May 21, 2013
“Yes, Edward, I have everything.”
She reassured me for the thousandth time, but I could see the trepidation in her eyes as she chewed on her lip in a very famous human gesture.
“Bella.” I put my palm on her cheek, and she leaned in to my touch.
I let her take the lead, because I knew she needed it after what had gone down yesterday.
“It feels wrong,” she sighed after a long time of remaining quiet. “I mean, I shouldn’t have to justify to him who I do and don’t love.”
It had been quiet for a long time after the moment Charlie had stormed out of the house in a raging inferno.
Then, the fear had set in.
There were decisions to make, arguments to be had, defenses to be put forward. Whether or not, to be or not to be: those were the questions. Charlie had taken with him not only the shock of a lifetime, but a grave knowledge of the innermost secrets of our world, thus rendering himself a liability. Our secrets were no longer hidden under the shroud of pretense and distance, but had been exposed to the unlikeliest of persons in the most delicate of predicaments.
God help us if the Volturi found out.
Because the matter pertained to me and Bella, the family had, although with resistance, left us alone to deal with it. After a long talk, and confessions of our fears of exposure, Bella had decided to go to Forks and explain to Charlie the gravity of the situation on home ground, maybe even enlist the help of Billy Black and the tribe if necessary.
The only part I hadn’t agreed to in our discussion was her decision to go alone.
It had been Carlisle who had later assured me that my presence there would only have exacerbated the situation, given Charlie’s reaction towards me on the day of the party.
“Trust me, Edward, you don’t want yourself there if you want Charlie to listen,” he had said.
I had agreed eventually, and so we were here, in the driveway of our house, trying to forestall the pending judgement by only a few minutes.
“Bella, I understand what you’re saying. But it was only natural for him to freak out, love. We bombarded him with something that he had never expected in his life.” I brushed a stray lock of her that had settled itself on her cheek.
“I know, Edward. I mean, I would probably have done the same had I been in his shoes. But he shouldn’t have judged you.” She shook her head, wrapping her arms around me.
“Put yourself in his shoes again, Bella. What would you think if you find out that the guy your daughter loves, the guy she married had been a vampire all along? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t go where he went. Don’t tell me that you wouldn’t for a minute think that he might have used, or coerced your daughter into thinking that she loved him so he could feed on her for the rest of her life?”
She pulled back and looked at me with an angry expression, put off with the fact that I would dare think so low of myself, but even I could see the wheels turning in her mind.
“Well, anything sounds immoral if you say it like that!” She finally groaned in defeat.
I chuckled lightly, and kissed her forehead, “I know, Bella. But that’s what is logical. I mean, just because your sense of self-preservation is lower than Jacob’s brain cell count doesn’t mean every one else’s is.”
Hey! What the hell?! Jacob internally shouted at me, and I could hear Emmett snigger.
“Don’t say that!” Bella smacked my arm, “he defended us!”
“Thank you,” Jacob called out from inside the house.
“I know, love, I’m sorry.” I grinned.
Bella kissed me one last time on the cheek, and then stepped out of the confines of my arms.
“I should get going.” she looked anywhere but me as she spoke.
“Hey, Bella, look at me.” I held her face and made her look into my eyes. “Everything will be all right. Okay?”
Bella stared at me for a long time, and then sighed heavily, “Okay.”
I kissed her on her cheek and opened the door of the car, “Call me when you get there.”
“I will.” She got in and strapped her seat belt around her, and I smiled amusingly. Only Bella could be a vampire and observe traffic safety rules at the same time.
I watched her drive away from where I stood, and soon enough, the car disappeared from my sight towards its destination of the rainy town of Forks, Washington.
“Hey.” I knocked on her door. “Can I come in?”
She was lying in her bed in her room, which couldn’t have been further from the room of a teenager her age. It was painted in muted tones of blue and white, decorated with artifacts and photographs, serving as reminders of travels all over the world. I caught sight of one which had been taken in Paris, her trip overseas with Carlisle and Esme shortly after the departure of the Volturi.
The small, quilt clad bump in the middle of the bed told me that she had been lying here for quite some time with her thoughts. It was times like these when I saw the true resemblance between Bella and Nessie. Both had an incessant habit of self deprecation. I had a feeling where our future conversation was going to go.
“Hey.” I walked up to her bed and settled in with her, putting my arms around her horizontal figure.
“Hi,” she mumbled softly. I saw her thoughts dwell on Bella.
“Mom’s gonna be all right, honey.” I sighed.
“I know.” Her voice was still meek, her thoughts playing the events of last night over and over.
“I’m sorry about your birthday.” I kissed her head, and she cuddled me like she always did when she was having a bad day.
“Guess I never got around to giving you your second gift, did I?” I smiled.
“It’s okay. I found him already.” She giggled as remembered last night alone in the cottage, catching her “gift” raiding our fridge.
“He found Jacob’s steak? Jacob’s gonna kill him.” I grinned.
“Hey, no hurting my cat!” She smacked me in the chest, and as if on cue, said cat strolled into her room in the next moment like it owned the place.
Now, I love my daughter, and I love my wife, but this time, they made a less than suitable choice when it came to a pet. I get it, he was cute and furry and had a little round bum and all, but for some reason that eluded me, he seemed to hate me with a passion. Not just me, but it hated every male in the house except Carlisle (apparently he had charmed it with his more than kind and generous self). Every time it was in my vicinity, it turned into Furry Vengeance Returns, which was kind of suitable what with his shiny black fur and eyes like little oranges.
Kitty Galore (one of the many names that I had come up with for the demon) took one look at me and hissed, then strolled around the bed, avoiding me like the plague, and jumped up and perched on Nessie’s left side, away from me, all the while giving me the stink eye. I knew it sensed something wrong with me, and I felt like telling him that if he kept this up, he could end up being dinner.
“Are you naming him?” I grimaced at the feline.
“I already did. I’m gonna call him Poseidon.” Leave it to my daughter to name her cat after Greek Gods.
“Darling, I think a better name would be Satan.”
“Dad!” She shrieked playfully, and I laughed while Satan curled up to her.
The conversation in the room ceased for sometime as she scratched Satan’s ears and he purred, and her thoughts scattered themselves all around the world. I brushed her hair absentmindedly while keeping an eye on the demon in her lap, wondering what it would be like to read the mind of an animal.
“Was it my fault?” Nessie suddenly asked. Her eyes were downcast, and her hands had occupied themselves with brushing her pet.
“No, honey, it was not your fault.” I hugged her, showering her with kisses. Why would she even go there?
“But if I had not been here, if I had never been born, then Grandpa wouldn’t have found out. He would just have believed that you were both getting some beauty treatment or something. He wouldn’t have kicked us out of his life.” She shook her head, mulling over Charlie’s reaction, and horror filled me.
“Renesmee, look at me,” I urged, and she complied. “It was not your fault, okay? I want you to remember that. It was not your fault. It was nobody’s fault. He just caught us in a bad time. He would have found out eventually, but yesterday, that happened in a very unpredictable way.
“Don’t ever think about a life where we don’t have you. Your mother and I love you. It was a hard time—your mother’s pregnancy—but the end result was more than fulfilling. We got you out of it, and we’ve never, ever regretted the events of our life. Some of them, maybe, but they didn’t involve you. You’re our blessing, Renesmee. How can you doubt that? and seriously, ‘beauty treatment’?”
She laughed and then grew solemn as she went over my words for a minute, and then spoke again. “But every time things seem to go right, we find ourselves in some situation, Dad. Remember the Volturi, Dad? They came here because of me. Aunt Irina died because of me. I can never seem to do anything right by anyone, Dad.”
“Renesmee! That is absurd! How can you say that? After all the love we feel for you?” I explained, “The Volturi are power hungry, unscrupulous, deceiving, conniving hags, darling. They would have come either way, because they cannot bear to see a coven joined together in mutual harmony and love. They lust after talent, Renesmee, and we have an abundance of it. That is all they care about. Irina’s misguided conception only served as an excuse for them. They couldn’t have harmed you. We wouldn’t have let that happen.
“As for Irina, her death was a misfortune: one that we all regret. It was pitiful to see her being sacrificed at Caius’ false altar of morality just to coax a reaction out of us. She was misguided, blinded by her love for the wrong man, and her hatred towards the wrong coven. Had she met you, I’m sure she would have loved you as we all do. We couldn’t have helped her. It was not your fault, honey.
“And even though you lost a friend, you gained many all over the world. Do you not remember Zafrina, Senna, and of course, Tanya, Kate, Carmen and Eleazar? Ben and Maggie? Siobhan? They all love you, Nessie. You’ve not done anything wrong, darling. It’s not your fault.”
There were hot tears streaming down Nessie’s cheeks by the time I finished speaking, and I pulled her into a fatherly embrace, soothing her tumultuous thoughts.
The rest of my family—save for Carlisle, who was at the hospital—smiled at our exchange. Their hearts brimmed with the same love that I was trying to convince my daughter of.
Nessie cried for a long time, letting out a day’s worth of emotions suppressed, and I held her, because that was what she needed me to do: be a dad.
“Thank you for loving me so much, Daddy,” she said at last, wiping her red rimmed eyes, and I smiled under the weight of happy tears. She didn’t need to tell me that. No matter what, I would always love her that way.
She calmed down after a few moments, resting her head on my shoulder while I rubbed her back. Satan had witnessed the entire episode from afar, but was now curling up on her lap, behaving as if I was non existent.
Tell me how you and Mom met, Dad. She thought after a minute.
“Hasn’t Alice already told you the 1960s, overly dramatic, glossed up version, which I’m pretty sure is bedecked with songs by Taylor Swift?” I grinned.
Alice stuck her tongue out at me. Shut up
Yeah, and Uncle Emmett wears leotards in that one. She giggled.
“Oh, that would be a sight.” I laughed.
But I want to—
“I’m sorry, what, honey?” I asked, brushing her hair.
I waited for her to say something, but all I heard was silence.
“Nessie? I can’t hear you unless you’re thinking.” I chuckled, and that got a reaction out of her.
She pulled back from my embrace, and looked at me curiously. She then frowned, as if she was concentrating hard.
“Nessie, what is it?” I creased my brow at her strange behavior.
“You can’t hear, Edward. You can’t hear any one of us. We’ve been calling you for minutes.” Alice peeped into the doorway, panic stark on her face.
“No, I’m pretty sure I—”
“Hear this,” she interrupted me, and frowned.
I concentrated harder, yet I could not hear her, even as she was standing not ten feet away from me. That was when the true meaning of her words dawned on me.
It was absolutely silent. I couldn’t hear a single thought.
“Alice, what—?” I started to say, but Nessie interrupted me.
“Dad, can you see this?” she put her hand on my cheek.
My eyes grew wide as I realized that all I could see was my daughter in front of me: no vision, no memory, nothing that she had penetrated my mind with.
Apparently, Nessie realized that in the same instant, as she scrambled off the bed, nearly giving Satan a heart attack, and ran off towards Alice.
“Aunt Alice, see this.”
She repeated the whole process again, and once again, shock and fear registered on our faces when Alice announced that she could not see what Nessie was showing her.
“What the hell?” This was Jasper.
“Let me guess: you just stopped getting vibes from us?” Alice nodded, much to Jasper’s dismay, “Because I stopped seeing all of you about ten minutes ago.”
It took only a millisecond for us to spring into action and congregate in the living room. Everyone had a thousand questions on their minds, not that I could hear them, but I was pretty sure they ran on the same frequency.
What the hell is going on?
“Alice, what . . . How can we just . . . lose our powers?” I paced fro left to right, while Nessie sat on the sofa.
“We can’t be sure if you’ve lost them, Edward,” Esme comforted all of us from her place beside Nessie.
“Well, what is it, then? I mean, we can’t just turn them off with a click!” Alice looked close to bursting. She concentrated every two minutes, somehow hoping that the vision of a distant person would pop up and put her out of her misery.
“We should call—” Rose started to suggest, but was cut off with a hum that we all heard.
Even from a distance, we could tell it was a vehicle: a car, to be precise, speeding towards our house.
And by the time it screeched to a halt in our driveway, and we heard the telltale sound of the door being slammed shut, we had no doubt as to who, or rather, what it was.
“I’ll take this,” I heard Jacob say, and before we could react, Jacob had ran out the door and phased.
I instructed Renesmee to stay inside with Nessie as we sprinted forward to face a possible threat, while telling Esme to call Carlisle, soon.
The scene in our front yard was something that we had all been expecting. Jacob was snarling and pacing in a few feet from our porch, his movements effectively blocking the intruder’s advance towards our house, and our view of him or her.
“Jacob, wait!” I called out, and the wolf stopped, but I could see the hair on his back standing in attention, signalling that he had not let his guard down.
My eyes widened when I saw the man in our yard.
“Is that . . .?” I heard Jasper say.
“NO . . .” Emmett.
“Holy shit.” Rosalie, of course.
“I come in peace!” the vampire in our yard held his palms up, “Call him off, your wolf!”
His words earned him a snarl from Jacob.
At that moment, I forgot what he looked like and stepped forward.
“Jacob . . .” I tried to placate him, and then turned to the stranger, “Who are you?”
“My name is Mark Wellington. I am looking for Carlisle Cullen. I was told he lives here.” He took in all of us, and spoke slowly.
I was sure he noticed the surprise and doubt on our faces when he mentioned Carlisle. I looked at my family, and I didn’t need telepathy to know what they were thinking.
“Who told you about him?” I asked him next, as Jacob sat down on his haunches, his gaze locked on the newcomer.
“Alastair,” Mark nodded, “Alastair told me I would find him in Forks. But the shape shifters in Forks told me I would find him here, that he and his family had moved.”
Again, our expressions must have registered shock. If he had been to Forks, it meant that Sam had told him of our whereabouts. Why would Sam send him to us without warning us first?
“What do you want with Carlisle?” I got to my question, and Mark relaxed a little.
“Are you him? Are you Carlisle Cullen?” he asked.
“I asked you what you want with him.” I wasn’t giving out any answers until I got some of my own.
My words registered with Mark as he started backing up towards his car, slowly, until he stood in front of the passenger door.
“Just listen to me before you react.” He held his palm up, but we stood our guard.
Slowly, he opened the passenger door, and held out his hand to someone. The breeze flowing through the forest wafted towards us from them, and we knew who it was.
He had a human with him.
That the person with him was a female I could make out as she alighted from the car. What we hadn’t prepared ourselves for was the slight bulge on her belly and she turned to face us, holding on tight to Mark’s hand.
“I ask you again: are you Carlisle Cullen?” Mark held her close to him, as if he would hide her within him if he could, “I need his help.”
Well, that changed things.
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