Two months, maybe three, I lamented as I reviewed the test results that had been placed in my inbox. For all of the medical knowledge that I have acquired in my three and a half centuries, there are so many times when that knowledge does little or nothing to save my patients’ lives. My vampire senses often allow me to know when this will be the case before I even receive the test results, but I must keep up appearances and the insurance companies need the proper documentation. Another life would be cut short. As a doctor, this troubled me greatly.
My son, Edward, and I often have a different outlook on this. He sometimes agrees with me, and in those moments, I feel as though he may one day make peace with what we are—what I made him. When we disagree, when he sees illness or trauma as an individual’s fate, I see the pain in his eyes at the thought that I stole that fate from him and the father in me yearns to erase his pain. I fear I will never be able to do so.
I sighed and placed the results into the appropriate file and was about to move on to the next item in my inbox when a shimmering light appeared in front of me. Stunned, I did not even think to move as I watched the light take shape, first glowing and translucent, but then becoming more solid, until a woman stood before me. She was blond—beautiful, though I would never think anyone as beautiful as my Esme—and she wore a long white dress that fell nearly to the floor. Her feet were bare.
I had a moment of déjà vu when she stepped forward, knocking me out of my dazed state, and called me by name.
“Dr. Carlisle Cullen,” her eyes gleamed as she spoke, determination brightening their intensity. This woman was on a desperate mission.
“Yes, I’m Dr. Cullen,” I confirmed for her and she stepped forward, but was stopped by the desk that separated us.
I made my way, as quickly as a human could, around the desk and held my hand out toward one of the chairs. I was about to ask her to have a seat when she suddenly reached out and clutched at my hand with surprising strength.
“I need your help,” she demanded. “My son needs your help.”
“Okay, why don’t you tell me what the problem is and we’ll see what we can do to help him,” I offered.
“You don’t understand!” she cried. “I only have one chance at this. If you say ‘no,’ my son is lost.”
I was certainly confused now, but whatever the issue, if I could provide assistance, I certainly would. I was not in a habit of turning patients away. When I was unable to help them medically, I was often still able to offer them comfort for their remaining time.
“I’m listening,” I told her and waited for her to go on.
“There isn’t much time and I won’t be able to tell you everything, but my son is special. He has gifts—abilities—because of his parentage. He’s been manipulated into doing things that he has no way of truly understanding. His father is working out a deal where he will be given a second chance and I managed to work out a deal of my own. What his father is planning, it won’t be enough to protect him from the monsters of both this world and other worlds. If I could somehow raise him, I would, but that’s just not possible.” She gestured to herself as she continued, “In case you didn’t notice, I’m not exactly among the living anymore. You and your family are my only hope. You can protect him from anyone who would exploit him and his abilities and you can protect him from anyone who would hurt him. Please, will you take him and love him as one of your own?”
Her imploring speech moved me. I have always had compassion for others; it’s partly why I was such a disappointment to my father. Of course, I would want to help the boy if I could, but I certainly didn’t want to put him danger from us. Clearly this woman had knowledge of what I am, but I wasn’t sure if she understood the full implications of what it would mean for a human child to live and breathe in our home. Before I could give her an answer to her question, I had to be sure that she understood the risks involved.
“I understand your problem to the extent that you have explained it to me, but before I can give you an answer, I must explain to you that our family is not perfect. Entrusting your son to us could be a very costly mistake despite our best efforts,” I informed her. My mind did not want to automatically think of Jasper, our family member who seemed to have the most difficulty with our version of ‘vegetarianism,’ but it couldn’t be helped. I knew that he would try his hardest, but there was always a possibility that he would be overcome with bloodlust. I never entertained these thoughts when I was near him as I never wanted him to feel any accidental disappointment slipping into my emotions. He would be devastated if he harmed someone that we had taken in under our protection.
“Dr. Cullen, I’m dead, not stupid,” she informed me in a wry tone. “I worked it out as part of the deal. Although he’s not quite as break-able as most humans are, if you accept him into your family, that is what he will feel like—family. No other member of your family would ever want his blood. Please, Dr. Cullen—Carlisle—I really want this to work. I need this to work.”
With my main concern now answered, I knew that I didn’t even need to ask Esme’s opinion. She would have agreed the moment she saw a mother’s love shining in this woman’s eyes. I love my wife dearly and, had the position been reversed and it was her son who needed a stranger’s protection, I know she would sacrifice anything to make sure that it happened. Now that the decision had been made, I probably wouldn’t even have to tell her. Alice would have the entire house in a flurry of activity in anticipation of our ‘new addition’ by the time my shift at the hospital ended this afternoon.
After a moment’s hesitation, I placed my free hand on top of the woman’s hands as they clutched at my fingers. I gave her hands a light squeeze and offered her a gentle smile.
“Of course, we’ll take him, but please, you must be able to tell me something about him. You said that he is special. What did you mean by that?” I asked, once again trying to draw the woman down onto a chair. Now that I had answered her in the affirmative, all of her energy seemed to drain out of her and she sat down willingly. It was only then that I realized that she had no pulse. Well, she did say that she was dead, I reminded myself as I sat down next to her and waited for her response to my question.
“Well, my son—Connor—is the prophesied baby of two vampires,” she told me, tossing her head to flip her hair back. “How’s that for special?”