March 21, 2011
This week was spring break for the students of New Hampshire. Since the first horrid experience Bella and I had endured her first year in Forks, I don’t think either of us have ever enjoyed ourselves on spring break since.
The first year Bella’d been attacked by a savaging vampire, and the second year she’d jumped off a cliff and almost drowned. Both times, I had been sure she was as good as dead. But my Bella is still here with me, still the same, just less fragile – yet somehow still almost just as clumsy.
When Renee first arrived to our home late on Tuesday night, she was astonished by the sheer mass of our new mansion. Of course, she’d already acknowledged Carlisle’s wealth, but no one was unaware to the fact that our home stood out from other homes – especially in such a small town.
Renee hugged her daughter, then Esme, and Alice; thankfully Bella had reminded all of us to wear long sleeves and gloves to cover our icy, porcelain skin. It was good the weather was still wintry enough for coats.
“You guys haven’t changed one bit!” Renee cried, but the tone of voice seemed more exclamatory and cheery than suspicious. Of course we hadn’t changed at all – that was both the beauty and the misfortune of immortality.
Bella’s mother, on the other hand, has changed much since the wedding when we’d last seen her. Her hair has thinned and started to turn gray, and she has noticeably more wrinkles. Bella tells me that she thinks her and Renee don’t even look alike any longer, like she used to, but I can still see their similarities.
“Where’s Phil, Mom?” Alice had already seen that Phil couldn’t make it to New Hampshire with Renee, but Bella was right to ask.
“Oh, baby, Phil couldn’t come…” Renee sighed. “He gets so busy with baseball. Now, where’s little Nessie?” As if on cue, Renesmee came down the stairs. The feeling of dread swept across my family’s thoughts as we imagined again how old Renesmee must seem to Renee, but our fears were unnecessary.
As anticipated, Renee was shocked, but after a brief explanation about Renesmee’s age and how she looks a lot older than her age, she accepted Nessie as just another unusual member of the Cullen family.
Given that Renee had arrived so late, of course she went to bed almost immediately after her arrival. We hadn’t exactly have a guest room made when we had first moved in, so Alice had insisted on buying a set of furniture to decorate the walls of one of the unused rooms of the house. Knowing that we would had to at least pretend to all be asleep, Bella and I snuck out the door to our cottage to stay overnight.
In the morning, Esme and Carlisle made biscuits and gravy with bacon. While Renee obsessed over how great of cooks they were, the rest of us hastily agreed while nibbling off crumbs and spitting them back into napkins. Human food is revolting to us. Renesmee is the only one in our family who eats human food, but only the few specific things she likes.
Bella had the day to spend with her mother all planned out, and they were going to go browse through town and shop in Hanover to spend some mother-daughter time together.
That was good for Bella, to be with Renee – and good for my family and for the werewolves – so that we could come out of hiding for at least a little while. But, as Bella and her mother drove off to Hanover, the same nagging feeling that Renee would begin to start suspecting something about us loomed in my head.
I knew that we could not put Renee’s life at risk by exposing what we are – that would be breaking the utmost important vampire rule. Nonetheless, if there were no vampire rules or regulations, Bella and I know that not keeping our existence a secret to her family would make things so much easier.
But we wouldn’t do that.
Once Bella and her mother were gone, we didn’t have to hide anymore. It put all of us much more at ease when there wasn’t an outsider in the house; we could talk freely about our abilities and other vampire concepts. Alice, Carlisle, Esme and I went on a short, precautionary hunting trip and caught a few deer and a grizzly.
While the others went home, I stayed in the forest. Bella and I had not yet found a place where we could be all alone, a replacement for the meadow we had to leave behind in Forks.
I was determined to find my Bella her meadow.
No meadow in New Hampshire was even close to being as beautiful as the one in Forks. There just wasn’t any comparison. I was beginning to lose my confidence that I’d ever find a place like it again.
When I returned home, Alice was gone. When I asked Carlisle, he just shook his head and told me she left moments before I arrived. Esme told me that Alice mentioned something about a sale downtown. But her memory of Alice’s expression before she left was disturbed, almost aggravated.
And then, Jacob and Seth burst through the door, looking exhausted and hungry. Ah – Alice must have seen them coming, or rather not have seen anything. But why would she have told Esme about a sale?
And then I read Jacob’s thoughts.
“NO!” I snarled, lunging at Jacob.
He looked surprised that I was here. “What the hell?!”
“Don’t you even THINK about that, dog!”
Comprehension dawned on his face, followed by irritation. “Dammit! I forgot about that!”
“What, forgot that I could read your mind? Every sick thing that passes through it—” I hissed at him again.
“Maybe you should get out of my head, then!”
“She’s my daughter, Jacob!”
“Whoa, you guys!” Seth got between us and held out his arms. “What the hell is going on?”
“I thought he was going to be gone—”
“What, so you could do it behind my back?!”
“Edward,” Carlisle came up to me and put a hand on my shoulder. “Calm down. Explain what happened.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The stench of werewolf filled my nose. “He wanted to k-kiss her. Renesmee. My daughter.”
I glanced up at Jacob. He almost looked arrogant, which made me want to lunge at him all over again.
Carlisle spoke up. “Jacob, you know you’re going to have to wait until she’s mature enough to handle this. Renesmee—” He stopped mid-sentence, glancing up at the stairwell.
“She’s not here,” Esme told him. “She’s out again with her friends from school.”
“Wonderful,” I groaned, sinking down to the couch. “Just wonderful.”
Esme sat next to me and rubbed my arm soothingly. “I know it’s hard on you, Edward. Your daughter’s growing up. You just don’t want to believe it.”
“You’ve gotta let go of her sometime,” Jacob muttered. She’s not a kid anymore, bloodsucker. Lighten up.
I blocked Jacob’s thoughts from my brain. “She’s so young! She’s barely four! How could you put that kind of weight on a four-year-old’s shoulders?”
“Listen.” Jacob crossed his arms. “Mentally, her mind isn’t four. Physically, her body’s not four. Age is just a number.”
“Honey, I know it seems tough… But she’s growing so fast. Eventually, you’ve got to let her go,” Esme told me. “I know it seems so hard now, but Renesmee’s at the point where she can start making her own decisions, like going out with friends at school.”
I gave up, reluctantly. But Jacob and Esme were right.
“But Jacob, I do agree with Carlisle,” my mother continued. “Though Renesmee is getting more mature by the day, I don’t think she is ready for something so huge, like her first kiss. Don’t you think it would be more appropriate to wait?”
“Well, I guess…” Jacob was hesitant to agree, but then again he wanted only what was best for Renesmee.
“Thank you, Jacob,” Carlisle said. “Of course, we realize that she’s your imprint. You’re more than welcome to stay over as often as you’d like—”
“But not right now,” I interceded. “Renee and Bella will be here in a second.” And sure enough, after the wolves left, Bella and her mother came in through the back door…with Alice at their heels. I pulled her outside to speak with her.
“I had to get out!” Alice was sporting a pair of fashion sunglasses, and carrying multiple shopping bags. “I stepped out because I can’t see anything with those damn werewolves in the way. It’s just irritating!”
“And then what? You decided to just go shopping?”
“Well, Bella and Renee were already out… And I guess I didn’t really notice that Nessie’s future was becoming hazy until after I’d already gotten to the mall…”
I raised my eyebrows at her, glowering.
“I’m sorry, Edward! I should have gone to tell you he was planning to do something… But they had the cutest purple cashmere dress at Neiman Marcus, and I just had to get one before they all sold out! I couldn’t just pass up an opportunity like this! The skirt is ruffled and is lined with fishnet lace, and there is this adorable black belt to go with it…”
I chuckled, letting it go. There was no way I could argue with Alice.
During the days that Renee stayed, Bella worked hard to keep her busy talking and not wandering around. Before she left on Friday morning, Bella made sure to spend as much time with her as possible. I am glad they had a chance to be together this week. Bella was very grateful to see her mother so animated and lively, as she always has been.
From what Bella has told me, Renee didn’t question our family as much as we’d all anticipated. Like Charlie, maybe she figured that the less she knew about us, the better off she’d be. The only time Renee had really wondered about us aloud was when she’d accidentally brushed Bella’s arm, but luckily the weather outside was cool enough for Bella to make up an excuse about her cold skin.
Speaking of the weather, spring has finally arrived, and though there is not a sign of sunlight anytime soon, Alice has promised us that the weather will start to become warmer within a few weeks’ time. Though temperature isn’t ever a problem to us vampires, warmer air always feels lighter on our already-frozen skin. I’m sure the residents here will enjoy the coming of spring as much as we do.
I know I should trust Carlisle and Esme’s words about Nessie. Of course I realize how grown-up she is becoming, but in my perspective she will always be my little girl.
I suppose this is what all fathers have to go through sooner or later – but of course, not as early as I have. I do hope that Jacob will see our standpoint of the situation sometime. As I will learn to eventually let my daughter go and to lighten up, Jacob will soon learn that patience is indeed a virtue.
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