September 27, 2010
Today has certainly been . . . interesting.
I barely met Renee before Bella’s wedding, and I was pretty busy at the time, so I never really had a chance to study her. Edward has pretty much set up camp inside her mind, which is a good thing I suppose, since we need to know what she’s thinking. Since Jasper was needed here, to keep track of (and maybe control) Renee and Bella’s mood, I was staying in too. The three of us were going to hide out in my room while Bella and Renee had their girl talk, and then Edward would “come home” around 2PM, followed by Esme and Carlisle.
Esme had received permission to spend the morning down at the reservation with Sue, Billy, Jacob, and Renesmee … I had no idea what they’d be up to today, but I knew that Esme would come home in the early afternoon. Carlisle was the only one who actually was where he was supposed to be – at the hospital. Rose and Emmett, who were supposedly enrolled at the local college, were staying away today and would return after dark. Jasper and I had to stay out of sight until the day of the dinner party, when we’d “return from our travels.”
The day began with the usual fighting over apparel. Bella’s theory was that, since she and her mother had specifically planned a casual, indoor girl-talk day, she should be allowed to wear pajamas.
PAJAMAS. I ask you. After much backtalk from Bella and Edward, I gave in and allowed the silly girl to put on her oldest jeans and a college t-shirt – but I made her wear a big, soft silk-and-cashmere sweater over it. We had the Ugg argument again, but since they were long gone (burned and scattered in the wind!), she had to make do with thick socks and fluffy slippers. The makeup routine was fairly uneventful, although Bella did remind me once or twice that I was supposed to be “uglifying” her and thus shouldn’t really be adding so much eyeshadow!
As I darted around the living room, adjusting decorative pillows and chenille throws, I caught a flicker in my mind. “Oh,” I murmured, going back to my work.
“What?” Bella demanded, on edge already.
“It’s nothing, love,” Edward soothed. “Just that your mother … er … she’ll be about ten minutes late.” I could hear the laughter in his tone and smiled to myself; Renee was, in fact, going to get horribly lost, despite having gotten up very early to be on time today, and despite the carefully made map we had provided for her.
I snapped my fingers, startling Bella again, who jumped up and knocked her head on Edward’s chin. “Kleenex!” I cried, flitting to the pantry as Bella and Edward apologized profusely to one another.
Finally everything was ready, and everyone took their agreed-upon places. Edward stayed on the couch with Bella until Renee was on the front porch, and then he led Bella to the door to greet her mother.
“Bella, honey!” Renee cried, throwing her arms around her daughter. Edward sidestepped, whispering instructions to Bella under his breath. “Oh, and Edward … my, don’t you look … handsome,” she giggled, unable to hide her admiration. Jazz and I (hidden in the backyard, watching through the wall of windows) snickered in unison.
“You’re looking quite lovely yourself, as usual,” Edward charmed her, with a brief hug. “I was just on my way out, unfortunately, so I won’t be able to stay and chat … but I hope to see you when I return this afternoon.”
“Of course,” Renee agreed, following him with her eyes as he kissed Bella softly and then walked to the garage. As soon he was out of sight, Bella pulled her mother inside (“Gently, Bella,” Jazz whispered) and shut the front door.
“Well! Gosh, this house is so … big,” Renee commented, her wide eyes taking in our spacious living area.
“Um, yeah,” Bella admitted shyly. “Well, it’s not – I mean, it doesn’t seem so big when everyone’s home, you know?”
“Well, sure, honey, but don’t you and Edward … I mean, are you sure you two have enough privacy? You are newlyweds, after all,” she added with a soft laugh, causing Bella to look down and bite her lip in embarrassment. (“No! Stop that, Bella!” I hissed from outside.)
She made an effort to compose herself, and even laughed a bit as she looked up at her mother again. “No, it’s fine, actually,” she explained. “You know, Jasper and Alice are gone so much since they decided to take this year off to travel, and Rosalie and Emmett … well, they’re at school most days, and then … like I said, they’re engaged, so … yeah. And Carlisle works a lot, and Esme volunteers a lot … so it’s not like we never get any time, you know, to ourselves.”
I applauded her speech vigorously, until Edward grabbed my hands to stop me. Renee can’t even hear us, Edward, I reminded him, but he just gave me an annoyed look as he turned back to the window.
“So, do you want the tour?” Bella offered brightly, seeing her mom still awed by her surroundings.
“Sure!” she agreed enthusiastically. “You know, when I was here – for the wedding,” she smiled tenderly at Bella as they slowly made their way to the dining room and out of sight, “it looked a lot – well, not smaller, but … less huge, if that makes sense.”
“Yeah, it definitely looks bigger without Alice’s wedding decorations,” Bella agreed with a chuckle. She led her mother through the house, showing her all of our rooms, including my closet (Renee was impressed, yet bewildered) and the room that had been Edward’s and was now “their” bedroom.
Once the tour was complete, Jazz, Edward and I dashed up to my room and settled in for a long day. Since we’d spent all morning figuring out how to make the fancy espresso machine work, there was an abundance of fresh coffee for Renee to drink and Bella to hold onto. The two of them snuggled into the couch and Edward reminded in a low voice, “Don’t forget to wrap yourself up, love.” We heard her gather the thick chenille throw blanket around herself obediently.
From here on out, only Edward could see what was going on, through Bella and Renee’s minds; Jazz and I were stuck listening, although I could see a minute or two ahead if I really focused.
“Well, sweetheart,” Renee began, “you know, it’s so nice to get to be alone with you for a while.”
“I know,” Bella agreed in a soft voice. “It’s too bad Phil couldn’t make it, though,” she added politely.
“Oh – well, actually,” Renee admitted, “he did offer to join me, but -”
“No, I know he’s busy, it’s totally okay,” Bella assured her. Renee laughed quietly to herself.
“No, it’s not that. I … actually, I asked him not to come. I just …” She paused, and I could hear her fidgeting downstairs, the couch fabric rustling against her jeans. When she finally continued, her voice was thick. “I just felt … Bella, I haven’t hardly seen you at all since you came out here, and I know you did it for me so I could be with Phil, but … I’ve missed you so much, so much, and now you’re all grown up and graduated and married …”
“Oh, Mom,” Bella murmured, stricken.
We heard her move closer to Renee, and as Edward hissed, “Gently, love” and Jasper whispered, “Carefully, Bella,” I was dying inside just a little. I turned abruptly and hid my face in Jasper’s shoulder, ashamed. I could only hope that Edward was too busy listening to Renee and Bella’s thoughts to hear my selfish agony as I burned from within, thinking of the mother I could not remember, who had left me for dead at an insane asylum when I was Bella’s age …
After a while, the two of them moved on to less emotional subjects. They chatted lightly about Renee’s life in Florida, which had us all laughing quietly as she described the bowling league she and Phil had joined – and then quit; the gigantic orange juicer she had bought – but never used; and the cruise trip she had almost booked – but then decided against.
“You haven’t changed much, Mom,” Bella laughed, sounding glad. She set her (still full) mug down on the coffee table with a quiet clunk. Renee laughed ruefully.
“I know, I’m set in my ways, Bella,” she smiled. Then Edward’s eyes flew open wide and he gritted his teeth as Renee continued, “But you … is there any chance of, ahm …” I heard her hands moving about in the air, and realized she must be making the universal gesture for pregnant.
“What?” Bella squawked, alarmed.
“You know … starting a family?” Renee’s voice sounded hopeful to me, and judging by the stormy expression on Edward’s face, her thoughts were pretty interesting too. As Bella sputtered and choked, Renee sat waiting patiently.
Finally, Bella regained her senses and managed to say, between gritted teeth, “Mom, I JUST got married a few months ago, I’ve been sick ever since then, and I. Am. Not. Pregnant.”
“All right, all right,” Renee sighed in defeat, settling back into the sofa. “I guess that was wishful thinking. It’s just … oh, Edward is so handsome, and you … Bella, you know I’ve always thought of you as my beautiful daughter,” she reminisced, “but now … I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so lovely. Not even on your wedding day! Not that you weren’t stunning that day, but Bella, you’re absolutely glowing now. So I guess I hoped …” She trailed off sheepishly.
We were all listening so intently, a fly could have buzzed through China and it would have startled us. Bella seemed to have frozen in place, judging by the lack of sound coming from her spot on the couch.
“Remember to breathe,” Jazz whispered just as Edward said, “Say something, Bella!”
Downstairs, Bella thawed and moved a bit. She cleared her throat, buying time before she had to answer. Finally, she muttered, “Thanks, Mom. Newlyweds … like you said.”
“Oh,” Renee laughed. “Of course.”
The next few hours went by without further incidence, Bella remembering to take bathroom breaks without needing to be prompted, though she did often forget to modulate her newly-improved voice. The two of them laughed and talked, remembering old road trips, injuries (Bella’s) and failed experiments (Renee’s).
Edward “returned” right on time, and joined them briefly. Renee was full of questions for him and hung on his every word adoringly, like no mother-in-law in history ever had. After an hour or so, Edward excused himself and began to assemble some snacks.
Esme and Carlisle soon followed. They arrived home in Edward’s Vanquish, and greeted Renee with delight.
“Welcome, Mrs. Dwyer,” Carlisle grinned, with a careful hug.
“Please, it’s Renee, no need for formalities,” Renee giggled girlishly, overcome by Carlisle’s radiance. Then Esme took his place, whispering “Welcome back, dear,” warmly into Renee’s ear as they embraced. The five of them spent the rest of the afternoon chatting in the living room, making up for the fact that Renee hadn’t had time to get to know any of us very well before the wedding.
Soon, it began to grow dark, and Rosalie and Emmett pulled up in the Jeep. Their entrance was Renee’s cue to remember that she had promised to make Charlie dinner … against his very firm refusal to let her “go to the trouble.” Bella laughed freely at the thought of the meal her father would have to endure, but said goodbye to her mother and promised that they would go down to La Push the next day.
As soon as Renee was safely out the door, I grabbed Jasper’s hand and pulled him to the window, jerked it open, and jumped out. As we raced away from the house, I knew he was (and had been) feeling my pain at the loss of a mother I couldn’t remember, which was just as well since I couldn’t speak anyway.
We’re in Canada now, and I can smell a herd of deer. Better go before I get blood on my diary. I’ll write more tomorrow.