Well, we’re back home in rainy, dark Forks. What a contrast to the paradise of what I’ve dubbed “Whitlock Waterfall” … but, still, I’m glad to be back with my family, with Jasper at my side!
Apparently while we were gone, someone did a pretty good job of convincing Bella that having this cabin is going to be so much fun. Because as soon as we got within a mile of the house, we could hear riotous laughter from Emmett (as usual), Renesmee, Jacob, even Edward and Bella.
“They’re having fun without me?” I cried, speeding up. Jazz burst into laughter and accelerated his own pace.
“An oversight I’m sure they’ll be glad to correct,” he drawled between chuckles.
As we arrived in the backyard, I scanned the scene before me in a millisecond. Emmett had purchased an entire case of several different types of water guns, and had all of the family jet-skis lined up, ready to be transformed. The laughter I’d heard was probably based on Emmett’s own jet-ski – originally camo-painted in shades of blue, it was now almost entirely covered in weapons.
Swivel-mounted machine water guns … let’s see, there were a total of four … covered the front of the jet-ski, barely leaving enough space for the handles to steer with. Long, tubular water cannons protruded from the back of the jet-ski, with double-barreled water guns attached to both sides via retractable cords. I was only surprised Emmett hadn’t found a way to attach weapons to the underside of his vehicle.
In the 3/8 of a second it had taken me to assess the situation, my siblings had all looked up at Jasper and myself with huge, goofy grins, and began to welcome us home. I instantly forgave them for starting without me.
With one arm around Bella, and my other hand clutching Renesmee’s, I waited just long enough for them to finish saying hello before I interrupted. “So when are we heading up there?” I asked excitedly, squeezing Ness’s hand (gently).
“You guys just got home!” Emmett reminded me, leveling a speculative stare in Jasper’s direction. Oh boy. I knew that look.
Sure enough, Emmett began to let loose with his trademark booming laugh. “Desperate for a distraction, huh, guys? What’s wrong, didn’t get enough -”
As he held up the power drill and revved it suggestively, Jasper calmly slid behind him, and in one lightning-fast motion, he had Emmett’s arms trapped behind his back, the power drill buried in the forest some hundred yards away. The rest of us giggled appreciatively.
“And I’ll thank you not to share that type of commentary within my daughter’s hearing range,” Edward added dryly, as he handed the drill back to Emmett.
“Anyway …” Bella sighed, rolling her eyes at me. “We’re not going up there right away -”
Emmett snorted his disapproval, already back at work on his jet-ski.
” – because … there’s been enough excitement around here lately,” Bella explained patiently. Her gaze rested on Nessie as she added, “I just want everything to go back to normal for a little while.”
“Yeah, but once we finally do get up there, it’s gonna be awesome,” Jacob burst out, panting over the box of water guns. I scrunched up my nose; who had invited him?
Edward concealed his smile perfectly as he commented, seemingly out of the blue, “Naturally, Jacob, Seth, and Leah will be going with us … as their main goal is to protect Renesmee.” I stuck out my tongue quickly so nobody else would see.
At this point, Rosalie sauntered out of the house in a cashmere dress and vintage Chanel pumps. Nice!
“Welcome back,” she greeted me, with a brief but sincere hug. She smiled and waved to Jasper before turning back to me. “So, you made it just in time to watch the dog decorate our jet-skis.”
I snickered as Jacob replied without missing a beat, “Don’t worry Blondie, I’ve got a box full of mirrors to attach to yours.”
Rosalie bared her teeth at him, then dismissed him with an imperious wave of her perfectly manicured hand. “Anyway, as I was going to say before Fido started barking at the squirrels … I’ve made a few slight alterations to the engines.”
“Hell yeah!” Emmett boomed, pumping his fist in the air. I winced as the power drill barely missed Jacob’s chin. Although, come to think of it, even if it had made a hole in the guy’s face, it would heal in minutes anyway!
Edward rubbed his hands together, a familiar gleam in his eyes as he gazed at the jet-skis. Watching him, I automatically scanned to see what he was imagining.
The backyard blurred around me, and was replaced with a vision of the lake. My vantage point was in the middle of the lake – on my jet-ski I assumed, though I was looking up and to the side, so I couldn’t tell for sure. What I could see was my brother, skidding across the water in his souped-up vehicle, with an almost evil look of victory on his face as Emmett yelled angrily and shot water at him from a few yards behind.
Coming back to the present, I realized I was smiling like a total maniac as everyone but Edward stared curiously at me.
“Where’d ya go, Alice?” Jacob asked casually, reaching for a machine water gun. Emmett snatched it away at the last second.
Edward looked more like a demon than the angel Bella considers him to be as I cleared my throat to buy time. “Erm … I was just watching a little game … looked like water wars,” I replied vaguely, biting back the laughter that was bubbling up inside of me.
Just then, I heard a car turn into the driveway.
“Oh, good, Carlisle and Esme are back,” Bella said eagerly, whirling around and disappearing.
“She wants to teach Renesmee how to cook steak and baked potatoes,” Edward explained, frowning slightly at Jacob. I sniffed the air as the car doors opened. Yep, I could definitely smell the canvas bags we used at the grocery store, along with the tang of raw meat muffled by butcher paper.
That didn’t sound super fun to me, so I stayed where I was. I knew Carlisle and Esme would come outside to welcome Jasper and myself home anyway. And in the meantime …
“Pass me one of those cannons, would you?” I demanded, already seated on my purple and black jet-ski. Emmett obligingly threw it at my head, and Jasper appeared at my side with the tools.
Jasper and I didn’t go far from home, as I promised Renesmee; we stayed relatively close by, just past the Canadian border. As soon as I had made the decision to go away with him this week, I had seen a vision of us in this lush green paradise, the majestic waterfall in the background.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in my case, which came first: the vision or the desire? It happens all the time; I have a vision of something, and so I go along with what the vision tells me. I saw Jasper, and knew I had to be with him. I saw the Cullens, and immediately wanted to join them. And so on; each of the visions had to have been prompted by my subconscious desires, but they each affected me consciously, by driving me toward certain paths.
Well, anyway, I didn’t mean to get all philosophical on you! I seem to get into this quiet, dreamy mood whenever I’m alone with Jasper. My mind drifts away from fashion, parties, and plans, until there’s just a quiet haze of love. I think it’s like how humans react to certain types of drugs – but without all of the horrible side effects and consequences, obviously.
It could be the environment, too. Where we are right now, the trees and the water are a verdant, alive shade of green, with the thundering waterfall drowning out all other sounds. It’s not a pond, more like a smallish lake, but it feels like an enclosed space rather than being out in the open. The sun occasionally breaks through the overhead mists, lighting up the trees, the water, and our skin.
Earlier this week, we spent eight hours just floating in the water, connected only by our clasped hands, soaking in the magical, fairytale atmosphere of the lake. It was so peaceful that I was hardly even aware of my own thoughts as my mind ran through all of the recent events, including Renee’s visit and the birthday party, processing and analyzing everything in a way I hadn’t had time for in the last few weeks. Finally, after hours of this, I was able to let go and with a deep sigh, I felt the weight of all the worries and the plans lift off of me.
Turning my head to the side, I saw that Jasper had been watching me silently. He smiled with infinite tenderness as he took in my newly stress-free expression.
“Got everything sorted out?” he drawled quietly, tugging me closer to his body. For a moment I was distracted by the miniature waves of sparkling blue-green that lapped at his diamond skin in reaction to the movement.
“Hmm? Oh … I think so … at least, I don’t want to think about anything but you right now,” I whispered, my eyes trapped in his loving gaze. I didn’t realize I was moving until we were both underwater, still staring into each others eyes, as the murky rays of sunlight highlighted Jasper’s body in an abstract glow that made me shiver with awe. He was incomparably beautiful, scars and all. Those marks were a permanent testament to his strength and courage, and I loved every single one of them. Tracing the lines of his jaw with my lips, I surrendered to the sweet inevitability of loving Jasper.
Later, we explored behind the waterfall. Where the pounding water would send a human spiraling into the lake, it felt like a tickle to our rock-hard skin, so we stood under the rushing waterfall for a little while, reveling in the feeling. But the sunset was coming, and I wanted to see it through the water, so we stepped into the small, damp stone alcove created by the water’s friction, and settled into a snug embrace to watch the waterfall become infused with pink, orange, violet, and then white again as night fell. It was like being inside a seashell; the clean, fresh scent of the water and the absence of all sound, other than the fall. The experience was exponentially more soothing and special because of Jasper’s presence at my side, even when we didn’t speak or move.
Over the next few days, I felt myself healing from the inside out as my world revolved around Jasper, only Jasper, all Jasper. No other demands on my time, no siblings who needed my help, no mutts to annoy me … it was a paradise that fit my needs exactly, though I wouldn’t wish to stay there forever, away from my family.
“Do you miss them?” I wondered aloud, swinging my legs in my perch on the highest branch of the pine tree. Jazz, on the branch next to me, tilted his head to the side and looked at me searchingly.
“Miss who?” he responded, leaning a bit closer to me. We were ostensibly up there to look at the full moon, which appeared larger tonight, as if it was right above our heads, just out of reach from the top of the tall tree. But Jazz had hardly even glanced at it before returning his gaze to my face.
I was having a similar problem, so I couldn’t chastise him. What were we talking about? Oh, right. “Our family … your family … people you’ve known,” I explained vaguely, crushing a sprig of pine needles in my fingers for the sharp, biting scent it gave in return.
Jazz chuckled softly, his eyes crinkling fondly at me. “There’s no one I miss when you’re here,” he assured me, in a voice so saturated with love it was impossible to doubt.
When I’d caught my breath again, I persisted. “But do you ever think about anyone … wonder where they are, what they’re doing … wonder if they’ve thought about you since you disappeared?”
He regarded me thoughtfully, turning my questions over in his head. When he replied, he caught me off guard completely. “You’re thinking about your mother again,” he whispered, sympathy softening the accusation.
“In answer to your question, I have thought of my previous family only a few times lately, to hope that they were as happy in their situation as we have been in ours,” he explained, with a wistful tinge to his voice. His direct stare cut through any denials I could have made as he continued, “But that’s not what you really want to know, Alice. What I feel from you right now is a sort of … longing, but it’s different from how you normally feel.”
I sighed at his words, unable to protest. The loss of my mother should not bother me. I had no memory of her, and she had deserted me as a teenager, turning me in to an insane asylum and declaring me dead. But those same reasons were the ones that caused this longing ache in my heart.
Jasper was exuding a feeling of warmth and security for me, which I gladly gave in to, as he kept talking. “I know you haven’t wanted to speak about it – I’ve felt your shame every time you think of her, and it hurts me to know that’s how you feel, Alice.”
His eyes begged me to believe his next words. “Your mother loved you, Alice,” he whispered so softly it was almost inaudible. “She must have. How could she not love such a bright, sweet, vivacious, beautiful daughter? How else could she find the strength to admit you to that hospital, even knowing it was all she could do to help you?”
I sobbed silently, wanting so desperately to believe him. But … how could my own mother have me locked up in that place? I’d visited the old asylum with Jasper, and it was horrific; the stench of fear and hopelessness had remained with me for days afterward.
“Alice, Alice,” Jazz crooned, moving to my branch to fold me into his arms. “You don’t have to change your mind this very minute … but please, my dear, please, try to believe what I’ve said. You are not foolish for feeling this way, but I do hope you will overcome it someday, because it pains me to know that you’re hurting …”
I still couldn’t speak, but nodded, hoping for the same thing.
I’ll leave you with this quote Jasper shared with me when I told him how love pushes out all my other thoughts and worries, leaving only a blissful haze in my mind.
Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.
Where did Bella think we were going to use those jet-skis? And did she seriously think we all had forgotten about her birthday?
Silly, silly Bella. It’s a good thing we’re immortal, because I think it’s going to take her centuries to get used to stuff like this.
And really, in comparison to buying a whole island, it was nothing! Okay, so I had returned all of the rental equipment and helped bring Renesmee’s gifts back from the clearing, and Edward had gone to tuck Nessie in at the cottage. Edward wanted the gifts kept in our living room for now so Nessie could take inventory and write thank-you notes, although none of us felt it was necessary, since we’re family and all. But when we had everything stacked on the pristine white carpet, Bella stood frozen in shock, gaping unattractively at the towering piles of boxes. I had to practically shove her out the door to go home, begging her to let it go for that night, at least.
Sunday was a gorgeous morning, no rain, no fog, just a bit of frost like velvet on the trees and grass. My family was prepared for Bella, Edward, and Renesmee when they ran in through the back, as usual. In deference to Bella’s odd aversion to attention, there were no balloons, banners, flowers (well, other than the usual amount, that is) or cakes anywhere. Just us, standing in a semi-circle to face the door.
Immediately Bella jerked to a halt, assessing the situation rapidly and with precision. And a great deal of suspicion, too, I might add!
“What is this? Please tell me it’s not more presents,” she moaned, turning to check Edward’s face. Something about his expression of serene innocence tipped her off to the conspiracy. I could see the wheels turning in her mind and wondered why it had ever bothered Edward to be unable to hear her thoughts. They were so clear, I could watch each one float through her mind: Everyone’s in on it. Edward didn’t tell me. Everyone but me is up to something. Oh no. Please. No.
“Happy birthday, Bella!” we chorused, breaking into smiles and laughter as she bit her lip and looked like she wanted to blush, hide, and/ or run away.
“Did you truly believe we had forgotten?” Edward murmured tenderly, stroking her long curtain of hair off her face so we could all see her roll her eyes.
“I wished,” she muttered, eying our lineup. I knew Carlisle and Esme were very excited about this, and so was Emmett, and I – okay, we were all bouncing with excitement. Bella sighed quietly and stepped forward for hugs.
When it was my turn, I grabbed her, lifted her into the air and spun her around as she burst into laughter and protested in vain.
“Sorry!” I squealed, setting her back down. “I’m just so excited!” Oops. The apprehensive look took over her face again, and she moved back to Edward, away from the rest of us.
“Okay, what is it?” she asked nervously. “Just – please don’t tell me you bought me another car. Or another house,” she laughed, shaking her head at the memory of last year’s gift.
Oh boy. Glancing at Esme, I saw that she and Carlisle were both trying to hide their smiles as they presented Bella with a rough wood photo frame, a bright blue ribbon its only adornment.
She accepted it with a perplexed quirk of the eyebrow, but then she really looked at it, and did a double take.
“Oh no,” she gasped in horror, a completely inappropriate reaction to the photo of a beautiful modernist cabin perched on a mountainside. Slowly, she pointed to the photo, then raised her eyes to beg silently. I tried to keep my laughter inside, but I couldn’t help it – the look on her face!
“That’s your new cabin in Okanagan Lake, Bella,” Esme eagerly informed her. Bella opened her mouth, but a choking sound was all that came out as Esme continued, “We’ve been looking for some time now, and when we found it – well, it reminded me so much of this house, so I checked, and it’s the same architect! It’s a lakeside property with its own dock, and it’s very private, the nearest neighbor is nowhere in sight. And the house is in a little bay, very secluded. Oh, you’ll love it,” she gushed, clasping her hands together and beaming with joy.
Luckily, Bella is a sensitive and intelligent woman (sometimes), so she reacted much better this time, out of respect for Esme’s feelings. “Oh … wow!” she exclaimed (a bit weakly, I’m afraid). She managed a tight smile as she continued to stare at the photo. “It … looks beautiful!”
Emmett let loose one of his booming laughs, unable to pass up any opportunity to tease Bella. “Relax, little sis,” he grinned, lifting Renesmee to his shoulders. “It’s not just for you and Edward, it’s for everyone. What’d you think I got the jet-skis for?” He kept laughing as she winced at the reminder.
“Ugh! You guys, seriously – first this huge pile of stuff,” she complained, waving toward Renesmee’s stash, “jet-ski included, and now this? Another house? Can’t we just give each other … handmade cards or something?”
I laughed so hard, I could hardly see straight. “Bella,” I gasped, “you better get used to it! The money belongs to you now, too!”
“But I don’t want it,” she immediately countered, scowling at me. “And I don’t want Renesmee to think that material things are all that matter, either.”
Ouch! I wasn’t the only one who felt the sting of that one; Rosalie stepped up to remind Bella that we all know exactly what “matters” in this household, while Nessie continued to observe everything from her perch on Emmett’s shoulders. Finally, she spoke up.
“I think it sounds nice,” was her only comment, but it cut through Bella like a ray of sunshine, lighting her face for the first time since she had accepted the photo.
“Really?” Bella asked tentatively, a little disappointed, but looking happy at the thought of Renesmee’s future happiness. If that makes sense.
“Yes,” Ness said firmly in her high voice, “and I think it’s nice that we can go there and play in the lake without having to worry about other people seeing us.”
“Exactly,” I agreed. “It’ll be just like here, except with a lake right in the yard. And our jet-skis. Oh, and the Range Rover. And -”
“Enough,” Edward interrupted as Bella groaned again. He was watching her anxiously (so what else is new?), and now he turned her face up to his with one hand. “Well? What do you think?”
Bella scanned our faces again before responding. “I think … we have a cabin in Okanagan Lake” was her noncommittal reply, but I heard our victory in her resigned tone.
“Okay! So, when can you head up there? We’ll need the Volvo if we’re going to bring Nessie’s new things, the Jeep is already going to be full of jet-skis,” I began joyfully, but Bella’s pursed lips and narrowed eyes told me this was not the time to start planning.
I couldn’t help the deep sigh that escaped me. Sure, I had foreseen this kind of reaction from Bella, but … well, you know how when you watch “Titanic” again, hoping that this time the boat won’t sink? Or Leo Jack won’t die? That’s kind of how I had been feeling. Like maybe she actually would appreciate how great this was going to be.
Oh well, I knew she’d come around soon. And although I was sure that she needed to know that her new closet was already stocked, I couldn’t stay and chat. Jasper and I had our backpacks ready by the door.
“Where are you going?” Renesmee wanted to know, her big brown eyes curious as she watched us begin to make our goodbyes.
Jazz and I smiled at each other, and I looked back down at Nessie. “We’ll be close by, don’t worry,” I assured her, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. “We just wanted to take a little trip, just for a few days.”
As everyone wished us a safe journey, I counted my lucky stars that there had been enough time this morning for everyone to praise my party-throwing skills. It was just too bad I couldn’t stay to hear more from Renesmee about how much fun she’d had, but Jasper and I were desperate to get away; the last couple of weeks had seemed to flash past in a blur of activity, and we had hardly seen each other, or so it felt.
I’ll write more later, about our new favorite waterfall.
Apparently Edward only agreed to return under the condition that Bella would protect his mind. So, “The Song That Never Ends” was out unless we sang it aloud, and that would annoy more than just Edward, which was not our intent. (At least, not mine – but I can’t speak for Emmett!)
ETW was nowhere near over yet, so we had to get more creative, and work with this new advantage of him not being able to hear our thoughts. After a quick huddle in the backyard (whispering quietly enough that nobody else could her us), we agreed on a few different ideas.
First, we all wandered nonchalantly into the living room and flopped down in a rough circle around Edward, facing him but not looking at him yet. Every 35 seconds, we each scooted a few millimeters closer to where he was relaxing on the couch with Bella and Ness. Soon, he noticed that we were a lot nearer to him, but after eying us suspiciously, he just rolled his eyes and ignored us.
After a few more minutes, Rose, Emmett, Jasper, Jacob and I were all clustered around the couch, staring into Edward’s eyes as he shifted uncomfortably and sighed. We kept inching closer and closer. Finally, when he had five noses pressing against his face, Bella had been shoved (gently) out of the way and Ness was rolling with laughter, he gave up and cracked a smile.
“All right, you’ve made your point,” he said with some difficulty, as he was talking around my chin. “You got me. Now, can I please just enjoy a day at home with my family?”
“Of course you can, Edward,” I assented, not backing away.
“Yeah, man, we’re not gonna stop you,” Emmett added innocently, almost biting Edward’s ear in the process.
Jacob said nothing, just let out a long, deep sigh directly into Edward’s face (I held my breath to keep out the stench).
Rosalie, whose cheekbones were smushed against my temple, laughed mockingly and then grimaced as Jacob’s scent assaulted her. Jasper’s smile was about a mile wide as he felt the emotions in the room.
“Guys, come on,” Bella protested, unable to hold back her own laughter. “You can’t just stay there all day …”
“Oh yes we can,” we all responded in unison, making Edward flinch slightly. He frowned, and then decided to ignore us.
We had planned for that, of course. As he attempted to make idle conversation with Bella, we began a round-robin of evil laughter, almost inaudible at first but then louder, and louder, and louder, until we were shouting our best malicious laughs right into Edward’s face.
He finally lost his cool and shoved Emmett (who, admittedly, was much louder than anyone else) off the back of the couch, then jumped over it himself and crouched in a defensive position as if daring any of us to come nearer. Instead of doing that, I gave the signal and we all shut up at once.
“There,” Edward sighed with relief. “That’s much better.”
One by one, my co-conspirators and I filed out of the room without so much as a backward glance, leaving two giggling females and one very annoyed brother in the living room. We gave him about 20 minutes to lull himself into a false sense of security, and then the next game began.
Since I still have so much work to do on the upcoming birthday party (gifts don’t wrap themselves, you know!), I had come up with a game that only involved one of us at a time. It was pretty simple. The way it worked was that we would all go about our business, except for the one who was “it.” That person would stand or sit three inches behind and three inches to the right of Edward, and copy everything he said and did. I called it the Clone Game.
Whenever Edward acknowledged the clone’s presence by begging them to stop, it was the next person’s turn. So, for example, when I heard Edward telling Rosalie off, I jumped over the banister, walked over to Rose and tapped her shoulder. She immediately left the room, and I took her place, sitting cross-legged behind and to the right of Edward, who was playing Clue with Bella and Renesmee.
It only took him seven and a half minutes to get sick of me, probably because I do an extremely accurate impression of his voice. So Jacob sauntered into the room and tagged me, and I left to stack all my gifts and cross them off the list as I went.
There had been a sale at Tiffany … okay, there are never any sales at Tiffany. Whatever, I was there, and they had a ton of cute things I wanted to give Ness, and since I didn’t have to pay for shipping it was kind of like a sale. So anyway, I counted each of the little robin’s-egg blue boxes to make sure they were all there, and then moved on to the larger items, pausing to straighten ribbons and fluff bows as I worked.
I had all of her birthday gifts accounted for, and was having a hard time trying to convince myself not to add her Christmas gifts to round things out, when I heard Edward totally lose it. Oops, was it really that late already? Time flies when you’re blah blah blah …
We all converged in the living room, arranging ourselves into a V-shaped line, our arms crossed and our best glares leveled at Edward. He was still flailing his arms about and shouting things like, “Even a moment’s peace!”
As our appointed leader (because she wouldn’t let anyone else do it), Rosalie interrupted him. “We have demands,” she told him bluntly. That shut him up; he stopped mid-sentence with his mouth open and stared incredulously at her, then all of us.
“What the – what? Demands?” he demanded (tee-hee), pulling himself together.
“Our demands are threefold,” Rose informed him in her best threatening voice. She held up her hand and began to count them off. “Firstly, you admit to having been a total pain in the ah – err – neck lately. Secondly,” she continued, raising her voice to talk over his protests, “you apologize for having been a pain in the neck. Thirdly, you agree that if in future you should return to your deviant behavior, we all have the right to punish you accordingly. Like this,” she clarified, waving her hand vaguely to indicate the ETW crew.
Well, he sputtered and fumed, but we all stood our ground and glared menacingly, following him with our eyes as he paced back and forth, until he gave in.
“Fine!” he cried in exasperation, throwing his hands in the air. “You win. I agree to your infantile demands.”
Silently, we waited for his penance. The silence grew until Renesmee, of all people, pointed out, “But you didn’t do what they said, Daddy.”
“That’s okay,” Bella soothed, squeezing his hand comfortingly.
“No, it’s not,” Rosalie snapped. “Those are our terms, and until he says the words – no deal.”
Edward’s jaw tightened, as he scanned each of our faces to read our determination. When he got to me, he shot me a pleading look, but instead of giving in, I just grinned widely at him. I was having such fun!
“Arg!” he shouted to the ceiling, clutching his head in both hands. “Fine! I admit to having been a pain in the neck! I apologize for being a pain in the neck! I agree that if I act like a pain in the neck again you can follow me around singing stupid songs in your head and imitating me all day!”
Our side of the room burst into applause, and Edward, shaking his head, finally started to laugh with us.
“You were way more annoying than I could ever be,” I heard him telling Emmett as they did mock-punches at each other.
Anyway, so there was no torture today, only party prep – Esme and Bella are the designated cake-bakers, and boy, do they have their work cut out for them. I’m the decorator (duh) so I’d better go and check on them! I’ll write all about the party when it’s over, I promise.
Granted, the week didn’t have such a great start. I had not enjoyed disciplining Renesmee, but my brother had asked me to and I had done my best. None of us wanted to say no to her, or hurt her feelings in any way, but neither did we want her to become spoiled; and for the dangerous stunt she pulled on Sunday, some punishment had been in order.
Luckily, Edward knew better than to cancel her birthday party – after all, that would really punish me more than anyone else – and between my lecture (which I hoped had been okay) and the emotional discussion between him, Bella and Ness when they returned from the airport, it seemed like Renesmee had completely understood the gravity of her mistake.
Of course, we were all more eager to forgive her (whose motivation had been completely understandable) than Jacob, her enabler. It’s not that anyone doubts his claim that he literally cannot say no to her; we’ve all seen the evidence of that before. However.
“How could you do that, Jacob?” Bella cried, blurring into the living room so fast even I couldn’t see it: One moment she was outside, the next moment she was advancing on Jacob, who stood his ground but was unable to make eye contact. His head was lowered in shame, and his face suffused with color as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
Clearing his throat, he mumbled, “I know. I know it was a bad plan. But, Bells,” he continued, lifting his eyes to give her a beseeching stare, “she asked me to, and -”
“And so you gave in to the plan of a one-year-old, allowed – caused – her to put herself and the rest of us in danger simply because she asked you to?” Edward growled, a familiar fire burning in his eyes as he faced Jacob. Rosalie and Emmett looked self-righteously pleased at the prospect of a physical showdown, but, still stinging from the mutual pain of my disciplinary actions earlier, I couldn’t bear to watch this confrontation.
Edward, come on, I begged him mentally. You stopped Emmett from killing him earlier, don’t tell me that was just because you wanted to be the one to do it? Momentarily distracted, Edward continued to scowl at Jacob as he listened to my thoughts.
Bella took over. “Jacob, my mother was right … there,” she hissed. “She could have seen you both! A little girl, sitting on a wolf’s back! Are you kidding me? She would have freaked out, gotten Charlie to go outside with his gun, we would have been calming her down for days – and then, we could never let Renesmee meet her,” she finished, her eyes automatically straying toward the forest in the direction of their cottage, where Nessie was sleeping. “If we just wait a few years, Alice says we might get to introduce Ness, but only if Renee doesn’t see her at this age. Did you even stop to think about that? Did you think about anything at all before galloping off into the forest to ruin my last night with my mother?”
The accused drew in a deep, shuddering breath and tried to defend himself. “I did, I swear, Bella,” he insisted. “I ordered Seth to keep quiet so nobody would even have to find out – I guess that didn’t work out so well,” he admitted, “but I swear, I tried to do it in the safest way possible, since I didn’t have any choice about whether or not to bring her there. And you know she should have been allowed to see Renee anyway, Bella,” he whispered, the lines of his face rearranging into a mask of anxiety. “Please don’t be mad at her, just – it’s my fault, but please don’t be upset with her. She really just needed to see Renee.”
If there was one way to soften Bella up, appealing to her love of her daughter was it. She immediately hung her head and confessed, “You’re right, I know we should have let her see her at least once, we were just so afraid that my mom might catch a glimpse of Renesmee and then …”
“You did the right thing, of course, Bella,” Edward soothed, cupping her face in his hands. The fight was dead and buried by that point. Everyone in the room had the exact same motive – love for Renesmee – behind their actions, so there really wasn’t anything to argue about.
The next day marked the beginning of Edward Torture Week, or ETW as the boys, Rose, and I had begun to call it. In preparation for the first day, we had all (even Carlisle and Esme) watched all of those silly high school musical movies and committed them to memory. The plan for Monday was to play those movies in our minds all day – on repeat.
Emmett wanted us to go all out and perform each of the corresponding dance routines, but for once, I was not in favor of dancing. Maybe I had dance overload from the last week, but I thought it would be funnier if we were all going about our business as usual and only singing inside our heads (visualizing the movie, too, of course). Since Jasper and Rosalie made it a tie, Jacob had to give the pivotal vote; and for once, he was very diplomatic. We would do one song inside our minds only, the next one with the accompanying dance routine, the next inside our minds only, and so on.
And so it was that at precisely 9:03AM on Monday morning, every single member of my family plus Jacob began singing and visualizing HSM inside our minds.
We weren’t even together – I was on the computer double-checking party plans, Jasper was in our room reading, Emmett and Rose had been making out (I sincerely hoped they had stopped once visions of teenagers filled their minds), Esme was in her office and Carlisle was measuring Renesmee.
At first, Edward didn’t appear to notice anything. He continued to twirl Bella’s hair around his fingers as she cuddled against his shoulder. But after a minute or so, as the song got more enthusiastic, he began to frown slightly. Pressing his lips together, he darted a glance at me, but I ignored him and kept working. I could almost hear him decide to act like nothing was bothering him. That was fine with me – it would only make the dance routine even funnier!
At the appointed moment, everyone else jumped into the living room and began the routine – still in complete silence. Carlisle even dropped his measuring tape to do it, although his eyes twinkled a bit less than, for example, Emmett’s as we danced. Esme was under the impression that we just wanted to have fun with Edward, so she was giving it her all. And I struggled to keep a perfectly blank expression on my face as I clapped, spun, and sang inside my mind.
Bella’s mouth was hanging wide open and at first she didn’t seem to know what to make of it. But soon, her shoulders began to shake with laughter as Renesmee stared at us in wide-eyed fascination.
The cherry on top was, of course, Jacob. He had decided to stay in his wolf form for the first dance routine.
Have you ever seen a horse-sized wolf imitate a cheerleader? No? Well, you really should someday. I had a hard time containing myself – we were all supposed to remain silent – as he waggled his huge, furry hips at our audience.
Even Edward was cracking up when we finished, but he stopped laughing pretty quickly as he realized we were nowhere near done yet. The rest of the day, we kept singing our songs in our heads, continuing to do whatever we wanted but pausing for a dance routine every other song. After a few hours he had his hands pressed so hard against his forehead, I was afraid his eyeballs would get shoved into his brain. But since Ness was loving it, he couldn’t escape! It was fabulous!
That was only the beginning. On Tuesday, at 8:49AM, I began to sing to myself, Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolly lollipop, lollipop - and then I would pause for a second and start over again. Each of my siblings, Jacob, Seth, and even Leah had been assigned different start times so that Edward would hear a jumbled chorus of “lollipops” in his mind, but never the crucial “pop.”
Finally he lost his mind and shouted, “POP!” at the top of his lungs – this was at 1:15, so he actually lasted a lot longer than we thought he would. Once we had all laughed ourselves silly, Emmett handed his money over to Jacob (who won the bet with 1:00PM), and we moved on to the KitKat jingle. You know, “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that …” It took him less than an hour to give in and yell “KITKAT BAR!!!”
Today, however, I couldn’t get involved in their games. I was too busy overseeing the delivery of some inflatable castles, obstacle courses, etc. They were being delivered to a vacant lot in Port Angeles, and I had to be there to sign for them (using a false identity, naturally), then wait for the delivery guys to leave before I could load them into the U-Haul waiting around the corner.
But they had told me what the day’s inspiration was … Christopher Walken’s rendition of “Poker Face.” Coming home, I expected to find Edward tearing his own hair out; but to my surprise, he wasn’t even there!
“What happened?” I asked Emmett and Rose, who were curled up on the couch, staring at each other. Emmett laughed and shook his head.
“That Edward, what a baby! He couldn’t handle it,” Emmett scoffed, with his usual cocky grin. Rose smirked at me, apparently very pleased with the day’s work.
Hmmm. Well … “He’ll be back tomorrow,” I informed them, seeing Bella and Ness urging him to return. I gave my best evil laugh and promised, “We’ll get him!”
Gotta go, I have a truck full of deflated bouncy castles and slides to bring to the baseball clearing!
Renee’s on a plane back to Jacksonville, and … I guess I better start from last night and tell it all in order.
So Bella and Esme came home with their garage sale finds, very pleased with themselves, and when I saw their haul I was impressed! Bella had found the perfume bottle and handed that to me first, as Esme pulled out her new painting and held it up for us to admire. Then Bella showed me a bronze table mirror that I immediately recognized as being an original Tiffany circa 1905! When I asked her how she knew that’s what it was, she just looked blankly back at me and said she didn’t know anything about it, but she thought Rose might like it.
Anyway, I raced up the stairs to hide the perfume bottle in my gift stash, and when I returned I saw Bella with her hands cupped, showing something to Renesmee, who had woken up when she heard her mother’s voice. With my usual friendly interest in the doings of my sister, I came over to see what the fuss was about – and gasped.
“Bella! Is that – a demantoid garnet?” I demanded, grabbing the dark metal ring and turning it to examine the huge stone from every angle.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “The lady couldn’t tell me. It was in a box with a bunch of random costume jewelry -”
“Demantoid garnets are not costume jewelry,” I corrected her swiftly. “Do you have any idea how rare they are? How much they’re worth? Look at this, it’s stunning!” Under the hallway light, the rough garnet stone was poison-green and clear as glass.
“Well, don’t tell Leah that, or she’ll never accept it,” Bella begged, taking the ring back from me.
“Leah?” I questioned, cocking my head to one side. The urge to look for this future event was instinctive, but of course I couldn’t see any of the wolves in the future. Still, looking at the ring again, it seemed exactly right for Leah: The raw crystals, jagged and unpolished, plainly set on a wide hammered band that looked like iron but was probably just oxidized silver … there was something wild about it that mirrored her fierce personality, and yet at the same time, it was beautiful and one-of-a-kind – again, just like her.
“Perfect,” I murmured aloud. Bella shot me a grateful look and smiled, just as Rosalie and Emmett came in through the back of the house.
“Oooohhhh,” Rose gushed, gazing covetously at the ring. I felt it was my duty to inform her that this was not for her.
“It’s for Leah,” Bella beat me to the punch. “It seemed right for her – Alice thinks so too – but I’m still not sure …”
“She’ll take it?” Emmett quipped drily.
“She’ll wear it?” Rose piped in at the exact same time.
After a tiny pause, Bella replied, “Exactly.”
But Christmas is still a few months away, so there was no need to dwell on that. Instead, Bella unceremoniously shoved the ring into her pocket (I cringed just a little) and then picked up Renesmee and headed to the couch to tell her all about her day.
Nessie’s eyes were wide with fascination as Bella described the various houses they’d gone to, with jumbled piles of random items displayed in the yards and crowds of haggling shoppers elbowing each other out of the way. Evidently Renee had proven to be a master haggler – her lack of focus made it easy for her to lose interest in an item quickly, which caused the homeowners to lower their asking prices to try to get a sale out of her. Ness laughed with delight at Bella’s vivid imitation of her mother losing interest in a funky lamp right in the middle of paying for it – she had changed her mind several times, and finally decided to take it (by that time, the original price had been cut in half)!
Esme, joining all of us in the living room now that her new painting had been hung up in the kitchen, agreed that it had been a lovely day. The weather was just right; gloomy enough to make it safe for her and Bella to be outside, but not rainy or too cold for Renee. From the way she talked, it sounded as though Renee was her new best friend, a thought which made me feel all “warm and fuzzy inside,” as the humans say.
She sounded deeply disappointed that Renee had to go home, and I wondered if she was secretly hoping that she’d move to Washington … Glancing up, I saw Edward’s swift wink, indicating that I was right about that. Well, I could see how happy it made both Bella and Esme to have Renee here, but there was no way we could ask, convince, or allow her to move back to Forks. Having Charlie exposed to our lifestyle was dangerous enough; we couldn’t involve Renee and her husband too. Especially not her husband – while he may care about Bella, it couldn’t be anything like the fierce protective love Renee and Charlie feel for her, so he would be a major liability.
Well, today being the last day of Renee’s visit, Bella and Edward planned to be at Charlie’s from morning until it was time to take her to the airport. Bella didn’t want to miss a single moment with her mom, so she had suggested the four of them have brunch together, giving Renee time to sleep in before traveling home. I guess Renee asked if Esme had any of those “delicious” orange-almond cinnamon rolls left over, because Esme was in the kitchen at about 7AM working on a new batch, which Bella and Edward took with them to the Swan residence.
Renesmee was having a hard time with her sleeping schedule, which needed to be switched back to normal anyway, so Jacob was in his human form at the cottage, reading to her or something. The rest of us were (YAY) working on plans for the party this Saturday – almost an entire month after her actual birthday, but not quite.
After a particularly long speech from me about arranging the dance floor, bouncy village, and food areas, Emmett groaned. “Seriously, can we talk about something fun for a while?” he begged, making a face at me. What was he talking about? This was fun.
“Well, we could work on our plans for Edward,” Rosalie suggested, her eyes lighting up. The boys heartily agreed, so I pulled out my other list and began taking notes as they all started talking at the same time.
Time passed in a haze of laughter and some very inspired ideas from Rosalie, when all of a sudden we heard a surprised yelp and howl that ended abruptly. All of us leapt to our feet at once, straining to hear what was wrong. It had sounded like Seth, but now he wasn’t making any noise at all. And where was Jacob, then?
“Shit.” This came from Emmett, but everybody seemed to agree, since we were all racing toward the source of the noise – right by the cottage. As we ran, I tried frantically to see Renesmee’s future, but I couldn’t – so that must mean she was still with Jacob, right??
After what seemed like an eternity, we burst into the clearing where Seth paced in front of the cottage in his wolf form. Crap!
“Seth, can you change to human and tell us what’s wrong?” I urged, dropping to my knees as I realized I couldn’t hear Renesmee or Jacob inside the tiny house. He shook his head, whining softly.
“What?! Do it!” Emmett roared, clenching his hands into huge, menacing fists. Seth cringed slightly, but kept pacing and whining.
Rosalie’s eyes narrowed to ferocious slits, but luckily Jasper could feel Seth’s emotions, and stepped in front of the rest of us. “Wait. Seth, has Jacob ordered you not to say anything to us?”
Seth nodded vigorously, earning another curse from Emmett and a grim look from Rose. This couldn’t be a good thing …
“We’ll follow his scent,” Jasper called, already rushing away.
As we ran, I noticed that we were heading toward Forks, and I began to get an idea of what was going on. My worst fears were confirmed as we entered Chief Swan’s neighborhood, following the sound of Jacob’s huge heart beating along with his vile scent.
We slowed as we reached the edge of the forest – Charlie, Bella, Edward, and Renee were inside the house, but close enough to a window that they just might see something if they glanced outside. Edward had a tense look in his eyes, but was still keeping his composure better than Bella, who looked terrified.
Jacob was sitting in the woods with Renesmee on his back, and the two of them were watching the family scene inside. Renesmee looked up guiltily as we reached her, but Jacob gave us a look that resembled gratitude … it was hard to tell coming from a wolf. But Edward hissed under his breath, “He didn’t want to, but she asked him to, and he couldn’t say no.”
Too bad Emmett was grinding his teeth and urging Jacob to come a little deeper into the forest, his voice a harsh whisper as Rosalie snatched Renesmee from his back. “I’m going to kill you, mongrel,” Rose spat before turning and beginning the run home. I heard her flatly refusing Renesmee’s plea to stay, and was glad that some of us were sensible enough to know what was good for her.
“Talk to Renesmee,” Edward ordered quickly, then turned his attention back to Renee and Charlie. I nodded to Jasper and the two of us took off, leaving Jacob to deal with Emmett.
When we got back to the house, Renesmee was sitting on the sofa alone, and Rosalie and Esme were both standing in the doorway with their arms folded tightly. Jasper stayed behind the couch and I moved to kneel in front of Renesmee on the carpet.
She looked at me warily, gulping as she saw that there was no trace of a smile on my face. “Renesmee,” I began in a monotone, “do you realize what you just did?”
She took a deep breath and said in a wavering voice, “She’s leaving today and I wanted to see her just once. Everybody else got to meet her but me.”
I nodded slowly, and hated the position I was in. Discipline was not my strong suit. “Okay, and we can all understand that,” I explained, as Rose and Esme nodded, “but what you just did put a lot of people in very grave danger.”
She swallowed hard and tried to tell me that she knew her Jacob could make it so she wouldn’t be seen by Renee. I had to interrupt.
“No, you didn’t know that, Renesmee … because I can’t see the future when the wolves are involved,” I reminded her in a voice that was barely above a whisper, “so there was absolutely no way to be sure that you would have been safe. Anyone could have seen you sitting on the back of a giant wolf, and if Renee had glanced out of that window at just the wrong moment, she would have spotted you.” I paused; Jasper was filling the room with belief and a bit of fear, which was confusing to me as the authority figure, but exactly what we needed Renesmee to feel.
“Now, you know that we were very worried when your grandpa Charlie first found out about you,” I resumed the lecture, looking her straight in the eyes, which were beginning to water. I shoved my own emotions out of the way and continued, “With the Volturi looking for any excuse to find fault with us, it is incredibly unsafe and selfish of us to keep humans involved in our lives. The only reason I told Bella and Edward it would be okay for Renee to visit was because I saw that we would be able to keep you out of sight.”
I stopped again, heartbroken by the quiet sobs coming from Renesmee and Esme. Rosalie’s jaw was tense, but so far, she wasn’t breaking down. I tried to soak up some of her strength to go on.
“Renesmee … you will get to meet Renee someday. I know with her here now, and everyone talking about her, you wanted to see her too. But she cannot see you yet. One day, when she meets you, you will look about 14 years old; and that will only be a couple of years from now. So she canNOT see you at this age. It is far, far too dangerous for everyone involved,” I finished with a huge sigh.
Renesmee’s breath hitched in gulping sobs as she wept in shame, and I signaled to Esme and Rose to come help me comfort her, now that I had done what I had to do. A quick glance at Jasper was enough to tell him it was okay to leave – I knew the emotions had become too much for him.
The three of us stayed on the couch, speaking only rarely, until Emmett got home and reported that Jacob was back in La Push and Bella and Edward had left for the airport. Then, Esme gently urged Renesmee to take a quick nap before her mom and dad got back.
As soon as the poor, heartbroken little girl was asleep, I turned to Emmett and asked what had happened with Jacob.
“Well, he didn’t put up much of a fight,” Emmett snorted, looking disappointed. “Just walked into the forest and stood there, wouldn’t change back into human, so I had to fight him in his wolf form. But Edward made me stop way too soon, I wasn’t even halfway done with him,” Emmett griped.
“He’s incapable of telling Renesmee no,” Esme fretted, twisting and crumpling the fabric of her skirt. “Oh, I wish he hadn’t done that, but … maybe it was wrong to hit him, since he really didn’t have a choice.”
Emmett looked chagrined at that, but Rosalie was quick to remind Esme that he had also ordered Seth not to tell us where he went. “He didn’t have to do that,” she pointed out.
“True,” Esme sighed.
“I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about when they get back,” I said, “but right now I – I just need – I’m going to go find Jasper.” With that, I ran away.
So Renee, Esme, and Bella all went out to explore our local garage sales this morning. The visions I’d had when I was invited … well, let’s just say there was nothing anyone could say to convince me to go with them. I did, however, see one thing that I wanted – a 1920s Lalique crystal perfume bottle worth about $20,000 – so I concentrated to see how much they wanted for it, and then gave Bella the $40 she’d need to buy it, going into great detail to describe it so she would be able to find it amidst the rubble.
It’s not for me though, it’s part of Rosalie’s Christmas gift from me. See, when she was human, she always loved the ritual of putting on perfume – back then, every perfume bottle had one of those glamorous bulb atomisers that you had to squeeze for the perfume to come out – and she really missed that when she was changed. At first, she tried to keep up her routine, but Edward couldn’t stand to be anywhere near here for the smell, so it must have been even stronger and harder to deal with to Rosalie, because she eventually stopped wearing it.
So my gift to her is a hand-picked collection of beautiful crystal perfume bottles, all the loveliest ones I can find, and all of them – empty. That way, she can squeeze the little bulb all she wants and not drown in the reek of human perfume.
Anyway, so Bella, Esme, and Renee left around 7AM, all dressed as though they were going hiking rather than driving around Forks. Even Bella had on her Lanvin leopard-print sneakers, along with a fur-trimmed, hooded designer version of the tacky “puffer” coat humans seem to adore so much. They had taken Emmett’s Jeep to add to the urban warrior illusion. Okay, it was actually in case they found anything large – Esme had asked me to look ahead for her and see which car they should bring, and it looked like there was a large Joseph Stella painting she would like, and I couldn’t tell exactly how big it was, so I told her to just take the Jeep to be on the safe side. Amazing how these insanely valuable things can just be hidden in piles of people’s junk!
I saw that they would be gone all day, and with Nessie sleeping, and Carlisle back at the hospital, it was the usual suspects hanging around the house today. Emmett, Rose, Jasper, Edward and I were all bored, and since Edward didn’t want to venture too far from Renesmee, we were more or less stuck at home. Without Bella there, we couldn’t play any games – Edward would be hearing everyone’s thoughts – and unless we invited Seth or Leah to spend their free time playing with us instead of sleeping, I could see everyone’s plans and strategies. So no games …
“Bored,” Emmett grunted, his head hanging upside-down as his torso was bent backwards over the back of the sofa.
“Very bored,” Rosalie concurred at his side, idly examining her golden hair, which she was methodically wrapping and unwrapping around her finger.
I sighed, gazing up at Jasper’s chin from my pillow, a.k.a. his lap. I was bored too, and every idea I had was being shot down before I could even say it aloud – I could see them refusing to participate in a fashion show, a play, a reenactment of the “Thriller” music video …
Edward waited patiently, Emmett and Rose less patiently, as I ran through all the options I could think of. The only one that seemed like it’d work was for Jazz and Emmett, the rest of us would just be spectators. Still, it was better than nothing!
So Jasper and Emmett faced one another in the backyard, each holding their razor-sharp antique iron swords – they each had two, because let’s face it, just one apiece would be pretty boring for us. I could hear Seth’s padding footsteps slow in the forest as he caught a glimpse of the boys poised to attack one another.
Edward waited until everyone’s thoughts were in a frenzy of suspense and all bets had been placed before shouting, “Begin!” They had only 40 seconds to battle – the equivalent of about half an hour to a human – and the goal was to disarm the opponent, or break his swords, or both.
Rose and I immediately started shouted trash talk at each other’s husbands, as Jazz and Emmett circled around, Emmett waving his swords menacingly and Jasper waiting for the right moment to strike. His moment arrived when Emmett, imitating some silly action movie, feinted toward Jazz with both swords in a twisting motion, leaving his right side unprotected. Jasper sidestepped, caught the handle of Emmett’s sword with the blade of his own, and tossed it away into the forest.
“Hahahahaha haaa, nanananana naaa,” I sang, sticking out my tongue at Rose in excitement as she scowled and booed.
Enraged, Emmett began to move faster – but he was no match for Jazz, who watched his every move with a calculating gaze. The two danced around each other, twisting and turning and stabbing and -
“HA!!!” I crowed, hopping up and down in delight as Emmett’s other sword flew into the air and embedded itself 40 feet up in a tree trunk with a dull thunk.
“Rematch!” Rose and Emmett shouted at the same time, as Emmett leaped into the tree’s branches and climbed up to his sword. He removed it from the tree bark swiftly, then growled as he realized that the blade was now considerably dulled.
They ended up doing “best of three,” which turned into “best of five.” The final score was 3 victories for Jasper, and 2 for Emmett (in my opinion, they were pity wins – Jasper is so generous).
Then Emmett wanted to compete in a more physical challenge, so the three boys had a … um … throwing contest, I guess you could call it. Kind of like the shot put, but with half-grown pine trees. Emmett, of course, won all five times.
By then Rose and I had gotten worked up into a competitive frenzy, so we devised a contest for the two of us.
It was a dance-off.
I got to choose the first song, Rosalie the second, and Edward (the impartial party) chose the third. I chose “Calabria 2007 (Club Mix),” which was a bit less sexy than the other fast songs on my iPod – I knew Rosalie’s moves, and let’s just say there’s not a lot of line-dancing or disco in there. I pulled out all my best techno moves and even a bit of breakdancing, and won the first round.
Then Rose’s song came on; she had, of course, chosen “Low,” and immediately began swaying and shaking her hips and, um, other parts. I knew she was going to win, but I still had fun getting in her face with my vastly superior hip-hop moves.
Edward had been careful not to decide which song he’d play until the very last minute, so Rose and I were both surprised to hear “The Hustle” start to play. So he’d heard my thoughts about disco earlier! I almost collapsed in giggles when Emmett jumped in with his silly moves, like The Sprinkler, Rolling the Dice, and that all-time classic The Lawn Mower. By the end of the song all of us were laughing nonstop as we did The Hustle together.
Obviously, Rose and I tied, and it was exactly the right way to get rid of the competitive urges we’d all been possessed with that day. We were able to shake hands (figuratively speaking) and part as friends – Rose, to go hunt with Emmett, and Edward to go check on Renesmee. Jazz and I took advantage of the temporarily empty house.
It sounds like the girls are home, so I’d better go see if Bella found that perfume bottle. Tomorrow is the last day of Renee’s visit, so I’ll write more then!
I guess the dinner at Charlie’s wasn’t terribly exciting, aside from the possibility of death for him and Renee, who had to eat the hockey puck-like pork chops and soggy couscous Renee had prepared. I would have loved to see the look on Charlie’s face! Anyway, Edward said there was just a lot of reminiscing, and just one passing mention of Sue from Renee.
Today, Bella and Renee planned to hang out here all day watching chick flicks on our giant flat screen TV. This meant that the rest of us had to stay hidden, or go out. Carlisle had arranged his work schedule for this week according to my instructions, so he was at the hospital, but everyone else had opted to stay in; it was an ugly, rainy, gloomy day in Forks, and everyone had hunted fairly recently, so there was no need to go out.
Seth and Leah were both guarding Renesmee at the cottage while Jacob snored away on Bella and Edward’s couch. That made it a little easier for me; I couldn’t see Ness, but I could at least see everyone here, in case anything was going to happen. And so far it looked like nothing would happen (at least nothing bad).
Because of the weather, the plans for the day, and Bella’s gratitude over the dinner party, I had allowed her to wear pajamas today. I had made the decision when she thanked me on Wednesday night, so Edward already knew, and wasn’t shocked the way Bella was when I told her she could schlup around in her PJs all day. The look on her face was PRICELESS! Like she had won the lottery (ridiculous reaction) and yet was concerned about my mental health at the same time. I didn’t make her wear jewelry, or nice shoes, either … so now she owes me big time! I’m not saying that was the real motivation involved, of course; just that it’s a nice advantage to have.
So Bella had cheerfully hummed her way into the kitchen, where Esme was just uncovering the freshly-risen dough to make orange-and-almond-flavored cinnamon rolls. The two of them worked together to assemble them, and when they were done, Esme kindly offered to bring some to the cottage for the wolves to snack on. (These were large cinnamon rolls, but to those Quiluetes, they were practically bite-sized!)
The scent of fresh baked bread mingled with cinnamon was almost like an Esme perfume, since that’s what she smells like already. That was an interesting thought … but it had no practical application. I mean, I could order a custom perfume blend to match Esme’s scent, but who would need it? Carlisle might like to have it for when they are apart, but that’s only for a few hours at a time, usually. Well, maybe I would try it anyway … he could keep it in his office at the hospital, to soothe himself when times were hard.
Anyway, Renee arrived just in time to watch Esme drizzling the glaze over the hot pastries, and we all heard her stomach growl with anticipation. Esme greeted her with delight, and assured her that she’d be “out of the way” in no time.
“No, no,” Renee protested, half in love with Esme and drooling over the cinnamon rolls. “Why don’t you stay? We’re just watching some movies, but I’d like for you to join us, and anyone else who feels like it …”
So that was how we all ended up in the living room, watching movie after movie after movie all day. “The Wedding Singer,” “Never Been Kissed,” and “The Time-Traveler’s Wife” were Renee and Bella’s choices. Between the soothing trickle of rain outside, the dark room, and the cocoon I had made out of Jasper’s lap and arms, it was quite comfortable … and the movies were surprisingly decent too. “The Time-Traveler’s Wife” reminded me of Renesmee and Jacob, especially when Claire Abshire bitterly reminded her husband Henry that she “never had a choice” about falling in love with him, since he had always been a part of her life. Was that how it would be for Renesmee? Would she grow up with Jacob as her idol, and never have a moment where she got to choose how to feel about him?
Possibly trying to escape my thoughts (which I belatedly realized must be unpleasant echoes of his own fears), Edward got up and announced that he was going to make us a movie-watching dinner. I had no idea what that meant, but after a few minutes, I was absorbed by the film once again and forgot to pay attention to Edward in the kitchen.
A while later, the smell of spattering oil wafted into the living room, and I sneezed. Apparently, “movie food” was a synonym for fried food; Edward was frying … let’s see, potatoes, chicken, even green beans, unless my nose deceived me! I heard him whipping or mixing something in an aluminum bowl, then clattering together some more dishes, before he re-entered the movie zone.
“Your feast, miladies,” he grinned, placing a large platter of fried chicken with several dipping sauces (I could smell honey, barbeque sauce, mustard, and something sweet and tangy) on our coffee table, along with paper napkins. “It’s all finger food, so it’ll be easy to eat. Please, help yourselves!”
As he spoke, he added the peppery-smelling potato chips and a plate of fried green beans to the table. Renee exclaimed over how delicious it all looked, and expressed delighted surprise that he had managed to whip everything up so quickly. A few of us (Rose, Jasper, and I) gave our brother a pointed glare when she said that, but Bella only look mildly concerned and Emmett was too busy flicking green beans at Jasper to even notice.
Finally, the movie ended, and I sighed, deep in thought. Renesmee and Jacob were still on my mind … and since Edward and Bella were both uncharacteristically quiet, it seemed like they were thinking the same things. Renee interpreted this silence as a cue to leave, and it was past 10:00PM, so Bella allowed her to go, desperate to see her own daughter who’d be waking up soon.
Tomorrow they’re going out “garage sailing,” as Renee put it, which does not appear to involve sailing at all, just a bunch of junk on people’s lawns. Doesn’t look like that much fun to me. But for now, there are green beans all over the living room that Esme is painstakingly cleaning up, so I think I’ll go help her with the stain remover before Ness and the others get back.
I never thought I’d see the day when I would be glad of the blind spot the wolves give me.
This morning, I helped Bella into her clothes and disguise as usual; since she was just going to hang around Charlie’s house with Renee all day, I allowed her to wear her skinny jeans, but vetoed her sweatshirt idea in favor of a midnight blue Carolina Herrera tie-neck sweater. (Plus, she didn’t know yet that I had gotten rid of her sweats and sweatshirt when I took out the Uggs. She’ll find out eventually, but not today.) A quick argument over footwear ended in victory for me, and rabbit-fur trimmed Manolo boots for Bella. Understated heart-shaped alexandrite stud earrings completed the look.
Edward was meeting them at Charlie’s for dinner, but would have to stay here the rest of the day, so Bella was clinging to him, going on and on about how she would miss him. (During the roughly seven hours they would be apart. I know. It’s sickening.)
Suddenly, Emmett appeared at the top of the stairs, looking confused. “Hey – you going already, Bella?”
Rosalie came out of their room behind him and began to descend the staircase as Edward rolled his eyes and shook his head in apparent disgust. Bella, still snuggled into his side, glanced up and wondered aloud, “Why … ? Yeah, I’m off to Charlie’s …”
I had been sitting on the floor, leaning against Jasper’s knees as he read a book, but now I leapt to my feet and turned to face my siblings, grinning. All of us were surrounding Bella and Edward now, and even Esme quietly slipped into the room to hear what we all wanted to know from Edward …
“You’ve gotta tell us about your mom and Sue first,” Emmett boomed, ruffling Bella’s hair.
“Don’t do that!” I cried, aghast, and hopped over the couch to fix her hair as Emmett laughed stridently at the look on my sister’s face.
“No fair keeping secrets, little sis,” he declared, shaking a finger at her. “I know Edward must’ve told you already, well now we wanna know. What happened? Catfight?” Now it was Rose’s turn to roll her eyes, but she couldn’t conceal the tiny smile of anticipation that curled the corner of her mouth.
“No way!” Bella scoffed, folding her arms across her chest. She glanced down at the sofa to confirm that Renesmee was still asleep, then lowered her voice and continued, “Nothing happened. Unlike you, some people use words to solve their disagreements, not violence.” She stuck her tongue out at Emmett, who simply laughed harder and turned to Edward.
“Wow, that bad, huh? C’mon, you can tell us,” he urged. “Did they at least get in each other’s faces a little?”
“As Bella said, nothing happened,” Edward insisted. We all tsked and threw our hands up in annoyance.
“Come on, guys. We’re not blind,” I argued. “It was pretty obvious that there was some tension between the three of them last night.”
Edward let out a deep sigh and turned a questioning gaze on Bella, who managed to look even more annoyed. “Look, if you guys want to stand here all day gossiping, that’s up to you. I am going to go be with my mother … who is not jealous or possessive!”
The two of them darted outside to say their goodbyes as Bella got into the Vanquish and started the engine. “He’ll tell us in a minute,” I whispered under my breath, and everyone stayed in place until Edward returned.
“All right,” Emmett exclaimed. “So? Spill it!”
“As much as I hate to disappoint you all,” Edward laughed, shaking his head, “truly, nothing happened – at least, nothing like what you’ve all been imagining.” I glanced at Emmett, who was peering curiously at Esme, who was gazing thoughtfully at Jasper. Before we had to ask, Edward clarified, “You’re all wondering the same thing; but no, there was no ‘cat fight.’ Charlie merely introduced Sue to Renee, and, as usual, said as little as possible while doing so.”
“So … what? You mean he didn’t even have the decency to to introduce Sue as his girlfriend?” Rosalie asked, seemingly shocked. Emmett shook his head sadly as Rose added, “That seems awfully rude to me, I wouldn’t put up with that. If Sue respects herself, she -”
“It had nothing to do with disrespect, Rosalie,” Edward interrupted. “In fact, he was attempting to be respectful of Renee by not declaring the obvious, that Sue and he have formed a relationship. He spent the entire evening thinking of how to keep both women from feeling hurt or uncomfortable.”
That shut us all up. After a moment’s pause, Esme ventured to ask, “But does Sue understand that? I’d hate for her to feel slighted in any way …”
“No, Sue was prepared, she didn’t feel at all offended,” Edward assured her in a gentler tone of voice. “Charlie had asked for her opinion, apparently, and they decided together that this was the best way. Renee is so observant … well, he knew she would figure it out, whether he said anything or not.”
“Hmmm,” Emmett sighed, already losing interest. “So much for that, I guess.”
“I’m glad no one was hurt,” Esme said, with her motherly smile.
Edward looked awkwardly away, and then sighed. “Except … you all saw them last night. It was rather uncomfortable for all three of them,” he admitted with regret.
“Oh, no!” Esme cried, just as Emmett said, “Hell, yeah!” Esme tsked reprovingly at him and turned wide, imploring eyes on Edward.
“Sue felt a bit threatened by Renee’s presence,” he explained, “which made Charlie uncomfortable, and Renee irritated … but I believe she handled it fairly well. I could hear her thinking that she couldn’t believe Sue was acting this way, but I didn’t hear any specific comments or insults from any of them, so …”
“Boring,” Emmett decided, turning away again. He tapped his foot on the ground for a moment and then said, “So, Jasper, how bout a little game of catch?”
“Wait,” Edward ordered. Renesmee’s little bronzed head popped up behind him on the couch and she smiled sleepily at us as Edward continued, “There’s something Renesmee would like to do today.”
“She should be sleeping,” Rose objected, gliding over to Ness and stroking her hair softly. Renesmee placed her palm on Rose’s cheek with a mischievous glint in her eye. “Oh …” Rosalie murmured, her face lighting up. She giggled and ran upstairs without looking back.
“Uh, hello? What’s going on?” I demanded, searching and seeing nothing. I had assumed Jacob would be with us all day because it was completely blurred out, but now it seemed as though this was intentional, as Jacob and Seth entered the room wearing their nicest clothes and Edward hefted his piano in one hand and ran outside.
I followed, still confused and complaining. “Guys, hi, remember me? I see the future? At least, I’m supposed to,” I added pointedly, glaring at Jacob (it was hard to glare at Seth).
“Relax, Alice,” Jacob chuckled, bringing out some sort of wood slab from the side of the house. It was made of interlocking … wait.
“That’s the dance floor for Nessie’s party!” I shrieked indignantly. “What …” I stood back to take in the scene: Dance floor, Edward at his piano, Nessie still wearing her Kaiya Eve tutu dress from last night, Rosalie popping out of the house in the slutty ballerina costume she’d worn for Halloween a few years ago … A grin split my face as I squealed, “More dancing??”
“Renesmee enjoyed your party the other day,” Edward informed me, beaming at his little angel, who was standing in the middle of the dance floor. “She wouldn’t sleep until we had found her some ballet videos to watch, and … well, you’ll see,” he finished, turning to the ivory keys.
Jacob and Seth solemnly stood on either side of Nessie, each supporting one of her tiny feet until Edward began to play. As the music flowed, they lifted Ness into the air, and spun in a circle. I could feel my eyes growing huge in my face as the boys very seriously lowered her to the dance floor, bowed, and glided off to the side to join us in the audience.
She was … incredible; there’s no other word to describe what it looked like as she twirled, leaped, and pliéd to the music. It seemed effortless, as though she was improvising the entire dance based on the mood the song was creating …
When the song slowed and grew softer, she looked like a forlorn angel dipping her wings and then rising again as the music sped up and turned more intense. She turned faster and faster, jumping high into the air and performing perfect triple axles to the music, as I gasped in joyful shock. I groped blindly for Jasper’s hand and crushed it against my lips, unable to see anything but Renesmee as she moved so expressively with the song. I was beginning to feel that the song was coming from her, was created by her dance rather than the other way around.
As I stood in a daze, Jacob leaned down to me and closed my mouth with his finger, laughing softly. I swatted his hand away without even looking, and he whispered, “I know … she’s really …” He stopped, at a loss for words.
“I know,” I agreed softly, struck speechless as well.
The song came to an end much too soon, with Renesmee gracefully sinking to the floor and bowing her head as the last note lingered in the air. She immediately looked up at us hopefully, a brilliant smile on her face as she took in our awed expressions.
“That was -” “You’re so -” “It was amazing, Ness,” we all cried, applauding fiercely. She did a little ballerina bow for us, then looked up and giggled.
“Now let’s all dance,” she suggested, holding her hands out to us. She didn’t need to ask twice; even the guys joined in as Edward, smiling hugely like the luckiest man in the world (which he is), began to play a new song.
Rose and I surrounded her, joining our hands and twirling together. I couldn’t anticipate their movements since Jacob and Seth were in the middle of everything, but somehow even that was okay; they were having as much fun as we were. We began to synchronize our movements, each instinctively knowing what the others were going to do, until it felt as though we had been dancing this ballet since the beginning of time.
After a few hours, Ness had to go to bed and Edward had to go to Charlie’s. But Rose and I weren’t done dancing, so we turned on the stereo and set it to play through the outdoor speakers as Jacob and Seth carefully replaced the piano inside and then took Ness to the cottage.
Jasper and Emmett allowed us to lead them through a dozen more waltzes, tangos, and even a bit of salsa before begging to be set free. By then, Carlisle was home, swirling around the dance floor with a happily glowing Esme. Rosalie and I continued to dance together until Bella and Edward returned, and then it was time for Renesmee to perform all over again.
Oops – I forgot to ask how dinner went. I’ll be sure to write about that tomorrow!
If we were humans, we would all be dead tired right now!
The day began in the most predictable way – with arguments. For some reason, Bella had thought that Jacob and Seth were invited to the dinner party – luckily, neither of the boys had been so foolish as to believe that, so it wasn’t a big problem. Jacob had more important things to do, namely, watching over Renesmee at the cottage; and Seth and Leah were on patrol around our property so they could eavesdrop on their mother (if they wanted to).
Anyway, obviously I wouldn’t have invited them to be there – then how would I know what would happen that night?? Silly Bella. But since she and Esme were the chefs, I had to placate her before she would get back to work on the food. Having assembled the focaccia the night before, my role in the food prep was done (and the only reason I’d even had to do that much was that ever-practical Bella would just have gone with store-bought bread).
I had other things to do; arrange flowers, set the table, coerce Edward into writing the place cards in his elegant script … It had taken me over an hour to get the table looking just right, and that was only the beginning! Then I had to perfect the lighting scheme, which required the judicious addition of a handful of candles, and last but not least, Jasper and I had worked together to adorn the trees surrounding our driveway with brand-new Chinese-style lanterns.
Then it was on to apparel. I had been very, very careful when selecting everyone’s outfit; I didn’t want any of us to make Renee feel uncomfortable, so I’d chosen dresses that were a little less on the flashy side. Bella’s took the longest to find, of course … every time I’d thought I had found the right one, I had a vision of her refusing to wear it – “too short,” “too shiny,” “NO SEQUINS!” etc etc. So annoying. Finally, I had found an elegant, sophisticated dress for her that would look lovely with her sapphire earrings.
I laid out all of the outfits in each person’s room, except for Bella’s, since I still had to apply her disguise/ makeup. And tonight, she was going to have to let me put some fancy eyeshadow on her; I was also doing mine, Rosalie, and Esme’s, so she wouldn’t have to stand out too much. But they weren’t done cooking – though our vampire speed makes prep a breeze, it still takes lamb a while to braise in the oven – so I decided to give myself a manicure and pedicure. Then Rose wandered in to join me, and as we chatted, I pondered the wisdom of giving her one of her Christmas gifts in advance … the flower-and-butterfly necklace would probably be a bit too sweet-looking for the zip-up cherry red Versace dress she was going to wear, though, so I decided against it. Anyway, she already had some Van Cleef & Arpels ribbon-style ruby and diamond earrings to wear, so it was okay.
Finally, all the food that needed to be made in advance was done enough that Bella could come get dressed. Unfortunately, the tension of being a hostess seemed to have affected her a bit.
“What are you guys wearing??” she screeched, her head swiveling from Rose in her slightly ostentatious Versace dress to me in my fabulous leather dress.
“Clothes,” Rosalie deadpanned, rolling her eyes at me. I bit back my grin and pulled Bella’s dress out of its garment bag with a flourish. It was a sapphire-colored Yves Saint Laurent in a classic silhouette: boatneck sheath top, and slightly fuller skirt to just above the knee. There was no way she could disapprove.
Wrong! “I am not wearing that, Alice,” she informed me, crossing her arms over her chest with a scowl. As I gaped at her in disbelief, she continued, “My mom is going to show up in normal clothes and then you’ll all be embarrassed -”
I had to interrupt; she was wrong on so many levels. “Actually Bella … remember how I can see the future?” I began, enunciating each word slowly as though talking to a slightly dim-witted child. “Your mother has brought a lovely dress to wear, and you will represent our family beautifully in your dress, and nobody will have any reason to be embarrassed. Now get dressed.”
Eventually, everyone was dressed and ready – Esme had on a fantastic Marc Jacobs dress in a sweet retro style, with white polka dots on a nude background, and the men were all wearing man clothes. I mean, I had found some good-looking stuff for them to wear and all, but you know … it all looks the same anyway.
Renee was due any minute, so I was darting around the living room, checking one last time to make sure everything was set up. Since we couldn’t really eat any of the food, I had instructed everyone to make it look as though they were chewing, when in reality all of their food would be slipped into Ziploc bags faster than a human’s eyes could detect it. So I had Ziploc bags stashed everywhere, and the guys had some in their pockets too. It was going to be a little annoying, but appearances were important here, and the food wouldn’t be going to waste – Jacob and Seth had very generously promised to take the bags of food. Apparently what we were serving was delicious, because they had been hanging around all day – they kept following their noses into the kitchen and cajoling Bella and Esme into letting them “taste-test” everything.
Everything was ready, so I asked Jacob to take a quick family portrait of all of us before he took Ness back to the cottage. She had been sleeping most of the day, but had woken up in time to be dressed for the photo. As soon as that was done, I ordered everyone to their places and Charlie’s cruiser turned off the highway and into our driveway.
With Edward’s music playing softly in the background, the candles twinkling merrily, and what was evidently a fantastic scent of food wafting through the air, it’s no wonder Charlie, Sue and Renee looked a bit dazed when they walked in. Carlisle and Esme greeted them with hugs, and as Bella took her turn, Edward began to offer them drinks. Sue and Renee were each wearing a little black dress (both from Macy’s), and they both looked lovely … and tense. I made a mental note to ask Edward how that car ride had gone later.
When everyone had taken a seat in the living room, the song switched to Exogenesis Symphony, just as I had planned. It was a heartbreaking song when performed by Muse, but my brother’s rendition was a thousand times more intense. The haunting piano and violin notes began to calm our guests, although the wine may have had some part to play there too; and the blood orange-infused giant olives were going over very well with the humans, too. “Eat,” I whispered quickly and softly, so only my family would hear, and they dutifully began to help themselves to bruschetta with walnut pesto. So far, so good.
“It’s lovely to see you again, Alice, Jasper,” Renee said, turning to face us with a smile. “How have your travels been going? Have you been anywhere exciting?”
I let Jazz take the reigns on this one, as he had been instructed how to respond. As he began to detail our “recent trip to Ireland,” I focused on scanning the immediate future. I had to make sure that nothing would surprise us tonight.
Bella excused herself to cook the one thing she had absolutely insisted on including – mushroom-filled ravioli. The sauce was ready, but the pasta had to be done at the last second. I took this as a cue to light the candles in the dining room, so I excused myself as well.
“Alice,” I heard Bella whisper from the kitchen. “Does everything look okay?”
“Are you kidding?” I shot back. “It looks amazing, if I do say so myself.”
I heard her snort with laughter in a very undignified way before clarifying, “I meant the future, not your decorations!” Oh. Well, that did make more sense.
“It’s all fine so far, Bella,” I assured her, standing back to assess my efforts. Like I said, it looked amazing. I quickly grabbed the digital camera and snapped a photo, then straightened a chair, and gave it one last scan to ensure it looked perfect.
“Ready in the dining room,” I informed my sister in a normal tone of voice, as I appeared at her side in front of the stove.
“Okay, this is just about ready, too,” she responded, frowning in concentration as she stirred the sauce. She sighed and started complaining about how hard it was to tell if everything tasted right, since it all tasted like charcoal to us. I allowed her to ramble on for a while and release her tension before reminding her that the wolves had found everything to be delicious.
On that note, we re-entered the living room, and I stayed a step behind Bella as she declared that dinner was now served. The humans ambled slowly into the dining room, exclaiming over the beautiful table setting, which earned a few humble, modest smiles of gratitude from me. Edward, Emmett, Jasper, and Carlisle held the womens’ seats out for us like waiters in a fancy restaurant, causing even more coos of delight.
The first course was soup; Esme had concocted a chilled vellutata of new potatoes, smoked salmon, and leeks with crème fraîche and tarragon mousse. The humans seemed to love it, judging by the speed with which their servings disappeared and the praise they heaped on Esme for it. The rest of us took a spoonful every now and then when Renee was looking, and then dumped it into Ziplocs under the table. I had predicted that it would be annoying, but Emmett seemed to be finding it fun, like a new game.
As Carlisle and Esme cleared the soup dishes, Renee finally asked, “So, Sue …” We all held our breath in anticipation, even Charlie and Sue, until Renee finished with, “… do you get to see the Cullens often?” Emmett let out a grunt of disappointment that was almost loud enough for the humans to hear, so I caught Rosalie’s eye and glared briefly, which she correctly interpreted as a signal to kick Emmett under the table.
We were all dying of curiosity: Had Charlie explained the nature of his relationship with Sue? Was there a cat-fight brewing? I couldn’t see anything yet …
But we made it through the pasta and meat courses without incident; everyone was polite and cordial, if a bit stiff at times. The only awkward moment came when Renee laughed at something Charlie’d said for just a moment longer than necessary … Sue gave her an icy, disapproving stare. But I doubt Renee or Charlie noticed.
Finally it was time to serve coffee and the pièce de résistance: dessert! Esme and Bella had collaborated on a beautiful Marsala-soaked hazelnut poundcake topped with Warren pears and mascarpone. I could tell the humans enjoyed it from the way their eyes bugged out when they were served, and the speed at which it disappeared! Charlie was the only one who felt comfortable enough to take a second helping, but I hoped that Sue and Renee had enjoyed the meal too. With the sweet, slow lullaby Edward had composed for Bella playing on the hidden speakers, and the flickering candles and dimmed chandelier lights, it was a romantic setting calculated to put everyone at ease.
Unfortunately, I may have made it a bit too romantic. Sue was cuddling up to Charlie with her eyes closed in bliss; I wished I could hear her thoughts to know if she was purposely marking her territory or not. Renee, after one shrewd glance at them, turned away and chatted with Bella about their plans for the rest of the week. The other couples in our family were gazing into each other’s eyes or holding hands, looking completely at ease. I could feel myself relaxing too, leaning my head against Jazz’s shoulder as he smiled down at me. He winked to let me know that he was influencing the mood, and I gave him a quick peck on the cheek in gratitude. While it might make Emmett happy, I doubted anyone else would enjoy a cat-fight between Renee and Sue in that moment!
As Charlie began to yawn and stretch in his seat, I stood up and waited until I had everyone’s full attention to declare, “Edward would like to play a few songs for you, if you’re not too tired to dance a bit?”
His eyebrows shot up as I said it, but he covered extremely well, and merely smiled and nodded, moving gracefully to his piano. As Clair de Lune began to play, my family and our guests streamed into the huge, wide hallway and paired off. Bella immediately asked Renee to dance with her, in a feat of tact that had me grinning in approval.
Edward, just give me some signal when Charlie, Sue or Renee starts thinking that they want to leave, I ordered. Without waiting to see a response, I let Jasper sweep me away. We danced for about an hour before I heard Edward make a mistake at the end of an Alexandre Desplat song, and I knew that must be the signal.
I made a big show of yawning and telling Jasper that I needed a rest, and the humans soon followed my example. “Thank you so much for having us over,” Renee gushed, squeezing Bella’s hand (I had a moment of anxiety as I watched, but soon realized she was a bit too blurry with wine to notice anything strange about Bella’s very cold, very firm hand).
“Yeah, this was real nice,” Charlie agreed gruffly, watching Edward as he moved to Bella’s side and kissed the top of her head. Even Sue managed to thank Carlisle for the pleasant evening (she must still be annoyed with Bella and Edward).
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mom,” Bella promised, following them to the front door. As soon as the door closed, we all let out a sigh of relief, which sounded pretty funny. Almost instantly, Seth came bounding in through the back door, a hopeful look on his face.
“Hey guys! Looked like it went pretty well, huh?” he greeted us cheerfully, as he found the leftover appetizers and began to shovel them in.
“Yes … I think it did, actually,” Bella mused, and finally sent me a big smile. She came over to me, pulled me in for a hug, and whispered, “Thank you, Alice … it was perfect.”
I am worn out with socializing – we spent another few hours dancing before Esme said she couldn’t ignore the mess any longer, and Bella and Edward grabbed the leftovers to feed their future son-in-law and took off. My last official act as the day’s conductor was to order Emmett to help Esme clean, and then Jasper and I took off for private time.
Tomorrow Renee is going to attempt to cook dinner in retaliation – err, I mean, appreciation – for tonight’s feast, so that should be pretty interesting; I’ll write all about it!