April 1, 2013
Jacob came home yesterday. Oh, the joy (sarcasm)!
I know I’m being childish. I got over my aversion to him long ago, but is it really necessary to practically fondle my daughter in front of me? Really, Nessie jumped into his arms the moment he came home. And by the time I got to the door to welcome him (sarcasm, again) they were both practically sucking each others faces off. It’s okay when I do that to Bella, but it’s not okay when a wolf does that to my daughter. Like I said: hypocrisy.
“Okay, okay. Get away from each other, you two. He was gone for a week, Nessie, not for a year.” I frowned and growled at the same time. Seriously, I couldn’t even tell where her clothes started and his ended! Not to mention the thoughts running through their minds. I was really going to have to monitor their dates from now on.
Don’t even think about it. Alice, of course, warned me as she and the other members of the family politely hung around some distance away, giving Jacob and Nessie their time. Traitors.
“Oh, for God’s sakes! Let go, you two!” I growled a little louder than last time, and finally they separated.
What is your problem? Jacob was exasperated with my interruption, but I could see undercurrents of amusement in his mind.
“At the moment, you. I thought you said you would control yourself?” I snapped at him, and beside Jacob, Nessie rolled her eyes.
“Edward,” I felt Bella’s hand on my shoulder.
It’s okay. As long as they are not sneaking off into the night, it’s fine, really. She dropped her shield momentarily and told me.
Oh, my daughter was not going to be sneaking off anywhere. I would make sure of that. I had done enough of that when I was a teen. Yes, I am still a teen, and yes it was the late 1910′s, but teenagers don’t change, no matter what era they belong to.
Now it was Bella who rolled her eyes at me. Apparently my expression had said it all. She knew she could not curb the fatherly protectiveness that I had in spades, so she just moved on and hugged Jacob. “Hey, Jake.”
“Hey, Bells! How’s everything?” Jacob’s sunny smile beamed.
“Jake, you were only gone for a week. Everything is still the way it was the day before.”
“Really? Are you sure I won’t find my Star Wars memorabilia chewed up and spit out?” Jacob raised his eyebrows at Bella, though his thoughts were about Rose. Ah, the you-burned-my-clothes-to-coal fiasco. I wondered whether I should tell Rosalie that Jacob was planning another revenge on her. Hmm. . . .
“I’m a vampire, not a dog,” Rose snorted from somewhere behind me.
Esme laughed at their constant banter. “Oh, come on you two! Welcome, Jacob. Are you hungry?” She hugged him.
“Hey, Esme. I’m starving!”
“Well, come on then! I have Steak waiting!” She held him by the elbow and led him into the kitchen with Carlisle, Nessie, Bella and I in tow. The rest of the family had stayed only to welcome Jacob home. Now that their work was done, they slipped out the back door to go hunting as they had intended to.
“How’s Billy, Jacob? Is he having any more trouble with his pain?” Carlisle was the one to speak after we had all settled at the table.
Billy Black had recently been diagnosed with arthritis. It might not have been any problem to his wolf self, but since the magic had skipped his generation, coupled with the fact that he had been in a wheelchair since before Bella had been born, we had reason to worry. I say ‘we’ and not ‘them’ because all of us had come a long way since then—since the fateful day in the field when we had lost one of our own to the Volturi, but asserted our independence and power in no uncertain terms. I think we had scared them away for good. They had finally grasped the idea that theirs was not the absolute word in our world; that we were each our own person, with our lives intertwined with those of our mates and our family in ties as timeless as grace itself, unlike theirs—which were based on power and nepotism. Alice and I were still keeping a constant watch on their decisions, but we had not had any reason for alarm untill now. We were, it seemed for the time being, free.
“No, not much. Although it’s getting troublesome with age.” Jacob nodded while stuffing his face with a big bite. Seriously, how did his mouth expand that much?
“How’s grandpa Charlie? Did he like the fishing rod I sent him for his birthday?” Nessie was glued to Jacob’s side, leaving an inordinately less amount of distance between them.
“He’s good. He loved the fishing gear, Nessie. And you”—he pointed to Bella—“should call him more often. He misses you. And a point to be noted: he’s thinking of selling the house so he can move down to the reservation permanently.”
Bella sat up a little straighter, stiffened. “What? Why?”
“Well, for starters it’s easier for Sue. I mean, with me and both of her kids here, there’s really only her left to look after Billy. Yes, there’s the pack, but they’re busy most of the time protecting the tribe and running perimeter. She can’t always travel back and forth, not to mention times of emergency. And Charlie wanted to do his part. He and Billy have been friends since you and I were in diapers, so he wanted to help out.” Jacob shrugged.
“I think it will be good. Charlie must be feeling alone in that house. Moving to the reservation will keep him in good company,” Carlisle remarked.
“Yes, but he can’t sell the house. I grew up there—in a way. He grew up there! It’s his grandfather’s house.” Bella shook her head.
“Come on, Bells. I think it’s better if he just sells it. It’s only trouble for him if he doesn’t. It will mean extra bills and taxes that he won’t have to pay otherwise. Plus, the house is good. Everything is working. He’ll get a good price if he puts it on the market. In fact, do you remember Dr. Banner? He wanted to buy it as soon as word came out!” Jacob looked like he didn’t care much, but one look at Bella’s face told me that she wasn’t going to let it go.
As if on cue, she turned to look at me, and the mental conversation that transpired was something that we had both grown adept at.
We’ll talk about it later.
“So he and Sue are still going strong?” Carlisle smiled a little at his question.
“Oh, you should see them. It’s like these two”—Jacob pointed at Bella and I—”locked in a cage overnight. It kind of grossed me out a little, really.”
Bella grimaced at his comparison. “Jake, it’s my father and his . . . girlfriend. Can you please not talk about it that way and make it disgusting?”
I grinned. Bella had no aversion to Sue as such, but she had had her fill of Emmett’s rather amorous jokes about our, shall we say, ‘carnal interludes’ (their arm wrestling match and its result was long forgotten.)
“It’s good that Charlie has someone. Everyone deserves love, honey.” That had obviously come from Esme, who smiled a warm smile at Carlisle. And let’s just say that that was one of the moments when I fervently wished I did not have mind-reading abilities.
“And how’s Jackie? Did she start school yet?” Nessie piped up from beside Jacob.
Jackie was Sam and Emily’s little daughter. We all remembered when Sam had approached Carlisle with a three month pregnant Emily, freaking out about hurting her more than he already had. Carlisle had monitored the entire pregnancy closely—not that there had been anything wrong with Emily in the first place—and Nessie had been named Godmother when the baby had come. In a very surprising gesture, Sam had pleaded with Carlisle to be Godfather to little Jackie (name courtesy: Alice). Leah had politely requested to stay away the entire time Sam had been in the house, although I had caught snippets of conversations between her and Emily. No matter what her history with Sam might have been, Leah loved her niece to death and called her often.
“Oh, she’s a little spitfire, that one. I swear, she’s only three, but you should see her talk. ‘Uncle Jake, you’re not doing it right,’ ‘Mom, you don’t know anything!,’ ‘No, Daddy, princess castles are pink!‘” Jacob imitated her in a squeaky voice, which sounded more like he had a throat condition.
“Aw, does she miss me?” Nessie had a soft corner for kids: all kids, even the little devils that stood in the grocery store market and cried like there was no tomorrow.
“Are you kidding? She had practically packed her bags to come with me!” Jacob shook his head, and I picked his brain for visuals of the little girl. The last time I had seen Jackie had been a few weeks ago—before we had moved here—when she had thrown up a fit as to why ‘Grampa’ Carlisle and Nessie were moving away. On the day we were leaving, it had taken a lot of cuddling and coaxing to persuade her to let go of Carlisle’s shirt so he could drive. The child was doted on by all of us, especially Alice and Rosalie, who had found another person they could play dress up with for a longer duration of time. ‘Emmy’ and ‘Jaspsher’ were practically ready to put her in a bag and smuggle her into Canada, and we’d had to tell them that, as tempting as the idea might have been, it was illegal.
“I miss Jackie.” Esme smiled as she listened to Jake tell stories about her shenanigans. Apparently, Jackie had only recently discovered Shinchan, and Sam and Emily were at their wits’ end as to how to persuade her not to show her ‘tushy’ to every person who passed by. I didn’t know about these cartoons sometimes . . . .
“All right then, Jacob, why don’t you go and take rest? I’ll set out on preparing dinner after some time.” Esme cleared Jacob’s plates and he picked up his bags. We had added some new rooms to the house for the wolves before we had moved to Atlin, but all of them had insisted that they could share an apartment in town.
Jacob’s pack had grown exponentially since the last time the Volturi had paid a visit. In order to prevent fights from breaking out, the young wolves were now given a choice. They could either join Jacob or stay on the reservation with Sam. The pack now included eight members: Jacob, Seth, Leah, Embry, Brady, Collin, and two new members, Joshua and Kiowa.
Apart from Leah and Seth, who lived in a separate flat of their own a few miles away from the boys, the others shared two apartments in the main area of town. Jacob spent most of his time here at the house, so we had shifted all of his stuff in a separate room for him.
Jacob and Nessie went off to his room on the third floor, but not before I warned them that I could hear them, and if I got even the slightest inclination of clothes coming off I would put them far, far apart and under hourly supervision.
Bella and I went out of the back door to escape to our cottage. The last time we had been in Atlin was in 1958, a little after Jasper and Alice joined us. When we had left, we had let the main house stand as it was. Now, almost more than half a century later, Esme and Alice had refurbished the house while Bella and I had scoured the nearby forest for land to build a house on. Finally, after months of planning and discussions, we had our Home Sweet Home: part two. The original one—that the family had gifted to Bella for her nineteenth birthday—was locked and preserved in the shadows of the forest in Forks.
The new one wasn’t anything like it, but we loved it still. Bella and I had bejeweled the house with books, music and photos: Renesmee’s birthdays, landmarks, trips, even some pictures from our Honeymoon at Isle Esme. A lot of the space had been left as it was by us on Bella’s insistence: ‘new memories for a new place,’ she had said.
The same angel was walking by my side now, with her dark, mahogany hued hair flowing and fluttering around her in the cold Atlin wind. Her red plush lips were pursed together like they did when she was thinking. Her eyes—once red but now a deep, warm golden color—seemed burdened under the weight of the frown that marred her beautiful features.
“Penny for your thoughts?” I wrapped my arm around her waist, and she complied by leaning in to my touch.
“It feels . . . wrong,” she sighed.
I knew what she was talking about. “Charlie selling the house?”
She nodded. “I probably never told you this, but when I lived with Renee, we moved around a lot. I mean, I know we didn’t need to. But Phil’s job demanded it. Renee didn’t want to let Phil go alone, but she also didn’t want to leave me behind. So, we traveled most of the year, because I was too young to stay home by myself—she met Phil not much later after leaving Charlie.
“The result was that I was never able to find a . . . home ground, as you call it. Granted, we had a permanent home in Phoenix, but I never really stayed there long enough to make any friends. I didn’t fit in anyway, so it didn’t matter much. But, all the moving around and traveling and sight seeing got really tiring after some time. Some times, I just wanted to stop, and stay, and just . . . relax a bit.
“But Forks . . . it was the one place that didn’t change a bit in the fourteen years that I spent there, until I implored Charlie to spend his summers in Phoenix. Every time I came to Forks, I was met with the same people, the same scenery, same house, same bed, same city . . . it was nice to have a constant, even if for a little bit of time. I suppose that was also why I didn’t like it that much,” she chuckled, “because when I went back to Phoenix, I missed it. I missed the . . . constant. Life in Phoenix was always fast, always moving, always sprinting. Forks was . . . slow. I liked the slow. I missed the slow. And it used to be that much harder to go back to fast once in Phoenix.
“And after I moved there, to Forks, I mean . . . after I met you . . . it just . . . that house became that much more special, Edward. All the nights we spent . . . talking, laughing, practicing . . .” She smiled. “The dinner table Charlie used to hover around when you would be home, the kitchen where you used to watch me cook, and the sneaking into my room at night . . . it’s what made that house what it is, Edward. There are so many memories . . . so many that I cannot even begin to imagine. And not just with you: with Charlie, too. We used to watch the games at night, and he used to clean his gun in the morning. Sometimes, he would even be washing my truck when I woke up. And what’s ironical is that the entire time I was there I did not appreciate it. And now I do, when Charlie wants to sell it off. It just hurts . . . to see something that was such a big part of my life be handed to someone for a wad of cash.”
I stared at her for quite some time. And it was clear as day on her face—how sad she was. I knew that her life in Phoenix hadn’t been something that she missed, but I had had no idea that her house in Forks meant that much to her. It made me feel ineffective, really. I should have known, should have had an idea. I guess she missed her single life as much as she enjoyed her married one.
“Maybe that’s the point of it, love,” I shrugged, “moving on, I mean. Renee did it, Charlie did it, and then you did it. You grew up. You got married. You are happy here, and Charlie is happy there. He found someone that he might want to spend his life with. And maybe he wants to start over now: a fresh start, in a new place. Maybe this is his way of moving on entirely. He’s leaving behind all the remnants of his past life and embracing a new one.”
“But . . . how can he leave behind all the memories we shared, Edward?” She frowned and looked at me from under my arm.
“He’s not, Bella. Memories are made in the heart, love. Where he goes, his heart goes with him. That house will always remain a piece of his past life, and a participant in all his memories. We don’t need . . . materials to remind us of the true bonds that we share with each other, love. The feeling will suffice.”
“But . . . I just . . .” She sighed heavily, and I stopped walking. Turning her towards me, I looked into her eyes—those beautiful, soulful, troubled eyes. And then ever so gently, I kissed her—a light, feathery peck on the lips.
“You see what I did now, Bella? I made a memory. I kissed you on this ground here. Now, if I sell this land tomorrow, it will be gone. But, the memory of it . . . this . . . this kiss will stay with us forever. Now, you decide—what’s more important? This land or the memory? You’re in denial, my love. You will get over it, I’m sure.”
She looked at me for some time with her penetrating and tell tale eyes. And after a moment, I saw the resignation in them as she reluctantly but finally accepted my words. I smiled in encouragement at her fortitude. “Shall we go?”
She nodded and sighed, and I had a feeling that tonight would be the night when I might need to bring out the big guns.
Suddenly, I felt the air shift, and a miniscule, almost untraceable weight fall on my mind. I knew what this meant. She had just expanded her shield and wrapped it around my mind, thus effectively shielding both of us from the world. She had trapped us in our happy bubble—literally.
I love you, always, Edward.
“I love you too, Bella. Always.”
And we walked on into the advancing twilight.
— Edward Cullen
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