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!
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!”
*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.
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!
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,
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.
Things are getting to be so friendly between the wolves and my family. The birthday party … the Halloween party … the constant presence of at least one of them in our kitchen … Even Leah is warming up to us.
Today, she came slinking into the kitchen where I was sitting at the island, chatting with Esme as she baked cookies for the dogs. Since Leah isn’t usually tempted by the treats Esme keeps on hand for the pack, I watched her curiously as she crept closer to us, her eyes narrowed to slits and an expression of extreme discomfort on her face.
But hey, it was an improvement over not coming into the house at all … right? I didn’t want to disappoint Esme by being less than gracious, so as soon as she finished welcoming Leah and offering her some of the warm cookies (which were declined, as always), I greeted Leah myself.
“Yes. Hello,” Leah muttered stiffly, her arms tightly folded across her chest. I watched as her gaze skipped over to the pile of perfectly-shaped cookies, then shot back to me. Leah sucked in a deep breath, wrinkled her nose in disgust, and sighed without vocalizing whatever was on her mind.
“Is anything wrong, dear?” Esme inquired with sincere concern in her loving voice. How she could love this particular person was beyond me, but that was Esme’s gift.
Leah’s mouth twisted and she glanced at me again. Shifting her weight from foot to foot, she uncrossed her arms and roughly rubbed at her close-cropped glossy black hair. I watched her fidget with interest. This looked promising! Maybe she wanted my fashion expertise …
I should have known better. “I need your hel- advice,” Leah blurted out, rushing through the words with distaste. “I need to know something about the future.”
“Oh,” I said, taken aback. Leah wanted to know about her future? Didn’t she know I couldn’t see that?
“Not my – it’s not about me, exactly,” she continued. “Um, I need to …” Once again, her voice trailed off and she looked like she wished to be anywhere but here.
Esme and I leaned a tiny bit closer as if we could force the words out of her. Leah glared at me and growled, “Look, I just want to know if she’ll get upset, all right? I want to give her a portrait of our family from … before, but I need to know if it will upset her. Those framing places take forever and I have to place the order soon.” She said it defiantly, as if she thought I was going to laugh at her.
Well, I wasn’t! It was very sweet of Leah to want her mom, I assumed that was who she meant, to not be upset by a picture of the four of them from before Harry died.
But, before I could tell Leah that, she added, “I don’t know if you can even see her, since she’s the mother of two wolves …” That angry twist pulled her mouth out of shape again.
Could I see Sue? I supposed I had never really tried. There was that time she had surprised me by accompanying Charlie to our house – but no, I had seen her before in my visions. Of course I could.
“Okay, I’ll try,” I promised Leah, “but I’m not sure if it’ll work, since your decision is the one affecting her future.” Leah sniffed and turned her gaze to the window.
Ignoring her, I closed my eyes and began searching. I felt my way past Thanksgiving and reached toward Christmas, doing my best to ignore the many fascinating things that wanted to get my attention. Not everyone had decided what they were giving as gifts yet, but quite a few decisions had been made, and they tugged at my mind, demanding attention.
Shoving those intriguing thoughts aside, I vowed to look again the next time I had a chance, but for now I had to focus. I could just barely make out Sue at her house. But Leah and Seth came into the room, and she disappeared. Okay, so I couldn’t see her opening the gift. But maybe I could find her looking at it when they weren’t there …
Finally, I let out the breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding with a whoosh of air, and turned to look more closely at Leah. I could understand now why Edward and Esme found her interesting.
“You’re giving her more than one picture,” I stated confidently, which made Leah glare back at me. In a softer tone, I continued, “She’ll love them both … it’s very thoughtful of you.”
“She’s lucky to have you as her daughter,” Esme smiled, gazing fondly at Leah, who was trying to back out of the kitchen now that she had the information she wanted. “She’s very proud of you, you know.”
“Yeah, whatever, okay,” Leah began mumbling, making her escape. On her way out, she tossed a grudging “Thanks” over her shoulder at me.
You’re lucky to have her as your mother. The thought entered my mind without warning, and instantly I felt a flash of guilt that I could even think such a thing with Esme, the most wonderful mother anyone could ask for, standing beside me.
I looked up at her, and saw only goodness and love. I was on my feet and had my arms around her before she saw me coming, and she let out a startled laugh as I hugged her fiercely. A terrible thought had entered my mind. What if dear, kind Esme, so sensitive to everyone’s feelings and needs, had sensed how I had been feeling lately? What if I was hurting her by pining for the woman I didn’t remember while Esme did her best to mother me here and now?
“I love you,” I whispered forcefully, squeezing her tight. Esme made a soft sound and patted my head gently.
“And I love you, dear one,” she murmured tenderly, surprised but pleased.
Just as suddenly as I had grabbed her, I let her go. I had to find Edward and make him tell me what Esme had been thinking about me lately.
It sounded like he was still outside with Bella and Renesmee, so I dashed out the front door. Sure enough, there they all were, laughing and playing, joyous and carefree. Much as I hated to disturb my brother in his well-deserved moment of family bliss, I needed to know.
Edward! I cried in my mind. As he glanced over at me in surprise, I ran through the events of the last hour in my head and concluded by mentally asking him, What does she think?
“I don’t know,” the wrong voice murmured in response. I tore my desperate gaze from Edward’s face to find Renesmee staring worriedly at me, with her tiny hand on Bella’s cheek. Bella was watching us, too.
“What’s wrong?” Nessie fretted, her big brown eyes wide with concern.
“It’s nothing, Ness,” I lied swiftly, smiling at her convincingly (I hoped). Edward?
“Truly, there’s nothing wrong,” Edward assented, with a meaningful look. Turning back to Renesmee, he continued, “Your silly aunt was just overreacting to something, as usual. She should know by now that nothing could possibly go wrong, with all the hard work she puts into making things perfect.”
His serene stare calmed me. Edward doesn’t lie to me, or hide things from me. If I had done Esme wrong, he would let me know.
But just in case, I vowed not to let myself think or talk about it any more. I have a mother now, and there is no need to dwell on the past.
Okay, so maybe I overreacted just a bit. Okay Edward, very funny, maybe more than just a bit. But it is so hard for me to have Jasper out of my sight for even a few minutes, and to surprise me with it like that – ugh. I can’t even think about it.
But … it worked. So it looks like I’ll have to relive the experience a few more times (unless I magically perfect my skills the very next time, hoping hoping hoping)!
Not for a while though. Carlisle and Edward were moping around the house like angels cast down from heaven until I forgave them, and they promised me we wouldn’t try again until I was ready.
So for now I’m off the hook from experimenting, and I have to admit I’ve been sort of clingy with Jazz ever since that horrid day. (He doesn’t seem to mind, though.) I’m ashamed to admit that my wrath even extended to Emmett for having unintentionally inspired the torture experiment … that is, until he gave me puppy dog eyes and a massive, bone-crushing hug. He was so strong, my newborn-fighting instincts started to kick in a little, and then I was the one apologizing to him, and, well, we’re all good now.
Which brings me to yesterday. Having forgiven Emmett and remembered the vision I had shortly before … you know what, I was fully prepared for the day’s events. I was waiting outside his and Rosalie’s bedroom when he snuck out around 4:30 AM.
“Aw, hey, you’re helping me?” he whispered excitedly, eying my all-black outfit and painted black face. (Sure, anyone in this household could still spot me a mile away, but it was fun!)
I rolled my eyes and shot back, “Like you could pull this thing off without me?”
“Hey now,” he protested, still in a rough whisper as we bounded down the stairs, “whose freaking awesome idea was this anyway?”
“Yes, but there are just a few areas you failed to cover,” I informed him sweetly as we arrived at the massive truck parked a few miles down the highway. “I saw the whole setup before the wolves are due to arrive, and I have some improvements on it.”
“Whatever, as long as it’s still hilarious,” Emmett muttered dismissively, grabbing two giant trampolines in each hand and carefully spinning back toward the house.
“Oh, it’s going to be even better, believe me,” I assured him from behind my load of trampolines.
“Sweet!” he chortled, stopping to give me a high-five. We both juggled our trampolines for a second before our hands could meet. This began what was to be an entire day of laughter.
As quietly as possible, we raced back and forth between the truck and the house, carefully placing each trampoline according to the diagram inside my head. The estimated 30 minute assembly time per trampoline was cut down to 3 seconds, thanks to vampire speed. Once they were all in place, I led Emmett to my own stash of items prepared for this day – I had first caught a glimpse of it even before Renee was slated to visit, so I had plenty of time to stock up. Emmett grumbled when I refused to allow power tools, but it was crucial to not wake up Renesmee or Seth before we were ready.
By the time we were done, Jazz and Rosalie were standing on the porch, shaking with the laughter they struggled to keep silent. I had to admit, it was a brilliant idea from Emmett, the prankster.
“Are we ready?” I whispered urgently, as padded footsteps thundered toward us.
“Ready!” Emmett mouthed, bouncing on his heels with a mile-wide grin as Jacob neared the yard.
Round one, I thought gleefully, as Jacob-the-wolf skidded to a halt a few feet from our setup. Jasper elbowed me, and I glanced up to see his face contorted with amusement as he felt the confusion rolling off Jacob when he saw what we had done.
Emmett’s idea was to build a moat of trampolines around the entire house. Don’t ask me how he came up with it, something to do with the bouncy houses maybe, I don’t know. But he had bought dozens of hexagonal 12-foot trampolines, which we arranged around the house in a honeycomb pattern, with no gaps between each one. Trampoline moat!
What Emmett hadn’t thought of was the possibility of sneaking under the trampolines, which was where I came in. I had purchased gym mats – you know, those bright blue, 5 foot deep pads – which we had used to line each exposed border of trampoline around the base.
There was only one way to get to the house.
As we watched Jacob come to that conclusion, I thought my lungs would explode from trying to muffle my gasping laughter. I hadn’t been able to see his reaction, of course, but I had imagined it – and this was about a million times better than I could have hoped!
He growled low in his throat, a disgusted sound to match the prissy pose he assumed, with his paws firmly set on the ground and his nose in the air. Edward was not yet there to translate, but I was pretty sure the dog was thinking, No way in hell.
But it was time for Seth to wake up! Leah came racing to the house from the same direction as Jacob, and skidded out in exactly the same way as she did a double-take. Her yellow eyes narrowed to slits as she assessed the situation, and came to a decision.
Threading through the trees to where Seth was snoring away in his hammock, Leah poked her wet nose into his back and barked at him.
Immediately, Seth woke up flailing his arms, and before you could say “HAHAHAHAHA” he had gotten himself tangled in the hammock. Now that he was up, we didn’t have to be quiet, thank goodness – the four of us on the porch were paralyzed with the force of our hysterical laughter.
Dangling upside-down in the net, Seth stared at the blue gym mat just a few feet away from his face. “Whass goin’ on?” he mumbled, sounding sleepy and disoriented. Leah snorted as her little brother squirmed until he fell out of the twisted hammock and onto the ground with a dull thunk.
Bouncing back up, Seth took in the sight before him with his mouth hanging open. Unlike his packmates, though, his reaction was one of awe and excitement.
“COOL!” he hollered at the top of his lungs, yanking at his left foot to get his shoes off. As he hopped in place, Leah swiped at him with her huge paw and knocked him off balance.
I swear that kid’s made of rubber – he bounced right back up again and got his other shoe off while encouraging Leah to see how totally great this was. She didn’t look convinced.
“Ooh, I’m gonna kill a human,” Emmett boomed, making “scary” faces at Leah and Jacob as he waved at them to come closer. “Oh, you better stop me! Come and get it, pups!”
Rosalie had been bent over, cracking up, but now she straightened and began to speak up. “What, you’re afraid of some trampolines? Are you scared your little claws might rip a hole in them? Maybe we shouldn’t let them up there, they’ll just shed all over our trampolines -”
With a whoop, Seth took a flying leap onto the edge of the outermost trampoline. Once up there, he began bouncing happily from one to the next, with no clear intentions on getting to the house.
“Aw, he’s no fun,” Emmett grumbled, turning back to Jacob and Leah. They were both seated with skeptical looks on their faces – and it bothers me that I can distinguish these expressions now. I mean, they’re dogs. They should look like the dumb house pets they’re descended from.
“Come on! Come and get me!” Emmett shouted. Just then, we heard Edward and Bella approaching. Round two begins!
Cackling madly, I watched my sister-in-law halt at the edge of the forest, gaping unattractively at the very unusual sight before her. Seth was turning somersaults in the air, but he managed to wave hello to the newcomers.
Nessie, perched on Edward’s shoulders, surveyed the trampoline moat with delight and began giggling straight away. When her hand pressed against my brother’s face, I knew she was begging to be set down on the trampoline.
Edward gladly assisted her to the nearest one before turning back to beckon to his wife, with a wicked grin on his face. How he’d managed to keep this a secret from her for the last two days was beyond me, but I was thrilled with her reaction. She was still frozen in place as her eyes darted from us, to the moat, to Seth, to Jacob and Leah …
Eyes wide, her shoulders began to shake. A small whimper escaped her mouth as Renesmee bounced toward Seth, with Jacob watching indignantly. Finally, Bella burst into helpless laughter.
The four of us on the porch were grinning proudly, and Jazz was in heaven – the hilarity must have been almost painful for him! But it was not over yet.
At Nessie’s encouragement to come join her, Jacob whined softly and glanced at Leah, his ears back on his head. But Renesmee kept begging him to “come up and play,” and we could all hear his stomach growling in reaction to the honey ham that I had thoughtfully tossed into the oven a few hours back.
With a dog sigh, Jacob backed up a few steps, tensed, and sprang. He landed on all fours in the center of a trampoline, his legs splayed in all directions. Over the sound of my own giggles, I heard him growl softly.
“Come on, Jacob!” Ness shrieked, bouncing from one spot to another. Jacob straightened and took a tentative step toward the house, then another. He was making pretty decent (if bouncy) progress until the first gap between trampolines – the covered 18 inches of springs connecting the surface to the frame, which added up to three feet he needed to cross.
With his hairy brow furrowed, Jacob tried to hop the distance, but overshot by about two feet and immediately went shooting into the air.
It was hard to hear over our screaming laughter, but I think he yelped in surprise. He landed on his massive butt and bounced back up again as Renesmee giggled uncontrollably.
I could tell exactly when he stopped being annoyed and started having fun – it was when Nessie had to wipe tears off her face, still gasping for breath. Jacob began to bounce harder to get her to laugh more, and she was glad to oblige.
“I’m goin’ in!” Emmett yelled, diving headfirst onto the closest trampoline. Rosalie stepped out of her stilettos and followed him.
“May I have the honor?” Jazz asked sweetly, holding out his hand to me with a brilliant smile on his face. I accepted daintily and we joined the bouncing fools.
After a while, even Leah joined us – after changing and throwing on her clothes. I suspect it was because of the competition we had just started. (The working title was “See Who Can Bounce Over The House Without Scraping The Roof.”)
We got pretty good at it by the time Esme and Carlisle returned from their hunt. Round three!
Of course, they would show up right when Emmett was mid-bounce over the roof. Esme gasped in shock and horror at the sight. Carlisle, on the other hand, had a wide-eyed grimace that I recognized from every single prank we’d ever played – the look that said, I’m supposed to disapprove but this is too funny.
Em landed with a bounce, and smiled shyly at Esme, who had her arms folded and was glaring straight at him – it was pretty obvious that this could only be his idea.
“Emmett Cullen,” she began sternly. “Did I just see you bounce over my roof?“
“Yeah, mom,” he confessed, hanging his head in shame. I saw him peek out of the corner of his eye, though. Good thing Esme wasn’t a mind reader.
“Well …” she sighed, shaking her head as she took in the sight of one dog, two humans (ish), her granddaughter and all her kids sheepishly standing on trampolines surrounding her house.
“I guess I’d better show you how it’s done!” she finished, hopping up to join us with a grin.
“Yeah!” Emmett yelled, picking her up in one of his patented bear hugs.
I could kill Emmett! I was on edge all day yesterday. The little (or rather, huge) brat decided to have Seth invite Embry and Quil over, and somehow Emmett convinced everyone that it would be super fun to have a wolf at their side all day … so that I would not be able to see anything. All day.
Well, except for Jazz, of course – he declined the invitation and thank goodness, because that would have been awful. Still, his future and mine were all I could see for the day, and it just made me so anxious. What if something bad actually was going to happen?
For Emmett, it was payback; for me, it was a catalyst. I have got to continue working with Carlisle and Edward to break past my mental block with the wolves. It seems like they’re a permanent fixture in our lives anyway, and how could I ever allow Nessie to marry Jacob if I couldn’t see her future when he was with her?
Well, luckily, I don’t have to worry about that just yet. But unless I can get past this handicap, that’s how it will be. And let’s face it, it will be hard enough to let that girl go when the time comes, without the added anxiety of not being able to keep an eye on her future.
So today, that’s what I worked on. Instead of enjoying a nice Sunday at home with my family, I asked Edward and Carlisle to help me train. They, of course, were overjoyed at the prospect of scientific breakthroughs, but I felt bad keeping Carlisle busy when he could have been spending time with Esme.
“Let’s try something different today,” Carlisle began in his formal tone, making a note in his record book. “Alice, I want you to try to clear your mind completely. Just let your thoughts drift, until they’ve dissipated completely. Edward, please signal me when she’s ready.”
Edward and I nodded obediently, and I closed my eyes. Okay, clear mind. No thoughts. Just emptiness. Scientific breakthroughs must be priority one for now. Scientific progress goes boink … I smirked to myself as I pictured Calvin and Hobbes, and Edward sighed quietly. Oops, right, clearing my mind of all thoughts. Okay, here goes …
The more quiet I tried to force my mind to be, the more random things popped into my mind. A pair of Louboutins I already had that had just been re-released in a different color … some mineral makeup I had ordered a few days ago … bridesmaid dresses for Rosalie’s next wedding … trampolines …
A smile played over my face as I watched the trampoline game play out. It looked like only a few more days … it was going to be such fun …
But the scene began to blur, and I automatically struggled to bring it into focus, breaking my trance. Crap!
“It didn’t work,” Edward sighed in disappointment as my eyes blinked open.
“What were you doing?” I inquired, watching Carlisle’s pen scratch across the pages of his book at light speed.
“Once you were deep in your trance, Edward waited for you to have a vision of some event that he would be involved in. Then, he made a decision to include Jacob in that future activity,” Carlisle explained, setting down his pen.
I nodded, impressed. It was really not a bad plan. Too bad it hadn’t worked …
“Yes, too bad,” Edward murmured with regret. Tilting his head toward the office door, he called out, “Jasper? It’s time.”
I stiffened at the sound of Jazz’s footsteps racing away from the house alongside one of the wolves. Just like that, he popped right out of my head.
“What are you doing?!” I cried in horror, torn between the overwhelming need to go after him and the urge to kill my brother first.
“Calm down, Alice,” Carlisle soothed, coming around his huge desk with his palms up in front of him. “Jasper is in no danger. We believe this is the only way to break past the obstacle -”
“Forget the stupid obstacle,” I spat, digging my fingers into the carpet to keep them from clawing out my father and brothers’ eyes. I was pretty sure I would regret that later. Although maybe not … “What are you doing with Jasper?“
Edward grabbed my shoulders and stared into my eyes, willing me to look at him. I growled in response, and he shook me gently.
“Alice, you know nobody would allow Jasper to be harmed,” he reminded me in a no-nonsense tone, trying to get through to me. I groaned in agitation as my mind helplessly continued to scan for Jasper. I couldn’t find him. It was driving me completely insane!!!
“Carlisle,” Edward said urgently as I tried to shove him out of my way. I had to go find Jasper! But Carlisle stepped forward and gently put his arms around me, then assisted Edward in holding me down.
“Remember, Alice, you asked us to help you,” Carlisle said grimly, exerting all of his strength to keep me in place. I howled in protest. Who cared about silly science games when Jasper could be in danger? Right this very moment, he could be getting into a fight with the wolves – could be -
“It’s working,” Edward hissed as I thrashed and shoved, reaching blindly with my mind. Had to find Jasper. Had to see Jasper -
As I struggled, a very fuzzy picture began to form in my mind. Trees, darkness, murky green light reaching something that sparkled like a million tiny diamonds -
“You did it!” Edward shouted victoriously, shaking me again to snap me out of it. I blinked and realized I had shredded his shirt to tiny ribbons. Damn, and that was a brand-new Marc Jacobs …
“Wait, what?” I asked in confusion, shaking my head in an attempt to make the strange swirling agony go away. What was going on?
Distantly, I heard thudding footsteps. OH!
“Jasper!” I cried. Edward grinned beatifically at me.
“You found him,” he exulted. Once more behind his desk, Carlisle nodded as he scribbled furiously.
“We sent him with Seth, a little distance away,” he explained absently as he wrote. “It was Emmett’s little game yesterday that gave us the idea. We hoped the resulting anxiety and fear would force your mind past the block.”
I gaped at him, then turned my disbelieving gaze on Edward. How could they do such a thing to me?
“We had to, Alice,” Edward murmured gently as Jasper raced through the back door and up the stairs. When he burst into the room, I was on my feet to throw myself into his loving arms.
“Don’t you ever do that to me again,” I growled, my voice muffled by the thick fabric of Jazz’s cashmere sweater. He tightened his grip on me in response.
“We have to,” Carlisle responded calmly. “It seems to be the only way -”
“No! No more,” I cried, whipping around to fix him with a beseeching stare.
Edward put up his hands in a gesture meant to calm me. “We’ll take a break,” he assured me.
“Of course,” Carlisle assented. “We need only try – oh, once a month or so, do you think?”
“That sounds right,” Edward agreed.
Jazz tilted my face up to his and assessed the emotional trauma that still had me in its grasp. Concern and indecision twisted his perfect features.
“You know it’s for the best,” he whispered, sending out peaceful energy. “You know I won’t let anything happen to me while I’m away.”
I sighed deeply. After what I had just been through, I could not imagine willingly submitting to such torture again.
“We’ll discuss it another time, perhaps,” Carlisle offered, studying my face. He stood and came around the desk again, reaching his arms out to me. I allowed him to embrace me, but was not ready to hug him back.
“My apologies, Alice,” he whispered with sincere concern in his voice. “Truly, I didn’t mean to make you suffer. I just wanted to help.”
“I know,” I replied stiffly, unable to respond more gracefully. Edward and Carlisle looked at each other for a brief moment, then simultaneously left the office.
When Jazz and I were alone, I just gazed at his face, re-memorizing each millimeter of beauty. The relief I felt at having him back in front of me, whole and sound, was more than I could bear.
Today, the custom-made ballerina wardrobe (tutus, leotards, and shoes) I’d ordered for Renesmee arrived! I hadn’t had time to get any of it before the party, since I had only discovered her love for ballet the week before. The only ballet item I had given her at the birthday party was a delicate enameled ballet slipper charm from Tiffany, which I had carefully showed Ness how to attach to the Color by the Yard sterling chain dotted with pink sapphires.
So now I was to be Renesmee’s ballet instructor. I wasn’t sure she actually needed lessons – after all, with very little practice she had stunned me speechless at the depth of her talent and passion – but we would both enjoy it, so we decided to practice three times a week, two hours at a time.
I guess she’s sort of in school now. Between the ballet, and the cooking lessons from Bella and Esme, and the books she eagerly absorbs each day, Renesmee’s education is shaping up to be pretty unique, which fits her perfectly.
“Esme,” I sang, skipping into her office, “can I talk to you for a sec?”
She looked up from her laptop with her warm, loving smile directed my way. I grinned in response.
“Of course, dear,” she replied, scooting her wheeled antique chair back to turn toward me.
“Okay,” I began, settling into my favorite cross-legged position on the plush antique Gabbeh rug. “So, you know how Ness and me are doing ballet practice now?”
Esme’s eyes crinkled at me as she replied fondly, “And I can’t wait to watch your practices!”
“Well …” I paused for dramatic effect, before squealing, “let’s build a studio!!”
At first, Esme looked thrilled at the idea of more blueprints and architectural work. But concern tempered her voice when she asked hesitantly, “Are you … sure that’s a good idea?”
I felt my eyes pop open, my jaw drop, and my eyebrows shoot up at her question. But before I could even begin to reply, Bella hurtled into the room.
“Alice,” she scolded me, “what are you thinking? A permanent reminder of when James … Edward would loathe it! It would be like torture to him, please, just practice in the living room or something.”
“Psshh,” I scoffed. “Edward has everything he’s ever wanted now. Who cares what happened back then?”
But Esme was in agreement with Bella. “I’d hate for him to be reminded of that every day, Alice,” she told me gently. I frowned and glanced to the side, trying to find the future. But because Esme hadn’t decided to build the studio, I couldn’t see Edward’s reaction to it.
Sensing my indecision, Bella went for the kill. “Renesmee won’t want to practice if it makes Edward unhappy,” she assured me solemnly.
With a grimace, I conceded the point. “Fine,” I sighed. “Then we need to figure out where to attach the barre. And there should be at least one full-length mirror. And wood floors. I’m talking bare minimum here!” I protested, as Bella began shaking her head.
“Don’t worry, Bella, dear,” Esme soothed, standing and crossing to Bella’s side. “I’ll find a way to make it look less … well, you know.” She squeezed Bella’s hand before returning to her desk.
“Now,” Esme began in a totally different tone of voice, one that I recognized from the wedding-planning days, “will you be using the barre as well, or only Renesmee? And what time of day will your practices be? Depending on the light from outside, we may be able to get away with fewer mirrors …”
Bella groaned and shot me one last glare, then turned to leave. “It’s for Renesmee,” I reminded her back, but Bella just snorted in response. Typical.
Whatever. I dismissed the entire conversation from my mind, knowing Esme would be as good as her word. We would build a pseudo-studio that in no way resembled the one in Arizona, and Renesmee would love it. Esme and I spent a few blissful hours debating over the right type and color of wood for the floor, and researching the right brand for the barre. Finally, we agreed not to keep it a secret from Ness, since it would be completed long before Christmas anyway.
With that all taken care of, I kissed Esme’s cheek and waved goodbye – she barely looked up from her work to respond. I knew she’d love this project!
As I dashed down the stairs, I heard clanking and laughter in the kitchen, and baseball in the living room. Hmm, tough choice!
Veering toward the kitchen, I detected an extremely unpleasant burning smell. It was not very strong, but it lingered around the stove.
“What happened here?” I asked curiously, hopping onto the counter next to a stack of messy mixing bowls. Renesmee looked up at me with a slightly embarrassed expression on her sweet face.
“I made a mess,” she confessed, her cheeks turning a dark pink as she spoke. I took a moment to enjoy the sight and reminisce over the days when Bella had turned red at the slightest provocation, as Seth and Bella laughed affectionately.
“It was really my fault,” Bella declared, eager to take the blame. But Nessie shook her head.
“No, it was me,” she asserted, with a determined set to her pointed chin. “I forgot to push start, and the timer didn’t go.”
“But I didn’t notice,” Bella countered.
Seth chuckled happily as he finished wiping up the last of the blackened pot roast. Geez, had he really eaten the entire thing himself? Silly question. Of course he had!
“It still tastes awesome,” he assured Ness, with a satisfied belch. “Oops. ‘Scuse me.”
“Where’s the other guy?” I inquired, transferring dishes to the sink. I hoped that rinsing them would lessen the meat and charcoal smell.
“Jake’s on patrol,” Seth replied, picking at his teeth. “Man, that was good, Ness. I oughta come here more often!”
“I think you’re here often enough,” I assured him cheerily, with a little wink to soften the blow. He just laughed again, unhurt.
“Well, guess I’d better get going,” he yawned, stretching his massive form as he rose. “See you guys later. Thanks again, Ness!”
She beamed at him and replied, “You’re welcome! Here, don’t forget to take this home to Sue!” Reaching into the fridge, she pulled out some ramekins of what appeared to be crème brulee.
“Wow,” I commented, impressed. “You learned how to make crème brulee, Nessie? You’re really getting good, aren’t you!”
“I don’t know,” she admitted humbly, her cheeks dimpling as she smiled up at me. “It all tastes pretty bad to me. But, Seth and my Jacob seem to like it!”
Bella sighed and smiled at the same time, resting her hand on Nessie’s head with a tender caress. “Yes, soon you’ll be a better cook than I ever was,” she mused with a touch of dismay in her voice. I imagined she was thinking of the day when Renesmee would leave us to be with Jacob.
So naturally I had to change the subject! “Hey Ness, guess what?” I exclaimed brightly. The two of them looked expectantly at me.
“We’re building a ballet room just for you!”
As Bella rolled her eyes, Renesmee hopped up and down in excitement. Now that was more like it!