*****ATTENTION MUST READ!*******
This story is about an original character, but the Cullens are all very present in this story. So never fear.
The first 7 chapters consist of Emmalie's childhood.
The next 7-8 chapters consist of her young adult years.
The next 7 her experiences with love and heartache.
There may be more but this is how it looks right now...
*Story deals with death and other heavy issues (no I do not kill my main character, but be prepared for the issue to come up)
*A love triangle (every twi-fic should have one)
*Suicide (again trust me on this)
*There will be sex- this was originally a coming of age story so yep I am going to go there
*And lastly the age difference thing (again trust me it is not going to be distasteful)
So this is the preface for Afterglow. Those of you who have been following elsewhere will have yet to read it.
hugs, AJ or Jackie as some of you have come to call me.
Delicately, I disentangled myself from cotton sheets that had softly shackled me to him throughout the night. It was how I rose every morn so it had become my most charming ritual, twisting free from our bonds formed from love without inconveniencing him or rustling him from his peaceful state. Gracefully I swung my legs over the side of our lumpy bed, curled my toes in a stretch before letting my bare feet to the ground. Not bothering with dressing, I slipped to my desk in the corner.
He remained motionless; letting me pretend to sneak about, but even with my back turned to him I could feel the love in his stare boring its way straight through my unclothed being. It was that feeling that centered me; my own personal gravity.
The smile that graced my lips spoke only to him, and the glance over my shoulder confirmed that he indeed recognized it was him who made me smile.
"Why are you out of bed?" He demanded in his spoiled way, his smile warm and loving. I tactfully opened my Macbook and ignored him.
"You're going to write?" He questioned annoyed at the very idea that he was suggesting.
"Yes," I admitted bashfully, ignoring his pampered self-interest.
"Emma!" He pouted, sounding very much like an overgrown six year old.
"I cannot help it," I said opening a blank document. "When you love me like that my mind dances with ideas. Perhaps if you were less inspiring, we could spend more time in bed," I suggested with a small wink and a coltish flip of my bed hair. In defeat, he returned his head to his pillow and I let my eyes drink him in.
It was nights like the last that burned into my memory. Every time was as different as the sunset, each beautiful in their own way. I could live my entire life in the wake of such moments, or so I thought at one time. I had thought that I could love him once and that after I would find I had my fill. But it was a silly notion, a notion as silly as only viewing a single sunset before choosing blindness. And remembering him was not enough. No one remembers the sunset on a certain day; they can't tell you the fade or vibrancy of the hues. It was not enough for me to remember the time in which he loved me, I needed his love, to feel it at all times.
After the sun truly sets, all that is left is for it to fade to night. Sometimes the colors linger, hanging about in a magical way as if refusing to diminish. It is a denial of sorts. I know now that I could not live in the afterglow of his love, not now not ever. In truth I would much rather die than live a lifetime simply remembering him...
It was a cold overcast day, the day my mother found me. It was two weeks after another joyless Christmas and the January air bit bone-deep at the usual low of -4 degrees Celsius. The ground was still unthawed and frozen against my bare feet, but at least most of the snow had been shoveled off the cobblestone walks.
The bleak day suited my lifeless future.
Young as I was, I remember it all vividly. They were honeymooning in Prague, since they had honeymooned in most every destination location the Travel Agency offered.
It was a lover's stroll at sunset; her slender hand was laced in his large calloused one. They were walking, enthralled in one another, when my mother heard my four-year-old whimpers. Twelve blocks away and still she heard it. She did not start out as my mother but she adopted me, calling me her own from the moment we met.
Dragging my reluctant father to the very alley I was in, the two of them flew around the corner like a stray gust of wind. They were dressed tastefully, elegance that did not belong in such a wicked alley. The contrast of beauty and filth was nearly blinding.
He hung back his massive size, casting a shadow, but she approached with vigor. I think he was resistant because this was not the first time she sought out a child. Her heart longed to be a mother, a aspiration unattainable because of what she was. She was an aunt and for a while it pacified the desire she had. But her niece grew up so fast it soon left her with more yearning than fulfillment. It gave her but a taunting, fleeting glance at what she craved most.
Once she thought that her happiness was dependant upon her ability to conceive, but somewhere along the line that notion changed. Unethical as it might be, she wanted me.
When my father saw the man with the mustache striking me with the broom, he let his reflexes take charge. I was swiped out of harm's way and placed in my mother's cold but consoling embrace. Both she and I would remember this as the first time she had ever held me. My head nestled against her, blocking my vision from my father's violent confrontation.
"You bastard! Why don't you beat up someone who can fight back," a voice thundered, amplified by the surrounding walls. My eyes clamped shut in fear of seeing a fight.
"She is my ward. The orphan brat needs to be taught to..."
But that was all I heard, for the shattering of flesh and bone ended him short.
At the time, the sounds, while scary, were unbeknown to me. Her arms tightened protectively about my small frame. We departed from that alleyway, walking at a hastened pace, but not too fast to draw unwanted attention. My father must have seen the immediate attachment in her eyes for he chided her.
"You can not keep her, Rosalie," he commanded in a muted growl. They were speaking English now, a language that any good street beggar knew well.
"But she is an orphan," she objected, her voice whining with ballad-like tones. I noticed her perfect angelic features, her rich milky skin.
"Then she'll go to an orphanage where orphans go," he replied coldly. He ran his huge hands through his untidy chocolate curls in aggravation. I think now he was upset about the life he took. She, however, was not burdened with the same guilt.
"Why did you have to pick now to show your alter benevolent ego? You know we can not keep her," he barked in her ear as she strolled on, unmoved by his antagonism.
It occurred to me that they were discussing me. I did not mean to interrupt but my sobs slipped from my mouth. Pain besieged me.
"Ahhh ouch, Mia, ohhhh, Mia," I cried. Mia was my word for mother, the real Czech word was maminka or mamina. She began to rub my bruising hurts, her hands acting as the ice. I suppose this is when he decided to pry me from her arms so he could precede with his plan, a plan he liked to call 'get rid of the stray orphan girl.' Squirming in his iron grasp, I called to her.
"Mia, Mia, Mimi," I screamed frantically, my regard already set in stone. I kicked with all the might I could gather, being sleep deprived and starved. When he finally surrendered and gave me back, I was hostile.
"I'm here, sweetling," she whispered, angelic timbres ringing in my ears. I think my mother must have flashed her pleading eyes at my father, eyes that could get their every request, for he relented.
"She can stay the night in the hotel with us but no longer. Be reasonable, babe."
At the hotel, my mother doted upon me, washing me gently and braiding my golden brown hair. She shared her lavender vanilla French shampoo, the one which she normally allowed no one to so much as waft with out permission.
Sniffing me, she then toweled me off with the oversized fluffy towel she never traveled without. At that moment, she gleamed at me as if she was overly pleased with the fact that the sewage smell no longer clung to me. My filthy soiled smock was thrown out and she clothed me in a soft cotton baseball t-shirt that fell to my bony ankles. I loved that t-shirt. It was mine from that day on.
I was always small for my age but I was clever. I curled up with her and watched cartoons, my skin tingly clean and my hair smelling like lavender. I felt safe lying against her winter embrace, despite my shivering.
To my left, my father sulked on the coral settee. Now I realized it was more the fact that I stole away his honeymoon attention than it was that he disapproved of me. Who could blame him? Here they were in the most exclusive honeymoon suite and I was watching 'Sesame Street' with his wife.
Dinner that night consisted of every entree, appetizer, and dessert on the menu. Room service sent up several carts to deliver our oversized order. I ate well, but like all four-year-olds, the food kept my attention for a matter of minutes. She would have force fed me if he did not stop her.
"Rose, leave her be. She knows if she is hungry or not. Humans do not take in as much as we do and she is small," he reminded as she spooned crème Brule between my lips.
She was so joyful and passionate, like a girl who had discovered dolls for the first time. Her eyes were honey, glazed with love; his were dark and worried.
It was later that night when I woke up crying for 'Popeye' that he first really held me. 'Popeye' was the only cartoon I had ever watched prior to tonight. It was my name for him and in my four-year-old mind, it fit. He was an extremely strong and grouchy man. I held out my arms to him, crying harder when he did not come right away.
My pretty new mother had left the room minutes ago with the phone plastered to her ear. Now that she was gone, he looked totally clueless about what to do. At first he looked at me, then he went to the room's door to peer down the hall in attempt to find her. But when he walked away, my sobs were louder and he came back and scooped me up.
"Popeye! Popeye! Popeyyyyyyye!" I cried on his stone shoulder.
"Popeye is here, little one, don't cry." And in his arms I stopped weeping. After a short while I stopped trembling, too. My mother slipped back in just as he was gently tucking me in under the covers of the four post bed. She smiled in approbation and then kissed him and me. They were my parents from that instant on.
My mother was and is the most beautiful creature on earth and my father was her equal, a masculine idol himself. She was exquisitely attractive; he was extraordinarily buff. They looked young, around eighteen to twenty, with the facade of high school sweethearts turned newlyweds. But in actuality, they had lived longer than most grandparents. They were the best parents on earth but hardly human.
Before we left Prague, I was christened in an old cathedral, St. Nicholas church, near the Old Town Square in the historic district. I was appropriately named Emmalie Alice Marie Cullen.
For the next six months, we resided on the rural coast of Greenland, keeping to ourselves, renting a small fisherman's cottage while he was out at sea. My English, though baby talk, was pretty fluent for a four-year-old and before a month's time, I was reading.
My mother was overindulgent, giving me everything while my father was the practical disciplinarian. I think this was a hard part for him to play; he would have much preferred to be my personal jester. And often he was making me laugh until I cried. But I needed structure. It was good that he accepted the role, for my mother could not stand to see me cry, at least not at first. I believe the times I found myself in the biggest trouble were the times I directly challenged him. I see now that he was only looking out for my best interest, but then it seemed like he was being a big bully.
It was one of those misty days in Greenland when both Mia and Popeye took turns going out to eat. I ate little of my breakfast that morning which displeased Popeye but he just gave me 'the look.' Then I lied to Mia when she came back and told her Popeye fed me lunch. When Popeye came home to our little cottage, he was less than thrilled about the fit I was throwing for his wife about dinner.
"I'm not little anymore. I don't have to eat. I'm big like you!" I screamed throwing my little four-year-old body under the table. She was more hurt than frustrated, but she was not angry. She would have let me throw fits well into my teen years. Popeye on the other hand yanked me out and started the questions that he knew the answers to.
"Did I just hear you raise your voice? Are you the same girl who did not eat any breakfast?" he interrogated, giving me a harmless shake. I was always mad when he was the mean Popeye and not the funny one.
"She did not eat breakfast?" my mother questioned, overly worried.
"No! How did she eat for lunch?" barked my Popeye in response.
"She told me you fed her," my Mia confided in a small voice, her eyes darting back and forth between us.
"Emmalie Alice Marie Cullen! Did you lie to your mother?" I did not look scared. It's strange because most children would have been afraid of Emmett in his happy moods but not even his bad moods fazed me. I looked at him defiantly and glared. His response was simple; he swiped me up and forced me into my chair.
"YOU WILL CLEAN YOUR PLATE AND THEN YOU'RE GOING STRAIGHT TO BED," he commanded in a fierce voice.
"No," I refused in my peppy little voice. Then I made the mistake of throwing my plate. He of course caught it and the confetti of noodles, then glared at me. In an instant I was scooped up and carried to the corner. My nose pushed in with a mild slap to my rear. Instantly I started crying. He then sighed.
"You have to stay here for four minutes. Do you think you can do it?" Popeye questioned his voice now mildly upset.
"No, Emmett, please. She is crying.....she'll not do it again. Let her out," my Mia begged in a child-like voice. She was always my advocate.
"Rose, you have got to be kidding me. In our day, she would have received this plus a good sound leathering. She is staying here for four minutes!" Popeye declared, annoyed at her resistance. I heard my Mia pout at his words.
"Emm, baby, please! I can't stand to see her unhappy," she griped, stomping her foot.
"Rose, really, you are worse than her. You are going to have to get better at this," he said firmly. He still had his hand on my shoulders pushing me into that corner. "Three minutes," he announced, I think for both our sakes. She groaned in agony. He requested, "Emmalie, Popeye has to go distract your Mia. Do you think you can stand here like a good girl?"
I nodded. Anything that got me his praise was worth doing. And distract her he did. They sure did make a lot of noise. But when I tried to see what all the fuss was about, I was told to get my nose to the wall. Standing there in that corner, I had no idea how he was diverting her. Now I have a crystal clear picture of what they were doing.
After my Popeye claimed it had been three minutes, I was let out, redeemed. And my Mia had a new found appreciation of 'corner time.' Needless to say, she never complained again.