May 11, 2013
Even after the din that was being created in our backyard, we all heard the car screech to a halt. Bella, Carlisle, Esme and I had let ourselves into the living room, and the blinds had been drawn on the wall sized window that provided a full view of the rear, effectively shutting us in. The others had been instructed to stay with the teens, and if possible, let the party disperse quickly. Moreover, they had been told to keep Nessie away.
Deep down, we all knew it was not going to work.
We were unprepared and consequently, unfortunate.
On other days, we might have passed off Nessie’s absence as a trip out on the town with Alice, or a school trip to another state, but today, Charlie had caught us in the most delicate of predicaments. It was his grand-daughter’s birthday, after all. There was no way she wouldn’t be home tonight.
Have you ever had one of those experiences where everything seems to happen in slow motion—like one of those scenes in a movie where they guy and the girl meet in a club and everything takes the back seat as they converse with their eyes?
Well, the scenario might not have been the same, but the way we felt, standing in the doorway, waiting for impending, unprecedented doom more than sufficed.
Bella’s breathing and her hold on my hand escalated the second we heard the door of the cab slam shut. The sound seemed ominously close to the starting of the countdown on a clock. I could feel the bass from the speakers beneath my feet, sending vibration through my core: only, I didn’t know whether they were induced or involuntary.
“Maybe we can do something? Maybe we can . . .” Bella whispered from beside me, shaking her head and close to hyperventilating.
“Like what, Bella? Hiring a kid? That might have worked, but nobody in this town is going to lend out their child for a night, not to mention she’ll have to look like Nessie for us to pull it off,” I said.
“Are you out of your mind?!” Bella turned to me, as if to clarify whether I was sober or not.
“We can’t get out of this, Bella. There is no way,” I said as the sound of Charlie shuffling out cash from his pocket to pay the cabbie reached my ears. “How do mean to explain Nessie’s absence on her birthday? How do you explain the decoration in the backyard? The food? The lights?”
“I think you could forget about the decorations for a while and concentrate on how you’ll explain why your five-year-old daughter looks fifteen.” Esme said her first piece from her place on the couch, and that was enough to shut us up.
I’ll try my best to calm him. I heard Jasper say.
I’m escorting them out now, the kids. Alice followed. Good, at least there won’t be an audience when, pardon my language, shit hits the fan.
Each step that Charlie took brought him closer to the truth—that he might not be able to handle. Each time the gravel crunched under his feet on the driveway, I thought about the sound bones made when they were crushed. That was how I was feeling right now. We were all prepared, but were not.
The ring of the doorbell came all too soon. Bella jumped beside me, taking in a deep breath.
“Charlie, what a pleasant surprise!” Carlisle was already in character, although I could feel his strained mind, taut like a wire.
“Carlisle, nice to see you! What can I say? I couldn’t stay away from my granddaughter!” Charlie laughed, and I tried to distract myself by concentrating on his voice. I saw, through Carlisle’s mind, that he looked old. His hair had almost gone completely gray, and his belly was rounder.
And here we were, standing young and immortal.
I’m bringing him inside, Edward, be prepared. Carlisle warned me in his mind, but I couldn’t move.
I can’t see how it goes down, Edward, sorry. It’s all blurry. That, of course, was Alice.
“Charlie, we’re so glad you could come! It’s such a pleasant surprise!” Esme gave Charlie her winning smile he and Carlisle appeared through the doorway.
“Hello, Esme? How are you?” Charlie smile politely, shaking her hand.
“We’re all fine, Charlie. You look splendid, by the way. Sue must be feeding you well!” she exclaimed.
Charlie blushed a little at the mention of Sue. “Ah, I’m . . . we’re just . . . you know . . . going along.”
I tried to sift through his mind, but I could see where Bella got her shield from. From the very start, I had never been able to get a clear reading on Charlie’s thoughts: just his emotions. There wasn’t much to progress on right now, and that, of course, worried me.
It seemed time was up sooner than we would have liked it to, and Charlie turned towards Bella and I.
“Dad.” Bella smiled and threw herself into Charlie’s arms. I knew she was careful, but my paranoid self couldn’t help but think that he would notice the strength in her grasp.
“Dad, what are you doing here? I thought you weren’t going to be able to come!” I had to admit, my wife was doing a lot better than I was.
“Aw, Bells! I couldn’t help it! I haven’t seen Nessie in mad long! Now, where is she?” Charlie kissed Bella and started looking for his grand daughter.
“Charlie.” I smiled and moved forward to shake his hand.
“Edward.” He returned the gesture, and for the first time in a long time, I felt as if someone else’s grasp was stronger than mine.
“How are you, Charlie? How’s the fish coming along this time of the year?” I smiled, hoping to distract him for a few minutes, though I knew it was futile.
“Oh, you know, they have their own mind.” He shook his head. “Some party you got going on there.”
“Oh, Well . . .” Bella started to say, but trailed off. What could we say?
“You know what? I’ll just go over there and surprise her! She’ll never know what hit her.” Charlie put his bag down and started for the door.
I had a feeling that we were all going to be feeling that way.
“Dad!” Bella moved to stop him, and I flinched internally, my mind ready for the explosion about to go off. “You can’t go there!”
I looked to Carlisle and Esme for help as Bella fumbled with her words to come up with an excuse. Their expressions told me that they were out of ideas.
“I. . . I . . . I’ll . . I’ll get her for you! It’ll be amazing if she comes in and . . . sees her grandpa!” Bella smiled tightly, but it had minimal effect on my chaotic mind. No matter what, we had no way to get out of this. What she was doing was just buying us a few seconds to prepare.
“Well, okay then! Go on, get her! I’ve got a nice surprise for her!”
Dad, what are we going to do? He can’t see me like this! We’ll all be exposed! I heard Nessie’s voice inside my head. How I could make that out I don’t know.
But thanks for pointing that out, darling!
Edward, it will happen. We’ll just have to face it. It will be worse if you don’t tell him beforehand. Prepare him. We can handle whatever happens. Alice started off, telling me pointers in my head.
Edward, it is better if he freaks out before than after. Rosalie brought that forward.
See, this is what happens when you are a mind reader. Every body starts shooting thoughts from their heads like they’re only ones talking, and the scene inside yours is somewhat like an amalgamation of a tsunami and an earthquake.
My voice found itself on its own, and I knew then that it was too late.
I met my wife’s eyes as I pondered over how I could make this easier, because I knew that if the truth needed to be revealed, then it had to be us to do so.
Edward . . . The prayer in her eyes couldn’t have been louder even if she would have spoken it.
“We don’t have a choice.” I shook my head, and the decision made itself. “Carlisle? Help me.”
I hope you’ve thought this through. He thought, and stepped forward.
“Bella, what . . . what is going on? Is something wrong?” Charlie had clearly caught the exchange between us, and was starting to look uneasy.
“Charlie, we . . .” What could I say?
Hey Charlie, so listen up: we’re, well, vampires. And we’ve been walking on this Earth as the undead for thousands of years now. And somewhere along the way, I seduced your daughter into marrying me, and we had a half-vampire baby who grows with the speed of a rocket ship.
On second thought, I could say that, if I wanted Charlie to shoot me.
Just . . . do it the normal way, Edward. That’s how I did it.
I never thought I’d say this, but God Bless Jacob Black! The two sentences he said were more helpful than the advices of my family combined. I’d momentarily forgotten that he’d done this before. He’d phased in front of Charlie. He’d revealed the wolves’ trade secrets to Bella’s father. Maybe there was hope after all. If Charlie had lived through that, I was sure he would pull through this time as well.
Edward, what are you waiting for? Carlisle brought me out of my reverie, and I took a deep breath.
Here goes nothing.
“Charlie, there are . . . we . . . there are some things you need to know.” I started, looking into his eyes, although I think my hands might have been shaking.
I mulled over my father in law’s mind, and noticed that he caught the phrase that I had used:
Need to know.
“Bella, what is it?” He didn’t address me, and I could tell that it would be easier if the truth came from Bella rather than anyone of us.
I looked at Bella and nodded, and thankfully, that was all the provocation she needed.
“Charlie, why don’t you sit—” Carlisle started to say, but Charlie cut him off.
“I don’t need to do anything.” He looked at Bella. “Bells? Is everything okay? Is Nessie all right?”
“Dad, everything is fine. There’s no need to freak out, okay? Just . . . I have something to tell you . . . need to know stuff . . . and . . . I need you to promise me that you won’t freak out.” Bella bit her lip through the entire sentence, and I could see the frown on Charlie’s face deepening.
“Well, let’s have it, then . . .” Charlie put on a brave face, but I thought I heard the word Jacob in his mind, as if he’d already prepared his mind for an impact. I couldn’t tell if it would be good or bad, though.
“Okay . . .um . . .” Bella sighed, and pinched the bridge of her nose, copying my very popular habit. “Dad, do . . . do you remember when Jake told you what he was?”
If Charlie had been trying to hide his emotions, they were crystal clear on his face now: anger, confusion, and fear, loads of it.
“Yeah . . . are . . . are you . . .?” Charlie crossed his hands, although his posture looked anything but defensive.
“No, Dad, I’m not a werewolf,” Bella said flat out, and Charlie flinched when the word was out in the open.
“But, you have to know, that there are many . . . creatures in this world that you never would’ve thought existed. Jake’s not the only one, Dad . . . we . . . The Cullens and I, and . . . Nessie . . . we are, too,” Bella said finally.
There was a long, quiet pause, so quiet that I could hear the wind rustling through the leaves outside. Charlie’s mind was in shock, to put it mildly. His emotions were caught up in a maelstrom, and his already unclear thoughts were in a jumble.
There was one particular emotion that stood out, though: fear. Whether it was for his daughter, for himself, or of the unknown only he knew, but he was afraid. There was nothing for him to do now but react so as to give me some clarity from the mayhem ensuing in his mind.
“What is it, Bella? Just . . . tell me,” he whispered after what seemed like a long time, even though it had only been minutes.
My eyes met Bella’s in the next moment, and I nodded. If we had come this far, we could go all the way.
“Dad . . . we . . . we’re vampires.”
“You . . .” Charlie began to say, but I could see he was clueless.
“I was born human, Dad, you know that. I was turned only after Renesmee was born,” Bella explained, or at least tried to.
“Born? . . . You said . . . You said that she was . . .”
“No, Charlie. She was not adopted. She’s our daughter . . . mine and Edward’s. I . . . I gave birth to her. She’s half human. I was human when I conceived her.” Bella nodded.
“Half hu—you mean, you . . .” Charlie looked to me, and I knew it was my turn.
I stepped forward, already having thought through what I was going to say.
“Yes, Charlie. I am a vampire. We all are. I was one when I met her . . . Bella, I mean, in Forks. I . . . I was born in Chicago in 1901.” I saw Charlie’s eyes go wide, but I kept on going, aware that this was my last chance. “My parents were Elizabeth and Edward Anthony Masen Sr. They died of Spanish Influenza in 1918. I would have too . . . had Carlisle not saved me. He changed me, and . . . I’ve been like this since then.”
I was sure that every one of us could hear Charlie’s heart thud and his blood rush in his veins, as he finally realized that that was where our similarities ended.
He opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it again.
He’s hyperventilating, Edward. Jasper said to me, and almost immediately, a wave a platitude ran over us.
“Wha. . . What does this have to do with Nessie?” Charlie finally asked, still shaking his head, confused at the involuntary turn his thoughts had taken.
Bella looked to me, unsure as to how we should proceed. I could only nod to tell her to keep going, that this too would pass.
“Everything, Dad—this has . . . just . . . Nessie?” Bella shook her head, and called out to our daughter.
Daddy? . . . I’m scared. I heard Nessie’s mental plea among the ruffles that were getting louder each second.
I know, Darling, I know. I wanted to say, but couldn’t.
The door to the backyard opened in the next second, and there stood our daughter, flanked by Rosalie and Jacob.
I saw Charlie’s eyes go wide as he caught the resemblance between the stranger and me and Bella. If he had any doubts regarding her identity, they were are dissolved the moment Nessie’s chocolate brown eyes met his. The gasp that escaped his lips was audible even to the family outside, evident of his shock at seeing his grand daughter in a way he had never dreamed of.
“Hey, Grandpa . . .” Nessie made a weak attempt to smile and stood by Bella, holding on to her for dear life.
Is it working? Jacob broke the tension in my mind.
I diverted my eyes from Charlie and looked at him, shrugging so slightly it would not even be noticed, at least by Charlie.
What do you mean you can’t tell? Can’t you read his mind?
I nodded very lightly, all the while keeping my eyes on my shocked father-in-law, and then looked, for the briefest of moments, to Bella. That little sign was enough for Jacob to understand.
Bella gets her shield from Charlie? Jacob sounded astounded.
I nodded, and then turned to the conversation.
“So, you’re telling me that my granddaughter is a vampire?” Charlie ran his hands through his hair, as if willing to pull it out.
“Half-vampire,” Bella said in a soft voice, almost as if she were confessing to a crime in front of the Chief.
“Same difference!” Charlie shouted, and we all jumped at the tenor of his voice.
“Charlie, l—” Carlisle started to say, but was interrupted.
“NO! No! You do not get to say anything. I want to talk to her! I want to talk to my daughter, who, I’ve just learned, is a bloodsucking vampire! I mean, how . . . just how is that even freaking possible?!”
I knew he had wanted to use a much stronger word, but Nessie’s presence had stopped him from doing so.
“Dad! You’re saying it like—” I heard Bella starting to explain, but the scenes in Charlie’s mind had already alerted me to what he going to do.
“Charlie—”I did not even notice the speed with which I was in front of Bella and Nessie, shielding them from his wrath.
“YOU! You did this.” Charlie advanced toward me, but I stood my ground, knowing he could not hurt me. “You turned my daughter into a demon! A filthy, bloodsucking, murderous demon! You animal!”
His push on my chest could not have stronger than a feather being used to move the Berlin Wall. Rosalie pulled Nessie away from Bella, as the latter tried to shove her way on between me and Charlie without hurting him.
Charlie, on the other hand, noticed how his effort had been in vain. I tried not to react as the realization that he stood no chance finally dawned on him.
“It’s futile, Charlie, whatever you’re thinking. You can’t hurt me, or any one of us, for that matter. Just listen to us. We—” I started to explain, holding Bella by my side.
“You—how did you . . .?”
Good job, as if he wasn’t already freaked out! Rosalie taunted me.
“Well, you try explaining it!” I roared at her, to hell with the secrets. The cat was already out of the bag; there was no use shoving it back in.
“I . . . I can read minds, Charlie,” I confessed softly, all the while begrudging Rosalie for bringing forward a solid point.
“Well then you can tell that I don’t really like you right now, Cullen!” he roared at me.
“Charlie, I know. Just listen to us, please.” Carlisle chose the moment to intervene. “You’re taking this in the wrong way.”
“There is no other way to take this! How am I supposed to react to this?” Charlie’s hands were flailing all about him, as he first spoke to Carlisle and turned to Bella. “Explain to me how, Bella? How? How am I supposed to react to the knowledge that my daughter married a creature who she might not even be in love with? Or that my granddaughter looks like my granddaughter but isn’t? Or even worse, that you feed on people, Bella, innocent people?”
“No, Dad! Listen to me, we don’t drink human blood!” I knew Bella was almost at her breaking point. “We only hunt animals! We’d never hurt you, or anyone for that matter!”
“Like that makes it very noble!” Charlie taunted, and then turned to me. “Why? Why my daughter?! Couldn’t you find somebody else to sink your stinking fangs in?!”
I knew, or should have known, that he was eventually going to turn this against me. What man in his right mind would believe that his daughter fell in love with a vampire, considering that he believed in the existence of the supernatural. That Charlie concluded that I had seduced, or somehow threatened Bella into marrying me was logical on his part.
“Charlie, just lis—” I started to say, but Bella cut me off.
“DAD! How could you?! How could you even think that way? I love Edward! You know that!” Even now, she was going against her father to defend me.
“You don’t know that, Bella! Did he force you into marrying him? So he could drink your blood?!”
“That is not true, Charlie, and you know that.”
The interruption came from someone we had never expected.
“Don’t you cross me, Jacob Black! You knew about this, and you didn’t ever think of telling me!” As you might have guessed, Charlie now unleashed his wrath on Jacob, who by the way, won major brownie points in my eyes.
Don’t tell him.
“Are you freaking kidding me? You saw these two! You know how much they love each other! You know how broken she was when he left! And you saw this guy grovel in front of her for ages to make it up to her! You walked her down the aisle, Charlie! You. Saw. it. And now you’re judging them because it’s something beyond your understanding?!” Jacob stepped forward and practically vented his emotions among all of us.
“This is between Bella and me, Jacob. You don’t get a say in this!”
“Actually, he does, Dad.” My heart sank as Bella finally spoke up, because I knew resolve when I saw it. “He is family. And even though he didn’t approve of it, he accepted us, Dad. He was there when I needed him. So, yes, he does get a say in this.
“Edward and I are a package deal, Charlie. I told you this a long time ago. He didn’t seduce me. He didn’t force me. I married him out of my free will. I love him, and only him, regardless of what anyone thinks. I am an adult, for God’s sake! I made this decision in my right mind and heart! I love him, Dad. Him.”
I would have swept Bella up in my arms for standing up for me like she did if I wasn’t so distracted by the change that happened in Charlie’s mind. Like muddy waters miraculously separate to reveal crystal, sparkling river beds, Charlie’s mind underwent a cleansing ritual of sorts. The murkiness of his thoughts disappeared, and beneath it, a decision revealed itself.
It was ironical, really, and cruelly so.
“Fine, then. You’re an adult, and you can make your own decisions, but that doesn’t mean I would approve of them. This is it, Bella. This is where I put my foot down. You can gladly throw away your life for scum like him, but I won’t stand by to watch it. I won’t. You’d be better off dead than be with him.” Charlie nodded gravely, and for once, I couldn’t hear anything from the minds’ of my family.
And with those words, Charlie Swan picked his bag up of the floor and walked out of our lives.
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