Friday, February 14, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 1 & Pics

Chapter 1
August 2001
EDWARD
My steps were silent through the main entrance of Masen Manor. I shook my head as the name hit me full force.
Masen. I hadn’t been a Masen in a very long time.
I passed through the main hall, the trophy room, and the dining hall. I barely gave a glance at the large portrait that hung over the tables. It was such a farce, a pile of lies all wrapped up in an oil painting of a man I could barely stand when he was alive, but he was merely a symbol. He represented the founder of Masen Academy, a perfect historical figure made to quiet the questions.
He was the face that held steadfast over the years while we changed roles like actors in a play. The truth was, my father would never have given up his own personal living space to educate young minds. No, he’d been way too selfish for such an act, which made using him as a symbol all the more satisfying in the long run. A part of me hoped he saw it, that he watched this castle as hundreds of students had moved on from here to Ivy League schools, prosperous careers, and fulfilling lives. It had been eighty years since I’d reopened the doors of my childhood home as a boarding school. I hoped he saw each one of them…and hated it. Nothing I’d ever done had been good enough before; I could almost be willing to bet that anything I did now would be met with just as much, if not more, vitriol.
I finally exited out through the dorms and into the east wing through the door that was hidden and always locked. The destruction surrounded me, grounded me, and kept me focused, despite the many, many times the offer to clean it up and repair it had come my way. I sat down in the window that overlooked the back of the castle.
Night had fallen. It had been a bright summer day, so there was no escape from the indoors, but I didn’t need to leave. It was probably best I didn’t, anyway. Not today. Today, it was best I stay locked away.
Two figures appeared on the grounds below my window. They couldn’t be more opposite if they tried. One was tall and muscular, with russet skin, a heavy heartbeat, and almost black eyes, and he looked no more than twenty-five, but he was at least twice that. The other was pale, lithe, and scarred on almost every inch of his impervious skin. His heart was as silent as my own and had been since the Civil War.
Damn, Edward…I can feel your self-hate from here. You might want to tone that down a little, brother. I’ve still got two more teachers to move in. Jasper’s thoughts were as clear as if he were standing in the room with me, speaking aloud. His blond hair glinted in the moonlight as he smirked up at me.
I chuckled, saying, “My apologies, Jasper, for the moving in part, at least, but it was time to shift things around. You know this.”
He grinned, nodding, and looked around. You changed the cleaning and cooking staff last year, so it only makes sense to shift some teachers around for this year. Esme can pull off another few years, though.
“Like I could pull Esme away,” I said wryly, smirking down at them.
“True,” both men said with a laugh at the same time.
The darker of the men folded his arms across his chest. “You gonna ask or not?”
“No,” I murmured to myself, though I knew his hearing was just as sensitive as ours. “I don’t need to know, Jacob.”
“Yes, you do,” he said with a laugh. He smiled up at me, and I shook my head at how nothing got him down – not his lot in life, not his job...not even his affliction could tear him down. “I saw my mother. She had a message for you, considering what today is, and I think you should hear it.”
Scoffing, I rolled my eyes and started to get up from the window.
Edward, wait, he thought to me. When I looked down at him, he stayed with thoughts instead of speaking out loud. She said to tell you that she’s been watching the signs ’cause she knows how badly you want it to be different, but it won’t be. She said this year will change everything and that my great-grandmother was right in what she showed you. Every prediction has come true, man. You know she’s right. Even the little shit has come true.
I gripped my hair, shaking my head. “God, if that’s the case, then…” I sighed, my voice trailing off as I looked down at them. “Guess we’ll see, won’t we?” I asked him, not believing a word of it, not because I didn’t want to, but because if it were true, then my life was about to be turned completely upside down.
Standing up, I took in Jacob’s grin. He was taunting me in his head, but I ignored him. He finally stepped away from the castle, making his way toward the wilder part of the property. With a shiver over his entire frame and a long, low growl, his human form was gone, and in its place was a large red wolf. He was now officially on duty and left the yard to start his patrol, which would continue until morning, of the entire grounds.
I sat down on the sofa in the corner, glaring down at the floor. My hands curled into claws at the mention of Jacob’s great-grandmother. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to strangle the old gypsy woman or praise her. Giselle had been the bane of my existence for a hundred years. Had it not been for her, I wouldn’t have recognized the man currently making his way upstairs. Though, if not for her, I wouldn’t have clung to false hope for this many years. The old woman represented too much – the demise of my humanity, the hope for something I didn’t deserve, and the constant wish that she was wrong, though she never was. And she hadn’t left my mind since I’d realized what today was.
Movement caught the corner of my eye, and I gazed up at Carlisle, who made more noise than necessary. He was being polite, giving me a chance to run, but I didn’t.
“Son, I know you’re feeling…off, but you need to know,” he said, leaning in the doorway. “Esme thinks she found her.”
I shook my head in denial. “No,” I barely breathed aloud.
“She’s pretty damn sure, Edward,” he stated cautiously. “She just called. The girl is exactly as Giselle described.”
“Then she shouldn’t come, Carlisle,” I growled, standing up. “Keep her away from here. This…I can’t…There’s no… My life, this life, will ruin her! No one deserves this.”
Carlisle smiled sadly. “It’s too late, son. She’s accepted. Esme told me to tell you that it was a must that she come here.”
“Why?!”
“Edward, the girl…” He sighed, placing a hand on my shoulder. “First of all, the girl is brilliant. She’ll do very well here. Second, she’s…” He grimaced, shaking his head. “Son, she’s damaged. There wasn’t a chance in hell Esme wasn’t going to bring her here, and it’s quite possible that she’s not the one.”
“Well, I can damn well hope, right?” I sneered, hating myself for hoping and hating Giselle even more for ever planting this seed in my head.
He shook his head. “I understand your…trepidation, Edward, but perhaps this is a good thing?” he asked, making sure I looked him in the eye. “After all, Giselle wasn’t wrong about me, right?”
Snorting, I rolled my eyes at him, which made him smirk. “Do you think we gave her too much credit?” I asked him, honestly wanting to know.
He chuckled softly. “I don’t know, son. I’ve learned in my very long life not to discredit things that are out of my control, things that aren’t normal. I remember a time when gypsies were a pariah, when reading tea leaves and looking through crystal balls were considered witchcraft, an offense that would get them killed. Had we not located her again, gotten her to read your future again, even ten years after your change, then I’d say no, but sometimes, faith is all one has to keep them going in this life. She was right about Esme…and Jacob.
“I know she’s weighing heavily on your mind today, but I honestly can’t say I’m sorry she brought me my son, my oldest friend,” he stated, smiling at me. “Try to see the good things, Edward. Try to see what this night a hundred years ago gave you, instead of what it took away. And prepare yourself, because Esme will be bringing the girl with her for the start of the new school year. If the girl turns out not be your mate, she will still need our help.”
My brow furrowed as he quickly closed him mind to me. I caught a glimpse of a photograph, a cut-off conversation with Esme, his mate, and I saw sad, deep brown eyes.
“What happened to her?” I asked in a whisper.
“No one’s sure,” he replied firmly, stepping away from me. “All Esme knows is that she needs to be removed from her current situation.”
“Okay,” I breathed back, not understanding his cryptic answers. Just before he reached the stairs, I called him back. “Hey, Carlisle, what’s the girl’s name?”
“Isabella Swan,” he said softly, his eyes locking onto mine. He raised an eyebrow at me at just what that meant. “She prefers to be called Bella.”
“Oh, Christ,” I breathed, my mouth hanging open.
Beautiful swan.
I sat back down, shaking my head at what he’d told me. He’d always had a way of putting things that made me rethink my life, but despite the blurry human memory, I could remember my last night with almost perfect clarity. And this new student’s name was just a little too close for comfort.
~oOo~
August 1901
The crash and the raised voices pulled me from the book I was currently lost in, making me sigh deeply. I shouldn’t have come home from Harvard for the summer. I should’ve gone with my friends. I could imagine that they were already in Europe, already drunk on life and freedom. The coming year was supposed to be my last year, and I hoped to graduate and take up a teaching position somewhere in Boston, maybe even New Hampshire.
I wouldn’t have come home, except that my mother had begged me. Letter after letter, she pleaded with me to visit my last free summer. I was pretty sure she knew that I wouldn’t be back. Instead of touring Europe, I was stuck in the east wing of my parents’ manor, trying my damnedest to ignore the drunken, belligerent sounds of my father.
Sober, he was cold, distant, and uncaring. When drunk, though, he became something altogether different. He was a monster, especially toward my mother. I was used to stepping between them, used to deflecting all that he had to spew, simply to give her a respite. I tried not to think of what she went through when I wasn’t home.
Slamming my book down on my nightstand, I stood up from my bed. Maybe I could convince my father to take it outside, or at the very least, hole himself up in his study.
I made my way through the winding corridors toward the sounds that seemed to be getting louder. I passed by one of the servants, who gave me a sad smile.
“Never fear, Collette,” I said with a chuckle, leaning in when the old woman kissed my cheek.
“I’m glad you’re home, Master Edward. She needs you,” she whispered, her cheeks blushing at the impropriety of that statement, but I’d known the woman my whole life.
She’d taught me to read, bathed me, fed me, all the things the two people downstairs should’ve done, but they hadn’t. She cupped my face, looking me over.
“You’ve grown up to be a very handsome, sweet boy. You look just like your mother,” she said with a smile, and I noted a small tear in her eye. “Tell me you’re still treating the young women like a gentleman.”
Grinning, I blushed, shaking my head. “I’m too busy, Collette. School has me working too much to worry about girls,” I told her, though I’d had my eye on a friend’s sister for a few weeks.
She tsked at me, patting my face. “Nevertheless,” she huffed, kissing my cheek again. “Just make sure you aren’t like that scoundrel in town.”
Laughing, I nodded. James was a bit of a womanizer, but it was all in fun, and most of the girls he spoke to weren’t exactly proper themselves.
“Yes, ma’am,” I simply conceded, but both of us froze when the sound of shattering glass met our ears from the library. I locked gazes with her for a moment, sighing deeply. “I’d better…”
“Yes, you probably should.” She pointed toward the kitchen. “You come see me. I’ve made that lemon cake you like so much.”
I smiled her way, but continued on my path through the house. When I stepped into the library, I wanted to roll my eyes at the scene before me. My father was smiling down at my mother as she cleaned up broken glass. He chugged back a mouthful of an amber-colored liquid, and I couldn’t begin to imagine just how many he’d had.
“Father, perhaps you should—” I started, but he rounded on me with fire in eyes that matched my own.
“Perhaps you should mind your own business, Edward,” he snapped, his lip curling in hatred. “Shouldn’t you be in town with that worthless friend of yours? Or how ’bout wasting away upstairs with your nose in a book? Or…I know! Playing the piano?”
I shook my head. My father hated that I wasn’t following in his footsteps to become a lawyer. He hated even more that I wanted to teach music. Ignoring his abusive statements, I walked to my mother, kneeling down next to her.
“Mother, stop,” I begged her softly. “Collette will get it. You’ll cut yourself. Why don’t you go upstairs and draw a bath?”
Her eyes wide, she nodded at me.
I helped her stand up, wrapping an arm around her shoulders in order to guide her out of the library. But my father wasn’t having it.
“She’ll clean up this mess first,” he snarled, reaching for her.
“No.” I shook my head at him. “No, she won’t. You can do it, or wait for Collette, but she won’t be doing it, Father.”
His temper was on a razor’s edge, but in his inebriated state, he was slow and clumsy. He swung at me and reached for my mother, but I was able to dodge him and then shove him. Hard. He fell to his backside, but his head bumped the edge of the fireplace, knocking him out cold.
I froze in shock and fear, but my mother grabbed at my shirt.
“Go, my sweet boy. Go into town, stay at the inn if you must, but give him time to sleep it off,” she urged me, pushing me toward the door. “Go!”
“Mother, I…”
She shook her head. “I’ll be fine, son. He’ll wake up not remembering a thing. Collette will help me move him.”
She shoved me a few more times, and I finally made my way upstairs to dress. The whole time, my thoughts were consumed on how I shouldn’t have come home. I should’ve stayed in Boston, or maybe traveled with my friends, but home had been a mistake.
Luckily, Colin hadn’t put away the horses and the carriage, and I dove inside, telling him to drop me off in town. The crack of the whip echoed through the courtyard before we took off. It wasn’t a long journey, so when he pulled to a stop outside the small pub, my heart still hadn’t had a chance to slow down.
Colin opened the door, asking, “Master Edward, should I wait?”
I shook my head. “No, but perhaps you should get that new doctor in town…have him take a look at my father.”
“He’s a strange man, sir,” he countered, but nodded in acquiescence when I raised an eyebrow at him. “Yes, sir. I’ll go straight there.”
I actually liked the new doctor. Yes, he was strange, but Dr. Carlisle Cullen had helped my mother through a nasty flu when I was home for the Christmas holiday. He was pale, a bit young, but calm, intelligent, and rather wise for his young years. He couldn’t be more than five years older than me, and he’d only been in Hunter’s Lake for less than a year. Apparently he’d liked the Adirondacks when he visited as a young man, so he’d made it his mission to move here after medical school. He’d never said, but if I had to guess, I’d say his accent made him European…but from where, I couldn’t pinpoint.
The pub was loud, filled with all walks of life, but it was the overfilled table in the back to which I was heading. James was surrounded by girls with dark hair and dark eyes, their skin a pretty shade of brown. Gypsies. They welcomed me to the table, and the drinking began in earnest.
I’d traded a glass for a bottle by the time James had disappeared with one of the girls. I wanted to say her name was Maria, but I wasn’t sure. However, the one next to me seemed shy, even as she offered me her hand.
“Come, I’ll read your future,” she told me. “My name’s Giselle.”
I followed her without question. She was beautiful, exotic, and kind. Her room was above the pub, and when I walked in, my eyes had to adjust to the darkness. Only a few small candles were lit, giving the place an eerie glow. Giselle smiled my way, and right then, I could see that she was older than me, worn down in a way that one becomes when life isn’t so kind. She’d been used, abused, and most likely had had her heart broken more than once.
“Sit, please,” she commanded gently, and I obeyed, setting my bottle of whiskey on the table in front of me. She sat down slowly in the chair across from mine, her eyes raking over me in a way that made me squirm. “Relax, Edward. I see so much in you,” she stated cryptically. “So many colors around you. I want to see what will become of you.”
I didn’t believe in what she practiced, so I scoffed at her words.
“I’m rarely wrong,” she told me, wearing a smile that told me that not many believed in her ways. “Let’s see,” she sighed, pulling a crystal ball closer to her.
She studied not only the clear ball in front of her, but also pulled out a stack of large, colorful cards, laying them out in a certain way. I continued to take long draws from my bottle, growing closer and closer to the point of not caring about anything, which had been my intention to begin with: I wanted to forget.
Her eyes teared up, and she pushed everything out of the way in order to stop my next drink. “Stop,” she ordered, taking the bottle from me. “I see too much in you, Edward. Stop. Listen to me. I see…everything coming your way. Everything. There’s death, both at home and…and…you.”
My brow furrowed, but that got my attention. “How?”
“I can’t see, but what’s strange is…your death does not stop your heart. You find your soulmate.”
I snorted a laugh. “Well, who is she? And when?”
“That’s what’s so strange. I see your death...here,” she stated, pointing to a card. “But a hundred years from now, I see…your heart is complete. You meet your soulmate. She comes to you. She’s…silent and young and beautiful,” she whispered, frowning at that. “She’ll be yours and only yours.”
Shaking my head, I started to stand up. The woman wasn’t making sense. “How could I die and then find this perfect girl?”
“I don’t know.” She stopped me from standing. “You must be careful, Edward. Death is all around you.” She pulled the crystal ball closer. “I see you trade one father for another – a better one. You become someone else.” She looked up at me. “I also see a beautiful swan. It saves you from the darkness and shows you the light. It’s everywhere around you. Its wings wrap around you like an angel. She saves your soul. It’s this beautiful swan that you need to wait for.”
She pulled me closer. “There are rumors, you know. Demons walking the earth. They kill. They drain. They drink the blood of humans in order to live. They live forever. Edward, promise me you’ll be careful.”
“Okay, I promise,” I slurred, finally standing and swaying on my feet.
“I mean it,” she told me, gripping my lapel. “Don’t let the darkness take you!”
Her warning left me feeling strange and filled with anxiety. I wasn’t sure if it was the whiskey, or perhaps it was the odd woman. I took a deep breath, letting it out before making my way to her door. I decided the best way to sober up was to walk home, despite the late hour. My mother had told me to stay away, but I was feeling something akin to nerves when the thought of her entered my mind. Something felt wrong, though I wanted to blame the gypsy woman for trying to frighten me.
Giselle grabbed me once more before I opened her door. “I’ll see you again, though you’ll be…different.”
Shaking my head, I left her quickly, trying to push her strange behavior out of my mind. I stepped out into the warm evening, taking another deep breath in order to clear my head. I made my way out of town toward Masen Manor. I needed to check on my mother, I wanted to sleep in my own bed, and I was hungry. Collette’s offer of cake was sounding pretty good.
Once out of the small town of Hunter’s Lake, the lighting became almost nonexistent. The woods were dark and quiet. Too quiet. There wasn’t the sound of owls on the hunt or nocturnal animals foraging for food, or even the occasional wolf that howled in the night. There was simply…nothing.
I took the most traveled road toward my home, knowing I’d most likely be a few hours from my arrival. I was hoping that by that time, my father would have slept off his alcohol, or at least passed out completely. My hopes were to head back to Boston early. I needed to get away from Edward Masen Sr.
As I walked, my head became clearer, and Giselle’s words rambled around in my thoughts. Nothing she’d said made any sense. Not a word of it. I wasn’t sure what game she’d been playing, because she’d stopped being flirtatious and had turned so very serious. She honestly believed every word she’d spat my way.
I was just about to turn off the main road and onto the trail that led to my parents’ home, when something hit me hard from the side. I picked myself back up and looked around quickly, only finding a beautiful woman standing in my path.
“Maria?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at her. “I thought James…”
“I’ve finished with him. I was hoping you and I could…oh, talk,” she crooned, stepping closer to me.
She was beautiful, with dark hair and eyes that looked black, and her skin almost glowed in the moonlight. She moved quicker than I expected and was suddenly in front of me. I stepped back a pace or two, but smiled at my own drunkenness.
“Perhaps now isn’t a good time, Maria,” I told her with a chuckle. “It seems I’ve had too much to drink. And your…friend? Giselle had a few strange things to say. It’s probably best I just go home.”
She frowned – or pouted, really – causing her lip to jut out just a little. It was alluring and made her look rather fetching. Chuckling, I blushed when her fingers reached up to rake through my hair, which never quite did what I wanted it to do.
“Oh, Edward…that’s really disappointing,” she whispered, and her smell was more intoxicating that the drink I was pretty sure was still in my blood. “I find you…much more…delicious than James. And he proved to be…short-lived in his loving.”
I laughed, but couldn’t help but lean in to her. We were face to face, she was in a beautiful dark blue dress, and her hair fell around her shoulders in dark curls.
“I fear I won’t be much better, Maria,” I confessed in a whisper, groaning when her lips met mine. “I really shouldn’t…”
She kissed me, and her taste, her smell, her beauty pulled me in. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t stop to think about why she’d be out on the road this late at night, obviously alone. I didn’t think about my friend James or what she’d meant by “short-lived.” I should’ve thought about something other than my needs, but I didn’t.
When I needed to breathe, she pulled her lips from mine, trailing long, tantalizing kisses down my neck. And suddenly, the feel of it went from something alluring to something painful. My skin, my neck, my throat felt like it was on fire, but I couldn’t fight her. She was stronger than she appeared, holding me to her. I felt weak and small in her grasp, grunting when her fingers gripped so hard that I heard the bones in my arm snap.
The world, which was dark enough in the middle of the night, darkened even further. Lights and stars swirled behind my eyelids as she held me to her. Fire erupted in my bones, through my muscles, but I couldn’t fight it. I couldn’t push her away. My knees hit the ground at the same time that the pressure of her grip was ripped away.
I tried to see, tried to figure out what was going on, but all I could hear was snarling, growling, and then…nothing. The pain was excruciating and unending. It seemed nothing would ever be right again. I was dying, and my thoughts turned to Giselle. She’d been right.
A pale face with blond hair appeared in my blurry vision. “Edward…son, are you all right?”
“It hurts! It’s burning,” I moaned, writhing in the grass and holding my neck. “Dr. Cullen, please!”
“Damn,” he sighed. “Son, I can’t… It’s too late. I can end this for you, or I can tell you the pain will stop eventually, but you’ll be…different. More…but…”
“I don’t wanna die,” I begged him, reaching for something, anything. “Please…”
He grabbed my face. “I don’t want you to die either, Edward, but you’ll have to trust me. Can you do that?”
I think I nodded. I think I answered him before I felt myself lifted into his arms like a child. It was at that moment that the fire inside me exploded into something that was beyond pain or comprehension. It felt like the fires of hell itself were licking over every inch of me.
I burned for three days, as Carlisle would later tell me, though I didn’t know any concept of time. I burned, my heart felt like it would pound out of my chest, and my skin felt charred and crisp. It seemed nothing could stop it. I barely heard Carlisle’s constant assurance that it wouldn’t last forever. I’d scream when he’d touch me, but I couldn’t stand the feeling of being alone.
When I awoke, my heart no longer beat and the fire had stopped, but everything was different.
...not sure how to tell him. His whole life is now changed. And so much sadness…
I opened my eyes, squinting that everything was brighter, almost painful to my eyes. Smells – both good and bad – were sharp in my nose. And I could hear everything.
Golden eyes met mine when they gazed around. “Edward, take things slowly. You’ll be a little overwhelmed at first.”
I swallowed, my throat still feeling the effects of the fire I’d suffered through.
His future is now…tainted.
“Why?” I asked.
“Why what?”
“Why is my future tainted?” I asked him.
“You heard that?” he asked in a whisper. Can you hear this, son? You need to stay calm. Things are going to shock you. You’re no longer…human.
I sat up in my bed too quickly, and the headboard shattered behind my back. “If I’m not human, then what am I?”
“Oh damn, you can read thoughts,” he whispered, his mouth hanging open in shock. “Son, I need you to focus on me. You’re more than human, but you’re no longer alive. What we are is…vampire. You need to understand that you’re more powerful, and you’re immortal.”
I shook my head, gazing around. “My parents…where are they?”
This won’t be easy. He’ll need to hunt soon. I just hope he’ll attempt my diet...
“Edward,” he said, grabbing my shoulders hard. “I came looking for you in three days ago. That’s how I found you with…her.” He grimaced and shook his head slowly. “I’d been summoned to your parents by your driver. But when I got here, it was too late. Your father…he…”
“He what?” I snarled. The alien sound that came out of me caused me to pause.
“He took your mother’s life and then his own. I sent everyone from the house that night. I told them you were ill, but Edward…everything here is now yours.”
It was all too much: the fire in my throat, the overwhelming sounds and smells, and the news about my parents. I flew up from the bed and, in a blind rage, destroyed my end of Masen Manor. Nothing was left undisturbed, including my piano.
It took several tries for Carlisle to finally catch me, stop me, pleading the whole time to calm myself.
“Edward, son…” he growled, finally pinning me to the floor. “You aren’t alone. I will help you, but you must calm down. I can show you this life, help you.”
“How?” I panted, writhing under him, but the fight had left me. “I’m a demon, a soulless creature. Isn’t that right?”
Sadness crossed his face, but he nodded. “Maybe, but I’ve tried a very long time to live my life the right way. Son, I will help you, but you must focus. You’ll think better once you’ve hunted.”
“I’m a killer now?” My eyes burned, and I realized I wanted to cry, but was no longer capable of it.
“No, you don’t have to be. I can show you another way.”
~oOo~
August 2001
Now that I’d opened myself up to them, my memories assaulted me, and I reclined back on my sofa, my hands gripping my hair as my very long life flashed before my eyes.
I honestly had no idea what I would’ve done without Carlisle the first years…or now, for that matter. And his patience was never-ending. He guided me, counseled me, and taught me everything about this life, while his own long life had been torment.
Carlisle had told me Maria had been destroyed that night by his hands. He’d torn her apart, setting the pieces on fire – the only way to destroy a vampire. He’d also told me that James had been turned, but he hadn’t gotten to him quickly enough, so my old friend was rogue somewhere in the world.
Somehow, he’d managed to help me through the death of my parents, all the while claiming I was ill, in order for me to keep my home, my inheritance, and my name. He’d removed every human from the house, which saddened me greatly, especially when it came to Collette. She’d passed away not long after.
It had taken almost a year for me to conquer the feelings that overwhelmed me. I’d taken to Carlisle’s diet just fine, because the mere thoughts of humans threatened my sanity, so there was no way for me to be able to hunt anything but animals. He’d worked with me in order to use and control what he called a gift, letting me learn to decipher the difference between thought and voice.
Between 1901 and 1903, I’d hunted practically every damn day. I’d become a known recluse in the Hunter’s Lake community, but that worked in our favor. We’d let them think I was ill from the death of my parents, and soon, no one came near the house. We’d gone as far as Canada to hunt, keeping Masen Manor as our home base.
Carlisle’s interest in Giselle and her predictions was pure curiosity. Once I’d told him what I could remember she’d said to me that night, he’d tried going back into Hunter’s Lake to find her, but she’d moved on. It took us nearly ten years, to 1911, to finally locate her just outside of Manhattan, and she hadn’t been alone; her young daughter, Sue, had been with her. They’d been poor and barely making ends meet. Sue had had a young girl with her, Leah, and no man in sight.
When Giselle had seen me, I’d been able to sense her fear, but she’d still smiled my way. She’d been in her late forties at that point and even more tired and sad than before. However, the difference that time around was that I’d been able to see her mind when she’d pulled out her cards, gazed into her crystal ball, even going as far as reading my palms.
What I’d seen in her mind was just like she’d described before – large wings wrapped around me. Though, it wasn’t an angel. Beautiful swan. It was the only way Giselle could see it in order for her to make sense of it, but she saw the years fly by, a hundred of them. In her mind, it was soulful brown eyes that gazed at me. It was a scar across pale skin I couldn’t quite make heads or tails of, but mostly, she’d seen me. She’d seen how I looked at this girl: the hardened cold expression on my face was gone, and in its place was something I wanted to give a name to, but couldn’t. Even more, this girl was clinging to me as if I was her savior, which made no sense to me, considering I was a monster, a demon straight out of hell.
I’d stood up from her table just as confused as the first time. She’d said my life hadn’t ended, just my heartbeat, that I could do whatever it was that I wanted, and Carlisle had agreed with her. When she’d told Carlisle that his future held a wife, he, too, had been just as confused. The two of us had brought Giselle, her daughter, and her granddaughter with us back to Hunter’s Lake. I’d vowed to take care of them.
For the first several years, they’d lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of the woods. It wasn’t until Jacob was born that we’d moved them onto my property for safety reasons. They lived on the edge of my thousand acres in a small house on the other side of my woods. Jacob was Leah’s son, though he came much later. On Giselle’s deathbed, she’d begged me to take care of her family, swore to me that they were cursed, that there was a family affliction that affected the men, which put Jacob in danger. I didn’t understand until the day Jacob turned thirteen and suddenly morphed into a wolf. I’d kept him secret, kept him safe ever since, and in turn, he’d done the same for me and Carlisle…and eventually Esme and Jasper. They watched over Masen Manor when we weren’t there.
It was in 1919 that we found Esme. The mere thought of her brought a smile to my face. Carlisle had suggested we live somewhere else for a bit, so he’d practiced medicine in a small town outside of Chicago. It was a place he’d been before, and I didn’t know it until after he’d changed her that he’d met her before. She’d been too young, he’d said – only a girl in her teens when he first saw her – but when she was found almost dead from attempted suicide, he’d decided he couldn’t live without her any longer.
Esme Platt was the best thing to ever happen to either of us. She’d become Carlisle’s wife, but a mother to me. She was and always would be a source of comfort for me. It was Esme, after she’d learned to control her thirst, that had helped us figure out how to open a school. She’d loved the idea of shaping young minds, but knew that we’d have to be careful with the fact that we never aged.
She’d figured out that if we kept the classes small, rotated employees on a regular basis, and stepped away to let someone else run it for a decade or two, that we could, in fact, start a small boarding school. We hand-selected each student, and with Carlisle’s connections and my father’s name, we were able to push students on to higher educations in colleges all over the U.S.
In fact, it was one of those hand-picking journeys that brought Jasper to us. Carlisle and Esme were interviewing a student in Texas for a possible scholarship when they found him. It was 1942, and he’d been following them for days when they’d finally cornered him. He’d been curious about their golden eyes, when his were red. He’d been able to feel their peace, their happiness, and couldn’t help but ask them about it, which had revealed him to be an empath. He was extraordinarily powerful, at that, able to feel and manipulate people’s emotions – both human and immortal. It was fascinating to see in his mind.
What had made them bring him back to Masen Manor was the fact that he and I shared the same maker. Maria. She’d changed him during the Civil War. He’d been shocked that she was gone. He’d known she’d left the South in search of more candidates for a newborn army she’d wanted to build, but he’d never seen, nor heard from her again. He was, for all intents and purposes, my brother, and he’d been here ever since. Sometimes, he hid in shadows, like me, but now, he was the official grounds keeper…at least for the next few years.
Over the decades, I’d tried teaching music, but the minds of students weighed too heavily on me. They were loud, secretive, and constantly thinking about a million different things. Now, thanks to several advancements in technology, I was able to run the school behind the scenes and stay hidden. It was still mine, still my father’s name and face on the door, but according to those who researched it, it was owned by a large, private accounting firm. But really, it was all me.
Esme taught the first few years, Carlisle played headmaster, but over the years, we’d allowed humans to do the jobs for us. It wasn’t until recently that Esme had stepped back in as headmaster, taking a more active role in Masen Academy. She and Carlisle had lived across the country in Washington for many years. It was a new time, and despite that some of the older students would be returning, there would be a whole new staff to teach them.
With a deep sigh, I got up, walked to the night stand, and pulled out an old sketch book. Carlisle had told me to draw what Giselle had seen that day in 1911. With my new mind, my new eidetic memory, I’d been able to remember every single thing I’d seen in her thoughts. I’d drawn wings, dark, frightened eyes, and myself.
Sitting back down on the edge of the sofa, I flipped carefully through the old book. I never could see this elusive girl’s face, just pieces to a puzzle, but I’d drawn them all, including the jagged scar. I’d also drawn the new future Giselle had foreseen the last time I saw her, which was Masen Academy.
With each page, my drawings became angrier and impatient. Instead of being happy for Carlisle at having found his mate, I’d become jealous and withdrawn. The soulful eyes that Giselle had seen were there, but I’d drawn them with hate and ire. My curiosity at her predictions had slowly changed into bitterness. I’d hated that I was alone, I’d hated what I’d become, and not even the promise of something that seemed so far away could make it better. I’d begun to think Giselle’s foretelling was all a myth.
Now, a hundred years was upon me, and it didn’t seem real. I now had a firm grasp of what I was, and to force the owner of these beautiful eyes to see it made me sick. I prayed to a God I was sure had stopped listening that this girl Esme was bringing wasn’t the one, because if she was, I didn’t know what I’d do.
“Edward,” Jasper called from my doorway. “Man, stop that shit. Come for a hunt. You need it.”
Smirking up at him, I set the book aside. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea, Jasper.”
“Yeah, it is.” He stepped fully into the room, giving my living space a slow gaze. “Well, at least you finally cleaned this shit up, but damn, getting here is like a haunted fucking house.”
Laughing, I nodded and stood up. “Good. That’s the rumor with the students, right? The forbidden east wing is haunted?”
His grin was crooked and his golden eyes danced with mirth. “Yeah, I might’ve started that a few decades ago. There was a kid…Patrick? That little shit couldn’t follow the rules if his life depended on it. Always out of bed or where he wasn’t supposed to be.”
Chuckling, I raked my fingers through my hair, only to shove them in my pockets. I looked at my brother. “Carlisle said Esme thinks this new student is the one.”
He smiled sadly, tilting his head at me in a habit I knew too well. He was reading what I was feeling.
“You want it, yet you don’t,” he stated, and when I nodded, he gripped my shoulder. “Maybe we should go see Leah. Jacob says the old woman’s asking for you.” He shook me a little. “C’mon. We’ll hunt and then see what she’s got to say, yeah?”
I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for any more predictions, especially on the anniversary of the one that had completely changed my life, but I felt Jasper push determination and something akin to happiness my way.
“You don’t fight fair,” I growled, launching at him.
“This coming from the asshole that can read thoughts. Priceless,” he scoffed, walking to my window and pushing it open. He jumped down the four stories, landing silently. “Let’s go, brother. We’ve got all night, but the students will start arriving over the next few days.”
I jumped down beside him, and we took off into the night.





1 comments:

aelita48 said...

I like very much this first chapter!
It is the good beginning, it tempts me to read the continuation..
Thank you

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