September 26, 2010
“Jeeze, it looks like a funeral home in here,” Jacob repeated for the second time, thinking Rosalie and Alice hadn’t heard him the first.
“We heard you the first time, mongrel,” Rosalie hissed in a forced half-joking tone. “We just didn’t care to acknowledge-”
“-Acknowledge that it’s not a funeral home and that Bella isn’t exactly one to enjoy celebrations, Blondie?”Jacob interrupted with a fresh dose of sarcasm.
Alice danced over to Jacob, a smug grin creeping up the right side of her lips. “Did you wake up on the wrong side of the doggy house this morning Jake?” Without giving him a chance to retort, she handed him a string of decorative indoor lights and he simply shrugged, his eyes darting toward the kitchen. Esme was cooking him his favorite: A towerous mountain of mashed potatoes with a pool of gravy, corn on the cob and steak.
“Guys, I’m right here,” I said, half laughing. “If you’re going to argue over the details on my non-surprise birthday party… well, just don’t argue over the details of my non-surprise party, okay? Or at least argue when I’m not sitting in the same room.” I glanced back down at my laptop and continued reading my online book, ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Brontë, when a football slammed into the back of my head.
“Happy birthday, kiddo,” Emmett yelled from the front foyer.
“Uh, thanks.” I forced the words out, then placed my laptop on the floor, grabbed the football and slammed it back towards Emmett with so much force that the ball deflated when it collided with Emmett’s granite body. “A simple high-five would have sufficed, Emmett.” I sat back down and continued reading my book.
“I taught you well,” he said with a proud, borderline cocky smile.
This year for my birthday I somehow managed to have Edward convince everyone, even Alice, to keep things a non-surprise. Alice complied, hesitantly – but complied nonetheless – under one condition.
“Okay fine,” she agreed. “But, only under one condition.” I bit my lip in anticipation for this ‘condition’ and noticed Edward grin; he already heard Alice’s thoughts, of course.
Alice’s golden eyes locked on mine. Even her stare exuded grace and charm. “I still get to throw you a party and buy whatever I want for you. And, everyone has to agree to be in attendance for the bash I’m going to throw. It won’t be a surprise, heck I’ll decorate right in front of you. But, the party needs to happen. It is you birthday, Bella.”
I already knew there would be no way out of this anyway, so I agreed and spared Alice the argument…and eye rolling. “Okay, deal. Just don’t keep anything from me. That includes any weird visions, Alice.”
“Perfect!” she chimed. “Now that the decision has been made, I can see that it will be a great night.”
I’ve never liked surprises. I have always preferred planned events. Though I have endured my share of non-planned events. Speaking of Renesmee, she just had her birthday, too. We celebrated it in La Push. Her idea, we just complied. Edward listened in on her thoughts and saw a recurring theme: Bonfires, the beach, Jake, his family and her family—all together. We didn’t mention anything to Renesmee, we just woke her up—well, Jake woke her up—and headed off to La Push.
Alice and Esme went there earlier to get everything set up, so when we arrived, it was basically just everything Edward heard in her thoughts brought to life. Minus the thing…err… fantasy he heard about Jacob. Edward does his best to stay out of Jake and Renesmee’s heads now. Thoughts of Jake’s warm 108.9 °F shirtless torso doesn’t exactly appeal to him.
After Jacob kissed Renesmee that night—the night that lead Edward to break the banister—Jake and Edward talked, and Edward admitted that he understood that Renesmee wanted to be kissed, but he asked that they take things slow from now on. Basically he told Jake to be a gentleman and to forget about the idea of sex, until marriage.
Edward is old-fashioned, and he’s hell-bent on his daughter being raised the same way. But I also know things might not go the way he wants. If Renesmee chooses to be with Jacob, she will. I made up my mind with Edward, and if he hadn’t been a vampire, a predator—and didn’t make me feel like I was some kind of villain trying to steal his virtue—I would have consummated our relationship. I didn’t need a wedding to determine how much I loved Edward. I didn’t need to wear a white dress to say I love you, and I didn’t need to say I do to articulate how much I trusted Edward…even when he didn’t trust himself. I knew he was the only one for me, and I was the only one for him.
Jake agreed, though. He told Edward that he preferred to wait until marriage anyway, should they ever get married. Right now, that’s not an issue. They’ve only kissed, and from time-to-time we catch them holding hands. Edward knows—thanks to his mind-prying abilities—that Renesmee is undoubtedly attracted to Jacob. She nestled into him the entire night of her birthday by the campfire, and her thoughts ran rampant. Surprisingly, Nessie’s thoughts were more impure than Jake’s. Edward didn’t know whether to be happy, or worried.
When Jake pulled Renesmee aside, alone, it was definitely worry that took over Edward’s face; his lips pulled tightly together, his body eerily still. His eyes followed the two as they ran off into the woods together, Renesmee scooped up into Jake’s arms. I could see Edward trying with all his power to refrain from following them, but there was a blur, then he was gone. I followed, trying to keep discreet so that the others didn’t think of us as psycho, over-protective parents.
When we got down to the shore we saw Renesmee still in Jake’s arms and the words, “Happy Birthday Renesmee. I Luv You,” spelled out with sticks on the sand that were lit on fire. Beside a tree in the distance I noticed a gasoline can and a small pack of matches. But what really caught my attention was how happy my Nudger was. How beautiful the two of them looked together, almost glowing under the half moon. Their smiles were luminescent, their laughs genuine. It reminded me of Edward and I. It was as though nothing else in the entire world mattered but that they were there, together. Then, Renesmee turned and kissed Jacob. I turned toward Edward, almost instinctively. He was grinding his teeth together, and crouched low, but he maintained his composure.
We didn’t interrupt their moment and kept hidden behind a tree, watching for a couple of minutes as they laughed together and flirted. When I looked back up at Edward I wasn’t expecting to see a smile, but he was grinning even wider than I was. “Their thoughts are pure,” he whispered, not looking at me, unable to take his eyes away from Nessie and Jake. I laughed, wondering if he noticed how perfect they looked together.
“They look so happy,” I said softly under my breath. “They remind me of us…in the beginning when everything was so forbidden, so wrong, but so right all at the same time, you know?”
Edward finally lifted his gaze away from Renesmee and Jacob and looked at me, his stare so delicate now. “They do look happy. I guess I understand things from Charlie’s perspective a little better now, too. At least I haven’t armed Renesmee with pepper spray.” His lips curled up into a quick grin.
We went back to the fire together, walking at a human pace, our hands woven together tightly. We joked about all the times Edward came through my window to watch me sleep, and how weird that would’ve been if Charlie had ever caught him. We laughed about broken headboards and feathers. I even got Edward to crack a small smile over the fact that his former mortal enemy imprinted on his daughter.
When we got back to the campfire everyone was listening to Billy play the guitar while Sue hummed along and Charlie watched her, trying not to seem overly obvious. When she caught him looking, he’d dart his eyes back down at the fire. I think the thing about love is that it’s always shy. Even when we mature, gain knowledge and life experience throughout our existence—human, or immortal—we still react to love the same way: like shy, uncertain, afraid, lost children. I can see that Charlie wants to open up and let someone in, but he’s still struggling. In time, I think he will at least try. In time.
For my non-surprise party, Alice decided that everyone should come to our home in New Hampshire. She likes to have a lot of space to decorate. Oddly, Rosalie seemed almost as excited about decorating as Alice. She picked the colors for the flower arrangements and even pulled me aside right before the party to give me a necklace to wear for the night. “I think this would look nice on you,” she began, holding out a gorgeous blue sapphire diamond necklace. “You can wear it if you want. It was mine from when I was…alive.” After all this time, it was obvious that Rosalie still struggled with what she was, and more-so with what she wasn’t. Human.
I took the beautiful necklace in my hand, holding it gently like an egg, examining its beauty. “Rosalie, this is…” I couldn’t find the words to describe it, so I just shook my head and took in one deep breath. “Wow, thank you for letting me wear this. Really, this means a lot, Rose.”
“Well, Edward has always liked you in blue. He’s right. It’s your color.”
I smiled, but not an obvious smile. I could tell that Rosalie was struggling with each and every word. She was trying, though. “Thanks, Rosalie. I’m definitely going to wear it. It will go perfectly with my dress.”
Before Rosalie had the chance to respond, Seth and Embry came flying into the bedroom, Seth screaming and laughing at the same time. Embry was giving Seth a wedgie that looked excessively painful. “Stop it! St—ouch! Owww! Stop!” Seth’s voice roared through the house and the rest of the guys came thudding up the stairs to get in on the action.
I shot Rosalie a look that said ‘thank you’ before heading back downstairs—away from the wedgie war—and she smiled back lightly. When I got downstairs, I asked Alice to help me get dressed and gave Edward a kiss before heading back up to the huge washroom—that was actually more like a lounge area with a giant shower on one side and a claw-foot tub on the other.
My simple black dress adorned with cream lace was laying over the white leather bench. I didn’t let Alice pick it out entirely. I helped this time. I really wanted something simple. Something more me. We added a pair of black flats and then Alice ran the curling iron through my hair quickly and dabbed some sticky gloss on my lips. I rubbed it off when she wasn’t looking.
Before we headed downstairs I asked Alice to fasten the sapphire necklace around my neck for me. “Isn’t this Rosalie’s necklace?” she probed.
“Yeah, she kinda lent it to me for the night.”
Alice dangled the necklace around my neck and closed the clasp. “This is her favorite necklace in the world,” Alice began, shaking her head slightly. “I asked to borrow this thing over a hundred times and she always says no. Her father bought it for her, so I know it’s quite special.”
I swallowed hard. “Wow. I had no idea. Now I’m kinda nervous wearing it. I mean, what if I break it or something?”
Alice’s eyes narrowed into slits. “You won’t. Now lets get down stairs and get this party started.”
It’s great having a sister who can see the future. I glanced at myself quickly in the mirror and then followed after Alice, who had already flitted to the bottom of the stairs and into Jasper’s arms. “Come on Bella,” she hummed.
Edward was standing at the bottom of the stairs talking to Charlie, whose eyes were glued to the back of Sue’s head. Sue was standing about ten feet away talking to Carlisle. Charlie didn’t notice when Edward stepped away and came toward me. In fact, it looked like he even kept talking to himself for a few seconds before he noticed Eward had left.
Edward’s eyes lit up like burning liquid gold and a smile melted across his smooth, angelic face. “I can’t believe I get to spend an eternity with you. You’re so incredibly beautiful, Bella. Perfect.” He pulled his face away from mine so he could get a good look at me, then continued. “You captivate me in ways I didn’t know were possible. Happy birthday, love.” He rested his lips gently on my forehead and lifted me off my feet to swirl me around in a circle.
The house looked beautiful. I asked Alice not to go overboard, and aside from the flowers—which did indeed make the living room look a little like a funeral home—everything looked perfect. Alice later admitted that she had asked Rosalie to call in the order of flowers, then without thinking, she later called in the exact same order, assuming Rosalie had forgotten to do it. Needless to say, there wasn’t a shortage of flowers in our home.
The blown-up baby picture of me that was projected onto the huge white wall in the front foyer was kinda creepy, but I just stayed away from that area to avoid it. Alice had good intentions. The rest of the decorations were beautiful. The lights, the flowers, the gold-colored balloons, the gold carpet outside that lead to the front door covered in white flower petals…I could go on. It was all so perfect.
I asked…no, I begged, everyone to skip the gifts this year. Presents are somewhat pointless to me—I really do have everything I want and need. However, I did promise Alice that as long as she didn’t make anything to do with the party a surprise, that she could get any gift she wanted to. She had asked if it was okay to keep just the present a surprise, and of course, I agreed. Somehow, saying ‘no’ to Alice when it came to shopping felt like taking candy from a child.
We all gathered around the piano, the wolves and their family sipping champagne through crystal flutes and scarfing down hors d’oeuvres, while Edward filled the room with the most beautiful melodies. His long fingers danced scrupulously across the keys. Renesmee stood right next to him and watched intently. She was learning to play and admitted that she wanted to be as good as Edward some day.
Alice and Jasper glided gracefully into the room and Alice hesitantly interrupted Edward’s beautiful song. “Okay Bella, it’s time for your present. Everyone come into the front foyer please. Sorry Edward, but it’s time.”
Oh great, she’s making me look at that awful baby picture of myself again, I thought, not letting it show through my expression. Edward got up from the piano and placed his hand on the small of my back as we all filed into the over-sized foyer.
Alice had some sort of remote in her hand, and when I looked up at the wall, the baby picture was gone. The screen was pure white, aside from the word ‘PAUSE’ in black in the bottom right corner.
“Is everyone here now?” Alice asked, counting heads to make sure. Once she realized everyone was there she grabbed Edward and then tugged us to the very front. “I felt it was unfair for me to go out and buy you gifts that I know you’re not going to use anyway, Bella. So I got everyone together, and instead of a stupid car or diamond earrings, we made you this.” Alice clicked a button on the remote and the white wall was now filled with a video. First Alice, then Jasper, then Rosalie, then Emmett…and it kept going and going. Even my mother, Renee, was in the video, despite the fact that she wasn’t able to make it to the actual party.
One by one, everyone popped up on the screen to give me their own uniquely special birthday wish. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen for even a second. Piano music was playing softly in the background of the video—one of Edward’s songs.
I thought the video was over after everyone had wished me a ‘happy birthday,’ then the screen faded out, and back in with a beautifully edited video montage of everything from me as a baby, to wedding footage of Edward and I that I didn’t even know existed. It also included footage from holidays, Renesmee as a baby and so much more. The most beautiful song played throughout the video and I knew that if I were a human, with human emotions and the ability to produce tears, I would have been bawling my eyes out.
When the video ended a message came up that read: “Happy Birthday Bella. We all love you so much. More than you know.” I felt my mouth swing open and my mind went searching for the right words to express how much the video meant to me.
“I really wish I could let you all into my mind right now because no words can explain how beautiful that was.” I took a second to roughly gather my thoughts, then continued. “Thank you all so much for that…and for not making it a car, or a house or something crazy. This video is the most perfect present I could have ever gotten. I really don’t even have the words—”
“We’re glad you liked it,” Jasper interrupted, noticing I was struggling. “Happy birthday, Bella.”
I went around and gave everyone a quick half-hug and thanked them all individually. The party kicked into full gear when Alice initiated a game of twister. It was interesting to see werewolves and vampires all bent around each other like that, not wanting to tear each other to shreds. Charlie and Sue were bent strategically in an interesting position that I’d rather never think about again…ever…in my life.
After the party was over and everyone from La Push started to pass out, Edward and I went to our home for some privacy. We didn’t bother flicking the lights on—we could see each other perfectly in the dark, of course. Edward kissed me slowly and delicately from the top of my head, to the tips of my toes and then placed me down on the bed—which we keep in our bedroom for obvious purposes.
I opened my eyes and looked up at… the stars? “Holy crow,” I blurted out once I noticed that our ceiling was now a slab of thick, perfectly clear glass. “What the…where did the ceiling go?” I asked, standing to my feet to examine the beautiful starlit sky.
“Well, I haven’t given you everything yet,” Edward began in a soft voice. “I’ve given you my love, my heart, my soul, my life and my name. But I haven’t given you the stars, the sky and the moon yet, Bella. Happy birthday.”
And there, right under the stars, the sky and the moon, Edward traced his finger over the curves of my body and kissed the hollow of my neck, then my jaw, then my lips, so delicately. Then in one swift motion he lifted me up in the air and placed me on top of him, wrapping my legs around his waist.
Right there, under the stars, the sky and the moon, we made love.
EDIT: Looking for a new love story to read? I have written a novella called, ‘My Darrling.’ (This is not the Willow series I’ve been working on, rather it’s a small side project. The first book in the Willow series will be up in the early portion of this year). For now, I’m so excited for you to check out the novella I’ve written:
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