Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 93)
I don’t know what I expected, but it definitely wasn’t this. The house was probably a hundred years old, three stories high and kind of… graceful, if that word could be applied to a house. It was painted a soft, faded white and all the windows and doors looked original, but they were probably in too good shape for that to be true. My truck was the only car in sight. When Edythe shut off the engine, I could hear the sound of a river somewhere close by.
“You like it?”
“It’s… really something.”
Suddenly she was outside my door. I opened it slowly, starting to feel the nerves I’d been trying to suppress.
“Are you ready?”
“Nope. Let’s do this.”
She laughed, and I tried to laugh with her, but the sound seemed to get stuck in my throat. I mashed my hair flat.
“You look great,” she said, then took my hand casually, like she didn’t even have to think about it anymore. It wasn’t a big thing, but it distracted me—made me feel just a little bit less panicky.
We walked through the deep shade up to the porch. I knew she could feel my tension. She reached across her body to put her free hand on my forearm for a second. Then she opened the front door and walked inside, towing me behind her.
The inside was even less like what I was expecting than the outside. It was very bright, very open, and very big. It must have started out as several rooms, but most of the walls had been removed from the first floor to create one wide space. The back, south-facing wall had been entirely replaced with glass. Past the cedars the lawn was open, and it stretched down to a wide river. A massive staircase dominated the west side of the room. The walls, the high ceiling, the wooden floors, and the thick carpets were all different shades of white.
Edythe’s parents were waiting for us. They stood just to the left of the door on a little platform in front of a huge grand piano. It was also white.
I’d seen Dr. Cullen before, of course, but it hit me again how young she was, and how outrageously beautiful. She was holding hands with Earnest, I assumed—he was the only one of the family I’d never seen before. He seemed about the same age as Dr. Cullen, maybe a few years older, and had the same pale, perfect features as the rest of them. He had wavy hair, the color of caramel, a few inches longer than mine. There was something really… kind about his face, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that made me think that. They were both dressed casually in light colors that matched the inside of the house.
They smiled, but made no move to approach. I thought they were probably trying not to scare me.
“Carine, Earnest, this is Beau,” Edythe said.
“You’re very welcome, Beau.” Carine stepped forward, slow and careful. She raised her hand hesitantly. I stepped forward to shake, and I was kind of surprised by how okay it felt to do that. Maybe it was because she reminded me of Edythe in a lot of ways.
“It’s nice to see you again, Dr. Cullen.”
“Please, call me Carine.”
I grinned at her, surprised that I felt pretty confident. “Carine,” I repeated. Edythe squeezed my hand lightly.
Earnest stepped forward as well, offering his hand. His cold, stone grasp was just what I expected.
“It’s very nice to know you,” he said sincerely.
“Thank you, I’m glad to meet you, too.” And I was. This felt right. This was Edythe’s home, her family. It was good to be a part of it.
“Where are Archie and Jess?” Edythe asked.
No one answered, because they’d just appeared at the top of the stairs.
“Hey, Edy’s home!” Archie called, and then he streaked down the stairs, just a blur of pale skin, coming to a sudden stop right in front of us. I saw Carine and Earnest shoot warning glances at him, but I kind of liked it. It was natural for him—how they moved when they didn’t have to worry about strangers watching.
“Beau!” he greeted me, enthusiastic like we were old friends. He held out his hand, and when I went to shake it, he pulled me into one of those one-armed bro-hugs, thumping me lightly on the back.
“Hey, Archie,” I said; my voice sounded winded. I was shocked, but also a little pleased that he really did seem supportive—more than that, like he already liked me.
When he stepped back, I saw that I wasn’t the only one who was shocked. Carine and Earnest were watching my face with wide eyes, like they were waiting for me to make a run for it. Edythe’s jaw was locked, but I couldn’t tell if she was worried or mad.
“You do smell good, I never noticed before,” Archie commented. My face got hot, and then hotter when I thought what that must look like to them, and nobody seemed to know what to say.
Then Jessamine was there. Edythe had compared herself to a hunting lion, which was hard for me to picture, but I could easily picture Jessamine that way. There was something like a lion about her now, when she was just standing there. But despite that, I was suddenly totally comfortable. It felt like I was in my own place surrounded by people I knew well. Easy—kind of like when Jules was around. It was strange to feel that here, and then I remembered what Edythe had told me about what Jessamine could do. That was weird to think about. It didn’t feel like someone was using magic or whatever on me.
“Hello, Beau,” Jessamine said. She didn’t approach or offer to shake my hand, but it didn’t feel awkward.
“Hello, Jessamine.” I smiled at her, and then the others. “It’s nice to meet you all—you have a very beautiful home,” I added conventionally.