Whenever things get crazy around the house, and that’s pretty often, I make sure that Jasper and I can get away from time to time. Sometimes we just go hunting together, but we’ll go farther away, into Canada or Montana where our family can’t hear us. I love my family, but it’s difficult to have any semblance of privacy … between vampire hearing and Edward’s mind reading, there is always someone listening, even when they’d rather not!
And Jazz and I aren’t like Emmett and Rose, bragging about broken beds and demolished houses is just not our thing. Not only does nobody want to hear that, but I don’t want to tell them either – and Jasper, of course, was raised to be respectful and courteous, so that type of showing off is not in his nature, thank god! Emmett teases us about it all the time – he likes that Vegas tagline, “What happens here stays here,” so he needles Jasper with it as if there was some big secret involved.
No secret … just privacy. Last night I was dying to get away, and model some of my purchases for Jazz. So as soon as Nessie was carried off to the cottage, I dashed upstairs to my bathroom and applied a careful mix of 7 different eyeshadows, a tiny bit of the blush meant to disguise Bella, and a pale peachy-gray toenail polish. While I waved my feet back and forth at the speed of light to dry the polish, I pondered my options: the navy blue Cosabella slip, or the L’Wren Scott tuxedo sweaterdress? Funny as it may sound, the sweaterdress was actually sexier, plus it wouldn’t traumatize anyone who saw me on the way out of the house. I knew I wanted to wear my Christian Louboutin Canon 140s … they were gorgeous ruched black tulle with gold metallic dots and a spike heel. So by the time my toes were dry, approximately 40 seconds later, I had my outfit all planned and was able to get dressed in record time (for me, anyway).
Now all I had to do was find Jasper! Much easier than it sounds – I just stood very still for a fraction of a second until I heard his low voice coming from Carlisle’s office. They seemed to be discussing history, again. Boring! I poked my head around the door frame and grinned silently at Jasper, who instantly rewarded me with a life-changing smile that could have lit an entire city.
“Ah, pardon me, Carlisle,” Jazz chuckled, already at my side. “It appears that I’ve got a prior engagement to attend.” Carlisle was beaming at us in fatherly pride – he so loves to see how happy his adopted children are.
“Have a good evening, Alice, Jasper,” he said, with a graceful wave that sort of reminded me of a priest’s blessing. (Carlisle often reminds me of a clergyman … obvious reasons.)
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, I hopped onto Jasper’s back and wrapped my arms around his neck, giggling as I swiftly placed a kiss below his left ear. “The beach?” he guessed with a soft laugh, jumping over the banister and racing to the back door. Emmett elbowed Rose and laughed his trademark hee-haw when he saw us, but I didn’t care – I just waved goodbye with a smile.
The beach we both had in mind was near South Beach, in Forks, but was more secluded – I almost never saw or smelled any humans there, so it was perfect. And that night was a full moon … absolutely stunning.
Of course, Jasper only had eyes for me, and I have to admit that I may have planned this visit to coincide with the full moon. The light it casts is so eerie and beautiful – it doesn’t make our skin sparkle, the way the sun does, but it causes a pearly glow almost like Renesmee’s. It was enchanting.
Lying in the sand, my discarded $3,000 dress a mere jumble of fabric a few feet away, with my head pillowed on Jazz’s shoulder, was perfect bliss. I traced the spiraling lines of his battle scars with my index finger, pausing to bless one or the other with a soft kiss while Jazz smiled down at me in contentment. His golden eyes had the look in them that only I get to see – awe, admiration, wonder, joy, and comfort all mixed into one indescribable expression that made my heart sing.
He leaned down to kiss my nose, my chin, my eye – but he stopped and then softly laughed, his sweet Southern chuckle that made my toes curl every time. I was incapable of speech, but he kindly explained. “You’ve got sparkles …” he murmured, touching my right eyelid and showing me his fingertip. Oops! Charcoal gray, obsidian, and pearl white glitter coated his skin where he had touched me.
I sighed and smiled at the same time, which made him laugh all over again. “It’s the shopping … I wanted some for Bella … but I wanted to dress up tonight -” He cut off my incoherent rambling with a kiss, a tender one that soon deepened into a consuming passion which left no room for conversation.
The rest of the night was perfect … we watched the moon set and the sun rise in the cloudless sky, a rarity here in Forks. Did you know that the rising sun makes our skin sparkle in different colors? Well, it does – first orangey red, then a softer pink, and finally back to white as the morning passes. We stayed there long enough to enjoy all of the different variations in color, but eventually, it was time to return home.
There is always so much going on … so much to plan, to watch for, to take part in … I wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s life, and that’s certain. But I always, always make sure to get my time alone with Jasper.
As Bella navigated the damp highway, I stared out my window, lost in thought. Bella had been hiding more than just an old pair of Uggs from me – when I made the plan to find and burn them, I saw myself uncovering a bunch of other old stuff, too, like her ratty old sweats that had been falling apart long before she even met Edward …
I was brought back to the present by a soft noise Bella made, sort of a gulping sound, except that vampires don’t gulp. Glancing over at her, I realized she’d been biting her lower lip … again. Just as I was about to ask what was bugging her, she spoke up.
“Um … Alice?” she asked hesitantly, sneaking a sideways peek at me. “Can you see – I mean, I know you can’t just automatically see anything in the future, so – but I was wondering -”
“Bella,” I sighed impatiently, “I’ve been watching for the tiniest hint of trouble in your mom’s visit, and if I -”
“No, not that,” Bella cut in. “Actually … I was wondering about … Charlie.” When she said his name, her foot pressed down harder on the gas pedal and her knuckles whitened on the steering wheel.
Maybe now we’d get over 60mph! “Charlie? What exactly were you thinking about him?” I inquired, honestly curious; she hadn’t mentioned him as much lately, what with Renee’s visit coming up.
“Well, it’s just that the other day, when he and Sue came over?” she began, and I immediately knew where she was going with this, so I interrupted.
“Yeah, I know, Sue and Emmett both used the V-word in front of him,” I shrugged, pushing my hair back as I spoke. Bella looked a bit startled by my careless answer, so I elaborated. “Bella, Edward is all over him and Sue’s thoughts, all the time. Do you really think it would go unnoticed if Charlie started thinking of us as vampires?”
She didn’t look too convinced, and after the slightest pause for thought, she shook her head. “But Charlie was right there – he heard it,” she insisted, “and he’s not stupid, you know. He -”
“Once again, Bella, have a little faith!” I said lightly. “I am watching, Edward is listening, we’ve got it covered!”
“So how do you figure, Alice? He just wasn’t listening?”
“Not exactly,” I admitted with a slight frown. “He just … chooses not to hear certain things, I guess.”
After a moment of silence, I looked over to find Bella staring at me in open mouthed disbelief, which looked just as silly as it sounds. I forced back a giggle and explained, “Edward used to hear just the tone of Charlie’s thoughts – has he ever told you that? No? Well, it’s true – he thinks that some of your talent comes from your dad, because Edward had to really concentrate to distinguish words in his thoughts at first. Anyway, Edward finds him fascinating for that, and so ever since Jacob first showed Charlie his little dog show, Edward’s tried much harder to make out the words of Charlie’s thoughts.” I paused; was this getting really, really confusing, or was it just me?
Nope. Bella looked just as mixed-up as I sounded. “Okay, it’s simpler than I just made it seem. But basically, what Edward has learned is that Charlie literally doesn’t hear any of the supernatural talk that goes on, even innuendo – his mind sort of blurs it out so he won’t have to think about it.”
Bella sighed, and I could tell she was still wrestling with her fears – namely, the Volturi being given an excuse to target our family again. But a few minutes later, she murmured, “I was watching him while they talked, and I didn’t see a weird look on his face, even when Emmett said …”
“Yep, so, now you know,” I trilled, grinning at her look of relief. “We think Charlie will be safe for good, ‘course we’re still watching just in case! But really, Edward never told you about this? In fact, why didn’t you just ask him?”
“Er, well,” Bella mumbled, fidgeting, “you know how he worries … I was afraid he would get all frigid and tell me to cancel Renee’s trip or something …” Her voice trailed off. I bit back the smirk that wanted to play over my face. Bella is always so embarrassed by anyone’s reference to her sex life, so I just let it go. I mean, she shouldn’t be embarrassed to say that she was otherwise occupied with Edward, but we’ve got centuries to work on that problem, and I had more important things to do at the time.
At one point I had to spend several minutes convincing Bella that yes, we were going to Seattle, no, not just Port Angeles … BIG difference! Finally she gave in, and as we drew closer to the shopping complex I wanted to visit first, I instructed her where to park. Though, as usual, it was overcast and gloomy, the instinct to stay out of the sun was powerful – or so I told Bella when she wanted to park in the back of the lot. Really, though, it would be so much harder to carry tons of shopping bags while trying to look human, so I had to be able to get to the car whenever I needed to drop some off!
“Okay, I think we should go to Sephora first, because then we can choose outfits to match the makeup,” I began excitedly, clapping my hands as we ever-so-slowly walked to the double doors. Bella narrowed her eyes at me.
“Just how much makeup were you planning to buy, Alice? I thought you said you just needed some of that stuff to make me look human …”
“Sure, sure,” I agreed absently, scanning the beautifully lit rows of products. Bella distracted me from my retail heaven with a snarky, Emmett-like laugh.
“Sorry, you do realize … you just sounded so much like Jacob when you said that!” She burst into giggles as I made a face and quickly smoothed out my expression upon spotting a salesgirl.
“Yes, hi, we’re going to need a basket,” I informed her sweetly, effectively cutting off Bella’s laughter. She sighed.
“It’s gonna be a looooong day …” she muttered under her breath as I danced over to the Laura Mercier display.
But actually, the hours seemed to fly by! I found so many gorgeous colors for Bella, and several lip glosses for Rosalie, who has a slight obsession with finding the perfect shade of red (very difficult when you’re paper-white). Of course I stocked up on any and all products that promised extra coverage, including the type of concealer that’s meant for people with really bad scars … and a new set of brushes, just because Sephora had a pink-handled line I figured Nessie might like.
Then we visited a few little boutiques, one of which even enchanted Bella – all the clothes were organic and made in-house, maybe that’s why. The other stores seemed to bore her, but I did my best to find the perfect outfits and keep her attention focused on the task at hand.
Eventually, she begged for a break, so we sat down in a café and pretended to eat the sticky pastries they offered. I could see that she was forming a plan to ditch me and head to the nearest bookstore, which I nipped in the bud by reminding her about our wedding dress errand. (Seriously, she has a Kindle, she doesn’t need to step foot in another bookstore for as long as she lives!)
However, the wedding stuff is top-secret. I don’t want Rose to know that I know that she’s thinking about it … if that makes sense! What I mean is, I think she’d be annoyed if she said, “I want to get married again,” and we all went, “Yeah, we know.” So I made Bella promise not to tell anyone … well, other than Edward (who already knows) and Nessie (who will know soon anyway, ’cause her flower girl dress will have to be custom-ordered and that takes time). And Esme. So basically … it’s just a secret from Carlisle, Rose, Emmett, and the wolves. (Because Jasper already knows too.) Whatever! Nobody else should hear about it just yet.
So I can’t go into any more detail about that, but overall I’d say our little trip was a success! I really have no idea why Bella was so grumpy when we got home – she stepped out of the car and ran straight to her cottage without so much as a “See you later.” Oh well, I was so blissed out unpacking all our purchases, I barely even noticed. And PS, Nessie did love the pink brushes. Ha! And I say again, Ha! That little girl is already becoming more fun than her mother!
But anyway, the night is young and Jasper is patiently waiting. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you more about the beach we’ve been visiting at night … it’s my new favorite place in the whole world!
As the engine cut off, I realized that I could hear something I hadn’t been expecting.
Police Chief Swan opened his door, struggled for a moment and then his boots thudded onto the ground – just as the passenger door opened. As Sue climbed out of her side of the cruiser (much more gracefully, too, I might add), Bella’s brow creased. She began to bite down on her lip when she saw the look on Edward’s face; my brother was glaring daggers in Sue’s direction, not that she could see him, of course. But, as usual, his strongest instinct was to blame me for not seeing this little complication on a perfectly uncomplicated visit from Charlie.
“Not little, Alice,” Edward hissed through gritted teeth, “and not uncomplicated, either.” Sue and Charlie were still walking to the door – we could recite War and Peace before they actually got to the house. (Well, maybe not War and Peace. Maybe just Anna Karenina -)
“ALICE!” Edward barked, infuriated by my short attention span. “Could you please make yourself useful! What is -”
To everyone’s surprise, Bella interrupted her husband in mid-sentence. “Don’t yell, Edward – how is that going to help right now? You should be listening to Sue’s thoughts, not harassing Alice – I’m sure she would have told us if she saw anything going wrong.” As she spoke, she crossed the room and placed a hand on my shoulder in solidarity. I don’t think anyone else even noticed that her fingers were shaking just a bit. But I did, and remorse flooded through me. Had I been paying attention to my earlier vision? Was there more I hadn’t seen, distracted as I was – ? No. If there had been more, both Edward and I would have seen it.
At the door, Charlie paused to clear his throat before knocking. Briefly, I wondered why he and Sue hadn’t said anything to each other the whole time they were within hearing range of our house. That led me to wonder what Edward was hearing in Sue’s thoughts, as Bella hesitated for the merest fraction of a moment and then flitted to the door. “Slowly, Bella,” Jazz cautioned, seeing her jerky movements. She straightened her shoulders, and pulled the door open at a reasonable speed.
“Ch – Dad!” Bella laughed, affecting surprise. Behind me, Emmett chuckled softly and Edward ground his teeth together. It was, as usual, a pretty unconvincing performance – Bella attempting to lead them into the living room at a human pace, but forgetting to blink, breathe, and talk in a lower octave. I’m sure her nerves were making it worse tonight – the last time Charlie was here, she had done slightly better.
But I’ve got to give Chief Swan credit – the man is brave. He sees everything, or at least more than most humans would, but he restrains his curiosity and tries to play along as if nothing was out of the ordinary. For example, on this particular occasion, he was ignoring all of us and had gone straight to Nessie, picking her up and swinging her through the air. Ness still wasn’t allowed to speak to, or near, Charlie, but she was squealing and giggling the way any little girl would. Sue, on the other hand, had her arms tightly crossed and was frowning intensely at Charlie as he pretended no one else was there.
Finally, she let out a short, exasperated sigh and turned, scanning our faces one by one with a fierce scowl, stopping when her eyes found Bella and Edward. Still trying to seem normal, Bella had gone to stand at his side, but the grin on her face was ghastly – a nervous, twisted smile that wavered as she met Sue’s stare. She swallowed, flicking her eyes toward Edward’s face, and then said, “Um … is anything wrong, Sue?” I winced – her voice was awful, thin and hesitant – she really needed to work on at least appearing self-confident.
“Well, Bella,” Sue began, stepping toward her, “since you ask, yes, there is something wrong.” Once again, she looked to Charlie, but was steadfastly ignored. I was beginning to get a pretty good picture of what was going on. My hunch was confirmed when Sue rolled her eyes in frustration and plowed forward, clenching her fists as she said, “You can’t keep involving people in your twisted life! You can’t keep dragging Charlie into these situations with horrible consequences! And you certainly can’t allow your mother, of all people, to put herself in danger by getting anywhere near you!” As she finished, she actually shook her fist at Bella, and, though I knew it was inappropriate, I found myself cheering Sue on mentally for just a second. What courage! To yell at a vampire like that …
Well, obviously, that was not going to fly. Edward tucked Bella behind him in one smooth movement, so fast it didn’t exist. Sue blinked in dizzy confusion, but quickly regained her composure, just in time for Edward to oh-so-politely ask, “Please, Sue – won’t you sit? We’ve prepared some snacks for you and Charlie, though Seth may have eaten them already,” he chuckled. He even went so far as to ruffle Seth’s hair affectionately. I watched as Sue, completely thrown off balance by Edward’s demeanor, obediently sat down on the sofa where Emmett had been earlier.
“Uh, yeah … I’ll go get that,” Seth said slowly, glancing from Charlie to Sue to Edward to Bella and then shaking his head. He got up and tripped off to the kitchen, leaving the rest of us in a calm, agreeable atmosphere, specially created by Jazz of course.
“S-so -” Sue began, touching her forehead. Edward interrupted in the most charming way possible.
“Now, Sue, we haven’t seen you in a few weeks. How have you been?” he inquired, quirking a finger at Bella behind his back where the humans wouldn’t see it. She glided forward, masking her confusion behind a bland expression, and stood by Edward’s side once more. I could almost hear Sue’s thoughts myself as she shook her head, fighting Jasper’s mood control.
“Please. None of the phony-baloney vampire tricks,” she insisted, twisting to glare at Emmett, who immediately let loose with a booming laugh.
“Hey, it’s not me! You got the wrong vampire trickster,” he guffawed, with a playful punch to Jasper’s shoulder. Jazz hid a smirk while Sue turned back to Edward, more annoyed than embarrassed.
“I’m serious, Mr. Cullen,” she spat, looking straight into his eyes.
All traces of humor left his face as he responded to her thoughts rather than her words. “I know, Sue. Please, allow me to assure you that your feelings are both natural and correct, as well as being seconded by Bella and myself. None of us wish to endanger Renee, but with Alice’s help, we’ve discovered that a quick visit and some misdirection will ensure everyone’s safety much more than lies and avoidance would.”
Because Edward was using his most persuasive tone, I was sure that Sue could not sense any insincerity in his words. Of course, it wasn’t exactly true … I hadn’t been checking to see if this visit was more safe than lying and avoiding, but Edward could be right about that part. He analyzes everything at the speed of light; I wouldn’t be surprised if his assessment of the situation was correct.
Charlie, with Ness on his lap, had finally joined Sue on the sofa and chose this moment to speak up. “Hey, you know, Bells, I’d do anything you asked me to if it means you staying close by,” he began gruffly. Sue shot him a look that was equal parts frustration and tender concern. “But, well, I hate to think that anything would happen to Renee because of what I’ve said to her today. Is it – I mean, how sure are you that it’s gonna be okay, Alice?” he asked, turning his head to find me.
I stepped forward with a carefree grin perfectly arranged on my face. “Charlie, how could you ever doubt me?” I giggled, grabbing Bella’s hand. “You know I want to keep Bella safe, just like you do!”
Here Sue interrupted our lovefest. “That doesn’t exactly answer the question,” she pointed out, leveling a no-nonsense stare in my direction. Once again I was impressed by her courage of convictions.
Edward, however, was not. Under his breath, he muttered, “Really, Alice, whose side are you on?” before clearing his throat to regain their attention. “We have seen that there is no possibility of danger,” he announced, lying through his teeth. And with a straight face, too! “Renee will not be staying here, and will only spend a few hours at a time in our home. In fact, you’ll both be here for one of those visits.”
I couldn’t help it – I frowned and my eyes slid off to the side as I looked for the future that he was rapidly inventing. Hmmm … so Sue was going to be invited to the dinner party at our house. That should be interesting …
“Well, I don’t have a problem with it, ‘s long as nobody gets hurt,” Charlie said with his usual bluntness. Even Sue could hear the finality in his voice, and she looked resigned. It seemed that she really, really hadn’t wanted Renee to come visit … Edward lazily looked up at the ceiling, then lowered his gaze to the floor in his standard invisible nod, confirming my suspicions. So Sue was not just afraid, then – she was also jealous. Well, that was just plain silly. Any fool could see that Charlie was in awe of Sue; respecting her opinion enough to allow her to come here and argue with a bunch of vampires was proof positive of that. And Sue, for her part, clearly cared very deeply for Charlie, though she masked it with aggression toward us, her natural enemy.
Anyway, Seth figured it was safe for him to come out of the kitchen at that point, so it got a little boring after that – a few humans eating the greasy food, a vampire or two pretending to visit the bathroom … the usual. By the time Charlie and Sue left that night, we’d verified the details of Renee’s visit, including where she would stay.
This is getting awfully long, though, which means I’m neglecting Jasper. Hello! Priorities! The rest can wait.
Today everything was made official! Renee’s much-anticipated phone call went as smoothly as we had all hoped, and she’ll be in Forks in about two and a half weeks from now for the least surprising “surprise visit” ever.
Since I knew the phone call would come today, Bella had insisted on staying inside and waiting for Charlie’s confirmation that he’d delivered his lines. This led to an interesting revelation, which actually came from Nessie, of all people – it’s still a bit unnerving to hear a child who appears to be a toddler articulating her thoughts about as well as, for example, Bella at age 17. In fact, the more I observe Renesmee, the more I see it – she is already exactly like her mother in so many ways! Their personalities are just similar enough that they understand one another perfectly, but don’t clash, the way you see sometimes in people who are too alike.
Anyway, what happened was that Seth was hanging around the house, supposedly doing homework while in reality watching the game Emmett had playing on our huge TV screen. Some silly event that had already happened, and they both already knew the outcome, but they were watching it anyway. Men! And, being a huge, gangly teenage werewolf, he was kind of in the way … not that it was difficult to avoid tripping over his spindly legs, it was just a bit annoying. (I won’t even go into the stench – they say humans can get used to anything, but believe me, it’s not true of vampires. We may be more familiar with the smell, which has become permanent at this point, but it never gets less revolting. At least the interiors of our cars haven’t been compromised … yet!)
So those of us who were also in the living room were a bit limited by Seth’s sprawling mess of books, papers, and limbs, which covered most of the sofa, coffee table, and carpet in that immediate area. To pass the time, I suggested we play some sort of game. We Cullens own just about every game ever invented … we do have a lot of time on our hands after all. But as usual, there was some concern about Edward and myself cheating, as they mistakenly call it. Well, there really is no good way to avoid my talent, aside from pitting me against a werewolf, but Renesmee immediately wondered why her mom didn’t just put her “shield” over the other players to keep Edward out of their thoughts. DUH!
And so for the first time ever, Edward would be able to play against my brother and sister without hearing their thoughts. He looked way too pleased about it, but you have to understand, the guy’s been excluded from almost all the games played over the last few decades. I, on the other hand, would still be excluded, unless we found a game that involved split-second decisions, or just pure luck. So Nessie went off to investigate the closet full of board games in hopes that I could join the fun. Such a sweetheart; again, so much like Bella!
Well, in case you were wondering, card games are the only good options when one of the players is psychic. I couldn’t control which cards I was dealt, and the decisions are generally made pretty quickly, if there are any involved in the game at all. So we ended up in a kind of loose circle, Jazz, Rosalie and I facing Bella, Edward and Nessie, while Rose dealt the cards and explained the rules to Ness. Um – should I describe the game we played? Eh, that would take a little while, and there’s more important stuff to get to.
So anyway. There we were, sitting cross-legged on the floor (or, in Nessie’s case, lying on her belly) playing cards, when suddenly I saw a quick glimpse of Chief Swan pulling up to our house in his cruiser. Automatically, I glanced outside to gauge the darkness in the vision against the amount of light currently visible. Not long, maybe … ten, fifteen minutes? I thought, responding to Edward’s total inability to wait for a verbal explanation, the way everyone else had to. Sometimes I feel like Edward and Jasper’s talents are rubbing off on me – it’s easy to imagine how a member of my family is feeling or what they’re thinking based on what I know of them. And Edward in particular is very, very predictable in those ways.
Speaking of my brother … he was now giving me a Look. Oops. Did that sound insulting? “Didn’t mean it like that!” I sang, surprising Rosalie, who had been plotting a clever move (it would have worked, too) and hadn’t noticed my distraction.
Now everybody looked at me, and I stifled a giggle at the look on their faces – all different variations on the same theme, one with which I am very familiar: long-suffering impatience. “Well, we can’t all be mind readers!” I reminded them with a wink in Edward’s direction. “Okay, okay. It’s nothing, just that Charlie will be here in about ten minutes.”
Bella leapt to her feet, the game instantly forgotten. “Charlie’s coming here? Now?” Her eyes swept the room, first one way, then the other. I was sure that we hadn’t left out our giant, neon-colored copy of Vampire Ethics: When to Bite and When to Suck, but it was nice to see that she was taking her role as a Cullen seriously, covering all the possibilities so we wouldn’t be exposed.
Jasper and Edward were watching her with approval, too. “Bella, your eyes are still a bit … amber. Perhaps, the contacts?” Edward suggested, waving toward the bathroom. Bella nodded, spun, and disappeared. (And by the way, amber is not the right word for it. Even though I’d already seen it in Jasper and myself when we first changed over to the vegetarian lifestyle, the murky orange shade of Bella’s irises still grossed me out a bit. It’s just not flattering on anyone, even a gorgeous immortal!)
Apparently my thoughts were offensive to Edward, so he punished me by suggesting that I heat up some human food for Charlie and Seth. I wrinkled my nose at him but decided not to argue, since he’s still a bit touchy about humans around Bella – not worried about the humans’ safety, just anxious about Bella’s pain. Prancing into the kitchen, I opened the massive refrigerator doors, and randomly selected some nasty-smelling stuff to microwave. Then I heard a familiar engine chugging up our driveway.
Ugh, I need to put this thing down. I’ve gotta go wash the grease and wet dog smells out of my hair before Jazz and I go out – we’re going to visit a quiet beach that we’ve become rather fond of, and watch the night sky transform into the sunrise. I’ll describe Charlie’s visit tomorrow!
Don’t tell Bella, but I cannot wait for Renee’s visit to come and go! Then we can all throw ourselves into party plans.
I still can’t believe Bella brought it up herself. I mean, I know she loves Nessie and wants to make her happy, but I somehow didn’t think she would want to have a birthday party for her. Well, maybe she was just thinking about a small party … but my way is going to be so much better! I’ve already seen Nessie having the time of her life at this party, so if Bella starts to freak out about how big this bash is going to be, I’ll have Edward help me overrule her.
Anyway, with that settled, I’ve been pretty mellow lately. In fact, all of us have been in a good mood ever since we agreed that Renee could come visit. She’s going to call Charlie in a few days and he is all ready to deliver his lines. Charlie is just as invested in keeping the secret as we are – he knows that if anyone starts to have any suspicions, Bella will have to leave, and that’s the last thing he wants. (Of course, he doesn’t actually know what the secret is … but he knows there is one.)
It’s funny, but back when we were still discussing if and when we’d change Bella, I never saw how well this would work out. I mean, I’d seen Bella as a vampire, little glimpses now and then, but I never dreamed things could go this well – she is the only one of us who didn’t have to quit the human life cold turkey. Not that I remember mine, and I don’t think anyone in the family resents it, but still … I think that some of them might be a little bit jealous. Here we are, wealthy beyond belief, with our soul mates and a wonderful family led by Carlisle and Esme; the ideal parents … and then on top of that, Bella gets to keep her old family and friends, and a biological child thrown in too. Come to think of it, it’d be crazy for them not to be jealous, and not just Rosalie either.
It really makes me glad that I don’t have those human memories like everyone else. I feel completely fulfilled. I know it’s hard for Emmett to hear Rosalie say that this wasn’t a life she would have chosen – kind of sounds like she’d trade him in for a chance at a human life – and I’m so, so glad that Jasper doesn’t have to worry about that with me. Honestly, he doesn’t seem to mind this life so much himself, maybe because he left his family to join the army at such a young age, maybe because this life is such an incredible improvement over his original vampire lifestyle with her. Whatever the reason, he never makes me feel like there’s anywhere else he’d rather be … and I hope I give him the same gift in return.
I guess I’m still in that nostalgic mood, thinking back to when we met. We have spent some time apart since then, going on separate hunts, and that time I went to Italy believing I would be destroyed … when Jasper’s not near me, I am not a complete person. I’m less than myself, diminished in some vital way. He’s told me he feels the same; that being with me gives him purpose and that he thinks I was created to help him become a better man, especially since we joined the Cullens and the “vegetarian” lifestyle.
What a charmer he is – it’s obviously the other way around! How could I be myself, my cheerful, chirpy, mildly annoying hyperactive self, without Jasper? How could I be me? Well, I just couldn’t, and that’s the truth. Without him infusing my life with joy on a daily basis, I would be a pale shadow of who I am now. His love makes me want to return the favor to the entire universe – it’s one of the reasons I love to throw parties and make friends with people, I want to give love back, because I’ve been given so much.
I’m sorry, I can’t keep writing right now. I need to go find Jasper and have him read this entry. I don’t want another minute of his life to go by without him knowing exactly what he means to me.
I do not remember a single thing from before my transformation. But, after James told Bella about … the asylum, we had done some digging, and I had the basic information: my parents’ wedding, my birth and my “death” – which coincided with the date I was admitted to the asylum. I’m sure that it was a last resort, Esme assures me that my mother must have loved me just as Bella loves Nessie … but it’s hard to imagine Bella giving Nessie up as dead, putting her in a mental institution and walking away, no matter what the reason might be. So … I prefer not to dwell on thoughts of the past. Nothing before I met Jasper, at least – my life since then has been complex, with dark moments outnumbered by many, many hours of bliss.
Anyway, having resolved to put it out of my mind, I dove headfirst into plans. I’m happily planning the party for Nessie, since Edward is on board – but I won’t mention it to Bella until Renee’s visit is safely over. And, speaking of which, I’m doing all I can to plan a smooth, trouble-free reunion between mother and daughter. Bella and Renee, that is.
Jacob’s idea, characteristically simple and even a bit silly, was basically to paint Bella to look human. And, dumb as it may sound, I could see that his plan would work. I was going to have to lock the girl in my master bathroom for at least fifteen minutes per day, though – that was the only real difficulty I could foresee. It was going to involve foundation, concealer, bronzer (very lightly applied), blush (ditto), colored contacts, body paint, and some actor’s tricks – I was going to have to re-create her more visible scars from memory, because Renee would notice if they all suddenly disappeared. And believe me, there had been quite a few scars on Bella!
Bella’d had Jacob invite Charlie over to our house to watch some insignificant sporting event and he was careful to include Sue in the invitation, while also making it clear that Seth would be present. Bella felt it was best not to alarm Charlie in advance, so she’s going to spring it on him once he’s here. He’s coming tomorrow, which should be fine because Renee won’t be calling for at least another week.
The instructions Bella will give Charlie are simple: Do not allow Renee to buy tickets for Bella and Edward to go to Jacksonville. Encourage Renee to come visit here. Sure, a surprise, why not? Actually, the Cullens have their hands full right now, you should just stay at at my place … There really was no reason to worry; Charlie is an intelligent man, and though he is definitely not a very practiced or skilled liar, he should still be able to deliver his lines when the time comes.
In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out every single thing we will need to get through this: pajamas for Bella, in case Renee wants to do a girly sleepover (hey, it didn’t work when I tried it, but Renee could give it a shot), a new raincoat for Bella and one for Edward, some used umbrellas, tons of food, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products … I was going to have to alter all the bathrooms to look lived-in, right down to the grime in the bathtubs if I absolutely had to. (But I wouldn’t. Well, Renee would understand that the Cullens can afford good cleaners!)
And there were going to be some other changes, too. At the moment, we have several hammocks hung within hearing range of the house for Jacob, Leah, and Seth to crash whenever they need to. Though they all sleep in their own homes most of the time, those hammocks do get some use between patrols and each of them had a small stash of clothes nearby as well. All of that had to go; what if Renee wanted to take a walk in the woods? No, I hadn’t foreseen it, but it could still happen. We had to be prepared for anything in order for this to work.
I was lying on my stomach in the living room frantically scribbling lists of all the different items we needed, categorized by where to get them and in order of importance. Jasper was lying on his back at my side reading the latest Lee Child novel … somehow, he identifies with the main character, though that guy was a military policeman in modern times. Whatever, Jasper always gets a good laugh out of those books. From time to time, I’d pause to check for changes in the future and then Jazz would reach over, turn my face toward him gently, and inspect my expression just to be sure nothing was wrong. Whenever he did that, I got distracted – can you blame me? – and smiled helplessly at him until he kissed my forehead and, chuckling softly to himself, returned to his book. This would eventually wear me down, but for the next 7 minutes I was going to keep working. There was so much to do, even though Renee wouldn’t be here for a few more weeks …
“What should we do for Renesmee’s birthday?” Bella asked out of nowhere. Arg! There went my afternoon plans to go swimming in the lake with Jasper.
“Um, Bella …” I began, hopping to my feet. Rosalie and Esme looked over at me. The three of them were gathered around the sofa – or, to be more accurate, they were gathered around Nessie, who was perched on the sofa. Crap! I was so not ready to pitch this idea to them today.
As the look on Bella’s face changed from relaxed to suspicious, Jazz casually sat up and tossed his book aside. My eyes slid down to him, then back up to my sister-in-law. And I smiled sweetly, rounding my eyes in an innocent look that always won people (other than Edward) over. What? Manipulation is a must in the vampire world. It’s a basic survival skill for crying out loud!
While I did my Bambi face, Jazz was bombarding the room with the feeling of pleasant anticipation. “Bella,” I sang, skipping over to her, “don’t worry about a thing. You just leave all of that up to me.”
Clearly I wasn’t the only one in the kitchen who wanted to know what was up. Edward gave a quick and almost silent sigh before he explained.
“This indecision needs to stop. As long as we haven’t made up our minds, Alice can’t see what will happen, and I think you will all agree that it is imperative we know for sure what would happen if …”
“If Renee does come here?” Bella finished his sentence, frowning. She shook her long, dark mane of hair and bit her lip. “It just … seems so unsafe, Edward.”
“Well, that’s what we need to discuss. And I’d like Renesmee to have a part in the decision as well. It will be a family choice, made together.” While he spoke, I was scanning – searching the future in different paths, trying to see ahead to the outcome of this conversation. Unfortunately, this was very aggravating to my brother, who could see the little flashes of scenes as they raced through my mind.
“Alice, would you please stop that? We’re discussing this right now. Surely you can wait a few more minutes to see what happens.” I made a face at him, but didn’t argue … the boy was right, for a change. It was mostly just habit that made me do that, but it was a bad habit and one that I should work on. It’s just that with all of the things we’ve been through, I’m always a bit anxious about our family’s future.
For once, everyone was home – Jasper, Carlisle, Esme, Rose, and Emmett had all darted into the room as soon as they heard Edward say that we needed to have a family discussion. But of course everybody had something to say, some opinion that needed to be heard, and they all began speaking swiftly the way no mortal can, interrupting one another and arguing passionately. This made it easier for me to continue scanning the immediate future, which flickered and morphed constantly as each person gave their two cents.
As I stared unseeingly at the cabinets, I gave myself up to the visions, gradually losing track of what was going on around me. It was beginning to look like Renee would be here at some point … but what would that do to my party plans? I didn’t want to give Nessie a birthday party a month after her birthday, that would be unacceptable… Slowly I became aware of an elbow jabbing into my ribs, and my head snapped up to see Jazz staring meaningfully at Edward. Uh oh.
As Edward glared silently at me, I started mentally begging. Look, Edward, this is not the right time to bring it up, and you know it. So for one thing, try not to look like I’m telling you anything, okay? Jasper, always the strategist, casually shifted his weight so that he was partially blocking me from everyone else’s sight, and I could tell he was trying to emanate a sense of calm acceptance. Looking at my brother, though, it didn’t seem to be working – and for obvious reasons, too. Jasper was not able to feel calm himself while I was feeling so anxious, so he couldn’t project the feeling outward. I knew I had to step it up.
Edward, your daughter is growing so quickly – aging too. Wouldn’t you like to see her enjoying her childhood while she still can? He was watching the rest of our family as they all spoke, but I could see his eyes narrow a bit when I thought that. So I began to run through everything I had seen, making sure to stress Nessie’s happiness as she bounced in the castle, watched her father beat everyone in the race, smashed cake into Jacob’s hair …
It was working, I could tell I was convincing him! I tried hard to keep my own happiness out of it – I was not just doing this for my own amusement and it certainly wouldn’t help convince Edward – and in my eagerness to prove that Nessie would love it, I accidentally let slip a bit too much. Oops. Ignore that part about the supersized trampolines, I thought quickly, it’s from something else.
My brother was still trying to look like he was paying attention to the group, but I could tell that he was suppressing laughter. Yessssss! I won! Yes, I get to throw the party!!!
Oh yeah, and we came to a conclusion about the Renee thing too. Guess I’ll have to write that part later though, there is so much to do right now!
It’s not often that my siblings manage to surprise me. Today was the second time this week.
I was starting to run out of ways to plan the party without knowing the exact date … or having Bella and Edward’s “permission.” As a consequence, the ideas were getting more and more elaborate – even I knew some of them were over-the-top (for example: having Emmett wrestle giant squids in a huge, transparent tank for our entertainment).
Jasper was not much help in this department, he’s too biased! He always looks at me so fondly and says that he knows she’ll love it … even when I’ve come up with something completely ridiculous (see above, re: squid wrestling). If I didn’t get confirmation on this party soon, I would go mad from deprivation. I mean, I could get a storage unit and ship all the supplies there for now, but that would just be annoying.
The real problem was that Bella couldn’t decide whether she wanted Renee to visit, or not. We had gotten to the point where we all agreed that Bella and Edward shouldn’t go to Jacksonville, so if that was what Renee wanted, Charlie would just have to tell her to come here instead, if anything – but that’s what Bella was uncertain about. She loves her mother so much, and in such a fierce way, almost exactly how she is with Renesmee. She wants to protect Renee by keeping her away, but at the same time she misses her so desperately; a “surprise” visit would probably break Bella’s heart with joy.
So Bella was conflicted and until she was able to figure herself out, I couldn’t see what would happen. Ugh. The most annoying part about it wasn’t even my inability to plan the party, oh no – that much I could and would cheerfully handle, if only Edward would relax! As always, he was consumed with anxiety over Bella, knowing that she was struggling emotionally. So he was shadowing her the way he had when she was still human, analyzing her every facial twitch and each little sound she made, all day, every day. Double ugh – it brought back memories of when we had just returned from Italy, and Edward was under the impression that he’d have to convince Bella to take him back. It had gotten so annoying to everyone, including Bella, that the newborn army was almost a welcome distraction!
Well, anyway, those days were past us now, but it was still painful to watch Bella reassure Edward she was fine every single time she didn’t look 100% blissful. So I needed to get out of the house, and I was thinking about going out to hunt with Nessie and Rose while Jazz and Emmett played their boyish games with their food. I skipped off toward the kitchen, where Jacob was raiding the refrigerator with Nessie on his shoulders.
I couldn’t help but giggle when I saw her perfect little face – she was wrinkling her nose in disgust at all of the human food options Jacob was offering her. “How about … some cheesecake?” he tried, waving the bakery box at her. She stuck out her tongue and turned her face away from it. With a long-suffering sigh that didn’t quite mask his contentment, Jacob shut the door and turned to face me where I had perched on the granite island.
“Looks like it’s blood or nothing,” he informed me in mock disapproval, as he pulled Nessie off his back and handed her to me. As Jacob turned back to the fridge to get his own food, my lovely, perfect niece smiled her brilliant smile at me and placed her hand on my cheek.
I grinned when I saw what she was picturing – the two of us, out hunting together. “Perfect,” I told her, sliding off the counter-top. “That is exactly what I had in mind.”
Jacob looked up in surprise, and I couldn’t help it – I had to laugh again. His cheeks were bulging with food, which he tried (and failed) to swallow before saying, “Hey – mmf wasmf fffaying -” By this time Nessie was giggling along with me as we watched the crumbs spraying everywhere.
“Jacob, in a house full of supernatural creatures, nobody can understand what you are trying to say,” Bella informed him with a smile, shaking her head as she sauntered into the kitchen. Jacob struggled manfully to swallow the food (jeez, had he stuffed an entire cow into his mouth or what?) so he could reply.
“I said, I wasn’t saying that Ness – Renesmee – needed to be taken out to hunt, I was just about to go get her bottle -”
“Nope!” I interrupted blithely, “there’s no need for that, I am taking Renesmee and Rosalie with me, since I was going out anyway.” Bella shot me a look, but since I already knew she and Edward had hunted together recently, I wasn’t about to give in – and, as usual, she deferred to my superior judgment on the issue (being a psychic does have its moments: everyone assuming that since you already know what’s going to happen anyway they may as well not argue being my favorite). This silent communication lasted a mere hundredth of a second, and then into the kitchen came Edward, ready to spoil my fun again.
“Sorry, Alice,” he told me in a completely unapologetic tone as he stole Nessie away from me. “I need to speak with Bella and Renesmee.” I frowned. What did he mean? I hadn’t foreseen anything happening today …
We were all a bit on edge, as I had seen that Renee wanted to come here to visit Bella, or for Bella to visit her, and either way it was so not a good idea. But Renee hadn’t actually called Charlie yet, and until then, there wasn’t a lot we could do.
We’d had a family meeting about it, and since it was all “I don’t know” and “what if” and more “I don’t know,” I won’t bore you by writing down the details. Basically, we resolved to find out more and then deal with it. So for now, I was keeping track of Charlie’s future, and Bella and Edward were working on a script for Charlie to refer to when Renee finally does call.
In the meantime, we were all trying to act like nothing was wrong – but staying close to the house as much as possible, in case something happened. So this afternoon, Carlisle was at home and very close to winning the chess game he and Jasper have been playing for the last week, Esme was working on some blueprints at the dining room table instead of in her office upstairs, Emmett was helping Rose work on her BMW, and Edward and Bella were playing Monopoly with Renesmee.
And I was having way too much fun! My dear, sweet brother Edward had given me a present completely out of the blue this morning. Apparently he’d been listening to my thoughts last week while I was watching Project Runway; the designers get to work with these incredible electronic sketchpads from HP, and I was doing some major coveting! So Edward had ordered one for me and it arrived today. I’ve been so focused on Charlie that I hadn’t even seen this coming – it was a very rare surprise, and such a nice thing for Edward to do.
For the first few hours I mostly just drew outfits based on clothes that we already have – a party outfit for Nessie (assuming I’d get to have the party at some point), a running-errands look for Esme, and a million outfits for me. But now that I was used to the tablet and all its features, I was designing a brand-new item – a wedding dress for Rosalie, who would be getting married (again) sometime soon. I couldn’t really tell where or when this wedding would be, which made it more challenging, which made it more fun!
I was so absorbed by the sketchpad that I completely lost track of where I was and what was going on. But suddenly, reality intruded, in the form of Rosalie’s shoe crashing into the wall above my head. I looked up in surprise, and discovered Jasper standing by me, chuckling to himself as he pulled the heel of her shoe out of the drywall. I bet he had been enjoying my emotional climate while I worked – excitement, happiness, and wonder had been filling my mind as I played with my new toy.
But now that I had been interrupted, I saw that Jacob and Rosalie were arguing … AGAIN. Though I knew that Esme would have the hole in the drywall patched in literally seconds, I still found myself annoyed by the never-ending bitchfest. Oh, so you want Renesmee? Well too bad, I’ve got her. No, it’s my turn! No, she’s mine! Geez, give it a rest for five minutes, if that’s even possible!
Before I could spit out the ugly words gathering in my mind, Edward stepped in. “Jacob … Rosalie … why don’t you let Bella hold her daughter for a while.” I sent him a brief mental word of thanks, knowing that neither of them could help loving Nessie, and that my words would have hurt their feelings.
Jasper came forward with Rose’s Manolo in his hands like a peace offering. But – OH MY GOD! That reckless mutt had completely ruined it!!! The entire side of the shoe was one big scrape now. I clenched my hands into fists and tried to breathe deeply, but it was no use. The scent of wet dog only fueled my fury. Those were limited edition shoes!
“OUT!” I snarled at Jacob, moving towards him slowly, my fists rising as I neared him. Bella had an “Uh-Oh” look on her face, but with Renesmee now in her arms, there wasn’t much she could do to stop me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same for Edward, Jasper, Emmett, and Carlisle – evidently the games had ended and now everybody was bored enough to get involved in my tiff with Jacob.
“Alice, I know it’s frustrating to be unable to see what’s going to happen with Charlie, but I think Renesmee would be upset if you took your feelings out on Jacob,” Edward soothed in his most persuasive tone of voice. I sighed. As usual, my brother had me all figured out.
With a grimace, I lowered my hands and stood still. “Sorry, Jacob,” I mumbled, unable to look him in the eye. The big goof snickered.
“‘S alright, Alice,” he assured me. “Sorry I almost hit your new toy with Blondie’s pointy shoe.” I made another face. Was I really that upset just because their fight had interrupted my playtime? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Edward’s head move slowly up, then back down again. This was his “tactful” way of nodding at me without anybody noticing.
“Rats! I really am sorry, guys … especially since I’m the one who should be able to see what’s coming,” I complained.
Of course, Bella and Esme tried to convince me that it’s not my fault, blah blah blah. Emmett found this about as boring as I did, so he grabbed Rosalie’s hand and dashed towards their bedroom. Wow, she had already changed out of her jumpsuit, too – how long had I been absorbed with my sketchpad? It was dark out, so apparently it had been hours and hours!
Since I was not encouraging Bella or Esme to keep talking, they both wandered off, leaving me with Jacob, Carlisle, and Jasper. By then I was completely over my feelings of annoyance with Jacob, so I suggested a game of Monopoly, seeing how Bella, Edward and Nessie had left it out.
For some reason they didn’t want to play! In fact, as soon as Renesmee was in bed at the cottage, Jacob no longer felt a need to hang around. So I snatched up my new toy, and with a quick detour to grab my diary, I headed to my happy place … a.k.a. my walk-in closet, which is where I am now, writing this. But I think Jazz is getting ideas from the lingerie sketches I drew earlier, so I’m going to have to go – I do, after all, have better ways to occupy my time!
The good news is, we finally know more about that vision of Police Chief Swan I had a few days ago. The bad news? Well, I’d rather tell you about my date with Jasper first, it’s much more fun to think about.
So Rose and I had gone shopping, like I said, and while we were out I found the most amazing leather skirt. It’s a pencil skirt – a leather pencil skirt, can you believe it? – with a ruffle made of the thinnest lambskin that falls right where the back slit would normally be. And it’s the most rich shade of charcoal gray, it’s just perfect! So of course I bought it. I mean, an opportunity like that only comes around once every decade or so, and it was just too easy to find a pearl gray silk tank top to go with it.
I thought about wearing my favorite black cashmere coat on top, but then I spotted this gorgeous display of Burberry’s new line of coats. Normally I find their plaids dull, but these two coats were so stunning – a trenchoat with a fur collar, and a baggy double-breasted tweed coat with sweater sleeves from the elbow down – well, obviously I had to at least go in and try them on. It was hard to decide between the two, so I didn’t! I bought them both and I just love them!
I mean, I know I can only wear one at a time, but I figured that if I wore one and kept the other in the car for later I’d get to wear them both in the same outfit! I know … sometimes I even amaze myself.
So anyway, I got myself all ready for our date, slipping on a pair of vintage Valentino pumps at the last minute since I had forgotten all about shoes in my haste to get those coats – the heels were maybe a bit too high for such a tight skirt, but whatever. It’s not like anyone in Forks was qualified to judge my outfits anyway. I drove to the diner in the boring Volvo, passing the speed limit only twice, and snagged one of the two free stools at the counter.
While waiting for Jasper to arrive, I let my thoughts drift. There had been an outrageous pair of Louboutin boots on the Saks Fifth Avenue website the other day, and I was still thinking about them … they were thigh-high suede, which was not very practical for Forks, but maybe for a vacation in Italy … ?
Gradually the sound of Jasper’s footsteps drew closer, and I spun to face the door, unable to stop the huge smile from taking over my entire face. You know, he talks about how miserable and confused he was before he met me, but nobody ever wonders how I had felt. There I was, a newborn vampire, with no idea who I was, how I had become what I was, where I had come from – the only things I knew were the things that were going to happen, which was not as helpful as it might sound, at least not at first.
Only two things kept me from a black depression: the clothes, which were much higher quality than the majority of the stuff I see these days, and the visions I kept getting of a tall, golden-haired, godlike man, who I knew I loved long before he finally showed up.
Speaking of which, Jazz had arrived, and it was about time because I’m sure I looked completely bonkers sitting there grinning at the door! As he walked in, I hopped down from the counter stool, and walked over to him. “You’ve kept me waiting a long time,” I reminded him, smiling hugely.
As he absorbed my emotions, his eyes grew even softer, and he ducked his head and replied, “I’m sorry, ma’am.” Then he took my hand, and we spent the next several hours wallowing in our own blissful memories of the day we had first met.
Well, so much for the fun part. The bad news … I have to postpone Nessie’s party.
Jazz and I were still in our post-date haze of emotions and memories, which usually lasts several weeks after one of our diner-meeting recreations, so I wasn’t exactly keeping a strict eye on anyone’s future. But still, the vision found me. It was Chief Swan again. This time, I saw that he was on the phone as he frowned in concern, and he was glaring at his scribbled notes. They were mostly gibberish and doodles – he is so much like Bella, or maybe it’s the other way around – but the words “Renee, flight, surprise” jumped out at me right away.
So it looks as though Bella’s mother wants to surprise her with a trip to Jacksonville, or maybe she wants to come here to visit Bella. Either way would be difficult, if not downright dangerous, so it’s no wonder Charlie’s face was so full of worry in those visions. And until I know the details, I can’t finalize any of the party plans, and I have to keep it a secret for a while longer.
We’re about to have a meeting to discuss this – Bella and Edward just got back from their meadow and I’m sure Edward will have a lot to say about it, so I’d better go. I’ll write more once we’ve all agreed on how to deal with the situation.