Isabella was scared out of her mind. Yesterday was her eighteenth birthday, and tomorrow she would be getting married. Carlisle Andrews had not been around for the last five years. When he left he had been the most eligible bachelor in the town. It was an arranged marriage set up by their parents when she was only four years old, when Carlisle was fourteen. She was afraid of what would happen tomorrow night. She waited her whole life to be with him, but he had not been there. Now she was supposed to marry him, and she wanted desperately to love him. She’d just turned eighteen and tomorrow was her wedding day.
Carlisle had known Little Isabella over half his life. He had always been allowed to see her up until he had left to see the world five years ago. He’d received a letter from his father not long ago. He had spoken of an illness, just an old man getting weak with age. He had also spoken of Carlisle’s return, Isabella had just turned eighteen and it was well past time that they were married. Carlisle could not help but still see her as a small child, but now he would be forced to see her not only as a woman, but as his wife. He had always loved his Isabella, but now he felt like he was taking her life from her, and there was no way to stop what their parents had started.
“Father,” Carlisle bellowed as he entered the front door of his family home, he had his own home build a few towns over, on nearly one hundred acres of forested land. This home in the city was slightly strange to him now.
“He is in his study today Master Carlisle, he was feeling’ poorly and wanted to be near the fire’s warmth.” The maid Annabelle said, bowing her head as he passed her.
“Thank you Annabelle, I can find my way there.” He said as he quickly passed her and made his way down the long corridor to the large door at the end of the hall that housed his fathers’ study. He knocked quietly, and after a moment the gruff voice of his father told him to enter.
“Carlisle my son, it’s been too long since I’ve seen your beautiful face. Please sit, we have to talk.” Edward Andrews motioned to the chair across from him. Carlisle’s brow was lowered in thought, and he stayed silent until his father spoke to him, “You look distressed my son, what’s bothering you? Is it the wedding?”
“It’s just so hard to see Isabella as a woman. Father when the marriage was arranged Isabella was just a child, and I was almost a man. I watched her grow as long as I could, but when I left she was barely thirteen and hadn’t even begun to become a woman.” He continued suddenly frustrated.
“Son, she is eighteen. You have drawn this out as long as you can.”
“I Know!” he snapped, “And now I have to take this girl, and wed her, bed her, possibly create a child with her.” Edward saw the pain in Carlisle’s eyes and knew it well. Carlisle’s mother had also been very young.
“My son, you love Isabella, don’t you?” Edward asked.
“Of course I do.” Carlisle muttered.
“Then let it be you that has her, let it be you that cares for her. Son if you do not marry her someone else will, someone who may not love her, or care for her. At least with you she is loved. I understand your pain.”
“Yes, I know. But even you must admit that there are times when you treat mother like a child in your care.” Carlisle said speaking the cold truth to his father.
“I don’t mean too.” Edward said lowering his head. “I’m old now, but I could never be without your mother, and she learned to love me,” he sat quietly for a moment before continuing. “I know the man that your mother would have married had I not chosen to be with her. I believe he’s a butcher in the town. He has a wife and two daughters. His wife died last spring; they say it was an accident. She had four broken ribs and fractured skull from a fall. His daughters end up with bruises all the time. I don’t buy the fall. So I’m proud I have your mother. If I did anything I saved her.” His fathers’ voice grew silent as the door opened and his wife Lillian walked in. She was only ten years younger than him, but she still looked young, and she was vibrant and lively. She’d fallen in love with Edward and bore five children, the oldest was Carlisle.
“My boy, where have you been?” she said as she wrapped her arms around her eldest son.
“Around the world and back mother!” Carlisle said as he rose from his chair to wrap his mother in his arms.
“Around the world and back indeed,” she said smiling, “and home just in time to be married to Isabella.” She said happily smiling.
“Yes, Lilly we were just talking of that, Carlisle is having some reluctance with the situation.”
“With what exactly? Certainly not her status.” She eyed her son, knowing she’d taught him better.
“Oh, of course not mother. I would never be so materialistic.” He pulled away from her and began pacing across the room. “It’s the age mother is all, I can’t help but see her as a child.”
“Come now, enough. You give that girl time, and she’ll love you. Just tell her how much you love her, and you will love her more than you’ll ever know. It all comes with time darling.” Carlisle listened to his mother and his father, and as he went to bed and prepared for the next day he hoped that his and Isabella’s story would be like his parents, because he desperately wanted to love her, and make the both of them happy.
~ ~ ~ ~
Isabella stood at the back of the town church, and tried to hold back her tears. She knew that if she couldn’t then no-body would suspect that they weren’t happy tears. She was marrying the most eligible bachelor in her town. Yet, she wanted to cry. She didn’t know him but as a fleeting face throughout her childhood. He’d said goodbye to her and her family when she was only thirteen years old and she had not seen or heard from him since. Not even a letter to say where he had gone, nothing to connect them.
As the doors opened and she began to walk down the ail to her new husband, she heard a gasp from the people who sat in the audience in the pews, and as she looked up she saw Carlisle’s mouth drop and a smile cross his face. Carlisle was not what she remembered from her childhood. Back then he’d been lanky and young looking, but he looked more like a man than anyone she had known. She could see taunt muscles even underneath the suite that he wore. The skin that she could see was a darker olive color compared to pale it had been the last time they’d seen each other. His hair was jet black, and as he stared into his eyes she could see the crystal blue that had captivated her during her entire childhood.
He’d never seen an angel look as beautiful as Isabella as she walked down the ail towards him. She wore an elaborate white dress that came up to the top of her chest before stopping, and her shoulders were covered in a lacey shawl. The rest of her was more beautiful than the dress. Her skin had been kissed by the sun, causing a dark tan color, a giant contrast against her dark grey eyes. Her long brown hair was pulled up into a braided bun at the back of her head. He could see tears rolling from her grey eyes, but she smiled as she took his hand gently and took her place beside him.
Isabella sat on the giant bed that was in the master bedroom of their home. As she looked out the window into the wooded night she couldn’t believe how beautiful her new home was. She could hear a waterfall from the open door to the balcony knew that she wanted to see it. She walked out to the edge of the balcony and looked out to see the fall of water flowing beside the home. She hadn’t seen Carlisle since they’d entered the home hours ago. He’d told her to get comfortable, and that he would join her in a few hours. She’d found a shirt in his closet and slipped in on over her body. She knew he was tall enough that the tale of shirt would come down past her knees and she quietly turned it into her own private nightgown.
She felt warm hands gently touch her curvy hips and she jumped and quickly turned to see who it was. She found herself gently embraced in Carlisle’s arms. She was breathing heavy, this was the first time a man had touched her. Her heart was beating rapidly, and she didn’t know what to do, or how to react. She wanted to touch him but where and how?
Carlisle could feel how scared she was. He hadn’t meant to sneak up on her, but she’d looked so beautiful and no other had tempted him so much by wearing his shirt the way she was. It was innocent to her, but it was delicious to him. He could feel her reluctance, but he also knew that she wanted to make him happy. She just didn’t know what to do. She fidgeted nervously as he moved closer and brushed a strand of hair back behind her ear. “Why are you so afraid? You have to know I won’t hurt you by now.”
“Of course Carlisle I know,” she said averting her eyes from his.
“Come into bed, we can talk.” He was shirtless when he climbed into bed with her.
“I’m not afraid of you. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to love a man. All I’ve known is you my whole life, and you’ve been gone most of it. How could I have fallen in love with you when you were nowhere around. You didn’t even write me.” She said dropping her eyes from his again.
“I can see it hurt you when I left. You were so young I didn’t think my absence would have phased you. Now I can see while I was off living, you were here waiting. How could you fall in love with me when I was never there for you?”
“I want to be in love with you. I want to touch you and make you happy, but how can I when I don’t even know what I’m doing.” She said a tear rolling down her face.
“My mother has a saying sometimes, when we ask how it was with her and my father. She always says love comes softly. She said they were together close to a year before they finally made love. He let her fall in love with him, just like I will do with you. I will never force you, I will never push you, but my Isabella I will always love you.” He said running his hand down the length of her hair. She turned her head into his palm, truly feeling him touch for the very first time. She took in his scent, and the warmth of his skin. She felt safe there, laying near him. Slowly she slid down until her head rested perfectly under his chin and her arm stretched to wrap around his stomach. She had never known how perfect of a fit they were, and how they could fit together like puzzle pieces. Her head on his chest, her hand in his palm. Could it really be this simple?
“Thank you Carlisle.” She whispered as she drifted to sleep on his chest, listening to his heartbeat against hers, like a lullaby sending her to sleep safe in his arms.