Disclaimer: These characters are the sole property of Stephenie Meyer. I am just messing around with them.
A/N I don’t have a pre-reader or a Beta or anything of the sort. All mistakes are mine and mine alone.
A Love So Beautiful Outtake 1: Betrayed
“True love is tested when betrayed.”
― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity
“I get up and pace the room, as if I can leave my guilt behind me. But it tracks me as I walk, an ugly shadow made by myself.”
― Rosamund Lupton, Sister
Hertfordshire, England 1872
I gaze out the window of our carriage as it stops in front of Masen house. After the way in which the old Lord Cullen treated us, I never imagined we would ever return to this place. Alice giggles in my arms and I smile at her enthusiasm. She always has a way of being happy about everything, which has managed to make me smile, even in my darkest times. Carlisle holds my hand in his, as he helps me out of the carriage, and I smile reassuringly at him. He has sacrificed so much on my behalf, for our love, I can never begin to deserve his love.
After his father’s passing, Carlisle’s brother Marcus has invited us to come to Masen house. I could feel how relieved Carlisle was when he received his brother’s letter. I know how long my strong husband has been struggling with the pain of losing his family, and the impotence of not being able to give me more. I’m not used to privilege, not used to the comfort that money brings, but I always felt as if I had taken Carlisle away from his life, to give him nothing but sorrow and poverty.
I take in the beauty of Masen house, the gardens that surround it, and the grandeur of its structure. It’s as imposing as it was to me, when I first attended a ball here, all those years ago, the day I met Carlisle.
Carlisle places a kiss on my cheek, knowing how this place frightens me after all the sour memories he and I shared here.
“My father is gone, poppet,” Carlisle states reassuringly, “he cannot do anything to try to separate us any longer. Marcus is as noble as they come. I’m sure you’ll find a brother in him. From now on our future will only be bright.”
I nod and smile, trying to infuse as much happiness as I can in my expression. Carlisle is hopeful that this will be a new beginning for all of us. I don’t want to dash his hopes away. I fear nothing will be as it was before we lost Anthony.
“Carlisle!” a man shouts from the top of the stairs as he runs to meet us. Carlisle smiles broadly and runs to meet him.
“Marcus!” my husband says before patting his brother’s back, and shaking hands with him in between affectionate smiles. After all the pain we have been through, I’m happy that my husband has found someone to rely on.
“Here,” Carlisle says walking towards me with his brother. “This is my family, Esme and little Alice.”
I curtsy in deference to Marcus’ new status as Lord Cullen, “My lord.”
“None of that lord nonsense!” Marcus replies, taking a giggling Alice from my arms. “You’re my sister and this little princess here is my niece. We are all family so I won’t stand for such formality!” Alice is instantly and completely enamoured with her new uncle.
I’m taken aback with Marcus kindness and warmth. I didn’t have the chance to know him before this day, since he had spent the last few years in the continent, but had I known he was such loving and kind person I would not have feared this trip as much as I did.
“Thank you, brother,” I answer with a smile and Marcus’ eyes twinkle with the same shine of happiness I miss in Carlisle’s eyes. The same bright spark that made me fall in love with him.
“Come on dear brother!” Marcus encourages, “You must be tired and your rooms are waiting. You should see the toys that I have bought for princess Alice. She will be thrilled, won’t you princess?” Alice’s laughter brings a warmth into my heart that I feared was missing and in spite of the pain still residing within me, I smile. My first genuine smile in the four months since Anthony’s death.
Dinner that night is a joyous affair. Marcus is welcoming and adoring in his love for Carlisle and our family. When I question Carlisle about Marcus’ personality, so very different from that of their late father, Carlisle tells me that Marcus spent enough time abroad to be spared the old Lord Cullen’s influence. I wish my Carlisle had been that lucky.
Alice is fascinated by her new lavish toys, her new dresses, and her new room. For a girl who last week only had one straw doll and a couple of Sunday dresses, she seems to have adapted to her new opulent surroundings quite well.
“What do you think?” Carlisle asks me at night as we settle in bed. He hasn’t touched me in all the months since we lost our son. I’m afraid to approach him about it. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps he doesn’t feel the same for me any longer, but then I feel his love in the adoring way he looks at me, in his gentle embrace when we go to bed, and decide that maybe he needs some time before he’s ready to resume our marital relations.
I smile into my pillow and sigh. “I believe your brother loves you very much, and will do about anything within his reach to see you happy.”
“Yes,” Carlisle smiles, placing a kiss against my cheek. “He fought with father when he announced his intentions to restore my rights and welcome us into Masen house. I fear father would have disowned him, had it not been for the fact that his only other heir was me, his biggest disappointment.”
“Shush, let us not speak of your father any longer. He made the choices he made and faced the consequences.”
Carlisle places a sweet kiss on my lips but doesn’t take his attentions any further. He turns the other way and sleeps with his back to me, like every night, I cry quietly into my pillow wondering if we’ll ever go back to the infatuated couple we used to be before our world came crashing down around us.
Months go by and we establish a routine. Carlisle rides with his brother in the mornings and then spends all the time locked in the study going over the ledgers. Apparently, the old lord Cullen and the new one were not very efficient administrators, and Carlisle has gained plenty of experience thanks to his foray as a shop keeper.
The more time Carlisle spends going over the estates’ finances the more time alone I spend and the more the ghosts of what might have been haunt me. Alice offers me comfort with her sweet smiles and her mischief but there is something in me, a void that nothing but Carlisle’s love used to be able to fill. I smile in all the right places and nod when spoken to, but I’m a ghost wandering the halls of Masen house. I only sink further and further into melancholy when Carlisle decides to travel to London for longer and longer periods of time.
One day I’m tending to the rose bushes in the conservatory when I feel someone eyeing me. I turn to find Marcus standing by the doorway with a laughing Alice in his arms.
I smile at the scene, and feel a twinge of pain piercing my heart when I imagine Carlisle standing there instead of his brother. He should be the one Alice plays with and adores, not her uncle.
“I see you’re busy. We just wanted to invite you to take a stroll through the gardens with us. It’s a lovely day and it would be a terrible shame to see it gone to waste by spending it indoors. As lovely as these roses are they don’t compare to the fresh air outside.”
Alice wiggles in Marcus’ arms and he sets her down. She runts to me as fast as she can in her short, chubby, toddler legs and jumps into my arms. I laugh at her enthusiasm as she screams; outside, outside.
I smile indulgently and take my daughter’s hand as I walk with her and my husband’s brother.
Marcus, Alice and I run and roll over the grass, playing like innocent children in the garden. However, there’s nothing innocent in the way Marcus looks at me. There’s nothing innocent in the way he touches my hands whenever he gets the chance. And there’s nothing innocent in the way I let him touch me. There’s nothing innocent in the slightest.
I’m drinking tea in the balcony, watching over Alice while she plays with her nurse in the patio below, when I feel someone take a seat across from me.
“Good afternoon, Marcus,” I welcome my brother in law as he greets me with a lingering kiss against my hand. I try not to blush at his appreciative perusal. I’ve taken to wearing the dresses Carlisle has sent me from London now that business is thriving. These are delicate, colourful dresses, the likes of which I never dreamt I would wear. Marcus has noticed them and praised them in countless occasions since I started wearing them and I fluster over his attention. Each day I put a little more effort into my attire, and shame washes over me whenever my thoughts stray into what Marcus will think of my outfit on that day. I should not care so much about what my brother in law thinks of my appearance.
“Good afternoon, Esme.” Marcus has taken into using my proper name, even though it’s intimate and inappropriate. I allow it because I love that he pays me so much attention. I love that he prefers to stay with us in Masen house when he could be gallivanting through London. I crave his lingering looks, his tender words and his touch. I love to converse with him during dinner and I care overmuch for what he thinks of me. I chastise myself every day and say to myself that I will stop this, whatever it is that has started to develop between us, but I don’t. In fact I encourage it, every day permitting him more allowances.
“I was wondering if you would like to take an afternoon stroll with me. The breeze is lovely and I would like to show you the new horses my brother has purchased. He seems to think our stables need to be stocked with only the best of the best in horses.”
The best of the best, that’s Carlisle new motto, I think bitterly.
“Of course,” I reply as I take Marcus’ hand and set my tea cup on the table.
We walk in silence for a few minutes. I feel as if Marcus wants to say something but is refraining for some reason.
“I know it’s not my place, but I think of us as more than friends and I can’t help but wonder over Carlisle’s absence. He has been away for almost three months now and even though he constantly writes and sends gifts I feel as if there’s something more than distance between you. Is there anything I can do to help?” Marcus asks suddenly.
I blush and look away. I know anyone with eyes can notice how distant Carlisle is with me. How that distance just seems to grow more and more over time, aided by our silence. At first, when Anthony died, it seemed easier to not discuss our pain. Now it seems as if our silence is slowly burying our relationship under the walls each of us has built around our pain.
“You’re right, it’s not your place,” I say in a biting tone. I don’t want to discuss my marital problems, let alone discuss them with Marcus, when all these feelings I have for him confuse me and make me feel guilty.
Marcus stops walking and I turn to face him. He’s staring at me in this deep way, this way that makes me feel as if I’m being stripped naked of all my secrets and all my pain. He walks towards me and takes my right hand in his, placing it above his heart.
“I have never felt so much before, and I feel shame over the thoughts that fill my mind whenever you’re near me.”
I gasp as I feel the rapid beating of his heart under my hand. I want to pull it away and at the same time I want to leave it exactly where it is.
“I don’t know to what extent my feelings for you are clear, Esme. But I feel that if I don’t utter them, say them aloud I’ll die.”
“No,” I beg in a whisper, because I much prefer to pretend like nothing untoward is developing between us, when I know full well the consequences of our betrayal.
“No,” he says in a firm voice. “I can’t keep quiet any longer. I crave you and need you, so much that I can almost drown the voice of my conscience that yells at me: traitor! I love my brother, and I would give my life to spare him any pain, but I also love you, desperately…” he trails, placing a kiss against my open palm.
I gasp at the electricity that his lips elicit in my skin, the same type of spark only Carlisle could cause within me before. It’s weaker, not as bright as what Carlisle makes me feel, but I’m so hungry for love, that this substitute feels like a ray of sunshine after a very long rain.
I pull my hand from his grip, and run, run towards the house, away from temptation and the doom that will surely follow should I succumb.
I can feel Marcus as he runs after me, I climb the stairs with all my strength and I’m almost out of danger when I feel his hand wrapping itself around my arm, and turning my entire body towards his. I’m breathing hard, almost gasping for air while I watch Marcus’ lips as they descend upon mine.
Instead of pushing him away as I should, I circle my arms around his neck and bring our bodies closer, surrendering myself to him. He groans inside my mouth and I’m scared for the feelings that sound stirs in my belly. It has been so very long since the last time I have felt this fire within me, not since before we lost Anthony. I need this fire to consume me as it once did, so I don’t protest as Marcus’ lifts me in his arms and carries me to my bedroom. The same bedroom I share with my husband when he deigns to honour us with his presence in Masen house. I dash all thoughts of Carlisle away as I tremble while Marcus’ fingers loosen my dress and free me from my corset. His eyes are full of passion, but they are also full with tenderness and love. I look away because I cannot stand his love. I don’t want his love. I simply want him to make me feel desired, to fill the void that Anthony’s loss and Carlisle’s absence has left in me.
Marcus is too preoccupied with undressing me to notice how I avoid his gaze. Soon, before I know how, our bodies are naked and entwined as Marcus’ explores my curves with his hands.
“You’re so beautiful,” he whispers against my lips as he searches for that place between my legs that aches to be filled by him. He finds me wet and hot, trembling for his touch. He caresses me gently, and I convulse with unspent ardour as he inserts two fingers inside me. In and out, they stroke me from inside, stoking the fire he alighted with his kisses.
I shudder in his arms as I fall off the ledge of passion and he moans against my neck as he feels my walls tightening around his fingers. After I have calmed some from the ecstasy that enveloped my body, I notice Marcus has covered me with his body.
I know I should stop him. I know I should stop us, but for the first time since I lost my precious boy, for the first time since we moved to Masen house I feel alive. Selfishly, I close my eyes and open my thighs to welcome Marcus’ heat. He enters me in one swift movement and a sob escapes me. He stops momentarily, most likely thinking he has hurt me with the suddenness of his entry. In reality, I’m crying for the pain that my actions will cause us all. Carlisle, Marcus and myself will suffer from my weakness. I allow myself a few more tears before I lift my hips enticingly, making Marcus forget all about the world outside the bubble of rapture that engulfs us.
We are frantic in our coupling, like two starved animals that are presented with a luscious meal, we devour each other. I gasp and groan at the sensations Marcus is able to elicit within my affection-starved body. He makes me feel loved and cherished, feelings I have longed for ever since Carlisle’s focus in life became increasing the Cullen’s assets.
Soon, I feel myself falling off the edge of bliss once more. Marcus joins me on the other side, grunting his euphoria against my heated bosom. We remain like that, my arms around his back, my legs encircling his hips, sweat and heat making our skin slick, eliciting aftershock shivers from our weary bodies.
After a short time Marcus finally recovers himself enough to pull out from inside me. He lays on his back next to me, breathing hard, before he gathers me in his arms and hugs me closely to him. Once our lust has followed its due course, I’m aware enough to realise, in its full magnitude, the wretchedness of my sins.
I laid with my brother in law, not only that, I enjoyed it. I forgot all about my vows, the sacrifices Carlisle has made to be by my side. I disrespected his love and our bed, tainted our sheets, our room with the scents of my coupling with another man.
Suddenly, I am disgusted with myself. How could I have allowed things to reach this level? How could have I allowed myself to take another man into my body, when I should have reserved that privilege for my husband?
I push myself away from Marcus’ arms and quickly gather my dressing gown from its perch next to my bed.
“What is the matter?” Marcus asks, perplexed by my abrupt departure. I pick up his clothes from the floor and throw them at him.
“Go!” I yell, between anguished sobs, ice slowly lacing my veins as I take in the scene of the crime. Clothes strewn all over the floor, bed sheets rumpled, pillows thrown over the side of the bed. If only could Carlisle see me now. What would he think of his precious wife if he saw me right now, naked except for a dressing robe, his brother hastily donning his trousers as I hysterically cry.
I am such a disappointment. I’m glad Carlisle is in London, away from the destruction I’ve created.
“Please,” Marcus begs, clearly wishing to hold me and soothe away my pain.
“Go, leave!” I say again, in a hoarse voice. “Leave me alone!”
He hesitates for a moment before he departs, leaving me to pick up the pieces of my broken life.
There’s a beauty in destruction. Destroying oneself, destroying the things you love. When all you ever held dear is in ruins, all you have are the memories of what it was. If you have nothing left to lose, you have nothing to fear.
After my initial reaction, Marcus stayed away from me for a while. He even attempted to keep his distance by going to London to stay with his brother, the brother we so thoroughly betrayed. Soon, though, like man obsessed, he returns to Masen house, to continue his pursue of me.
At first I try to resist him. I try, but I am so weak, so very weak. And as the weak, wretched being that I am, I find myself once again wrapped between Marcus’ sheets.
Months go by, I make myself imagine that Carlisle has never existed. I make myself feel as if Marcus is indeed my husband and Alice’s father. I make myself exist in a world where Anthony is nothing but a sweet dream that never came to fruition. It is easy to forget the pain when there’s happiness and love to replace it. Even when that joy is marred by the scent of betrayal emanating from our very pores.
One morning though, reality comes crashing down on me when I realise that my courses have stopped. I make myself believe it’s due to my own guilt, that I’m so preoccupied with Carlisle returning unannounced that I made myself ill. When I start retching on a chamberpot every morning the truth becomes apparent even to Marcus. He sees the changes in my body as he explores it every night. He sees my breasts growing, filling so they can one day nourish the child growing inside me. He sees the curve of my belly expanding to accommodate our child. Like the fool and romantic that he is, he starts planning, preparing to take me and Alice to the continent. Where no one will judge or know that I’m nothing but a faithless woman running away from her pain.
I let Marcus live in his fantasies. I don’t have the heart to tell him that even though I welcome him into my bed, inside my body every night, even though my actions may speak otherwise, I still love Carlisle like I loved him the very first day I laid eyes on him. I’m torn between my passion for Marcus, the need I have to be protected by him from the pain that is eating me from the inside, and the fierce love I feel for Carlisle. Even after all this time apart I can’t make myself renounce him, even after all I’ve done I can’t make myself forget him. I know this will be my curse for as long as I live, to know that I betrayed the one person that I have ever loved.
I’m knitting in my parlour, enjoying the morning sun when a maid comes running into the room and screams at me that Lord Cullen is hurt.
I run to Marcus’ room to find a scene out of nightmares. His bed is covered in bloody rags, a doctor hovering over his body checking for signs of life. Everything is a flurry of activity, every one doing their best to save the kind Lord Cullen. However, as I look at him, as I touch his hand resting over his torso, I know. Marcus is gone, and with him is gone my world of light and fantasies. It’s time to wake up and face the pain.
The butler has to carry me outside as I succumb to my sobs.
“Esme,” I hear Carlisle’s voice croak as I open my eyes in our room. The memories come crashing down on me. Marcus’ accident, his death, Carlisle’s arrival, Carlisle’s face when he hugged me and felt the bump of the baby growing inside me. I fainted when I realised that he knew. There’s nothing I can do to hide my perfidy now.
I blink, and as my eyes clear from the tears I see the face, the one face I’ve longed to see in all these months. Carlisle is as handsome as he has always been. His features are twisted in pain, a pain I have caused, but he’s beautiful, there’s simply no other word.
He flinches when I try to touch his face and that hurts me more than I want to admit.
He walks to the other side of the room, and I feel the distance between us grow with each of his steps.
“Why?” he finally asks. “Why, poppet?” I could give him a multitude of excuses. I could lie and tell him Marcus seduced me, that I was an unwilling participant, that it only happened once. Instead, I do what I should have done since the very beginning. I tell him the truth. I speak of the pain that I felt when it became obvious that Anthony would not survive longer than a day. I tell him of how my heart broke when we put our baby boy on the earth. I tell him that I needed him, that I love him, and I needed his support. I let him know how much it hurt me to see him pull away, to realise that he preferred to be away from me. I explain to him that I am weak, that I let things escape my control, that I surrendered to Marcus looking for someone who cared. I simply needed someone who cared. I was so very alone. There’s so much loss and so much pain we have avoided.
I beg him for a second chance, a chance to start over, and he nods against my chest as he gathers me in his arms and cries for the first time since Anthony died.
It feels wrong to feel hope when Marcus is dead and my marriage is in shambles, but I can’t help but feel hope when I finally allow myself to share the pain with my husband, like I should have done months ago.
It’s late at night and I turn to find the bed empty. For a minute I think it has all been a dream and Carlisle is in London, away from us. However, when I hear someone cooing in the next room I smile.
I walk to find the sweetest scene I have ever witnessed. Carlisle is rocking a restless Edward in his arms. He’s humming an old nursery rhyme and rocking our baby boy against his chest. Edward is such a precious boy, so beautiful. He’s just like his fathers, like the father who sired him, and like the father who loves him with his whole heart. There’s no denying the love Carlisle feels for this baby. He is a miracle for us both, the missing part that has pieced our broken hearts back together. He’s the hope for the future, and I know in that instant, as Carlisle kisses Edward’s tiny forehead, that we will be fine. We will be more than fine.