his eyes. “The ambassador. Who is he?”
“A man I hadn’t seen before. Ebony hair, sickly skin, they had unkempt nails and a salt-watery scent to them. But not like at sea, or on a beach. More like under the water like a fish of some sort. It made me recoil like some wolves I had smelled once.”
Carlisle opened his eyes, fading in and out of his mindscape.
“Nearly took down a pine because of it. But it wasn’t as potent up close. Just enough to keep reminding me that they were there.”
“What did they sound like?”
“Tired.” Carine’s face narrowed in concentration as well as confusion. She was relaying the meeting in her mind as she told, and every emotion came clear on her face. “They never seemed interested in the conversation or what was being said. If it wasn’t for the odd scent, I wouldn’t have remembered them for the entire time.”
She paused, then looked to Carlisle.
He looked off, letting the silence cover for him. “It was a him?”
“And you don’t know him?”
There was no verbal answer. Carlisle turned to see her shaking her head.
The silence held longer this time, and during it two sets of feet came to the front. Jasper propped open the door for Alice who had a silver tray and a kettle in her hands. Steam came from the spout. With a big smile, she glided over to them and put the tray on the table, sliding the decorative one to the back. She flashed the smile at Carine, who after a second of eye gaze, gave one back. After a quick turn to Carlisle, who gave a half-smile, Alice stood up and clapped her hands.
“You were promised tea. It would be rude to leave you empty cupped.”
Carine bowed her head in agreement. “Such thoughtfulness miss Cullen.”
Carlisle peaked back to Jasper, whose eyes were entirely on Alice. Only after a few seconds did Jasper turn his gaze to Carlisle. Instantly he turned back around, feeling a pang of interest in what was being talked about. He chuckled to himself.
“Awe, you don’t have to be so formal.” Alice giggled. “We’re all family here aren’t we?”
Carine shuffled in her seat. “Of course.”
Alice held out a hand to her. “Alice.”
Carine carefully took her hand and shook it. “Carine. Cullen.”
“Brandon. If that makes any difference.”
Carlisle watched as Carine’s face changed, almost like a light had been turned on. With new eyes, Carine looked Alice over.
“Yes. Yes, it does.” Carine said with an excitable pitch.
The excitement spread quickly to Alice.
“We are very determined to help Carlisle in this situation. I’m looking for all the possibilities and futures.”
Carine softened and tilt her head to the side. “Look too far ahead and you’ll see the destruction. Look too close and you’ll see the hopelessness. Your Carlisle doesn’t need to secure his future, it’s his past he must regain control of. I don’t think you have a gift for that.”
From the corner of his eye Jasper shuffled in his stance, his calculated posture lost. Alice opened and closed her mouth, a bit startled by Carine’s words. Carine was not troubled by the look, almost expecting it. She smiled once more.
“Thank you, Alice. But moral support and family trust will be more beneficial.”
It took Alice another few seconds to respond. “We shall see.”
She turned quickly on her heels as Carine softly shook her head, now conscious of Jasper waiting at the door. Once they were inside, she scooted the kettle against the tray until it hit the wall of the house.
“I think we should move to a more private location.” She noted with a turn into the bay windows and looking to see who was hovering in the living room. She smiled at Carlisle. “You would do well if you trust them. They can’t help if you bubble it all inside.”
He briefly laughed. “I thought we didn’t have the gifts necessary for help.”
“Not in this chapter we don’t.” Carine got up and walked over to the Grey Lexus by a corner of the driveway. “But what your side of the family lacks, they make up for in exquisite loyalty, trust, and love for you. I wouldn’t make the mistake of underestimating that.” She opened the door, waited and looked, and then gestured for Carlisle to come join her.
He stood up and walked to the edge of the porch, studying her. “Did you underestimate them?”
Carine stared for half a second before sighing, resting her head on top of the door. “I underestimated a lot. Myself, my family, I thought it would be okay if I had kept them out. And even near the end. . .” She took a long breathe in thought, her shoulders giving a quick shiver during it. “I know before everything happens, you need to trust someone. I’d like that to be me.” She smiled wide at him. “And who’s better than your own self?”
Carlisle chuckled and stepped off towards the car. Inside her head a pair of hesitant heels, followed by a paced pair. Glancing at the door he saw Esme watching him, Edward perched right over her shoulder. She was upset and made no effort in hiding it. Edward was focused for a long minute before looking to Carlisle in a pleading manner.
I’ll be back. And I’ll explain what’s new. He said in his mind.
The Lexus was ready when he finally sat down. From the tinted windshield, he noted the other hidden faces. Emmett’s in the bay windows, Rosalie impatient behind him. Jasper slipping behind Esme from the other shoulder. Bella peaked from upstairs. None of them could hide the panic on their faces. Staring at Esme as they pulled away, he couldn’t breathe.