1-15 Bennington, Vermont

I cornered Carlisle a month after my wedding. Every now and then he holes himself up in his study with his books, almost exactly the way Edward does in his room with his music. Jasper calls them a match made in Heaven.

That’s when punch Jasper in the shoulder.

Carlisle was reading some medical journal, turning pages so eagerly you’d think he was reading a thriller. When I entered, he flipped it over and sat back in his chair, his palms flat on his desk and his arms open.

Carlisle has this way of letting you know it’s okay to talk to him.

I slid onto the desk, one hip almost knocking over his pencil cup. It barely teetered; he caught it so fast I didn’t even have time to warn him.

“It’s funny how we sit,” I said.

He raised his eyebrows. “How we sit?”

“Not how we sit, I guess. That we sit.” I gestured to my lap. “I don’t need to sit here alone with you. You know I don’t need to sit.”

Carlisle chuckled. “You’re very good at the charade.”

For a long time, neither of us said anything.

“You didn’t come in here to talk to me about sitting, Alice,” he said gently at last.


Carlisle just sat there, his eyebrows raised.

“What does the M stand for?” I asked at last.

“The M?”

“Edward. He has a lighter, up in his room, on his special shelf. E. A. M.”

“Oh.” A smile spread across Carlisle’s face. “Masen. Edward Anthony Masen.”

Edward Masen.

Just like Jasper had once been Jasper Whitlock, Edward was Edward Masen.

What had the Masens been like, I wondered. Did Mr. Masen look like Edward? Gangly and tall, with red-brown hair that looked like it was on fire in the sun? Did Mrs. Masen bake him cookies? They had both died, I knew that much. We all knew the story of how the Cullens started; Carlisle, alone in a hospital in Chicago, presented with the wild idea to create a companion and the orphaned boy who would be the perfect experiment. But what had the family been like before then? Who had they been?

Carlisle doesn’t push conversations, which is one of the nicer things about talking to him. If he sees you’re thinking, he just sits back and waits for you to ask a question or say more.

“What were they like?”


“Edward’s parents.”

For a moment, Carlisle’s eyes glazed over, the way they do when he’s thinking about something that happened a long time ago. Or something that means a lot to him. In this case, I guessed, it was both.

“I didn’t meet his father,” he said carefully. “Not in any substantive way. He was delirious with fever by the time he was admitted, and he died within a few days. A lot of people did, then. It was such an awful disease.” He rubbed his temple, as though it was somehow possible for him to have a headache.

“His mother, though…” A little laugh escaped his lips. “I don’t think I’ve ever treated a more difficult patient. I could not get her to do anything that was even remotely in her best interest if it in any way ran counter to what she felt she needed to do for Edward. He was so much worse off than her-he was the one they brought in first. She got sick later, after she refused to leave the hospital and spent day after day exposed to the influenza.”

“She wouldn’t leave him.”

“She wouldn’t even entertain the idea.” Carlisle’s eyes glazed over again. “She loved him a great, great deal.”

“And you don’t?”

Carlisle chuckled. “Touché.” He hopped off the desk. “Why the sudden interest? Something isn’t about to happen to him, is it?”

He did a remarkably good job at keeping the panic out of his voice when he asked that.

“No,” I answered. “I just wanted to know. Thank you.”

Carlisle nodded. “Anytime.”

I started to make my way out of the room, but Carlisle called after me.


I turned.

“He doesn’t really think you’re a freak.”

Then he leaned back in his chair and went back to reading his journal.


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