July 5, 2013
“Don’t hold him like that, Jacob! You don’t hold a baby like that when you feed it!”
I shook my head and smiled as Jacob desperately tried to hold Abraham straight and in the right position so he could put the bottle in his mouth as Alice breathed down his neck.
“Hold him a little diagonal.”
“No. A little bit straighter.”
“You’re gonna drop him.”
“What the hell is your problem? I was doing just fine before you came romping about like a petulant pixie know-it-all!” Jacob rustled Abraham in his arms, who looked only too comfortable to be the cynosure.
“Oh, I know how fine you were doing. Any more and the bottle would have been in your mouth instead of his. I don’t know how you’re gonna bring up your kids. Nessie’s gonna have a hard time with you.” Alice clicked her tongue and shook her head.
“Okay, I am going to have to intervene here,” I interrupted their banter. “We have a long, long, long time before we can even discuss that.” I was only too glad Nessie wasn’t home right now. I don’t know how I would have handled that. To my utter surprise and discomfort, Jacob’s russet skin turned a deep shade of red, and I shuddered. I couldn’t imagine the kind of thoughts that must have been going on in his mind. It was only too blissful to have Katherine in the house in that moment.
Two weeks after they were born, all of Katherine’s kids were healthy and happy and plump. Abraham (whom people had taken to calling Ian or Abe) and Ewan (no need for a nickname there) were looking almost a year old. They were going to start walking any time now. Lucy (Come on, Beatrice and Cordelia are handfuls) was growing a little slowly compared to her brothers, since she had more human traits than any of her siblings. While Ian and Ewan slept through the night, Lucy got restless. She was the closest we’d come to having an actual human baby in the house.
We were still giving the kids human blood as they were too young to fend for themselves. Also, we were determined to be careful this time. We had never been able to get the stint with the Volturi out of our minds. Most of all, we still mourned the loss of our sister: Irina. She had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that had cost her her life. Katherine and Mark, along with the rest of us, had decided the kids would be allowed to go out only under adult supervision and close to the house.
In other news, Bella and I were now First Godparents to Abraham, Carlisle and Esme to Lucy, and Alice and Jasper to Ewan. Rosalie and Emmett were already Godparents to Nessie, and had politely backed out to let the rest of us to take the field.
Abraham’s second Godparent was Leah, who had formed an instant bond with the boy. Seth was only too delighted to have Ewan, and so was Jacob when he got Lucy.
Bella and I had still to divulge our intentions to the family. Surprisingly, it had been Bella who had opted for letting the matter stay under the rug for some time. She wanted to help Katherine and Mark with their kids (getting in practice for the second time, she’d said) and besides, she also knew it was important to talk to Nessie about how she would feel if she had a new brother. No matter how many years you put between siblings, the older one still feels jealous.
Nessie was used to being doted on, on being the only child in the family. Lately, though, she had been feeling left out, because someone other than her was the cynosure now.
I sit on the chair on my back porch, enjoying a rare, cloud-free sunset from the safety of my cottage. The green leaves are starting to acquire just the tiniest bit of brown in their hue, and I can smell the traces of rain that had barreled its way down last night. I love the smell of rain: musky, wet and fresh. It feels like waking up after a long, dreamless slumber, or maybe learning to see the world all over again. I know this sunset won’t last long, so I settle down more comfortably in my chair and feel the clairvoyant breeze ruffle my hair: wind that is speaking of the coming showers.
I have only just begun reading my novel when I hear the front door slam. In the next moment, there is a small whoosh and Nessie appears next to me, huffing. She is carrying her box which contains her favorite movies, and I remember that this evening is supposed to be her “Movie evening” with the girls. She puts the box down on the floor with a little too much force, and the contents inside rattle.
“Hi,” I say cheerfully, and she glares at me.
“Okay. You don’t want to talk.” I nod.
She sighs dolefully, and resorts to tapping her foot against the wooden patio. And just like that I know that my evening will be anything but quiet.
“If you’re not going to talk, then I request you to please stop tapping your foot. It’s interrupting my thoughts,” I say to her.
“Of course, everything I do interrupts someone,” she huffs. “Let me guess, you’re thinking about the triplets and their rooms, which everyone is thinking about too much, I might add.”
“No. Not really. You know that’s Alice’s job.” I shrug, having gotten an idea which way the conversation would go. “Speaking of which, why are you here? Aren’t Tuesdays your ‘Movie Evenings’?”
“They would be if anyone is interested.” Nessie makes a face. “I swear, Katherine’s kids are testing my patience. They ruined everything the moment they were born! All everyone ever talks about is how cute Abe is, or how loud Ewan shouts, and how much Lucy poops! How the hell are these things interesting?!”
Ah, the Older Child Syndrome. I am pleased that I was right.
“Well, they’re babies, Nessie. You know they’re born with a degree in the Imperius Curse: One look and people are ready to bow before them. They can’t help it.” I look at her from the corner of my eye, and find that I am nowhere close to finding the solution to her problem than I was fifteen minutes ago. Now, out of Katherine’s mental boundaries, I can see her thoughts as clear as day, and there is no mistaking that she is despising the fact that our family is paying more attention to the babies of ‘complete strangers’ (her words, not mine) than to her.
A sharp fear courses through me as I take in the picture her mind is painting. What if she behaves that way when we tell her what we’re planning? What of she hates her own brother when he comes? Will she think of him as a ‘complete stranger’? Will she have a hard time accepting our decision?
“It’s just natural, Nessie. They’re little. They’re like tiny, little . . . baby cicadas who have to be fed little worms by their elders.” I try to smile at her, but I can see the very famous “Duh” expression clearly.
“I don’t have any problem with them. They’re . . . they’re cute,” Renesmee sighs in defeat. “Katherine’s right. They’re little baby bears. It’s just . . . nobody ever pays attention to me anymore. I know that’s childish, but . . . I feel very lonely, Daddy.”
Uh-oh. Nessie used her name for me. She almost always calls me Dad. Daddy is a name that is saved for crises.
“Come here, honey.” I pull her into my lap, and she hides her face in the crook of my neck, all the while sighing mournfully.
“I just want someone to talk to, you know. Jacob and Seth are always playing with Abe, and Aunts Alice and Rosalie can’t take enough photos or come up with enough ideas. Even Mom blew me off today because she had to go into town to get things for them.”
I cringe internally at the way she says her last sentence, about Bella “blowing her off.” I am sure she must have had a good reason, but how would Nessie know that?
“It’s okay, honey. This too shall pass,” I chuckle. “They’ll grow up. And everything will be back to normal. But you might want to be prepared, hon.”
Nessie gives me a confused look, and I continue. “When Abraham, Ewan and Lucy grow up, you will be the one they’ll look up to. You’ll be their elder sister. You’ll have to set an example to them. An elder sibling is similar to a parent, Ness. Do you see how Sam and Emily’s daughter, Jackie, hangs on to your every word? So will be the case with them. You’ll be their teacher. You’ll have fun with them, because Lord knows what antics they’ll come up with.”
Nessie chuckles in my arms, “Uncle Emmett and Jacob are making a bucket list. They want to take Ewan to a strip club as soon as he turns eighteen.”
“Oh, we know he’ll do that.” I laugh, and Ness laughs with me.
“Ew, only Emmett can come up with a wish like that.” I heard Bella’s voice behind me as I was finishing with the incident, and I knew she had read the last sentence.
“Hey, you.” She came closer and leaned in for a kiss, which I gladly returned. “I hope you didn’t go to a strip club for your Bachelor Party.”
“There will be no comment on that.” I pretended to purse my lips, and Bella narrowed her eyes, which made me laugh.
“How was shopping, dear?” I asked her, finally closing my diary and making a mental note to finish the entry later.
“Oh, great!” Bella beamed. “The cribs are just perfect, Edward, although the sales lady gave us a weird look when we told her we wanted wrought iron cribs and not the wooden ones.”
I nodded at her. “All done, then?”
“Yes,” Bella put a few bags on the counter, and I saw one of the labels that said “Victoria’s Secret”. My inner Edward smiled slyly: It seemed my wife had done some shopping of her own.
“Oh, news update!” Bella clicked her fingers, giving me a look which told me she knew exactly what I was thinking about. “Alistair called. He’s coming here.”
“Is he now?” I couldn’t help the sarcasm in my voice. “Well, it seems that he doesn’t have a problem with hybrids. It’s just our daughter.”
Bella put the pan on the stove and started the chicken for Nessie’s dinner. “I know, Edward, that’s what I thought. Carlisle said it was okay, but it didn’t look like he felt it. He abandoned Carlisle . . . us . . . when we needed him most.”
“Why is he coming now?” I fiddled with an apple in the basket.
“For Mark and Katherine. He wants to see the kids. Apparently him and Mark are like brothers so . . .” Bella trailed off, but I could sense the contempt in her voice.
“Anyways,” I sighed, “I just wanted to remind you that Nessie has been feeling out of sorts lately.”
Bella stopped stirring the gravy. “Why, what happened? Did someone say something?”
“Bella, relax,” I placated her, “It’s nothing serious. She’s been feeling down because everyone is a little too much invested in the new ones.”
“What?” Bella breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s ridiculous, Edward! She knows they’re just babies!”
“You think I didn’t tell her that? But she needs attention too, you know. She’s our only child. She was kind of miffed when you went away for shopping with Esme. Tonight’s “Movie Night”, did you forget?” I raised an eyebrow, and Bella stopped all action at once.
“Oh my God.” She gave me a horrified look. “Edward, I completely forgot! Oh no, I am a horrible mother! I blew off my only child!” Bella flopped down onto the stool with her head in her hands, and my work began.
“You know”—I went around and took her in my arms—“the females in my family have a proclivity for over-reacting. I’m sure it’s fine, love. I handled it. Just be a little more present around her. Everybody is playing with Buzz Lightyear; nobody is paying attention to Woody.”
“You did not just compare her situation to Toy Story.” Bella grimaced at me. “I feel so bad, Edward. I’ll make it up to her, I promise.”
“Don’t say that to me. Say it to her.”
Bella sighed and nodded, then got up, turned off the stove and threw the gravy in the dustbin.
“I’m gonna make a cake for her, and we’ll have our movie night here: just the two of us. You might want to find a place to spend the night.”
“That’s not fair!” I groaned. “I get some privileges! I’m the messenger; I made you aware of the situation.”
“And I acted on your advice. What more do you want?” Bella gave a look, and I knew I would have to spend the night in the main house. Damn it, there went my personal Victoria’s Secret Show!
I grumbled while she cooked, and after some time, I remembered something very essential.
“You know we should probably tell her about our plans.” I took to fiddling with the apple again. “That she’s going to have a brother soon.”
Bella paused a little while kneading the dough. “You’re right, we should. Maybe when the hype about the new babies has cooled off a little. I mean. She’s already pissed off about being ignored. She won’t like knowing that it might not let up any time in the near future.”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “Have you thought about anything else, though? How we’re going to get a baby, that is?”
Bella put away the dough and washed her hands, all the while ruminating over something. Finally, she wiped them twice with a clean cloth and put it away, and took the seat across from me.
“I have been thinking about it. I thought . . . I thought maybe we could talk to Nahuel, you know? Didn’t he say that his father created a lot of vampire-human hybrids?”
I nodded. “Yes, he did. But Bella”—my voice made her look into my eyes—“we have to consider the possibility that getting a hybrid may not be easy. They’re not that common.”
Bella gave me a pained look, and then shook her head, sighing helplessly. “I know, Edward . . . ” There was a pause, during which she kept staring at an invisible bug on the counter. “What was I thinking? I should have considered everything!”
“Hey, Bella.” I stopped her. “I am not saying it’s impossible. I am just saying it might be hard. We might have to wait. I mean, it’s not everyday vampires go around impregnating human women.”
Bella stared at me thoughtfully for some time, and when she spoke, her voice was feeble.
“What about . . . a human baby?”
I don’t know what my expression said, but it was enough to have her backtracking her words.
“Bella, listen to me. A human baby can risk exposure. You know what happened with Irina. She made a tiny mistake, and she had to pay for it. We keep moving every four years, and it’s hard enough to avoid others of our kind. We can’t expect someone to keep quiet if we run into them. The Volturi are very strict about exposure, and here we will be, bringing up a human child in a house full of vampires. They won’t leave without blood if they come again.”
Bella gasped at my crass explanation of the situation, and I looked at her remorsefully. I knew how badly she wanted to be a mother again, but these were some prospects that we just could not ignore.
“Okay, let’s try this. We let this stay for a while. We refrain from telling anyone about this. And in the meantime, I’ll contact Nahuel. I’ll ask him about all this. And if we have a chance, we can tell the family once everything’s finalized. How’s that?”
Bella looked disputed, but I saw the comprehension underneath her expression. “Yeah, that sounds right. We let it stay.”
“Yes,” I nodded firmly, “we let it stay.”
She looked conflicted but acquiesced nonetheless. “Okay.”
I knew that was not enough, so I engulfed her in my arms. “Bella”—I buried my head in the crook of her neck—“I want to be a father just as badly as you want to be a mother. I promise, I’ll try everything, okay? We’ll just have to be patient.”
She sighed and leaned into my touch. “Patience.”
“Patience.” I said, because I knew we would need that in the coming days.
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