Today was D-Day – or N-Day? Nutcracker Day!
As you can probably imagine, it’s been a frantic week of preparations, all the way up to tonight.
At the last minute (well, the last hour anyway) I got into a big argument with overly-careful Edward, who overheard my thoughts of where to set up the spotlights. Can you have a ballet show without spotlights? I think not. Edward, on the other hand, was inclined to disagree – citing the need to keep a low profile as his only reason.
I shot back that nobody would see the spotlights unless they were in the audience or a helicopter flying by, and gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I was psychic and could be 100% sure that wouldn’t happen?
Anyway, after he bowed to my superior argument, we ran into another little snafu. Now, I thought the lovely, sparkly snow was the perfect background for our theater – but Bella pointed out that Charlie, Billy, Sue, and the other (very few) humans would probably freeze to death during the show. Oops!
So we had to get creative: Space heaters, the type nicer restaurants place at their outdoor tables, had to be obtained in record time – but the snow! It would melt! The audience would be floating in a pool of ice-water that would slowly freeze around them! (No, I didn’t have a vision of this, but I described it so vividly and frantically that my brothers immediately jumped forward as volunteer snow-shovelers.)
Once Emmett, Edward, Jasper, Carlisle and Jacob had the chairs removed, the snow shoveled, and the chairs replaced, I was able to take a good hard look at the seating and make a few executive decisions. Ignoring the festive groans and muttered complaints of the slave boys, I dictated created a masterpiece of snow sculpting, with sparkling hills surrounding the open space where the audience could now sit without freezing to death. Then, we sprinkled salt on the grass to cut down on the slip factor (despite Edward’s grouchy remarks about how that only works on cement, not grass). Then, I placed the space heaters strategically along the outsides of the seating area, where the humans would be sitting.
This done, I paused to double-check tonight’s future. As before, I saw very little, only disjointed bits and pieces – I really need to hurry up and get past my mental block with the wolves! – but at least I didn’t see any massive emergencies coming up.
With explicit instructions on how to lay down the pink carpet in the aisle at the right time, and where Emmett and Carlisle were to seat each of the guests when they arrived, I departed to Wardrobe.
Where I found my two sisters, my niece, and my mother giggling hysterically, obviously consumed by nerves.
“Ladies! LADIES!” I chided, clapping my hands to get their attention. The fact that I had hopped onto our makeshift vanity’s countertop seemed to help, too. The four of them instantly sobered, looking up at me with sickly smiles.
“There’s nothing to be nervous about!” I reminded them incredulously, shaking my head in wonder. “It’s not like any of us could forget anything, and anyway it’s just a bunch of werewolves and some family out there – what’s eating you?” I snapped my teeth at Ness with a fake-scary growl as I spoke, eliciting a tentative giggle.
Rosalie sniffed and rolled her eyes – she was obviously above stage fright, despite the symptoms I saw in her – but the other girls still looked nervous. I tsk’ed reprovingly, but there was no more time for pep talks. We had work to do!
Hair and makeup were crucial; there would be so many costume changes, the hair and face look had to go with each one. Since Jasper had flat-out refused to wear a little stage makeup (booooo!), it was just us girls backstage, in a steamy little shed filled with curling irons, blow dryers, hairspray and cosmetics.
After all that, though, when it came time to do Renesmee’s look – we just couldn’t put makeup on her. We just couldn’t! She could not be improved upon, and none of us even wanted to try. So I had to be content with putting massive, feathery fake eyelashes on myself, Rose, Esme and Bella, along with blush (which Ness didn’t need anyway) and, of course, lipstick.
And a bit of glitter, since the spotlights wouldn’t make our skin sparkle, and it would look pretty with the snow.
Oh, and manicures – the softest pink-white shimmer, to add to the angelic effect.
A few rhinestones here and there – a couple of spritzes of sparkly hairspray – and we were all set. I could hear the guests arriving – well, all of us could hear them. From what I could tell, Emmett was doing too much chatting and not enough ushering. I gestured silently to my co-dancers, and we all tiptoed onstage to peek out from around the curtains.
From the stage, the amphitheater we had created looked incredible (if I do say so myself). The snow was sparkling away obligingly, as if it wanted to contribute to the splendor; the fairy lights, recycled from several events now, formed lines overhead that illuminated the rows of seats and bounced more light off the snow; the boys had followed my instructions with the pink carpet in the aisle, and the plush velvet looked inviting, with only a few sets of slushy footprints marring it so far; and the few guests who were already seated (the humans, taking advantage of the space heaters), looked appropriately awed and excited.
Edward glanced over at us and winked, so we drew back from the curtain, giggling.
And then it was showtime! Edward ascended the few steps to the little platform we’d built for his piano behind the audience; a microphone amplified the music, and from where he sat, he had a good view of the stage. Next to him, Colin fiddled with a tripod, while a few other wolf-boys moved around the audience, looking for prime videography positions.
Emmett appeared at the spotlight controls and Jacob and Embry popped up onstage to fulfil their roles of stagehands. Everything was ready, and an expectant hush fell over the audience as Carlisle gracefully leapt onstage for the introductory speech.
“Welcome, dear friends,” he began warmly. Next to me, Esme gave a little contented sigh of pride.
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all for joining us on this beautiful Christmas Eve. Many of you know that Renesmee has developed quite a talent for ballet, and we are delighted to present her to you as the prima ballerina of this traditional ballet, untraditionally reworked, Cullen style.”
A ripple of laughter went through the audience; impulsively, I grabbed Nessie’s hand and squeezed it in excitement in the one tenth of a second before the show began.
Carlisle was correct – it was quite a nontraditional adaptation of the Nutcracker. We just didn’t have enough dancers to do it the normal way, so I cut down the cast as much as possible, and the rest depended on costume changes for everyone but Renesmee, who played Clara the whole way through of course.
Edward played beautifully, and everyone hit their spots with impeccable timing. Ness’s face glowed with joy, her cheeks a darker shade of rose than usual, obviously loving every moment of her performance; she was a born star! It was hard to keep my eyes off her, and easy to keep a smile on my face as we danced.
I did hear a bit of snarky laughter when Jasper bounded on stage in his tights, but one quick glance from Carlisle and the audience resumed its silent state. Personally, I thought Jazz looked incredibly handsome and dignified – his glorious face was set in a solemn expression (as I warned him in advance that I would not be amused if he rolled his eyes and shrugged at the audience), and he danced gracefully, but in a manly, masculine way. I may never have found him so attractive in all our 50+ years together!!
It was amazing and gratifying to me that the boys involved as stagehands and lighting director did not make a single mistake – I had tried to prepare myself for a less-than-perfect performance from them, but they did great! When the mice rushed onstage to eat the gingerbread “men” (us in costumes from those Shrek movies), there was no shuffling of feet or embarrassed laughter to ruin the moment. I’ll have to thank Jacob, Embry, Seth and Quil for that later.
There was no intermission. We did the whole show all the way through, and Claire’s “ooh”s and “aahh”s were so, so satisfying, because we all worked so hard on the set and the costumes and everything, and it all looked PERFECT! I glanced at her at one point; her eyes were huge and round, despite the late hour, and she looked like she was in heaven. I’m glad there was at least one child in the audience to fully enjoy the magic of the show.
All good things must come to an end, though, and the ballet was no exception. After the final waltz, and the crowning of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince, the curtain fell for the last time, amidst applause, cheers, and a standing ovation. When the curtain rose again, the noise increased – and it wasn’t just those volume-control-challenged wolves either, Charlie was cheering just as loud as everyone else!
I noticed Edward slip away from his piano, and Emmett step away from the lights, but thought nothing of it while Jacob acted as VJ, announcing each member of the cast to come and take a bow. Bella’s face shone with joy as the crowd applauded her daughter; I almost worried her face was going to split in half from that huge smile – until I realized I was pretty much a mirror image!
Suddenly, Carlisle, Edward, Emmett, Jasper, and Charlie appeared and lined up at the foot of the stage, each holding a massive bouquet of parrot tulips, red-dipped white blooms tied in red ribbons except for the arrangement of palest pink roses which Charlie handed to Renesmee. The rest of us women received our tulips from our men, who each bowed deeply before us before handing them over. I can’t wait to find out whose idea that was – it was SO awesome! I’ll be their slave for life! (And that’s quite a long time for us!)
Finally, the camera flashes slowed down, and people began milling around, chatting to each other. A couple of wolf-boys (I won’t name names, but let’s just say it was Olin-cay and Rady-bay) were trying to convince everyone to go sledding on the carefully arranged snow mounds, but then Esme stepped back onto the stage and daintily ahemmed to get everyone’s attention.
“As a Christmas Eve treat, we have refreshments waiting back at the house,” she announced, earning more cheers from the boys, who immediately took off. (Which, incidentally, provided an answer to that age-old riddle: How do you move a huge crowd of boisterous werewolves? … Promise them food!)
Somehow, I managed to return to the house while simultaneously grinning madly, hugging Jasper tight, and cradling my bouquet of tulips in one arm. I guess it helped that he carried me the whole way there, whispering praise into my ear the whole time (very distracting)!
The after-party was a blur of happy faces and more camera flashes. I know Jasper loved it; the emotional climate must have been like heaven to him, what with Charlie, Bella, Edward, and the rest of us feeling so glad and proud for Renesmee, and everyone else just so happy to be there together.
Tomorrow, of course, is Christmas; I just don’t see how it could possibly top Christmas Eve this year! I’ll write to let you know if it does.
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I knew Jacob was up to something. He’d been acting so weird all week, all quiet and shifty-looking, like there was something going on in his flea-ridden mind.
Since I still have yet to master the ability to see the wolves’ futures – I can catch a tiny bit, here and there, but it needs refining and practice – I had to use my imagination logical reasoning skills to figure out what he was planning. And I knew he was planning something; I could see the wheels turning inside his head. He had this super thoughtful look in his eyes whenever Renesmee was around him, which, of course, was most of the time.
Then, one day in the clearing when I was altering Renesmee’s costume again (she just keeps growing!), I happened to spot him deep in what appeared to be a serious conversation with my brother. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched them surreptitiously, Jacob making some earnest speech and Edward nodding slowly, seeming to agree.
They were just outside everyone’s hearing range – now that couldn’t be a coincidence. I dropped the costume (well, I folded it and set it down on my sewing table) and casually rushed over to them.
“What are we talking about over here?” I inquired cheerfully, inserting myself into their conversation.
Jacob turned on me and snapped rudely, “None of your business!” As I stared back at him, my eyebrows raised in shock, I saw Jacob’s copper skin flush brick red and heard Jazz sliding forward to kill him.
But then Jacob sighed, and the color began to seep back out of his face. “Aw, what’s the use anyway? Can’t keep any secrets in this house,” he muttered, shifting his weight from foot to foot. He had the decency to look ashamed when he said, “Sorry, Alice.”
“Forgiven!” I chirped, gently tugging Jasper’s sleeve to pull him away from Jacob. It didn’t seem like the right time for a fight to the death. “So, what is it?”
The kid sighed again, looking embarrassed and acting shy, as if it was some really big deal. In the few moments it took him to gather his thoughts and voice them, my mind assumed the worst. So he was planning to take Nessie away!
“No, Alice,” Edward laughed, not looking quite as amused as he sounded. “I would never allow such a thing.” His last words were both a promise and a threat, hidden behind a wry smile.
“Huh?” Jacob looked between us, confused, then shook his head. “Whatever. It’s not a big deal Alice, I’m just trying to figure out how to get my GED.”
“Hmm,” I replied absently, immediately losing interest. “Good for you.” How boring. Still, I was glad that the guy hadn’t been plotting to propose to Renesmee at the ballet recital or anything – then I’d really have to kill him, and I wouldn’t let anyone else help me do it either.
Edward laughed out loud again, but pressed his lips together tightly when Jacob squinted at him in suspicion. He didn’t seem to want to share what I had been thinking out loud. Good idea, I thought. Don’t want to give him any ideas.
Edward’s shoulders were still shaking silently when I walked away, pulling Jazz along with me. Glad he could see the humor in it. Because less than a full second later, I heard him snap, “Not yet” in his most frosty tone of voice, responding to a question that hadn’t been asked aloud.
Jasper felt me wondering what that was about, but his only response was to shrug at me, so I decided to let it go and get the information out of either Jacob or Edward later.
Back at my sewing zone, I focused again on Nessie’s costume. The girl is growing steadily, and not the same way a normal child does – you know, where they have baby fat, get a little taller and less chubby, but are still rounded, then go through puberty and get taller and fuller … well, we’re not there yet, thank the lord! But Renesmee has been slender and shaped like … if not an adult, a pre-teen … ever since she became a toddler. So when she grows, I have to adjust her clothes for a taller frame, which is slightly more difficult than just taking them in – because I have to try to figure how much taller she’ll be by Christmas, and I keep getting it wrong.
Plus, her shoes. She doesn’t have massive feet or anything of course, but they do grow along with the rest of her, and you know how uncomfortable it is to walk around in shoes a half size too small? Well, imagine ballet dancing in those shoes. Yeah. Rough.
Jasper very patiently held each item for me while I worked on it, stretching and turning them obligingly as needed. The problem was that nothing about any of the costumes could be called “plain” – fancy trim, special hems, everything was made for the benefit of super-sharp eyesight, so it was a pain to tailor.
As I worked feverishly, I was aware of the voices in the background. Rosalie, forced to help, was directing the movements of Carlisle, Emmett and Edward, who were each responding in very different ways to her “leadership.” Esme and Bella, bless them, were practicing their roles very diligently with Renesmee (maybe because I harassed them into it every day). It made me twitch a little, since I knew I should be practicing too, but my gosh there’s just so much to get done!
For one thing, I’m still missing presents for a few people – some are in transit, according to the vendors, but some are just not even planned yet! Can you believe that? I have so much to look for in the future and so much work to do every day, I haven’t been able to stay ahead of everything the way I usually do. I mean, the most important people I pretty much have covered, but for example: Charlie. We have a kind of special bond, and I haven’t found him anything yet! (Other than clothes – that doesn’t even count, it’s just a given.) Then I should have something for Sue too, and then it expands into Seth and Leah, then Embry, Jacob … and so on and so on.
I have got to brainstorm about this. I don’t care what Bella people say, gifts are important. It’s a physical representation of how well someone knows you, and that they were thinking about you, and thought you deserved … whatever it may be.
Billy! Oh, my god, then I have to include Paul and Rachel …
OK, I have work to do. This is a major crisis! Hopefully I’ll be back soon with a revised Christmas list!
Carlisle: Clothes; 1640???; 1911 watch; 1920???; Esme perfume
Esme: Clothes; 1895 necklace; 1911???; 1920 necklace
Edward: Clothes; Family portrait?
Bella: Clothes; Renee perfume
Renesmee: Clothes; Pink ghost chair;
Rosalie: Clothes; Perfume bottle collection; Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry
Emmett: Clothes; Update his South Park DVD collection
Jasper: Clothes; Civil war journal book that mentions him
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So Rosalie was here, eh? I have to admit, when I had the vision of her taking my diary away to her room, there was a brief moment of “uh-oh, what have I written about her in there …” Of course, being Rosalie, part of what she was doing in the vision was flipping through my diary looking for her own name, and then pausing to read what was written about her. But since I haven’t really said anything unpleasant about her – in fact, I think I’ve said some nice things, and some things she’d find very amusing – I didn’t bother to stop her.
I’m not annoyed that she removed a few pages, either. There are a finite number of pages in this book anyway, and once it’s full I’ve got a small pile of pretty new ones just waiting for their turn in the spotlight! Still, I think I’ll write a little “Please don’t borrow me” note on the inside cover, just in case. After all, some of this stuff is pretty private.
I am a bit curious as to what she wrote. But, knowing her, the main themes were boredom and irritation; easy enough to guess.
Anyway, we are rapidly approaching Christmas! The Nutcracker is really coming along. I swear when I did my most recent fitting of Nessie’s costume, Bella, Rose, Esme and I all wanted to cry. She looked like a fairy-tale princess, with her shining waves of copper hair, pale glowing skin, rose-flushed cheeks and lips, and big brown eyes … Oh, how Walt Disney would have loved to have her as his muse (filthy, misogynist racist that he was)!
Today, Jacob had Nessie at the reservation – apparently we’ve been “hogging” her lately, what-ever! – and the men-folk were all out together, doing their Christmas shopping (so late, but thanks to Edward, they should still be able to do a good job).
That left me, Bella, Rose, and Esme at home together. At first Bella was thinking about going to see Charlie, but then Esme was so delighted that all of “us girls” could have girly bonding time, Bella couldn’t resist her happiness at the idea of spending the day together.
So we gathered in the living room, bringing presents to wrap, a stack of catalogs to go through (me), and some glossy-covered girl magazines (Rosalie). I, of course, had quite a few items to wrap, and even though I have my vampire speed, I still take a little while to determine the perfect combination of designer paper, ribbon, and accessories for each gift.
Rosalie sauntered into the room and draped herself across the sofa in her favorite position, her long legs crossed carelessly at the knee to show off her shapely thighs that were, as usual, exposed by her skirt, one arm bent on the back of the couch to support her head in her hand as she flicked through the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine. I tried not to think about the latest sex tips she was reading – it’s taken all my patience and sensitivity not to sound-proof the walls to her and Emmett’s room as it is. As she gazed at the magazine, she twirled her liquid gold hair around the fingers of her other hand, showing off the shimmering champagne highlights no mortal could ever possess and her flawless manicure at the same time.
Yep, she’s a self-absorbed beauty, our Rosalie. It’s much more noticeable when Nessie isn’t around to distract her.
Bella, in contrast, was warmly dressed in jeans (designer), a long-sleeved tee (slightly less designer), and a thick cable-knit sweater (designer, and not your momma’s cable-knit). Like me, she was cross-legged on the floor, frowning in concentration as she worked on her gifts. I’d already seen what she was giving everyone, so I didn’t pay attention to what she was doing.
As soon as Esme had the 20 racks of seasoned ribs in the oven (yes, that’s 4 full racks of ribs per teenage werewolf, and experience has taught her to overestimate how much food they’ll eat), she raced into the living room with the box containing her card-making supplies, and a huge smile on her face. She loves spending time with us, I really should try to make more time for her.
We each settled into our tasks, chatting companionably for the most part, with a few less-friendly remarks from Rosalie who seems to be in a worse mood than usual at the moment. Need proof? How about this little question she casually threw out at Bella:
“Aren’t you upset that Renesmee is growing up so fast?” she asked in her standard blunt way, causing Esme and I to freeze in place, appalled. As if that wasn’t insensitive enough – of course it bothers Bella that her daughter’s childhood is speeding by so rapidly – Rosalie continued, “You know she’ll be moving out of your house and into that disgusting boy’s shack in a few years.”
Way to go, Rose. Way to freaking go. Lovely girly bonding time, until you threw a bomb right in the middle of it.
But Bella, bless her, didn’t blow up (ha – see what I did there?). Instead, although she looked taken aback, she just bit her lip and considered her words carefully. I sat there frozen, hoping Bella knew I had not seen that coming, and that I would definitely have slapped my hand over the girl’s mouth had I known she would be saying it.
“I think about it all day … every day,” Bella admitted, so softly I wasn’t quite sure she wasn’t talking only to herself. Despite my indignation at Rose for asking, I was suddenly dying of curiosity myself. My hands remained suspended in midair as I waited, not breathing, to hear Bella’s response. Esme had stopped moving, as well.
“I never knew I wanted a child,” Bella continued, still speaking to the floor more than to any of us. “I never knew how fiercely I could love someone until I felt her move that first time. And then all I could think of was protecting her, surviving long enough to give birth …” Her voice trailed off as she stared into the distance, reliving the horrific birth, I imagined. I much preferred not to think of it myself.
Her chin rose and she met Rosalie’s insolent stare. “But now that she’s here, it doesn’t matter what I had expected – I don’t care if she turns into an adult overnight, or even marries Jacob tomorrow. As long as she’s here … as long as she can stay with me – us – for eternity … If I was destroyed, I wouldn’t mind, as long as I knew she would still exist,” Bella tried to explain.
Esme was gazing tenderly at Bella, obviously in agreement with what she was saying. She nodded encouragingly for her to go on, as Rosalie appeared to expect more of an answer than that.
I listened in fascination as the inner workings of a mother’s mind were revealed, my subconscious mind replacing Renesmee with a tiny black-haired girl in fantasies of motherly love.
“Of course I hate that she can’t have a normal childhood – of course I wish she had time to grow up, enjoy being a child,” Bella said wistfully. “But if you think about, she has all the time in the world … and, although she’ll be all grown way too soon, at least we’ll know we’ve given her the best possible childhood.” At this, all of us nodded proudly, in agreement on at least one thing. No one in the history of the universe would ever have a better life than Renesmee’s, as long as we were around.
And she’s right – we have all of eternity. Sure, I’ll miss things like bouncy slides and silly games when she’s grown … but then, she’s bound to become such an incredible woman, there’s no way I won’t still love having her in my life.
After that little chat, the rest of the afternoon seemed pretty dull! I did manage to force convince Bella to let me give her a manicure, even though she still doesn’t get the point of it (of course it’s not necessary! So what?), and Esme very capably steered the conversation back to more neutral territory, so that we all relaxed again and just enjoyed being together for a change.
The brief respite from noisy boys was over fast, though; once the smell of the ribs cooking permeated the forest, Embry and Seth were incoming and I was outgoing (or at least, going out of the living room and back to my bedroom). I had much more work to do anyway. My gosh, there’s only a couple of weeks left before Christmas! So much to do!
I’ll write more soon, if I can!
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Finally, a spare moment to catch up!
Even at vampire speed, I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment (an expression that’s a lot less meaningful for vampires, but you know what I mean). I want everything about the ballet recital to be perfect for Renesmee, and since I already have such high standards anyway … well, let’s just say this past couple of weeks have been the closest I’ve ever come to neglecting Jasper, and leave it at that.
First things first: ETW2. Well, it wasn’t easy to find time to annoy the crap out of Edward (another one of those human expressions that don’t quite make sense for vampires), but somehow I managed.
We began on Monday, which also happened to be the day some of the theatrical props arrived, so believe me I was already going to be pretty busy! I ordered them pre-made, just to avoid sculpting things like mouse and nutcracker heads myself, but I also ordered supplies to repaint everything to my own tastes. So that’s what I wanted to work on, and Edward was priority #2.
Luckily, Jasper had me covered while I worked on my new toys. He very efficiently and subtly stalked Edward all morning and afternoon, and, like a good Milford man, he was neither seen nor heard (Arrested Development reference I fully expect you to understand!) – but his efforts were very successful.
First, Jasper caught Jacob’s emotional wavelength and focused on making him irrationally angry, not just at Edward, just super pissed off and annoyed by everything and everyone (I made sure to keep Ness at my side and away from Jacob during that hour). This was almost as much fun for Rosalie as it was for me and Jasper, because Jacob naturally took out a lot of his extra anger on her; she got to use quite a few of the insults she’s been holding onto lately. At various points, she called him a mangy poodle, a flea-ridden mutt, and the epic result of Oscar the Grouch’s short-term affair with Lassie (that was my favorite one)!
But how, you ask, did this affect Edward? Well, he hates listening to the two of them bicker, for one thing. But more importantly, when Jacob was mad, he also snapped at Edward.
“You know, for a 110-year-old vampire, you sure do act like a 1,000-year-old priss,” Jacob groused at one point (I think it was when Edward politely requested that Jacob control his language).
Edward briefly gritted his teeth, but controlled his own temper enough to merely reply, “And for someone who intends to someday ask for my daughter’s hand, you do act like a particularly verbose construction worker at times.” (Cue the audience going, Ohhhhhh!)
Jacob, not liking this thinly veiled threat, snapped back, “And what? You think you’re gonna control Ness’s life too, the way you did with Bella?” (OHHHHHH!)
Edward lost his temper then. “Never forget that you are a guest in our home only because of my daughter’s affection for you,” he hissed, his jaw clenched. “If you ever do anything, anything, to change that, I’ll -”
The short silence after Edward interrupted himself was tense, with the audience (Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett, while I was watching from outside with Ness, for the record) looking on in cautious curiosity. Edward turned his head a fraction of an inch, located Jasper standing behind the door, and sighed.
“Yeah, what?” Jacob blurted out, unable to contain himself. “What’re you gonna do?”
“You’re not angry with me, Jacob,” my too-smart brother replied, calm again. As Jacob scowled and opened his mouth to tell him otherwise, Edward continued, “Jasper is trying to make us feel angry.”
“What? Why?” Jacob spluttered, craning his neck to look for Jazz, who obligingly stepped into the room and waved, a tiny smirk gracing his perfect face.
“You’d have to ask Alice that,” Edward answered tranquilly, damn his black soul.
After that, it was a bit harder to mess with him; he automatically suspected that it was Jasper making Emmett feel way too … affectionate … towards Rosalie while they were all in the same room, and ditto when Bella came in and was instantly too embarrassed to even look at Edward, let alone be hugged by him. It was still funny. But not as much as it could have been.
I decided to give Edward a break that evening, since I had rehearsals and fittings anyway. But on Tuesday I took over.
As soon as I got within his hearing range, which I verified by thinking friendly insults at him and waiting for his reaction (a very undignified snort), I got to work. To make it seem authentic, I waited for a genuine vision to come – anything would do – staying within Edward’s range the whole time.
Finally, an insignificant vision of Emmett facing down a bear caught my mind. As soon as it was over I immediately imagined disaster striking – for this, I just went with Emmett returning to the house with the bear’s head and placing it on Bella and Edward’s doorstep. You know, just to warm up, didn’t want to start with anything too crazy to make Edward suspect what I was up to. He’s very suspicious, that boy. No idea why.
Once Edward saw my invented vision, he scowled at Emmett in disgust. Of course, my other brother had no clue why, but that only made it even better!
“I’ll thank you to stay away from my cottage, Emmett,” Edward requested in icy tones, leaving poor Em totally bemused (I did explain it to him as soon as I got a chance – and of course, Emmett found the idea too good to pass up. So I’ll have to intercept him next Saturday …)
The next vision came as I was reorganizing my shoe closet – the new shipment of Louboutins had finally arrived, and I was systematically removing older shoes I didn’t find special enough to hold onto, while keeping my collection grouped by brand and color. Right in the middle of unpacking the new Petite Fee booties – black-ribbon-wrapped pink lace with black polka dots, SO gorgeous they made me want to cry and giggle at the same time – I got another vision.
This time, it was a nice little family scene at home, with Chief Swan. Easy – I just tagged on my own creation, Charlie whispering to Bella, “Has Edward been wearing a lot more aftershave lately, or is it just me?”
When he noticed me nonchalantly joining him in the living room while replaying the (fake) memory of the (fake) vision in my mind, Edward’s jaw dropped. For a moment, he didn’t move or say anything; then, verrrrrrrrrry sllllllllllowly, he angled his head downward, and inhaled silently.
That was really, really difficult for me. I mean, it’s one thing to keep secrets in your mind, it’s an entirely different thing to suppress hysterical laughter in your mind. I had to actually run off to the clearing, ostensibly to check the construction of the theater, so he wouldn’t hear me whooping with laughter. Luckily, Jazz was there, so I grabbed him and whispered the whole story into his ear, leaving him helpless with laughter too.
The next day, I decided to up the ante a little. Edward was with Bella at the piano, being sappy and ridiculous, which made a perfect setting for my next game. Sitting against the dining room wall, I concentrated as hard as I could on seeing the future – which, even if Edward was paying attention (which he was not), he still wouldn’t have found suspicious, since I always check the future around Christmas and especially now with the ballet recital coming up. Whew, that was a mouthful. Anyway, like I said, I focused super hard on seeing the future.
About five minutes in, I had a vision of Seth being in our kitchen (as usual). Perfect – the fact that I actually saw a wolf, albeit in his human form, would catch Edward’s attention anyway, so I added onto the split-second glimpse of this future moment. I imagined Esme being in the kitchen with him and saying, “Of course you can live here with us, Seth. In fact, why don’t you take Edward’s old room? I’ve been meaning to clear out all his books and music anyway.”
“What?!” Edward gasped, Bella’s lullaby ending with an abrupt clash as he jumped to his feet, knocking the bench over. I couldn’t help myself. I collapsed in giggles on the floor.
“Ugh,” Edward groaned, catching on as quickly as he always does. I might have had more fun with this stuff if he was a bit slower, but oh well.
“What is it?” Bella gasped, unable to interpret the strange combination of events. Even in her distress and confusion, her voice still sounded like a chorus of church bells. It was getting harder to remember her as a human, even with vampire memory.
“Alice,” was the only response, as Edward came around the corner, found me, and picked me up with one hand. Shaking me lightly, he mock-growled, “For such a tiny little thing, you can be such a massive pain sometimes!”
“I’m … sorry …” I gasped in between laughs. “It’s … just …”
“So much fun, I know,” Edward finished for me, rolling his eyes at me with great affection. “Still, could I possibly convince you to stop now? I mean, you agreed to the training, so technically there’s nothing to punish me for. Really, it’s just self-indulgence at this point,” he added hopefully, with a pathetic attempt at puppy-dog eyes to melt my cold, dead heart.
Hearing my thoughts, Edward sighed and grinned, setting me back down on the ground. “Fine. You’re impervious to my charms. But really, can we call a truce now? Please?”
Bella and Edward both watched me closely as I pretended to consider his request. In truth, I didn’t have the free time to torment him anymore. So sad, but, well, there’s always next month!
“Okay,” I agreed sweetly, putting out my hand for him to shake. As he took it, I continued, “I’ve got more Christmas shopping to do anyway.”
Bella and Edward groaned in unison, and I grinned widely. It’s just too easy with these guys!
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The things that are tolerated in the name of science – it’s baffling, really. I mean, look at the stuff PETA protests (or don’t look, it’s pretty horrific). Animals being tortured and analyzed and infected with diseases, all so scientists can study the effects of this or that drug, hairspray, or mascara.
Normally I wouldn’t be thinking about this, but today, I’m in the animals’ position – being tortured in the name of science. Only it’s for my own benefit as well as for others, so I can’t really complain (but I still do).
Jasper had been gone for nearly an hour. This time, we didn’t stop when I caught a fuzzy, vague glimpse of him; this time, Edward and Carlisle pushed me farther.
And this time, I made a conscious effort to push my anxiety and rage into a spotlight, focusing all the emotions coursing through me into an almost tangible force that went searching for me, looking for Jasper. I could feel, taste, and hear my emotions, but not Jasper, so we kept going.
The whole idea was to see the wolves in the future, not Jasper in the present, and the mere thought would have broken me if I’d had room for it in my mind at the time – because Edward and Carlisle were sure to keep me in agony until I had a vision of a wolf, rather than a glimpse of Jasper wherever he was.
I hated it, that incessant itching in my mind when I couldn’t see Jasper’s future, and the total lack of control that had me shredding clothes and trying to harm my brother and father, and most of all I hated the part of my mind that was sure something horrible would happen while we were apart.
But that part of my mind was the reason this would work, or at least that was the prevailing theory. As much as it physically and mentally pained me, I couldn’t try to ignore it. I had to actually encourage my fears of Jasper getting hurt … or worse.
“LET GO LET ME GO LETMEGO LETMEGONOW!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, thrashing wildly in Carlisle’s restraining arms. My fingers twisted and reached, constantly trying to find purchase against an arm, neck, or throat in a futile attempt to escape. Couldn’t they see that Jasper was in grave danger?! That he was out there in the world, a dangerous, terrifying place full of unknown lurking threats that could attack without a moment’s notice – and that I could only save him if I could see where he was?!
As I screamed, begged, pleaded, moaned, and occasionally foamed at the mouth (probably not, but it felt like it at the time), Carlisle and Edward’s murmured commentary and hypothesizing formed a monotonous background to my suffering – unchanging, unresponsive, and uncaring (again, that’s how it really felt at the time).
Esme hovered outside the office, her normally smiling face frozen in horror as she watched me lose my mind. Several times, she caught her breath and moved forward a millimeter, only to be gently but firmly rebuffed by Edward. Finally, Carlisle suggested that she join Bella and Renesmee at the cottage, out of hearing distance.
I estimate that I had been dully mumbling “no, no, no” to myself in a heap on the floor for at least forty minutes before two things changed. First, and this sounds crazy so I’ll understand your skepticism, but I’ll refer you to Edward as my witness – my mind sort of … tightened. Like your muscles do when you tense to jump. Second, tranquility loosened the tension in my body, so that I was in an almost boneless state of relief.
In my peaceful state, I was hardly even aware of Edward and Carlisle as they eased me into one of the leather chairs, chattering excitedly to each other. They didn’t even try to include me in their conversation, as it was clear that my mind was elsewhere.
And where, you ask? Well, judging by the viewpoint of the wolf guarding Jasper as the two of them leapt off the ledge, they were on the mountainside, high up enough to just barely make out our rooftop. It was so sweet; they had been watching the house the whole time, making sure we were safe, while I worried about Jazz being safe.
Now, it’s true, I didn’t see the wolf. But I saw Jazz in the wolf’s peripheral vision, and I saw where they were, and unless there was someone else guarding Jasper then I had definitely seen a wolf in the future. … For about a hundredth of a second.
Still, it was worth celebrating, especially when Jasper came through the window instead of taking the door and stairs to get to me and I smiled up at him, all traces of stress gone from my mind and body as I breathed him in. Of course he was safe. Of course he was whole. He was Jasper Whitlock, and he could handle anything. More than I could, apparently, since I kept going to pieces when they took him away … but it wouldn’t be forever. Heck, we’d made such great progress today, I’d say we’re almost there!
Yeah … in my dreams. But for now, I wasn’t going to think about it. I had Jasper in my arms, and I hadn’t ruined my shoes (my clothes, unfortunately, were another story), and I had ETW2 to look forward to!
That’s right, revenge is sweet. It’s payback time, dear brother, and this time we’re not holding back! Oh, it might just be me and Jasper, rather than the whole crew we had last time – but Jazz and I are a team to be feared. Between the two of us, we’ll have Edward begging for mercy – and everyone else crying with laughter!
Let the games begin …
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Edward and Bella decided to join the Thanksgiving party at Sue’s, so it was pretty quiet around here today (I’m thankful for Sue and Charlie bringing each other peace and joy, and being Renesmee’s other set of grandparents). The rest of us, unencumbered by our usual entourage of fuzzy friends, mostly stayed inside to celebrate with our other halves (I’m thankful for the truce that keeps us safe from angry werewolves).
I say “mostly” – Carlisle, having taken the day off, went on a vampire-style picnic with Esme (I’m thankful for my amazing, wonderful, loving, supportive parents). No plates, glasses, or silverware needed; just animals to hunt, and a blanket to … rest … on afterward.
When I’d had my fill of celebration (I’m thankful for Jasper Whitlock, and having had more than half a century to somewhat get used to his beauty), I interrupted Emmett’s playtime and requested his presence in the living room. We had to set up the puppet show before Ness got back.
For those who don’t know about Punch and Judy, they’re just old hand puppets who crack jokes at each others expense and bonk each other on the head from time to time, within a small booth meant to be the stage. We just used one of the cardboard boxes from the jet-skis to make our booth, and then I hung the obligatory red curtains on each side of the “stage” opening (I’m thankful for leftover rags from Bella’s old wardrobe, if you can even call it that).
Our puppets were pretty awesome; I had painstakingly painted each of the “Indians” to resemble members of the wolf pack, including Jacob as Squanto (I’m thankful for Jacob’s well-timed imprinting on Renesmee, keeping her safe from those angry werewolves I already mentioned). The “pilgrims” included Carlisle as the leader, and the rest of my family as the other settlers.
I re-arranged the living room furniture in a semicircle around the puppet show, and waited for everyone to get back home.
Esme and Carlisle were first to return, and Esme, a beatific smile on her lovely face, immediately went to the kitchen to make another batch of pumpkin-raisin cookies (I knew they wouldn’t last an entire 24 hours). Carlisle came into the living room to see what was going on, and burst into laughter when he saw his mini-me puppet with its black and white pilgrim hat (I’m thankful for endless resources and my ability to predict stock market trends so we’ll always be able to do anything we want).
Rosalie sauntered down the stairs when it became clear that Emmett wasn’t coming back up, and draped herself over a white leather armchair. I smiled when I saw what she was wearing; it was an outfit we’d picked out together – a Burberry London plaid sheath with transparent Christian Louboutin pumps outlined in black zippers – and it kind of matched my outfit, a Chloe plaid minidress with Alexander McQueen crystal-studded pumps (I’m thankful for beautiful clothes, and beautiful family members to dress in those clothes).
Everyone else began to gather in the living room, too. While I waited for Bella, Edward, Ness and Jacob to arrive, I snuggled into Jasper’s lap and leaned my head against his broad shoulder, inhaling his unique scent. The rest of my family paired off, too, with even more smiles and PDA than usual (I’m thankful that all of the people I love have found their true loves, too).
FINALLY they showed up, and surprise, surprise, Jacob went straight to the huge platter of freshly baked cookies, despite having just consumed a massive Thanksgiving feast according to my spy Renesmee (I’m thankful for the sheer miracle of Renesmee). She showed me him piling food on his plate, emptying the plate in seconds, and going in for more, giggling as she replayed it for me. In my thankful, positive mood, I merely shook my head with a tolerant giggle, and bit back any insults I would normally have made.
After quickly brushing some dried leaf bits off Nessie’s wine-colored Prada velvet Mary Janes (if only they came in MY size!!), I beckoned to Emmett and we began the show.
“The First Thanksgiving,” we squeaked in unison (you can’t do a puppet show in your normal voice) from below the lip of the “stage.”
“On the first Thanksgiving,” Emmett began, using Jacob/ Squanto to narrate, “the pilgrims arrived in an unfamiliar land, with no idea how to survive the harsh winter.” Here, I made my Carlisle puppet and as many of the other “pilgrims” as I could clutch in my other hand “walk” into the scene. Jacob whooped with laughter when he saw the striking resemblance, and I heard Bella begin to giggle too.
“It’s so cold! Where are all the animals? What shall we eat?” I had my pilgrim-puppets say, jiggling each one to indicate the speaker.
“Don’t fear,” Carlisle-pilgrim replied, “with God’s will we shall find a way.” My imitation of Carlisle’s voice was so dead-on, the last half of his line was drowned out by laughter from the peanut gallery audience.
Just then, Jacob-Squanto came bobbing into the scene. “You must harvest the plants in order to survive,” he boomed out in Emmett’s imitation of a Native American accent (cringeworthy but still hilarious; I’m thankful for the fantastic sense of humor my family has).
“But how? What plants do we eat?” Carlisle-pilgrim asked seriously, as the other pilgrim puppets bobbed their heads and knocked into each other.
“I will show you,” Jacob-Squanto replied, spreading his puppet arms and smacking Carlisle-pilgrim in the face with his puppet fist. Our audience giggled obligingly.
The other “Indians” came into the scene, crashing into each other in their excitement as they threw dried corncobs at the pilgrims’ heads. “These are for eating!!!” Emmett made the Seth-Indian say in a high voice, to resounding laughter from Jacob and Ness.
“You can eat this, too!” the Leah-puppet yelled, throwing a small paper turkey at the Bella-pilgrim.
Finally, with much bumbling about and head-bonking, the pilgrims and Indians all “sat down” to a Thanksgiving feast.
“We are no longer hungry thanks to you,” declared the Carlisle-pilgrim, whacking Jacob-Squanto on his back. Emmett quickly threw a bit of dried corn to look like Jacob-Squanto choked it out.
“And we are glad to have new friends,” replied the Sam-puppet, “who will always remember our help and in their gratitude, will never do us harm.”
At this, my pilgrim puppets looked at each other rather exaggeratedly, knocking heads a few times, before the Alice-puppet replied, “I don’t see that happening!”
Amid laughter and applause, Emmett and I stood up and shouted, “The First Thanksgiving!”
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*NOTE TO READERS: This entry picks up right after the last one – so, this would be the Sunday following the last entry.
I’m really going to miss the cabin … I’ve always loved our setup in Washington, but the addition of a lake and some armored jet-skis has made this house even more fantastic than our true home.
I didn’t even mind the lack of bedroom space – or, more specifically, the bedrooms being contaminated by teenage werewolves. Jazz and I had hung out in the forest at night, or swam in the lake, or hunted in a nearby valley; it was a lot like being back at Whitlock Waterfall. I loved it.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end … at least for now. I’m sure we’ll return to the cabin pretty often in the next few centuries!
We had one last, massive water war yesterday. Esme and Carlisle very kindly offered their jet-skis to Embry and Jacob, and contented themselves with standing on the dock, watching and laughing. My careful game-planning had culminated in, basically, Calvinball; any player could invent, alter, or veto any rule at any time, Calvinball masks had to be worn (easily created with cut-up pillowcases), and penalties involving humiliation and song were assessed about every ten seconds.
Why Calvinball, you ask? Well, I love Calvin and Hobbes, and competition, and games … and really, we’re running out of new games to play!
So, despite the fact that Calvinball is meant to be spontaneous, inconsistent, and never played the same way twice, I had devised a little strategy. Or not so much a strategy as a pointless display of skill that would distract everyone long enough for Jasper to – oops, getting ahead of myself here!
Rose, Bella, Renesmee and I had been zipping around the lake, weaving in and out of each others wake, and I had casually suggested that we choreograph a little synchronized, um, jet-skiing – just for fun, you understand. Then when we were (ferociously, hysterically, and imaginatively) playing Calvinball, I innocently said, “Oh, you guys, remember what we were doing yesterday?”
They took my cue, like I knew they would, and right in the middle of the game we started carving figure eights around each other in the lake – distracting all the boys long enough for Jazz to zoom up between Edward and Emmett, reach an arm out to each side, and tip over their jet-skis.
It worked pretty well, if I do say so myself, especially since Jasper was my only co-conspirator; everyone else present was totally taken by surprise and laughed like crazy!
But, like I said, we couldn’t stay there forever. So today, we very sadly locked up our equipment and headed back to Forks. Leah and Embry opted to run the whole way home, but Jacob snored in the back of the Volvo while Ness attempted to braid his shaggy hair (it really needs a trim).
I will admit that it’s nice to be back in my own bedroom, and to have those guys back in their own houses … I know I’m getting used to them, and trying to be somewhat friendly and all, but ugh, the STENCH!
You know what Carlisle says? He thinks that the reason vampires and werewolves are physically repulsed by each others’ scents is so they won’t be tempted to mate – because, of course, our venom is poisonous to the wolves.
You know what I said to that? EWWW. What self-respecting vampire would be attracted to one of those overgrown mutts?!
Anyway. I’m only speaking of science because I know it’s about time to try getting past my block, again. Edward will try to surprise me with it again, because it’s what worked last time, and I did give him permission … I just shudder to even think about that horrid experiment. But I really do want to be able to see what those sneaky wolves will get up to in the future, so I’ll just have to be strong.
For now, I’m just going to enjoy the luxury of my private, non-dog-scented, bedroom – it shouldn’t take much effort to get Jasper to notice what I’m feeling right now!
I’ve told Jasper I’ll do my best to handle the torture training when Edward decides to kidnap him, but under one condition.
See, when we were doing ETW, we didn’t have a chance to get up to full speed – and Edward still couldn’t handle it. What a wimp!
Anyway, the two biggest weapons had gone unused that week, and I wanted to get back at him for what he was going to put me through again … plus, yeah, I was missing the fun of our cabin. But we’ve always managed to have lots of fun here at home, and everyone but Edward would get a kick out of this game.
Jasper: The mood controller. Me: The psychic. Oh, the possibilities! What a team we make!
However, I am very kindly waiting until after Edward and Carlisle have tortured me to their hearts’ content. Otherwise, it would just be cruel tricks for cruel tricks’ sake. (That was more Emmett’s style.)
In the meantime, I’m just going about my business. Which, right now, being the middle of November, means one thing: shopping!
“And how is that any different from the rest of the year?” Edward sniped as he watched my fingers fly over the keyboard. I was busy ordering the things I couldn’t buy within a 100-mile radius. I could easily go anywhere in the world and come back with gifts, but it would eat into the few weeks left before Christmas.
“Be nice,” Esme admonished gently, since I was too deeply absorbed by the computer screen to dignify Edward’s comment with a response.
“Alice, please tell me you’re not going to go overboard with the presents again,” Bella begged, looking up from the silent, one-way conversation she was having with Renesmee. “We literally just finished finding places for all of Renesmee’s birthday gifts, and plus? I’m pretty sure we now have everything that has ever been available to purchase, own, or create in the last millennium or so -”
“Bella, Bella,” Jacob interrupted, much to my surprise. He doesn’t often come to my defense. How strange. “You know you have more money than Bill Gates, right? Well, with great power comes great responsibility -”
Here Edward smoothly cut him off. “Bella’s not going to buy you a new Harley, Jacob,” were the words that broke Jacob’s heart.
Well, not really. The kid just laughed and went outside with Ness to inspect a hornet’s nest (poor insects don’t know what’s coming to them).
Anyway, my shopping has been coming along pretty well! I had the fantastic idea of giving Esme and Carlisle gifts from the years each was born, the year they met, and the year they married. I mean, gifts that are items that were made – ugh, you get what I mean.
So for Esme, I’ve found some really stunning jewelry. For the year she was born, I bought a Victorian triple-strand pearl necklace with diamond accents, made, of course, in 1895. It will look incredible on her for special occasions. And even though jewelry in 1921 was less extravagant because of the effects of the war, I still managed to find a beautifully designed silver and Marcasite necklace from that year.
Carlisle is a bit trickier; so far I’ve only managed to find him a 1921 pocket watch that I’m certain he’ll love. I’ve got to find more for him, though; the antique stores are really lacking items from 1640. I also haven’t found anything specific to 1911, the year Carlisle and Esme first met. At least I had that Esme perfume made for him … I had a vision of him at the hospital, some night that a bunch of kids were killed in a drunk driving accident, retreating to his office to agonize over what he could have done differently – and catching a whiff of Esme’s scent, and relaxing, and even smiling a little. So that was a good one.
That’s actually what inspired me to have a Renee perfume made for Bella. Ever since Renee’s visit, Jasper has been feeling Bella’s longing to have her mother around (well, that’s what he assumes she’s longing for, and I think he’s right). So I had a Renee scent created – kind of hard to do, since humans’ scent is based so much on their blood for us – and I plan to spritz a bit on that T-shirt quilt of hers and leave it on the couch on Christmas morning. Renesmee is going to sleep with that quilt every day for the next few years, so the Renee scent seems like a total Christmas gift win to me!
Emmett’s easy – I’m just updating his South Park DVD collection with some pirated episodes from this season, too. I’m sure Rosalie won’t thank me for it, but Emmett (… and I, and Jacob, and Seth, and Embry, and Quil) will really enjoy it.
I’m still looking for the perfect gift for everyone else. Of course I will be supplementing their wardrobes with new styles, as always, but I like to find more meaningful gifts as well. Like for Jasper – I found this old book documenting some battles in the Civil War, and “Major Jasper Whitlock” appears in it several times! He’s going to love it, I’m so happy every time I think about it.
There’s an antique store in Bellevue that I haven’t visited yet, and their website is almost never updated, so I think I’ll check them out tomorrow. With any luck, I’ll find something for Carlisle while I’m there.
I have found the culprit.
Edward has been cooperating with me in the investigation of who is blocking the vision of the ballet recital, but we weren’t having much luck still. It was kind of difficult to hear people thinking about a ballet recital that was still a secret from everyone but me, Edward, Jasper, and Jacob.
It was difficult … until Jacob ran into Sam on the reservation. And then it all became clear.
We were at home, relaxing – some of us watching TV, others playing Apples to Apples (best game EVER, if only I was allowed to play), and others (me and Esme) working on Christmas decorations. Suddenly, Edward’s head snapped up and he exhaled in a hiss, meeting my eyes with a shocked, angry look that instantly filled me with tension.
Jasper, probably being bombarded with all kinds of unpleasant emotions, began to push out waves of calm as I stared inquiringly at Edward. Why was he looking straight at me? I couldn’t see anything in the near future to make him look that way …
Thudding footsteps approached the house at a rapid pace, and then we all heard that weird sort of shimmer as Jacob turned back into a human and quickly yanked on his shorts. (I really wish those guys would carry underwear around, too … or wear longer shorts.)
Edward was on his feet with a menacing glare aimed at the door which Jacob came rushing through a second later.
“Who does he think he is?!” Edward spat out, fists balled at his sides.
Jacob slowed a few feet away and held up his hands defensively as we all watched in fascination. “Hey, I swear I had nothing to do with it,” he began to explain nervously.
“No, no, of course,” Edward agreed. “You were only thinking about something that is supposed to be a secret, within the hearing range of the alpha of another pack. How could that possibly be construed as your fault?”
Jacob drew in a deep breath, then exhaled in a loud, smelly sigh, his eyes darting toward me before he turned back to Edward. I was beginning to get a feeling about what was going on.
“You know we don’t normally hear each others thoughts unless we’re trying to ‘speak’ to each other,” Jacob said in a placating tone. “And anyway, how should I know Sam would flip out like that? I mean, if Alice couldn’t see it coming, how -”
“Hey!” I burst out, more sharply than I’d intended. “Leave me out of your excuses. What happened?”
“Yes, I’d like to know that as well,” Carlisle assented in a quiet but authoritative tone.
“Well … I was just heading home to bed, and I guess I was so tired that my mind was kinda just wandering -”
“There’s something new,” Rosalie muttered under her breath.
“So all of a sudden, Sam comes racing over to me out of nowhere, and starts yelling at me in my mind! I mean, it was crazy – one minute I’m almost home, the next, Sam is giving me this death-glare and shouting into my head -”
“Less elaboration, more facts, please,” Jasper politely requested, with a homicidal expression that didn’t quite match his tone, as I stood fuming at his side. I knew where this was going.
“He-doesn’t-want-you-to-have-the-ballet-thing,” Jacob rushed through the words, grimacing as he saw the look on my face.
“And why not?” Jasper pressed, while most of the people in the room stood looking confused. Damn. There goes the surprise …
“Sam thinks we already attract too much attention, evidently,” Edward cut in, sounding absolutely disgusted. “He thinks the birthday party was way too huge and ostentatious …” Here, Bella couldn’t help sending me a pointed look which I ignored in a futile attempt to keep myself from exploding with rage.
“He didn’t know it was going to be such a massive event,” Jacob explained miserably. Renesmee’s eyes were huge, and very expressive. I didn’t need Jasper’s skill to tell me that she felt guilty already. Damn you, Sam Uley!
“So he’s determined to keep you from putting on this recital; he feels it will be too dangerous, knowing your propensity for making things grander than they need to be, and he suspects that people may be talking about that party already,” Edward finished.
All eyes were on me now, as it was evident that this was my idea being trashed. I stood completely motionless, willing myself not to tackle and shred Jacob. That would almost definitely upset Renesmee, and start a war too …
“It isn’t entirely Jacob’s fault, Alice,” Edward murmured, which had Jacob edging backwards away from me. “Really, there was no hint that Sam might feel that way; in fact, it’s most likely my own fault for not detecting his thoughts at the party.”
Esme and I both were shaking our heads at that. No, it wasn’t Edward’s fault. And if I wasn’t allowed to blame Jacob, either, that left me …
“Sam,” I growled, rage drowning out my family’s attempts to soothe me as I pictured his stupid face telling me what I was and was not allowed to do. Are you kidding me?! WHO DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?!
“Alice!” Bella cried, shaking me a little harder than necessary. I snapped back to reality and realized that I had been snarling out loud. Oops.
“We’ll take care of this,” Edward assured me grimly. Carlisle nodded thoughtfully, probably already working on his speech.
Between all of them, they managed to keep me from going after that arrogant mutt and ripping out his throat with my bare hands. It was too late for the pinecones, though – I had destroyed several of the best ones in my blind rage.
I’ll let you know what happens.
Sam Uley will be allowed to live – for now.
Edward, Jacob, Bella, and Carlisle met up with him in neutral territory and they all had a cozy little chat. Edward informed Sam that if anyone had heard or noticed anything the day of the party, he would have heard it. Carlisle talked about the importance of compromise in this strange truce of ours. Bella and Jacob appealed to Sam’s cold hard heart by talking about how much Renesmee now wanted to have this dance recital, since the surprise had been ruined and she found out the worst possible way.
I guess, with a minimum of threats, they managed to convince Sam that everything would be fine. Jacob was foolish enough to suggest that I keep things simple just in case, and luckily for him, he was fast enough to avoid my fist.
With that somewhat settled, I could finally see the rehearsals, costumes, and stage in my visions. Since the surprise was already ruined once, I won’t bother keeping you in suspense. It will be the classic Nutcracker, and we will perform on Christmas Eve. This does not give me a whole lot of time to get everything done!
“Over there,” I ordered, pointing to the part of the clearing that would be illuminated by spotlights and the setting sun. Jacob obediently hauled the planks over to where I had traced out the basic shape of the stage.
Esme was consulting her blueprints and directing Emmett and Edward in the first stage we’ve ever built. It’s not that hard, really, except that everything has to be PERFECT! Or else!
I ran a hand through my short spikes of hair, totally overwhelmed by my own list of things to do by Christmas. I still wasn’t even done Christmas shopping, and it was nearly December!
“Practice time,” Bella called out as she ran toward the clearing with Renesmee at her side. I dropped my clipboard and took a few huge leaps toward our designated practice area; a spot where I could still supervise the building, without being so close that their conversation would overpower the music.
Nessie, Rosalie and Bella were lined up on the dance floor from the birthday party – what a practical investment that turned out to be! – patiently awaiting my instructions. I paused to slip out of my Manolos and into my ballet slippers before turning on the stereo.
Today, we were working on some of the candy dances – better known to some as No. 12, Divertissement. The most difficult part about this entire show was that each of us would have to dash offstage and change costumes so often. The dancing itself was not difficult at all.
My attention was diverted, however, by a conversation from the other side of the clearing. The other day, Nessie had been listening to Seth chattering away about Thanksgiving, a holiday that, for obvious reasons, is not fully celebrated in the Cullen household. She had then showed Jacob a scene that involved Esme cooking a massive Thanksgiving feast for all the wolves and their families, right in our house.
Yuck! Can you imagine the stench? That would be it – we’d never get the place smelling normal again! It was hard enough after the Halloween party!
Anyway, Jacob had struggled not to instantly promise Renesmee that he’d make it happen. We all know he finds it impossible to outright deny her things … certain incidents come to mind, but this is not the time or place to reminisce about Jacob’s lack of judgment; at any rate, Jacob had gone home to tentatively feel out his family and friends regarding Thanksgiving at the Cullen house.
Yeah, they weren’t any more excited about it than I was. I could hear Jacob explaining to Edward in a low voice so Nessie wouldn’t hear.
“It would almost be seen as an insult, you know?” he muttered, shooting a furtive glance our way to make sure Renesmee couldn’t hear.
“I see,” Edward replied, accurately as ever. He did see, through Jacob’s thoughts. “However … has it occurred to you that, er, the cost …?”
Jacob shook his head ruefully. “Even if none of us had a single penny to spend, we’d still find a way to do Thanksgiving ourselves,” he explained. “I mean, I’d love to save my dad and Sue that money, but … well, they’re proud, I guess,” he finished.
“That’s all right,” Esme piped up. “I would have loved to have them as our guests” – that makes one of us! – “but I completely understand wanting to be with family in the traditional way.”
“Especially for Seth and Leah,” Edward speculated. “They already will be thinking of the difference between Thanksgiving with their father, and Thanksgiving -”
” – with Charlie,” Jacob laughed. “Hey, it doesn’t seem so bad to me, but yeah. I get it, too.”
Thank heavens. One less thing to plan and decorate for. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like me at all! The holidays are finally getting to me, after so many years of handling them with ease; I think I’m getting way too perfectionistic (is that not a word?) about the ballet recital.
Oh god, Jacob just dropped something heavy. I better go make sure my stage isn’t completely ruined!!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Duh.
In our house, Thanksgiving doesn’t involve turkey, pumpkin pie, or apple cider. But it does involve family togetherness … which will, unfortunately, include Jacob tomorrow night, once his own family’s dinner is over.
I didn’t even bother decorating for Thanksgiving, just skipped straight over it to Christmas. But Esme blithely whipped up a batch of pumpkin-raisin cookies, filling the house with a not unpleasant scent of spices. I have a sinking feeling they’ll be gone before tomorrow, but I won’t spoil her fun; she could make more, anyway.
Renesmee will be going to Thanksgiving at Sue’s, with Charlie, Jacob, Billy, Rachel, and Leah and Seth of course. I don’t envy her, since she won’t enjoy any of the food she’ll have to eat.
But Emmett and I have thrown together a little last-minute Punch and Judy-type skit of The First Thanksgiving for Nessie’s entertainment (I know, I already have my hands full – but now one of them will have a puppet on it). And as usual, we’ll all gather in the living room with a cozy but completely unnecessary fire burning, and just enjoy our blessings.
There really is quite a lot to be thankful for … and not even including material things – “everything that has ever been available to purchase, own, or create in the last millennium,” according to Bella – but just life in general.
We have each other.
We have all of eternity to be with each other.
We each have our true love at our side.
We have good friends, who used to be enemies.
We have protection against the Volturi.
And most importantly of all, we have impeccable fashion sense. Hahaha, just kidding – that’s not the most important one on the list … maybe just #2.
I’ll let you know how Thanksgiving went on Friday.
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Werewolves and vampires just should not picnic together.
Rosalie and I had been out hunting the night before. We had to go a few hours away to find enough animals to – you know, satiate ourselves. On the way back I saw a lot of squirrels and thought idly about gathering them to give to the dogs for Christmas … but no, it wouldn’t be worth the effort, even though it would be hilarious!
When we got close to the house, Rosalie slowed, and I almost bumped into her because I was still imagining squirrels and wrapping paper.
“Hold your breath,” Jasper called from inside the house. This made me very curious, so naturally, I inhaled deeply.
Ugh! Something smelled like sulfur. I gagged a bit, then belatedly followed Jazz’s excellent advice, and held my breath as I sped to the source of the smell.
In the open, airy kitchen, Esme was frowning dubiously at some grayish-white slabs of what appeared to be poultry, while Bella grinned and Nessie giggled. Poor girl – she couldn’t hold her breath!
“Are you sure that’s right?” Esme asked, slicing into one of the white slabs and peering at its innards.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Bella laughed, as she chopped celery at the speed of light. “It always smells really bad like that. Boiling chicken is never fun even for humans – but I promise they’ll love it,” she assured Esme, who still looked doubtful.
“But if it smells bad to them, too, how could it taste good?” she wondered, swiftly cubing the pale meat.
“It won’t smell once it’s all assembled, and away from the stove,” Bella replied confidently, reaching for a jar of cashews.
I opened my mouth to make a witty retort – then tasted the stench in my mouth, and closed it again with an audible snap. Gross!
“Chicken salad on croissants,” Edward answered someone’s silent question. “If Bella says it will taste good, then I’m sure it’ll be delicious.”
“If you say so,” Emmett scoffed, edging away from the kitchen. He was supposed to be the pack mule, evidently; he held several coolers that smelled like ice and aluminum. (Yes, ice has a smell!)
“Why can’t they just cook for themselves, since they’re the only ones who eat this crap anyway?” Rose bitched, hovering in the living room (I’d guess she was trying to keep the smell from soaking into her hair; but I’m not Edward, so I can’t say for sure).
“It’s not crap, Rosalie,” Edward responded in a tone that could have frozen vodka. (I’m told vodka doesn’t freeze.)
“I don’t mind cooking for them,” Esme said mildly, handing Carlisle the assembled sandwiches in their container. “They work so hard, and I’m afraid they never get enough rest.”
“Psh!” Emmett shook his head and laughed. “All these guys ever do is sleep! That and get bossed around by their dictator. I’m tellin’ you, if I was one of them, I’d slit my wrists and stand in the middle of Volterra so -”
Edward interrupted what was likely to be a long, strange stream-of-consciousness ramble from Emmett. “I believe the wolves are ready to go,” he informed us, gently taking the padded canvas bag of dishes from Esme, who smiled up at him in admiration.
So we all began the hike to the mountaintop. Well, not so much a hike as a slow jog for us, and a fast run for the wolves, who were not in their wolf forms for this occasion.
Renesmee was chattering excitedly to anyone who would listen (basically, everyone but Leah) about this little stream her and Jacob had found over there, and that big eagle’s nest way up there that we could climb up to, but the momma eagle wouldn’t like it, because when Jacob did it she tried to peck his eyes out, and –
“Here we are,” Leah sighed in a relieved tone.
Esme unfurled the king-sized comforter that she had brought as a picnic blanket and Edward immediately began to lay out the plates, silverware, and napkins. I stood a few feet away and wondered what I was supposed to do.
“Whatever you want,” Edward answered, sitting back as Jacob, Leah, and Embry began to wolf down the food (ha – get it? Get it? Okay, that was a bad pun).
Okaaaaaaaaay … Glancing around, I saw that Rose and Emmett were ignoring the humans completely and made their way to the cliff edge that formed one side of the clearing. They were having a very interesting conversation.
“It would still hurt,” Rosalie speculated, leaning out to see the drop.
“Naw, it’d be like swimming in whipped cream,” Emmett replied, grinning that cocky grin of his.
“Please don’t dive off the mountain, Emmett,” Esme said calmly, serving the humans their sugary beverages.
“But it wouldn’t even hurt! It’d just leave a mark on the mountain,” he chortled, letting his laughter echo back at him.
“Let’s not disturb the wildlife too much,” Edward replied drily, as clouds of startled birds rose from their perches and flew up, squawking, into the sky.
I was busily assessing his outfit – it was just some old jeans and an Ed Hardy t-shirt that I would love to have destroyed, so I was totally on his side. Jumping off the mountaintop wouldn’t do any harm – except to that god-awful shirt!
Jasper had drifted closer to the picnickers, probably to enjoy the satisfaction they must be feeling, since every single trace of food had been consumed. With one brief, longing look back at Emmett’s shirt, I sighed and turned to join the group.
Jacob was lying on his back, with his arms behind his head, gazing dreamily up at the cloudy sky, as Nessie built a Gulliver-type net of twigs across his torso. I approved of the general concept of tying the guy to the mountaintop, but I didn’t think it was going to work.
“Be nice,” Edward murmured, his eyes on the flower he was twirling in his hands, so no one could tell who he was talking to. Well, he was probably responding to more than just my thoughts anyway!
He stifled a chuckle, and I knew that – as usual – I was right.
“So now what?” Leah asked in her typical blunt way, scowling at Bella when Embry enthusiastically asked her to share the chicken salad recipe. Odd. They must have thought it tasted good.
“Now we relax,” Carlisle replied in his authoritative, yet still gentle, voice. Leah huffed and looked around like a trapped animal. Like the trapped animal she was, really.
Slight awkwardness ensued, until the conversation got going. Then the time passed more quickly, and when Jacob began to snore loudly, we decided it was time to go back to the house.
I swear, I don’t get this whole picnic thing. You go far away to eat your food – I’m used to that part, but then you hang around chatting when you’re done? I don’t see the appeal. We could have been chatting on our jet-skis instead.
Oh well, it was what Renesmee wanted, and nobody could ever say no to her! That reminds me … when we get back, I have some sleuthing to do. Edward still hasn’t picked up anything that would make it seem like someone wouldn’t want their to be a ballet recital, so it’s probably somebody back home, and I need to find out, like, yesterday. Costumes don’t just grow on trees, you know!
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We’re just waiting on Carlisle to get home from work (37 more minutes to go) and then we’re off to the cabin!
With holiday madness approaching, there will be fewer opportunities to get up there, so we’ve all cleared our schedules … okay, Carlisle’s the only one with a schedule, but you know … and agreed to go this week. Then we probably won’t be able to come back until after the New Year; at least, I can’t see any visits happening until then.
The jetskis are loaded up, I’ve packed everyone’s bags, and everything is ready to go. So until Carlisle gets here …
“Jazz?” I whispered, pressing myself against his shoulder as he lay reading the instructions to the water cannon. Jasper looked down at me fondly and tossed the pamphlet aside.
“Yes, Miz Alice?” he murmured, setting his cheek against my hair.
I paused, then sighed heavily, allowing the thought of Renesmee’s ballet recital being thwarted to take over my mind. Renesmee would love to be prima ballerina … it wasn’t right for someone to get in the way … I imagined her little face, her chin trembling as some invisible person told her “No.”
That seemed to do the trick. Jasper jerked his head up, startled. Okay, so I don’t usually curl up next to him in bed and immediately become sad.
“What’s wrong?” he worried, turning his head at an awkward angle to try to see my face. Oops. He was worrying that he had done something wrong.
As the kids say, LOL! That could never happen. I was quick to reassure him, though. “It’s nothing – nothing you’ve done …” Once again, the thought of somebody standing in the way of the recital filled me with emotion. Only this time, it was anger.
“Well now, who has made the colossal mistake of getting in your way?” Jasper wondered, sounding faintly amused as he absorbed my feelings.
“Oh … it’s nothing,” I replied sadly, trying not to let his sweet scent distract me. “Nothing that has happened yet, at least.”
“Why don’t you tell me?” Jazz suggested gently, not prying, just offering himself to me with open arms.
God, how I love him. “It’s just … I think Renesmee wants to have a ballet recital and do Swan Lake for all of us but somebody doesn’t want to let it happen,” I wailed, catching myself off guard with the depth of my emotion. I was genuinely upset; who could deny our little girl what she wanted? Was it so much to ask? No!
“What?” Jazz sounded taken aback. Then his tone hardened. “You mean some person is going to tell Renesmee she can’t have her dance show?” The steel in his voice reminded me of the battles we’d been through – the battles we’d won – and I shivered. It was a damn good thing he stood by my side, because I wouldn’t want to oppose him in a fight.
Ha, crazy thought. Anyway … “That’s what it looks like,” I confirmed sorrowfully.
“Who would do such a thing?” he growled, sounding ferocious and strong. His fist tensed on his stomach, and I reached to put my hand over his.
“We’ll find out soon enough … and take care of it,” I promised him grimly. He met my eyes and nodded, promising me back.
“Anything I can do,” he swore fervently. I perked right up!
“Anything?” I asked sweetly, gazing into his eyes.
Jazz looked determined and distracted, but he managed to respond, “Anything, of course, Alice.”
“Well,” I chirped happily, “there is something you could do!”
Jasper took in my suddenly changed mood and his mouth began to twitch in one corner as he stared back at me. As his eyes narrowed, I grinned unrepentantly at him.
“You love Renesmee, don’t you?” I reminded him. He groaned and rolled his eyes.
“Why do I have this feeling I’m going to regret saying yes?” he chuckled, shaking his head. He sighed and told me, “Of course I do. And I love you. And anything you want …” His voice trailed off as he gazed apprehensively at me.
“So then you’ll help us with the recital?” I asked excitedly, sitting up on the bed.
“Well, yes,” he agreed, confused. “Didn’t I already say that I would?”
“So you’ll be our male lead?” I squealed, beginning to bounce on the mattress. Jasper’s mouth dropped open in a comical expression that had me giggling straight away.
“I – what?” Jazz gasped, sounding horrified. He groaned and threw his arm over his eyes.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes,” I chanted madly, tugging at his arm. “Yes! Jazz, it’s going to be amazing! You’ll be great! And Nessie is going to love it!”
With one final groan, Jasper sat up slowly and met my eyes, with a wry twist to his mouth. “You tricked me, Mary Alice,” he declared dramatically, heaving a great sigh.
I smiled innocently into his sweet face, knowing his answer already, of course. But I let him say the words anyway.
“All right, all right,” he said, flopping back down onto the pillows with a resigned sigh. “I’ll do it for you and for Renesmee. Gosh, it’s a good thing I love you, you terrifying little monster,” he grumbled in mock anger, grabbing me by the shoulders and yanking me down to him.
I giggled and flashed my sparkling teeth at him in response. “As I love you, Jasper,” I sing-songed, batting my eyelashes at him in the picture of innocence.
Yay – Carlisle is home! And Jasper’s on board! Now all I have to do is find out who is blocking my vision, and I can enjoy this week at the cabin!
I will, of course, write soon to tell about our vacation,
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Today was one of Renesmee’s and my ballet-practice days. We met in Edward’s old room at the appointed hour, where the end half of the room had been converted to a mini-studio complete with professional barre. Esme and I had figured Edward wouldn’t feel at all anxious if we practiced in his own room, and so far it seemed to be just fine. Of course, we had also kept it to a bare minimum, as I’d promised we would; just wood floors, the barre, and mirror behind the whole length of the barre. Since the other two walls were entirely made of glass, there was plenty of light, and it felt much more open and larger than it actually was.
We did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself! And it was so convenient to have Edward’s stereo and entire music collection right there in the same room. So I’d had to move a few piles of books – so what? We had a huge library made specifically to store books. What I had done in Edward’s room was an improvement.
Okay, so maybe I hadn’t gotten a written thank-you note for transforming his old bedroom. Maybe he rolled his eyes a little when he saw it. But not much more than he usually does, anyway.
Whatever. Ness and I were having a blast! Because she was already so skilled, and probably had been born with these abilities, we didn’t practice the normal way – you know, plies and form and posture … she had that down flat. Instead, we had agreed to perform a different ballet each practice. So far, Renesmee liked Sleeping Beauty the best, but there were still plenty for us to do.
Today, we were doing Coppelia, which was making Nessie and I both giggle as she acted out Coppelia’s exaggerated stiff doll movements, gradually loosening into her own graceful twirls as the story progressed. It wasn’t quite as amazing as the full ballet would have been, since I could only play so many roles – Dr. Coppelius and Franz – while Ness played Coppelia and Swanilda. But then again, it was only practice.
Within the first four minutes, Rosalie wandered casually into the room, silently observed us for a moment, and then drifted over to Edward’s leather sofa and sat down. She curled up on the arm closer to us, and tried to look bored, twirling her hair with one hand.
Then Esme, who had stopped working as soon as she heard Renesmee and I both go into Edward’s room, decided to leave her own room and come walking down the hallway. She carried a book of wallpaper swatches, which she abandoned as soon as she joined Rose on the sofa.
Finally, Bella stopped pretending to watch TV downstairs, and came up to join the audience. There was just barely room for all three of them on the couch, so they gave up on the pretense of having other reasons to be in the room, and unabashedly watched our every move.
Having an audience made Renesmee’s eyes sparkle and her moves even more inspired. It led me to think about human experiences. What do all little girls want? To be prima ballerina, right? Why else do they all go to ballet class (and then drop out once they realize how insanely demanding it is)?
In a handful of years, Renesmee would be an adult. Would she still love to dance? Actually, she probably would, given her level of talent and passion. It’s not like ballet would ruin her legs and feet, cripple her back, or give her an eating disorder the way it did to so many human girls. She would be able to enjoy it for hundreds of years, if she chose to.
But not as a little girl, without a care in the world aside from happiness and fun. A girl who, it seemed more and more every day, loved to make other people feel happy even more than she loved to be made happy herself.
The idea blossomed into a plan. We would have a recital, with Edward at the piano, and Rosalie, Esme, Bella and I as the corps. It would be great to have a male lead or two, but I just could not imagine Jasper agreeing to it. He loves me – but that’s asking a bit much!
Although, for Renesmee … see, it’s so funny: the girl who wants to make everyone else happy ends up with them wrapped around her little finger, lining up for turns to make her happy. Jazz might agree to this for Nessie. But for some reason I couldn’t see it!
There was something blocking the recital. Maybe someone … But who wouldn’t want this to happen? It definitely wasn’t just the involvement of the wolves, who would definitely be in attendance; I should still be able to see the preparations, the rehearsals …
Well, there was still some time to figure it out, assuming Ness wanted to do The Nutcracker at Christmas. If she preferred, we could wait til Valentine’s Day and do Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or even Swan Lake.
But in the meantime …
“Hey, guys?” I abruptly turned to face the looky-loos, who blinked up at me in surprise, as I was interrupting my own practice.
“Want to join us?”
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