January 1, 2011
December 24th, 2010.
The snow floated down from the sky in soft, sparkly sheets as a blizzard rolled through New Hampshire on Christmas Eve. It was enough snow to close down the long back road to our house.
Edward and I figured it’d be the perfect time to take Renesmee to town so we could look at all the Christmas lights glittering atop the rows of homes filled with snowed–in humans.
No one would be out in the blizzard; they’d surely all be snuggled in front of their roaring fires, or tucked under thick blankets drinking hot chocolate. Humans are so easily chilled–a memory and feeling that is incredibly vague to me now.
Each of us bundled up with mittens, scarves, plush winter jackets, toques and boots, then headed through the forest, running until we reached the edge of town. We slowed to a human pace and shoved our mittens in our pockets and tensed up, pretending to be affected by the frigid weather. I’d become an expert–almost–at acting human.
Renesmee was still able to feel the cold, so she didn’t have to work as hard to blend in. Her beauty, though… I knew it made people wonder. Now that she looked like a mature sixteen year old, it was even harder to keep humans from wondering about her. Wondering about her inhuman beauty, grace and elegance. She was more beautiful than Rosalie, more dazzling than any immortal.
We reached the corner of the first street of brilliantly lit up houses. Each home was very different in structure and design, but also varied in decorative taste. The first house was a tall modern stone home with green and red spotlights in the garden shining on the pale gray stones. There was a huge blow–up Santa on the snow blanketed front lawn and a snowman–that was probably made by small children– right beside it.
As we walked on we saw small homes, large homes, modern houses and vintage–style houses, each decorated uniquely and so beautifully. It was clear that some homeowners were in competition with each other, trying to outshine their neighbors with enough lights to nearly blind a humans feeble eyes.
Renesmee’s smile beamed as we passed each house, but there was still a slight vacancy in her eyes. She missed Jake. He was in La Push visiting with his family, but he promised Nessie he’d be back late Christmas Eve night, or very early Christmas morning. It was storming heavily, though, and I couldn’t read my Nudger’s mind like Edward could, but I knew she was suppressing a great deal of worry.
Edward gracefully removed his gloved hand from his pocket and latched it around Renesmee’s knitted mitten then looked down at her with a soft, comforting smile. He could read her mind, of course, so he was trying to soothe her, take her mind away from the worries that had been slowly drowning out her beautiful smile.
“Jake will be back in no time, Renesmee,” Edward assured her.
Renesmee looked up at Edward through her long snow-covered eyelashes. “I hope he makes it back for Christmas. If it’s snowing too heavily they’ll cancel his flight and–”
“We will make sure you and Jake are together for Christmas,” Edward interrupted, in a matter–of–fact tone, his liquid butterscotch eyes glancing from house to house.
I darted to Renesmee’s other side and intertwined my mitten–covered hand with hers. One of the worst imaginable feelings was seeing my little Nudger upset, worried. I wanted to fix everything and return the brilliant smile to her lips, but I couldn’t guarantee that Jacob would indeed make it back home in time for Christmas.
“Thanks, Dad. I hope he makes it,” Renesmee said somberly. She was still looking at the glittery houses, but she wasn’t seeing them; her mind was elsewhere.
“Lets go back home and help Esme bake cookies and pie,” I suggested, faking a smile in an attempt to lift the mood. “When Jake gets back he’ll be starving. Airplane food isn’t exactly, well . . . food.”
When we arrived back home the aroma of chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin pie greeted us as it wafted out from the kitchen. I smelled the cooking well before we were home, but the scents were a lot more intense once inside the house.
I didn’t mind the smell of most human food, but the thought of the tasteless grub actually entering my body repulsed me. Renesmee liked certain foods, but nothing satiated her hunger like blood. Not even close.
“Welcome back,” Esme greeted from the kitchen. “How were the lights?” She poked her head around the corner and a warm Motherly smile sprang across her face.
“We had fun, Grandma,” Renesmee answered without tone. “Jake didn’t call did he?” She asked before kicking her boots off.
Esme darted back into the kitchen. “No he didn’t call yet, but I’m sure he wi–”
And the phone rang.
“Hello?” Esme answered.
Renesmee ran into the kitchen before she’d got her coat or hat off, her expression calm now. Relived.
“Yes Jake, she’s right here.” Esme handed the phone to Renesmee.
“Jake!” Nessie yelled his name. “Where are you?”
Renesmee’s shoulders slumped forward as Jake told her he was stuck at the airport, her head hanging low as her curls fell in front of her face. We could all hear Jake perfectly on the phone, and of course Edward was enduring the pain of having to hear Nessie’s upset thoughts.
Edward’s lips were in a straight line, his eyebrows pulled together, one slightly higher than the other. I didn’t know what to say, what to do, but I knew being away from Jacob on Christmas would be hard for Renesmee. He’d been with her for every Christmas since she was born.
It was also hard hearing the pain in Jake’s voice on the other end of the line. Whatever disappointment Renesmee was feeling from being apart from Jacob, he felt much, much more. He imprinted on Nessie, after all. Being away from her was complete torture for him.
“Can I have the phone Renesmee, please?” Edward asked holding his long pale hand out.
She lifted her head slightly. “Why? He’s stuck. He can’t make it back for Christmas no matter what you say to him.”
“I believe I made my daughter a promise,” Edward answered, a barely visible grin making its way across his lips.
Renesmee lifted her head higher and met Edward’s eyes. He still had his hand out, waiting for her to hand him the phone.
“My dad wants you for a minute, Jake.”
Renesmee handed the phone over to Edward and on the other end I heard, “Oh jeez, what’s he wanna yell at me for now.”
“I don’t want to yell at you for anything, Jacob. I was just wondering if you could get back to your home in La Push?”
Phone conversations aren’t private in a house full of vampires. Jake sounded as clear as he would if he were on speaker phone.
“Yeah, I can get Leah to come get me. It’s not storming too bad here, but I want to get on a flight as soon as the conditions clear up so I’m not going back. I’m jus’ gonna wait it out here.”
“Get Leah to take you back home, Jake.”
Jake snorted. “Why would I do that?”
“Well, if you don’t mind, the Cullens would love to come to La Push and spend Christmas with a family member who won’t be able to make it home in time.”
Renesmee’s head shot up and her mouth swung open. Esme stopped stirring the batter in the bowl she was hovering over. I felt my own jaw drop a little, too. I don’t think any of us saw that coming.
Jake didn’t say anything for a few seconds, but when he spoke I could hear the lump in his throat, the happiness he was trying to swallow, the tears of joy he was trying to fight back.
“You–you’d all come to La Push just for me?” Jake asked.
“Of course!” Renesmee squeaked with excitement, a happy glow returning to her face.
Edward was smiling widely now. It was impossible to see Renesmee smile without mirroring her.
“Well, you do have to invite us, but yes, of course we will all come to La Push. I think Renesmee misses you,” Edward answered.
“There’s not much room in the ol’ house, but we can find space for everyone somehow,” Jake said, his voice gaining momentum with each word he spoke. “Don’t worry about that now–just come! Come!”
“Well, we still own our house in Forks, Jake. If your family would like, we could set up there, due to the space constraints.”
“Yes! As long as I get to be with my family. Just come already, would ya. I’m gonna go call Leah to come pick me up. Can I talk to Renesmee quickly before I go?”
Edward nodded. “Sure thing. I’m glad you’ll be able to spend Christmas with both of your families now. Here’s Renesmee.”
“Hey wait!” Jake shouted as Edward was about to hand the phone to Renesmee.
“I just wanted to say thanks. I owe you.”
Edward laughed, a roaring laugh. “Yes, yes you do Jake.”
And he handed the receiver to Nessie.
“Jake! I’m so happy we’ll be together on Christmas. I’m going to go pack everything now.”
Jake’s light laugh on the other end was almost contagious, so sunny. “I’m so happy Ness’. I can’t wait to see you in the morning.”
Renesmee’s face went serious now. “Me too. I miss you so much it’s painful.”
“I know the feeling, Ness’. Trust me.”
“I love you, Jake. See you soon.”
I heard a deep sign on Jake’s end. “I love you too, Nessie. See yah soon.”
Renesmee hung up the phone and instantaneously moved from the kitchen to her room to pack her overnight bag. Edward and I followed shortly after, packing clothing and gifts.
The upstairs hallways of our house was a blur as Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, Carlisle, Esme and Charlie moved in and out of their bedrooms packing their overnight bags.
Another advantage of our superhuman hearing abilities was that we didn’t have to explain much. Everyone in the house had heard the phone conversation. Thankfully –aside from a few non–threatening hisses from Rosalie–everyone was more than happy to bring Christmas to Jacob.
Alice, always ahead of the game, packed decorations in her bag so that we could make the house in Forks feel ‘festive.’
Esme packed the mounds of food she already had baked, as well as all the ingredients she’d need to make more food for the rest of the pack. She tossed the batter that she was mixing in the trash. We needed to get going if we wanted to make it to Jake in time.
Once everyone was packed up and ready to go, we were off in a blur, running in pairs of twos to Forks so that we could all be together, as a family.
December 25th, 2010
Our run was uneventful. We took turns hunting on the way to Forks, drinking in as much of the sweet, hard–to–resist blood that we could.
Once we arrived in Forks, the familiar smells hit me like a ton of bricks. The memories tied to the scents of that tiny, wet town were beautiful and irreplaceable. Though some memories were painfully vague, others were perfectly clear. I held on to those clear memories; they were incredibly sacred to me.
“Wow,” Charlie started. “It’s been a while since we’ve been this way.” He looked around, taking in all the familiar surroundings and breathing in all the familiar scents.
Charlie had lived in Forks the longest. He had a bond with the little town that no one else could ever understand. His expression rearranged itself a multitude of times as the familiar scenery brought back various vague memories. He struggled, like all of us, to remember his human life.
When we got to the large white Cullen house, I was hit with another wave of memories. The beginning of my ‘life’ began there. The Cullens stood still for a few quick moments, too, just taking in the memories.
When we moved inside, we were hit by the smell of must, mildew and other various stale scents.
Rosalie promptly went around the house opening windows, airing the place out.
Alice didn’t waste anytime getting the decorations up, while Emmett and Jasper went to rip up a new Christmas tree from the ground.
Esme got started on her baking; the pack would devour every crumb, too.
Edward, Renesmee and I got the gifts arranged around the tree and helped Alice out with decorating.
Charlie went out to shovel the long driveway so that Jake could get his car up it.
Carlisle hung the stockings, turned on the home stereo system, and lit various tall candles throughout the house. Christmas carols hummed in every room as we all worked to get the house ‘Christmas-ready.’
It wasn’t long before the house felt as though we’d never left. In under an hour, the entire house was decorated–inside and out–and the kitchen was filled with almost every food you could imagine.
“I’m going to go call Jake and tell him to come with the family now,” Renesmee sang as she walked to pick up the phone.
“I just aired the place out,” Rosalie joked.
“Ha–ha, Auntie Rose. Very funny,” Renesmee said with a giggle.
Edward walked over to my side and wrapped his arm around my waist. “Merry Christmas my love,” he whispered in my ear. I froze, my lashes fluttering from the thrill that shook through me each time Edward whispered in my ear. His soft, velvet voice was euphoric.
“Merry Christmas,” I said back, then turned and stood on my toes to kiss his smooth lips. I wasn’t shy about it, either. I wrapped one hand around the back of Edward’s head and the other on the small of his back then pressed him into me, devouring him. Kissing him like it was the last time I would ever see him.
“I love you, Mrs. Cullen,” Edward said through a smile.
“I love you too Mr. Cullen,” I breathed as I brushed my nose softly against his then pulled back, noticing that almost everyone in the room was frozen, watching us.
Emmett clapped and laughed, a roaring laugh. “Save some for later, you two.”
Renesmee came running into the living room with her beautiful brilliant smile wider than ever, her curls swinging from side–to–side. “Jake and the pack are on their way!”
“Good,” Esme said. “I just got finished with all the food.”
The pack arrived shortly after. Renesmee answered the door and was swept off her feet by Jacob. He carried her through the front foyer and into the living room where everyone was gathered. He placed her gently back down on the ground then wrapped his arms around her.
“I missed you soooo much Ness’,” Jake groaned.
Renesmee latched her arms around Jake’s neck. “I missed you too. I was worried I wouldn’t get to see you for Christmas.”
“Well, we’re together now.” Jake spoke proudly. “Merry Christmas, Ness’.”
“Merry Christmas Jake!”
Renesmee got on her tiptoes and kissed Jacob on the cheek. “I want to give you your present now,” she said.
Jake’s eyes lit up. “Thanks for reminding me! I’m gonna go grab yours. I’ll be right back.”
Jake was back in a flash with a bouquet of roses in one hand, and a gift in the other.
“The flowers were a gift to Sue from someone. She didn’t want them, so I though I’d bring ‘em for you, ” Jake admitted as he held the bouquet out to Renesmee. “And here’s your gift. I hope you like it.”
Renesmee laughed as she took the flowers, and gift, from Jake’s hands. “The flowers are beautiful,” Renesmee said as she placed them on the ground. “Lets open our gifts at the same time. Here’s yours.” She pushed the wrapped-up box on the floor toward Jake with her toe and he picked it up.
They opened their gifts together with permanent smiles on their faces.
Jake’s gift to Renesmee was unique. It was a silver engraved photo bracelet. The bracelet had a photo of him and Renesmee engraved on the face of it with snowflakes dancing around them. [You can see an example of Jake's gift to Renesmee here].
Renesmee’s gift to Jacob was a key.
“Uh, thanks Ness’. I’ve always wanted a key,” Jake said, sarcasm dominating his tone.
Renesmee laughed and tossed her head back. “No, silly! It’s a key to a 2010 VW Rabbit. It’s red.” She paused and analyzed Jake’s expression: his eyes were huge, his jaw dropped. He was stiff, like a statue. “I know you built your car, and I think it’s great. But I know it probably won’t make it much longer . . . you admitted it yourself, Jake.”
“You bought me a car?!”
“Well, Mom and Dad kinda helped . . . but yes. Sorry it’s not here; it’s in the garage in New Hampshire.”
Jake wrapped his fingers around the key. “Ness’, this is too much. I – I got you a bracelet and you got me a car?”
“It’s not about the cost, Jake. It’s about the thought. I love my bracelet more than anything. We live in the middle of nowhere in new Hampshire–and I know there’s an abundance of cars at our house already, but I wanted you to have something that was yours. And only yours.”
Jacob shook his head. “I– I really don’t know how to thank you.”
“How about a kiss?”
And did they ever kiss.
I glanced away and steered Edward into a different room as soon as Jake lifted Nessie’s legs to his waist so she was straddling him. I couldn’t, however, do anything about the thoughts Edward could hear swirling around in their heads.
A low hiss escaped Edward’s lips, but his control was a lot better than it had been in the past. No broken banisters this time.
When we entered the living room, everyone else was exchanging gifts. We had all promised each other we wouldn’t buy extravagant gifts this year because that’s the easy way out. Money can buy almost anything, so a new car or a luxurious vacation was easy. Too easy. But to pick out something solely based on thought alone; that’s hard.
Esme knitted everyone sweaters that looked liked something you would buy in an expensive clothing boutique. I asked her to teach me how to knit and she promised me a lesson for the next day.
The pack got everyone books.
“You guys don’t sleep and stuff, so we thought books we’re a good way to help pass the time,” Embry said as we all tore though the wrapping paper, revealing various novels we’d never read.
Quil nodded in agreement with Embry. “Yeah, and we got you all newly-released books; assumed you’d already read all the older ones.”
After everyone exchanged their gifts and said their ‘thank yous,’ Edward handed me a medium–sized box with silver wrapping paper.
“And now for your gift Mrs. Cullen,” Edward said in that smooth, creamy voice.
I tore off the wrapping paper to find a box of ice skates. Ice skates? I thought to myself, glad that Edward couldn’t read my mind.
I looked up to say ‘thank you,’ but Edward began talking before I could say anything.
“Your present is actually back home in New Hampshire. I couldn’t bring it here. But when we get back, we are going to spend the day on the ice rink I made you.” He shifted his gaze to my lips, then back up to my eyes, and continued. “I framed the rink with flower petals, and strung lights through the trees. I picked out your favorite music to play while we’re skating, too. And the rink has a special message for you written across it, my love.”
I loved when Edward couldn’t use money–or at least not a lot of money–for my gifts. Those were always the most special; the ones I would remember forever.
“This is perfect! I love it,” I told him, wrapping my arms around him. “What you did for Renesmee, coming here to Forks, was the best present I could ever receive. And now I have my own ice rink?”
Edward smiled softly. “I’d give you the world if I were powerful enough.”
I knew Edward meant it. I thought I felt my cold body become warm; love had a weird way of making me feel things physically that were unexplainable, impossible.
“Your turn,” I said as I handed Edward his gift. “Jake has to be in the room when you open it, though.”
“You’ll see,” I said then turned and yelled Jake’s name. “Jake! Can you come in here?!”
“Sure, sure Bella,” he answered as he sauntered into the room, his arm around the small of Nessie’s back.
“The gift I got Edward is kinda for both of you.”
Jake and Edward looked at each other, confused. Then they both looked at me… still confused.
Edward began to tear off the wrapping paper. He ripped it off at a slower than human pace, obviously hesitant about the suspicious joint gift.
After the paper was off, Edward tore open the box and tossed aside the tissue paper the gift was hiding under. His expression was still confused, but even more-so now.
He lifted up the pamphlet, opened it then pulled out two tickets and a welcome letter.
“What’s it say?” Jake prodded.
Edward began to read the words. “Welcome to Alaska Adventure Cabins where you will experience the best Alaska has to offer. We will ensure your stay is a pleasant one….” He tapered off.
“You’re sending Edward and me to Alaska?” Jacob scoffed.
I bit my lip and looked down. “I wanted you two to have a guys adventure. Spend some time alone. You might not be the best of friends, but this will be a good thing. It’s booked for mid-January. It’ll give me some time to finish up my book, too, without distractions.” Edward was a huge distraction; a distraction I loved, though.
“I–thank you, Bella,” Edward said, still somewhat taken aback. “I’m sure it will be quite the adventure, right Jake?”
Jake rolled his eyes. “Oh, ya. An adventure all right.”
“This will be fun for you guys,” Renesmee interjected.
“Mhm,” Jake grumbled.
Edward came and planted a gracious kiss on my forehead. “Thank you, love. I didn’t see this coming, but if it’s what you’d like, I’m sure it will be . . . interesting.”
You don’t have to go you know,” I assured Edward. “I just thought it’d be good for you to have a getaway, to bond a little more before what Jake and Renesmee have turns into something much more serious.”
Edward parted his lips. “Thank you.”
“Ya, thanks Bella. It’s the thought, right?” Jake confirmed, looking at Nessie for an answer.
“If you’re going to love me, you’re going to have to love my dad too, Jake,” Renesmee said.
“Then I’ll just have to love your dad,” Jake answered with a big grin, sweeping Renesmee off her feet and tossing her over his shoulder as he tickled her. Their laughs and screams tapered off slightly as they made their way up the stairs.
Edward and I joined the rest of the family around the Christmas tree. I went and sat down beside Charlie. He handed me a gift from him. It was a beautiful sterling silver cubic zirconia vintage bracelet.
“It was your grandmothers,” he said. “Thought you might like it.”
“Wow! I love this, Dad. It’s beautiful,” I said, careful not to slip up and call him Charlie. “Can you put it on for me?”
And he clasped the beautiful bracelet onto my wrist.
The night went perfectly. We laughed, reminisced, cheered the pack on as they had eating and chugging contests. Everything was perfect and I was so thankful to have the most perfect, selfless husband by my side the entire time. Edward brought Christmas to Jacob. He brought us all together as a family. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Emmett now refers to Edward as ‘Edward Claus.’
Before I go, I should let you know that when we returned to New Hampshire, I got my ice rink. Written across the beautiful clear ice was: “Merry Christmas Bella: My life. My Love. My World. My Everything.”
We ice skated under the twinkling lights as soft music played, flower petals whirled around us and snow floated down from the dark sky. Everything was perfect. More than perfect.
EDIT: 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, 2013). For now, I’m so excited for you to check out the novella I’ve written:
You can read a preview and purchase ‘My Darrling’ HERE. I can’t thank you all enough for your endless support, and I promise to run contests to give back as soon as my books get off the ground!
For those of you who’d like to follow the progress of my Willow series, please ‘LIKE’ it on Facebook here. You can also read a tiny preview if you click ‘info’.
Feel free to come hang out at my personal blog here, where I post songs, pictures and will soon be giving more previews from ‘Willow.’ Thank you all so much for reading and for the support and encouragement you’ve all given. You have no idea how important your encouragement and kind words has been.
XO Krystal XO