October 13, 2010
Where did Bella think we were going to use those jet-skis? And did she seriously think we all had forgotten about her birthday?
Silly, silly Bella. It’s a good thing we’re immortal, because I think it’s going to take her centuries to get used to stuff like this.
And really, in comparison to buying a whole island, it was nothing! Okay, so I had returned all of the rental equipment and helped bring Renesmee’s gifts back from the clearing, and Edward had gone to tuck Nessie in at the cottage. Edward wanted the gifts kept in our living room for now so Nessie could take inventory and write thank-you notes, although none of us felt it was necessary, since we’re family and all. But when we had everything stacked on the pristine white carpet, Bella stood frozen in shock, gaping unattractively at the towering piles of boxes. I had to practically shove her out the door to go home, begging her to let it go for that night, at least.
Sunday was a gorgeous morning, no rain, no fog, just a bit of frost like velvet on the trees and grass. My family was prepared for Bella, Edward, and Renesmee when they ran in through the back, as usual. In deference to Bella’s odd aversion to attention, there were no balloons, banners, flowers (well, other than the usual amount, that is) or cakes anywhere. Just us, standing in a semi-circle to face the door.
Immediately Bella jerked to a halt, assessing the situation rapidly and with precision. And a great deal of suspicion, too, I might add!
“What is this? Please tell me it’s not more presents,” she moaned, turning to check Edward’s face. Something about his expression of serene innocence tipped her off to the conspiracy. I could see the wheels turning in her mind and wondered why it had ever bothered Edward to be unable to hear her thoughts. They were so clear, I could watch each one float through her mind: Everyone’s in on it. Edward didn’t tell me. Everyone but me is up to something. Oh no. Please. No.
“Happy birthday, Bella!” we chorused, breaking into smiles and laughter as she bit her lip and looked like she wanted to blush, hide, and/ or run away.
“Did you truly believe we had forgotten?” Edward murmured tenderly, stroking her long curtain of hair off her face so we could all see her roll her eyes.
“I wished,” she muttered, eying our lineup. I knew Carlisle and Esme were very excited about this, and so was Emmett, and I – okay, we were all bouncing with excitement. Bella sighed quietly and stepped forward for hugs.
When it was my turn, I grabbed her, lifted her into the air and spun her around as she burst into laughter and protested in vain.
“Sorry!” I squealed, setting her back down. “I’m just so excited!” Oops. The apprehensive look took over her face again, and she moved back to Edward, away from the rest of us.
“Okay, what is it?” she asked nervously. “Just – please don’t tell me you bought me another car. Or another house,” she laughed, shaking her head at the memory of last year’s gift.
Oh boy. Glancing at Esme, I saw that she and Carlisle were both trying to hide their smiles as they presented Bella with a rough wood photo frame, a bright blue ribbon its only adornment.
She accepted it with a perplexed quirk of the eyebrow, but then she really looked at it, and did a double take.
“Oh no,” she gasped in horror, a completely inappropriate reaction to the photo of a beautiful modernist cabin perched on a mountainside. Slowly, she pointed to the photo, then raised her eyes to beg silently. I tried to keep my laughter inside, but I couldn’t help it – the look on her face!
“That’s your new cabin in Okanagan Lake, Bella,” Esme eagerly informed her. Bella opened her mouth, but a choking sound was all that came out as Esme continued, “We’ve been looking for some time now, and when we found it – well, it reminded me so much of this house, so I checked, and it’s the same architect! It’s a lakeside property with its own dock, and it’s very private, the nearest neighbor is nowhere in sight. And the house is in a little bay, very secluded. Oh, you’ll love it,” she gushed, clasping her hands together and beaming with joy.
Luckily, Bella is a sensitive and intelligent woman (sometimes), so she reacted much better this time, out of respect for Esme’s feelings. “Oh … wow!” she exclaimed (a bit weakly, I’m afraid). She managed a tight smile as she continued to stare at the photo. “It … looks beautiful!”
Emmett let loose one of his booming laughs, unable to pass up any opportunity to tease Bella. “Relax, little sis,” he grinned, lifting Renesmee to his shoulders. “It’s not just for you and Edward, it’s for everyone. What’d you think I got the jet-skis for?” He kept laughing as she winced at the reminder.
“Ugh! You guys, seriously – first this huge pile of stuff,” she complained, waving toward Renesmee’s stash, “jet-ski included, and now this? Another house? Can’t we just give each other … handmade cards or something?”
I laughed so hard, I could hardly see straight. “Bella,” I gasped, “you better get used to it! The money belongs to you now, too!”
“But I don’t want it,” she immediately countered, scowling at me. “And I don’t want Renesmee to think that material things are all that matter, either.”
Ouch! I wasn’t the only one who felt the sting of that one; Rosalie stepped up to remind Bella that we all know exactly what “matters” in this household, while Nessie continued to observe everything from her perch on Emmett’s shoulders. Finally, she spoke up.
“I think it sounds nice,” was her only comment, but it cut through Bella like a ray of sunshine, lighting her face for the first time since she had accepted the photo.
“Really?” Bella asked tentatively, a little disappointed, but looking happy at the thought of Renesmee’s future happiness. If that makes sense.
“Yes,” Ness said firmly in her high voice, “and I think it’s nice that we can go there and play in the lake without having to worry about other people seeing us.”
“Exactly,” I agreed. “It’ll be just like here, except with a lake right in the yard. And our jet-skis. Oh, and the Range Rover. And -”
“Enough,” Edward interrupted as Bella groaned again. He was watching her anxiously (so what else is new?), and now he turned her face up to his with one hand. “Well? What do you think?”
Bella scanned our faces again before responding. “I think … we have a cabin in Okanagan Lake” was her noncommittal reply, but I heard our victory in her resigned tone.
“Okay! So, when can you head up there? We’ll need the Volvo if we’re going to bring Nessie’s new things, the Jeep is already going to be full of jet-skis,” I began joyfully, but Bella’s pursed lips and narrowed eyes told me this was not the time to start planning.
I couldn’t help the deep sigh that escaped me. Sure, I had foreseen this kind of reaction from Bella, but … well, you know how when you watch “Titanic” again, hoping that this time the boat won’t sink? Or Leo Jack won’t die? That’s kind of how I had been feeling. Like maybe she actually would appreciate how great this was going to be.
Oh well, I knew she’d come around soon. And although I was sure that she needed to know that her new closet was already stocked, I couldn’t stay and chat. Jasper and I had our backpacks ready by the door.
“Where are you going?” Renesmee wanted to know, her big brown eyes curious as she watched us begin to make our goodbyes.
Jazz and I smiled at each other, and I looked back down at Nessie. “We’ll be close by, don’t worry,” I assured her, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. “We just wanted to take a little trip, just for a few days.”
As everyone wished us a safe journey, I counted my lucky stars that there had been enough time this morning for everyone to praise my party-throwing skills. It was just too bad I couldn’t stay to hear more from Renesmee about how much fun she’d had, but Jasper and I were desperate to get away; the last couple of weeks had seemed to flash past in a blur of activity, and we had hardly seen each other, or so it felt.
I’ll write more later, about our new favorite waterfall.
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