Emmett wiped the sweat away from his forehead and glanced up at the gleaming sun. The heat was unbearable at the best of times but add lugging around heavy timber and it was exhausting. He had been working alongside his brothers William and Christopher ever since he turned eighteen fixing the railroads of Tennessee. Now two years later he was still stuck in Gatlinburg doing the same thing. Frustration caught in Emmett’s throat as he fought the urge to throw the huge sleeper he was now carrying to the ground. How were his brothers content with this kind of life? Surely, they wanted more, there was a whole world out there just being discovered. There had to be more to life than bitter tears and broken hearts and a lifetime of backbreaking work. His brother William tugged at Emmett’s sleeve and smiled.
“You have a minute brother?” he asked.
Emmett nodded and followed William away from the tracks. They stopped under the shade of a tree and Emmett was grateful for moment of cooling darkness.
“I’ve been thinking,” William began pausing to make sure his brother was listening. “Mary and I have been courting for a year now and it only feels natural that we should progress our relationship.”
“Progress? Are you planning on asking Mary to marry you?” Emmett asked astonished. This was so unexpected, his brother had never mentioned that he was intending to marry Mary so soon. Eyeing his brother wearily, he wondered if there was maybe another reason for the rash decision his brother was making.
“Well mother is pressing for it to happen and I know Mary’s family are just waiting for me to ask so I guess now is as good a time as any. Yesterday I went into town and picked a ring, I’ve just got to ask for her family’s permission and then we can set a date.”
“Wow so soon? Congratulations but I’m not quite sure why you’re telling me this William.”
“Well the ring needs picking up today and I’d go into town myself but I’m needed here to supervise and I’d ask Christopher but well we all know he can’t be trusted with any task no matter how small.” William said as he watched his older brother swipe at his forehead with the back of his hand.
It was a well-known fact that Christopher McCarty had only two things on his mind liquor and women. He only worked to fund his trips to the saloons and buy his latest woman friend the newest items of fashion that were being shipped in from far-flung places. A disappointment to Nate McCarty their father and an embarrassment to the family Christopher McCarty didn‘t care who he offended. Emmett glanced across at his eldest brother and grimaced. He wished there was something he could do to help him. He knew Christopher was not a bad person nor was he possessed by the devil like pastor Francis said, he just had a selfish streak that he never tried to hide. At least he was being himself and not pretending to be happy just to please his family. Turning his attention back to William, he sighed.
“So what you’re trying to say is please Emmett will you go and pick up the ring since you’re the least valuable member of the group.” Emmett said sourly.
“No not at all! I’m saying Emmett will you please go pick up the ring because you’re the only person I trust to do so,” William answered a little too quickly for Emmett’s liking.
What choice did he really have? He could either stay here and move heavy sleepers under the burning Tennessee sun or go into town and maybe stop off for a cooling drink before heading back. After agreeing to go, he was handed a piece of paper by William and told he needed to give that to the clerk. Stuffing it into his trouser pocket, he mounted his horse, bid farewell to his brothers and began the long journey into the centre of Gatlinburg. Knowing a short cut that would cut his travelling time in half Emmett steered his horse towards the forest than ran through the Smokey Mountains. The green leaves formed a canopy high above his head yet the heat still managed to get through. Dark curls of hair clung to Emmett’s forehead as he swiped at them angrily. Picking this route might have cut his journey but it did little to stop him feel as though he were being boiled alive. The horses hooves crunched against the dry ground and echoed through the eerie silence, which was only broken by the animal snorting as they went along. Emmett hated going anywhere alone and loved being in the company of others. His brothers would laugh at him and call him a baby and with his dimples and curly hair, he supposed he looked like one too. Being the youngest of the McCarty clan was especially hard as he had big shadows in the shape of his father and William. Both were hard working people who knew exactly what they wanted and where they were heading in life. Emmett had no idea where he was going or what he wanted, he just always felt there was something or someone waiting out there for him. If only he could find them then he would be free of this place and its small-minded people. Yes, out there somewhere was Emmett’s destiny just waiting for him to stumble upon it.
It was mid afternoon when Emmett’s horse stopped dead in its tracks. Emmett could feel the animal tense underneath him and began to wonder just what it was sensing. In a bid to calm the animal he lent forward and ran his hand along it’s neck.
“Come on now boy there’s nothing out there but some wild birds quit being such a coward.”
Ignoring its masters voice the horse took two more paces back and halted ears pricked forward. A rustle of leaves in the distance now had Emmett on full alert as he tried to urge his horse to walk on. Then a movement caught his attention and Emmett suddenly locked eyes with a huge grizzly bear. The bear stood quietly then raised it’s giant paw and slammed it into the ground almost challenging Emmett. The horse let out a startled cry and reared up sending Emmett crashing to the ground. He watched the animal turn and run leaving him to face the bear alone. Shuffling across the ground he found himself backed up against a tree, fear crashing throughout his body. This animal was enormous and as it stood on hind legs Emmett realised it was taller than he was and he was no small person himself. Working the railways had given him a build most men could only dream of which was further accentuated by his height. Watching the fur bristle along the bears body he began to wonder if he could outrun the creature. Sure he wasn’t the fastest thing on two legs but maybe just maybe he could put some distance between them. As if sensing his thoughts the bears lips curled back to reveal teeth like Emmett had never seen. His heart beat loudly in his ears as all common sense left his body and he turned and ran. He could hear the animal crashing through the forest behind him it’s furious snorts filling his ears. He was going to die and all he could think about was how he wouldn’t get the ring to William. Consumed with his own thoughts he failed to see the twisted tree root as his body slammed against the hard floor. The impact reverberated throughout his body and was quickly followed by a sharp jolt of pain. Rolling over onto his back he was now eye to eye with the bear. Emmett’s heart sank as he closed his eyes and in one last valiant effort he punched the animal square in the snout. The grizzly gave out a loud roar and swiped it’s paw against his body. Emmett felt the air rush from his lungs and his skin blaze under the impact of sharp claws. Blood poured through his clothes and across the ground as he felt the animal rip into his side.
Giving out a scream he prepared to take his final breathe. Every ounce of his body cried out in pain as he begged for the bear to hurry up. It was then he realised the bear had stopped. Managing to look up he saw the giant grizzly lay across the ground, its head at a strange angle and just behind it stood the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her pale skin seemed to shimmer almost and blonde hair waved elegantly past her shoulders. Surely he was dead as only an angel could look this way. The woman moved closer to him and knelt by his side inspecting his wounds. He noticed the strange ochre colour of her eyes which reminded him of uncut Amber. She smiled at him and whispered in words that sounded like a lullaby to his ears. Scooping him up in her arms the woman began walking through the forest. Pain and blood loss had his head feeling as though it were full of cotton and too tired to ask how this woman was carrying him Emmett closed his eyes. He felt as if he were floating on clouds guided by angels to some unseen destination yet all he could hear were the females beautiful words that reassured him everything would be alright.
A sharp burning sensation like hot metal ripping through his skin had Emmett’s eyes flying open. He was greeted with the view of an older male who hovered just above him concern filling his own amber coloured eyes. Emmett noticed he had similar features to the girl the same pale white skin and blonde hair. Then something else caught his attention but this was internal. A strange kind of fire ripped through his body as his jaw tensed up. Letting out a scream half in defiance and half in sheer agony Emmett found himself wishing the bear had killed him. He’d never felt pain like this and his whole body seemed to be fighting itself. His insides writhed from the torture they were enduring.
“Carlisle what if something went wrong?” the female said.
“Rosalie everything is fine it’s just the venom.” The man replied in a soothing tone.
Bears don’t have venom Emmett thought to himself. Who were these people? An why did he feel like his whole body had been thrown into the fires of hell? It seemed like hours had passed before the pain became a dull ache and Emmett could take no more. Exhausted, afraid and aching he let go of every thought he had tried to hold onto and gave in. The roaring fire that had flooded his veins seemed to quieten down and became a little bearable. Managing to open his eyes he noticed he was in a room filled with expensive looking furniture and large paintings. The sounds of a piano danced across the air and Emmett struggled to sit up to get a better look at his surroundings. This was definitely not heaven it was someone’s home. How had he survived that bear attack? Lifting up his tattered shirt his own gasps filled the room. His skin was perfect, not a scratch or bruise upon it. He traced his finger along where he thought the animal had cut and felt confused. Had the whole thing been a dream?
“Ah you’re awake Rosalie will be pleased,” the man named Carlisle said.
Emmett’s head snapped up as he realised he was no longer alone. “Who are you? Where am I? What happened?” He gushed.
“It’s natural for you to have questions and I will do my best to answer all of them but first can you answer mine? What’s your name?”
“Emmett McCarty,” he choked out as his mouth began to dry up.
“Well Emmett I’m Carlisle Cullen and this is my home. Rosalie found you in the forest in Gatlinburg, you’d been attacked by a bear but everything’s going to be ok.”
Emmett told Carlisle that he needed to go home, that his family would be looking for him and would be worried. He listened as Carlisle told him his family were no longer looking as it had been four days and he was presumed dead. Dead? How could he be dead he was sitting right here wasn’t he?
After being left alone for a while Emmett was introduced to the rest of the family which consisted of Carlisle, his wife Esme their son Edward and Rosalie. Emmett couldn’t help his mind wandering back to the woman in the forest whose beauty had captivated every part of him. He longed to know her yet was strangely afraid. How had she carried him? Standing up he was lead away by Carlisle and taken to what looked like a study. Papers and journals littered the desk and the walls were lined with bookcases fit to burst. Carlisle motioned for him to sit down and began to tell him that things had changed for him. Trying desperately to concentrate on what the man in front of him was saying and not Rosalie was taking all of his strength plus there was a strange nagging feeling that was gnawing away at his insides and knotting up his stomach. He couldn’t explain it, he’d never felt anything like this before. His jaw ached with an intensity he had never known and mouth was drier than the river beds in June. Stretching uncomfortably in his chair two words caught his attention….dead and vampire. Emmett’s head snapped to where Carlisle sat as he eyed the young man before him. Ok now it all made sense these people were insane and had kidnapped him.
“My parents will be looking for me and you’ll be in so much trouble when they find me,” he said shakily not even believing his own words.
“I promise you Emmett your family are no longer looking and we are not here to hurt you. We’ve all been through this, the disorientation, the pain the venom causes as you change, the burning inside you as you need to feed. It can be easier if you let us help you. Rosalie and I will do all we can to make the change less painful.” Carlisle seemed to choose his words carefully.
Emmett listened as Carlisle told him of his own transformation and how he came across Edward and then Esme. His love for his wife had Emmett feeling a little jealous that he would never get to experience that. He was then told how Rosalie was out hunting and had come across him being attacked by the bear. One by one things started to fall into place. She was strong enough to carry him and kill the bear because she wasn’t human, only she wasn’t an angel either she was a vampire. A million thoughts raced through his mind like run and how he was now a monster himself. A soft voice from behind him caught his attention.
“There are no monsters in this house.”
Emmett turned to see Edward standing in the doorway. It was as if he’d read his mind but surely that was impossible. He looked the boy up and down wearily. His auburn hair waved wildly and stood out against his pale skin. He didn’t look like much of a threat but every ounce of Emmett was telling him to watch out for this boy.
They were soon joined by Rosalie who took Emmett’s hand and led him out of the house. She explained the best way to realise what had happened was to be shown. He followed her through the trees as different scents wafted up to greet him. He could hear the tiniest of animals scurrying through the undergrowth and a strange noise that throbbed along with his own aching feeling. The whole forest seemed alive and much more brighter than he had ever seen. Even so it still paled in comparison to the woman he now followed. Stopping in a clearing Rosalie pointed out a small herd of deer who grazed lazily in the sun. Grinning at him she took off at an amazing speed and before the animals had chance to react she had one wrestled to the ground and was cradling it to chest, her face buried into its neck. Looking up at him she smiled and his breath caught in his throat. Her lips were stained crimson red and not from any lipstick she was drinking the deer’s blood and her skin sparkled like a million diamonds were etched upon it under the sun. Rosalie motioned for him to join her and Emmett found his feet moving forward even though his mind didn’t want to. The smell of salt and iron filled his nostrils as he got closer and the feint drumming sound wound itself through his ears. Kneeling beside Rosalie he looked deep into her amber coloured eyes and felt oddly at ease. Deciding to trust her he did as told him and felt relief wash itself through his body as the animals blood trickled down his throat. Rosalie looked pleased with him which only urged him on even more. Eventually she pulled him away and smiling she kissed his gently.
“Lets go back to the house,” she commanded.
Emmett smiled he’d never known a woman so in control but there was something soft and kind about her that he could see hidden under her strong demeanour. Back at the house Carlisle was told of the successful hunt and urged Emmett to rest and spend some time with Rosalie. That was something Emmett didn’t need telling twice to do. Finding themselves in what he assumed was her bedroom he glanced around at the fancy dresses that hung before him. Turning to watch her he smiled and lowered his eyes as she began to change, he may not be human any more but he was still a gentleman. Maybe this was the life he was looking for or even destined for. Maybe fate had made him travel along that path and meet up with the bear. An eternity with Rosalie seemed like heaven to him and something he wasn’t about to run away from. He really could imagine spending forever with her and with the rest of the Cullen family. There was however one thing he regretted and that was not delivering the ring to his brother, even though it had been over a week ago the pain he felt in not being able to do this still lingered.
It was two days later when he was lying across Rosalie’s bed listening to her tell him of the places she had seen when a knock at the door disturbed them both. Sitting up he watched as Rosalie opened the door to reveal Edward.
“Emmett I was wondering if I could steal you away from my sister, just for a short while I promise.”
Emmett nodded intrigued as to what Edward would want him for. During his stay here they hadn’t really spent any time together and Carlisle promised it was just Edward giving them some space. He followed his new brother out of the house and listened as he explained there was something that needed to be done and only Emmett could help. An with that Edward took off into the forest, even with his new vampire abilities Emmett struggled to keep up with him and had to yell out for him to stop and wait. Once or twice he was sure he could hear Edward’s laughter ring out from in front of him. Finally they stopped and Emmett realised where they where, they were now standing in front of his family’s home back in Gatlinburg.
“Edward I’m not killing my family and neither are you!” He spat.
“I’m not here to kill anyone I promise. I know that you wanted to give your brother something and now you can.” Edward said softly before holding out his pale hand and smiling. Nestled into his skin was a gold band with a single diamond standing proudly against it, his brothers ring. Taking the ring from Edward he turned it over in his hand listening as he explained that they would leave it somewhere William would find it. Emmett looked up at Edward and found words failed him. For someone who wasn’t human that was the most kindest thing he’d ever known any being to do. Why should it matter to Edward what happened to his family?
“Because we are family now and you’re my brother, I cant stand to see you hurt so much and neither can Rosalie. So we have the ring and your family aren’t here so lets put it somewhere it can be found and go home ok?”
Emmett nodded and began to follow Edward towards the house. Maybe there were such things as monsters but the Cullen family were not. An here with his new brother he had never felt more at home. The world could still hold so much more for Emmett and eventually he would get around to seeing it but for now he was happy to just become a Cullen.