The snow floated down from the sky in soft, sparkly sheets as a blizzard rolled through New Hampshire on Christmas Eve. It was enough snow to close down the long back road to our house.
Edward and I figured it’d be the perfect time to take Renesmee to town so we could look at all the Christmas lights glittering atop the rows of homes filled with snowed–in humans.
No one would be out in the blizzard; they’d surely all be snuggled in front of their roaring fires, or tucked under thick blankets drinking hot chocolate. Humans are so easily chilled–a memory and feeling that is incredibly vague to me now.
Each of us bundled up with mittens, scarves, plush winter jackets, toques and boots, then headed through the forest, running until we reached the edge of town. We slowed to a human pace and shoved our mittens in our pockets and tensed up, pretending to be affected by the frigid weather. I’d become an expert–almost–at acting human.
Renesmee was still able to feel the cold, so she didn’t have to work as hard to blend in. Her beauty, though… I knew it made people wonder. Now that she looked like a mature sixteen year old, it was even harder to keep humans from wondering about her. Wondering about her inhuman beauty, grace and elegance. She was more beautiful than Rosalie, more dazzling than any immortal.
We reached the corner of the first street of brilliantly lit up houses. Each home was very different in structure and design, but also varied in decorative taste. The first house was a tall modern stone home with green and red spotlights in the garden shining on the pale gray stones. There was a huge blow–up Santa on the snow blanketed front lawn and a snowman–that was probably made by small children– right beside it.
As we walked on we saw small homes, large homes, modern houses and vintage–style houses, each decorated uniquely and so beautifully. It was clear that some homeowners were in competition with each other, trying to outshine their neighbors with enough lights to nearly blind a humans feeble eyes.
Renesmee’s smile beamed as we passed each house, but there was still a slight vacancy in her eyes. She missed Jake. He was in La Push visiting with his family, but he promised Nessie he’d be back late Christmas Eve night, or very early Christmas morning. It was storming heavily, though, and I couldn’t read my Nudger’s mind like Edward could, but I knew she was suppressing a great deal of worry.
Edward gracefully removed his gloved hand from his pocket and latched it around Renesmee’s knitted mitten then looked down at her with a soft, comforting smile. He could read her mind, of course, so he was trying to soothe her, take her mind away from the worries that had been slowly drowning out her beautiful smile.
“Jake will be back in no time, Renesmee,” Edward assured her.
Renesmee looked up at Edward through her long snow-covered eyelashes. “I hope he makes it back for Christmas. If it’s snowing too heavily they’ll cancel his flight and–”
“We will make sure you and Jake are together for Christmas,” Edward interrupted, in a matter–of–fact tone, his liquid butterscotch eyes glancing from house to house.
I darted to Renesmee’s other side and intertwined my mitten–covered hand with hers. One of the worst imaginable feelings was seeing my little Nudger upset, worried. I wanted to fix everything and return the brilliant smile to her lips, but I couldn’t guarantee that Jacob would indeed make it back home in time for Christmas.
“Thanks, Dad. I hope he makes it,” Renesmee said somberly. She was still looking at the glittery houses, but she wasn’t seeing them; her mind was elsewhere.
“Lets go back home and help Esme bake cookies and pie,” I suggested, faking a smile in an attempt to lift the mood. “When Jake gets back he’ll be starving. Airplane food isn’t exactly, well . . . food.”
When we arrived back home the aroma of chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin pie greeted us as it wafted out from the kitchen. I smelled the cooking well before we were home, but the scents were a lot more intense once inside the house.
I didn’t mind the smell of most human food, but the thought of the tasteless grub actually entering my body repulsed me. Renesmee liked certain foods, but nothing satiated her hunger like blood. Not even close.
“Welcome back,” Esme greeted from the kitchen. “How were the lights?” She poked her head around the corner and a warm Motherly smile sprang across her face.
“We had fun, Grandma,” Renesmee answered without tone. “Jake didn’t call did he?” She asked before kicking her boots off.
Esme darted back into the kitchen. “No he didn’t call yet, but I’m sure he wi–”
And the phone rang.
“Hello?” Esme answered.
Renesmee ran into the kitchen before she’d got her coat or hat off, her expression calm now. Relived.
“Yes Jake, she’s right here.” Esme handed the phone to Renesmee.
“Jake!” Nessie yelled his name. “Where are you?”
Renesmee’s shoulders slumped forward as Jake told her he was stuck at the airport, her head hanging low as her curls fell in front of her face. We could all hear Jake perfectly on the phone, and of course Edward was enduring the pain of having to hear Nessie’s upset thoughts.
Edward’s lips were in a straight line, his eyebrows pulled together, one slightly higher than the other. I didn’t know what to say, what to do, but I knew being away from Jacob on Christmas would be hard for Renesmee. He’d been with her for every Christmas since she was born.
It was also hard hearing the pain in Jake’s voice on the other end of the line. Whatever disappointment Renesmee was feeling from being apart from Jacob, he felt much, much more. He imprinted on Nessie, after all. Being away from her was complete torture for him.
“Can I have the phone Renesmee, please?” Edward asked holding his long pale hand out.
She lifted her head slightly. “Why? He’s stuck. He can’t make it back for Christmas no matter what you say to him.”
“I believe I made my daughter a promise,” Edward answered, a barely visible grin making its way across his lips.
Renesmee lifted her head higher and met Edward’s eyes. He still had his hand out, waiting for her to hand him the phone.
“My dad wants you for a minute, Jake.”
Renesmee handed the phone over to Edward and on the other end I heard, “Oh jeez, what’s he wanna yell at me for now.”
“I don’t want to yell at you for anything, Jacob. I was just wondering if you could get back to your home in La Push?”
Phone conversations aren’t private in a house full of vampires. Jake sounded as clear as he would if he were on speaker phone.
“Yeah, I can get Leah to come get me. It’s not storming too bad here, but I want to get on a flight as soon as the conditions clear up so I’m not going back. I’m jus’ gonna wait it out here.”
“Get Leah to take you back home, Jake.”
Jake snorted. “Why would I do that?”
“Well, if you don’t mind, the Cullens would love to come to La Push and spend Christmas with a family member who won’t be able to make it home in time.”
Renesmee’s head shot up and her mouth swung open. Esme stopped stirring the batter in the bowl she was hovering over. I felt my own jaw drop a little, too. I don’t think any of us saw that coming.
Jake didn’t say anything for a few seconds, but when he spoke I could hear the lump in his throat, the happiness he was trying to swallow, the tears of joy he was trying to fight back.
“You–you’d all come to La Push just for me?” Jake asked.
“Of course!” Renesmee squeaked with excitement, a happy glow returning to her face.
Edward was smiling widely now. It was impossible to see Renesmee smile without mirroring her.
“Well, you do have to invite us, but yes, of course we will all come to La Push. I think Renesmee misses you,” Edward answered.
“There’s not much room in the ol’ house, but we can find space for everyone somehow,” Jake said, his voice gaining momentum with each word he spoke. “Don’t worry about that now–just come! Come!”
“Well, we still own our house in Forks, Jake. If your family would like, we could set up there, due to the space constraints.”
“Yes! As long as I get to be with my family. Just come already, would ya. I’m gonna go call Leah to come pick me up. Can I talk to Renesmee quickly before I go?”
Edward nodded. “Sure thing. I’m glad you’ll be able to spend Christmas with both of your families now. Here’s Renesmee.”
“Hey wait!” Jake shouted as Edward was about to hand the phone to Renesmee.
“I just wanted to say thanks. I owe you.”
Edward laughed, a roaring laugh. “Yes, yes you do Jake.”
And he handed the receiver to Nessie.
“Jake! I’m so happy we’ll be together on Christmas. I’m going to go pack everything now.”
Jake’s light laugh on the other end was almost contagious, so sunny. “I’m so happy Ness’. I can’t wait to see you in the morning.”
Renesmee’s face went serious now. “Me too. I miss you so much it’s painful.”
“I know the feeling, Ness’. Trust me.”
“I love you, Jake. See you soon.”
I heard a deep sign on Jake’s end. “I love you too, Nessie. See yah soon.”
Renesmee hung up the phone and instantaneously moved from the kitchen to her room to pack her overnight bag. Edward and I followed shortly after, packing clothing and gifts.
The upstairs hallways of our house was a blur as Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, Carlisle, Esme and Charlie moved in and out of their bedrooms packing their overnight bags.
Another advantage of our superhuman hearing abilities was that we didn’t have to explain much. Everyone in the house had heard the phone conversation. Thankfully –aside from a few non–threatening hisses from Rosalie–everyone was more than happy to bring Christmas to Jacob.
Alice, always ahead of the game, packed decorations in her bag so that we could make the house in Forks feel ‘festive.’
Esme packed the mounds of food she already had baked, as well as all the ingredients she’d need to make more food for the rest of the pack. She tossed the batter that she was mixing in the trash. We needed to get going if we wanted to make it to Jake in time.
Once everyone was packed up and ready to go, we were off in a blur, running in pairs of twos to Forks so that we could all be together, as a family.
December 25th, 2010
Our run was uneventful. We took turns hunting on the way to Forks, drinking in as much of the sweet, hard–to–resist blood that we could.
Once we arrived in Forks, the familiar smells hit me like a ton of bricks. The memories tied to the scents of that tiny, wet town were beautiful and irreplaceable. Though some memories were painfully vague, others were perfectly clear. I held on to those clear memories; they were incredibly sacred to me.
“Wow,” Charlie started. “It’s been a while since we’ve been this way.” He looked around, taking in all the familiar surroundings and breathing in all the familiar scents.
Charlie had lived in Forks the longest. He had a bond with the little town that no one else could ever understand. His expression rearranged itself a multitude of times as the familiar scenery brought back various vague memories. He struggled, like all of us, to remember his human life.
When we got to the large white Cullen house, I was hit with another wave of memories. The beginning of my ‘life’ began there. The Cullens stood still for a few quick moments, too, just taking in the memories.
When we moved inside, we were hit by the smell of must, mildew and other various stale scents.
Rosalie promptly went around the house opening windows, airing the place out.
Alice didn’t waste anytime getting the decorations up, while Emmett and Jasper went to rip up a new Christmas tree from the ground.
Esme got started on her baking; the pack would devour every crumb, too.
Edward, Renesmee and I got the gifts arranged around the tree and helped Alice out with decorating.
Charlie went out to shovel the long driveway so that Jake could get his car up it.
Carlisle hung the stockings, turned on the home stereo system, and lit various tall candles throughout the house. Christmas carols hummed in every room as we all worked to get the house ‘Christmas-ready.’
It wasn’t long before the house felt as though we’d never left. In under an hour, the entire house was decorated–inside and out–and the kitchen was filled with almost every food you could imagine.
“I’m going to go call Jake and tell him to come with the family now,” Renesmee sang as she walked to pick up the phone.
“I just aired the place out,” Rosalie joked.
“Ha–ha, Auntie Rose. Very funny,” Renesmee said with a giggle.
Edward walked over to my side and wrapped his arm around my waist. “Merry Christmas my love,” he whispered in my ear. I froze, my lashes fluttering from the thrill that shook through me each time Edward whispered in my ear. His soft, velvet voice was euphoric.
“Merry Christmas,” I said back, then turned and stood on my toes to kiss his smooth lips. I wasn’t shy about it, either. I wrapped one hand around the back of Edward’s head and the other on the small of his back then pressed him into me, devouring him. Kissing him like it was the last time I would ever see him.
“I love you, Mrs. Cullen,” Edward said through a smile.
“I love you too Mr. Cullen,” I breathed as I brushed my nose softly against his then pulled back, noticing that almost everyone in the room was frozen, watching us.
Emmett clapped and laughed, a roaring laugh. “Save some for later, you two.”
Renesmee came running into the living room with her beautiful brilliant smile wider than ever, her curls swinging from side–to–side. “Jake and the pack are on their way!”
“Good,” Esme said. “I just got finished with all the food.”
The pack arrived shortly after. Renesmee answered the door and was swept off her feet by Jacob. He carried her through the front foyer and into the living room where everyone was gathered. He placed her gently back down on the ground then wrapped his arms around her.
“I missed you soooo much Ness’,” Jake groaned.
Renesmee latched her arms around Jake’s neck. “I missed you too. I was worried I wouldn’t get to see you for Christmas.”
“Well, we’re together now.” Jake spoke proudly. “Merry Christmas, Ness’.”
“Merry Christmas Jake!”
Renesmee got on her tiptoes and kissed Jacob on the cheek. “I want to give you your present now,” she said.
Jake’s eyes lit up. “Thanks for reminding me! I’m gonna go grab yours. I’ll be right back.”
Jake was back in a flash with a bouquet of roses in one hand, and a gift in the other.
“The flowers were a gift to Sue from someone. She didn’t want them, so I though I’d bring ‘em for you, ” Jake admitted as he held the bouquet out to Renesmee. “And here’s your gift. I hope you like it.”
Renesmee laughed as she took the flowers, and gift, from Jake’s hands. “The flowers are beautiful,” Renesmee said as she placed them on the ground. “Lets open our gifts at the same time. Here’s yours.” She pushed the wrapped-up box on the floor toward Jake with her toe and he picked it up.
They opened their gifts together with permanent smiles on their faces.
Jake’s gift to Renesmee was unique. It was a silver engraved photo bracelet. The bracelet had a photo of him and Renesmee engraved on the face of it with snowflakes dancing around them. [You can see an example of Jake's gift to Renesmee here].
Renesmee’s gift to Jacob was a key.
“Uh, thanks Ness’. I’ve always wanted a key,” Jake said, sarcasm dominating his tone.
Renesmee laughed and tossed her head back. “No, silly! It’s a key to a 2010 VW Rabbit. It’s red.” She paused and analyzed Jake’s expression: his eyes were huge, his jaw dropped. He was stiff, like a statue. “I know you built your car, and I think it’s great. But I know it probably won’t make it much longer . . . you admitted it yourself, Jake.”
“You bought me a car?!”
“Well, Mom and Dad kinda helped . . . but yes. Sorry it’s not here; it’s in the garage in New Hampshire.”
Jake wrapped his fingers around the key. “Ness’, this is too much. I – I got you a bracelet and you got me a car?”
“It’s not about the cost, Jake. It’s about the thought. I love my bracelet more than anything. We live in the middle of nowhere in new Hampshire–and I know there’s an abundance of cars at our house already, but I wanted you to have something that was yours. And only yours.”
Jacob shook his head. “I– I really don’t know how to thank you.”
“How about a kiss?”
And did they ever kiss.
I glanced away and steered Edward into a different room as soon as Jake lifted Nessie’s legs to his waist so she was straddling him. I couldn’t, however, do anything about the thoughts Edward could hear swirling around in their heads.
A low hiss escaped Edward’s lips, but his control was a lot better than it had been in the past. No broken banisters this time.
When we entered the living room, everyone else was exchanging gifts. We had all promised each other we wouldn’t buy extravagant gifts this year because that’s the easy way out. Money can buy almost anything, so a new car or a luxurious vacation was easy. Too easy. But to pick out something solely based on thought alone; that’s hard.
Esme knitted everyone sweaters that looked liked something you would buy in an expensive clothing boutique. I asked her to teach me how to knit and she promised me a lesson for the next day.
The pack got everyone books.
“You guys don’t sleep and stuff, so we thought books we’re a good way to help pass the time,” Embry said as we all tore though the wrapping paper, revealing various novels we’d never read.
Quil nodded in agreement with Embry. “Yeah, and we got you all newly-released books; assumed you’d already read all the older ones.”
After everyone exchanged their gifts and said their ‘thank yous,’ Edward handed me a medium–sized box with silver wrapping paper.
“And now for your gift Mrs. Cullen,” Edward said in that smooth, creamy voice.
I tore off the wrapping paper to find a box of ice skates. Ice skates? I thought to myself, glad that Edward couldn’t read my mind.
I looked up to say ‘thank you,’ but Edward began talking before I could say anything.
“Your present is actually back home in New Hampshire. I couldn’t bring it here. But when we get back, we are going to spend the day on the ice rink I made you.” He shifted his gaze to my lips, then back up to my eyes, and continued. “I framed the rink with flower petals, and strung lights through the trees. I picked out your favorite music to play while we’re skating, too. And the rink has a special message for you written across it, my love.”
I loved when Edward couldn’t use money–or at least not a lot of money–for my gifts. Those were always the most special; the ones I would remember forever.
“This is perfect! I love it,” I told him, wrapping my arms around him. “What you did for Renesmee, coming here to Forks, was the best present I could ever receive. And now I have my own ice rink?”
Edward smiled softly. “I’d give you the world if I were powerful enough.”
I knew Edward meant it. I thought I felt my cold body become warm; love had a weird way of making me feel things physically that were unexplainable, impossible.
“Your turn,” I said as I handed Edward his gift. “Jake has to be in the room when you open it, though.”
“You’ll see,” I said then turned and yelled Jake’s name. “Jake! Can you come in here?!”
“Sure, sure Bella,” he answered as he sauntered into the room, his arm around the small of Nessie’s back.
“The gift I got Edward is kinda for both of you.”
Jake and Edward looked at each other, confused. Then they both looked at me… still confused.
Edward began to tear off the wrapping paper. He ripped it off at a slower than human pace, obviously hesitant about the suspicious joint gift.
After the paper was off, Edward tore open the box and tossed aside the tissue paper the gift was hiding under. His expression was still confused, but even more-so now.
He lifted up the pamphlet, opened it then pulled out two tickets and a welcome letter.
“What’s it say?” Jake prodded.
Edward began to read the words. “Welcome to Alaska Adventure Cabins where you will experience the best Alaska has to offer. We will ensure your stay is a pleasant one….” He tapered off.
“You’re sending Edward and me to Alaska?” Jacob scoffed.
I bit my lip and looked down. “I wanted you two to have a guys adventure. Spend some time alone. You might not be the best of friends, but this will be a good thing. It’s booked for mid-January. It’ll give me some time to finish up my book, too, without distractions.” Edward was a huge distraction; a distraction I loved, though.
“I–thank you, Bella,” Edward said, still somewhat taken aback. “I’m sure it will be quite the adventure, right Jake?”
Jake rolled his eyes. “Oh, ya. An adventure all right.”
“This will be fun for you guys,” Renesmee interjected.
“Mhm,” Jake grumbled.
Edward came and planted a gracious kiss on my forehead. “Thank you, love. I didn’t see this coming, but if it’s what you’d like, I’m sure it will be . . . interesting.”
You don’t have to go you know,” I assured Edward. “I just thought it’d be good for you to have a getaway, to bond a little more before what Jake and Renesmee have turns into something much more serious.”
Edward parted his lips. “Thank you.”
“Ya, thanks Bella. It’s the thought, right?” Jake confirmed, looking at Nessie for an answer.
“If you’re going to love me, you’re going to have to love my dad too, Jake,” Renesmee said.
“Then I’ll just have to love your dad,” Jake answered with a big grin, sweeping Renesmee off her feet and tossing her over his shoulder as he tickled her. Their laughs and screams tapered off slightly as they made their way up the stairs.
Edward and I joined the rest of the family around the Christmas tree. I went and sat down beside Charlie. He handed me a gift from him. It was a beautiful sterling silver cubic zirconia vintage bracelet.
“It was your grandmothers,” he said. “Thought you might like it.”
“Wow! I love this, Dad. It’s beautiful,” I said, careful not to slip up and call him Charlie. “Can you put it on for me?”
And he clasped the beautiful bracelet onto my wrist.
The night went perfectly. We laughed, reminisced, cheered the pack on as they had eating and chugging contests. Everything was perfect and I was so thankful to have the most perfect, selfless husband by my side the entire time. Edward brought Christmas to Jacob. He brought us all together as a family. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Emmett now refers to Edward as ‘Edward Claus.’
Before I go, I should let you know that when we returned to New Hampshire, I got my ice rink. Written across the beautiful clear ice was: “Merry Christmas Bella: My life. My Love. My World. My Everything.”
We ice skated under the twinkling lights as soft music played, flower petals whirled around us and snow floated down from the dark sky. Everything was perfect. More than perfect.
EDIT: I have written a novella called, ‘My Darrling.’ (This is not the Willow series I’ve been working on, rather it’s a small side project. The first book in the Willow series will be up in the early portion of this year, 2013). For now, I’m so excited for you to check out the novella I’ve written:
You can read a preview and purchase ‘My Darrling’ HERE. I can’t thank you all enough for your endless support, and I promise to run contests to give back as soon as my books get off the ground!
For those of you who’d like to follow the progress of my Willow series, please ‘LIKE’ it on Facebook here. You can also read a tiny preview if you click ‘info’.
Feel free to come hang out at my personal blog here, where I post songs, pictures and will soon be giving more previews from ‘Willow.’ Thank you all so much for reading and for the support and encouragement you’ve all given. You have no idea how important your encouragement and kind words has been.
I ran one finger from Edward’s shoulder all the way down to his hand then opened my fingers and laced them together with his. His liquid-gold eyes trickled from my gaze, down to my lips, then he grinned and delicately brought his mouth to mine and whispered, “No. I love you, Bella. But I don’t think that it’s a good idea for Jacob and Renesmee to visit Isle Esme alone.”
His lips moved so fast it looked like they were trembling. His sweet, addictive breath brushed softly against my face and I had to blink hard to come back to reality. Edward would always have a way of dazzling me; turning my granite-like, immortal body to liquid. Somehow.
I wanted to offer Jacob and Renesmee the chance to visit Isle Esme, to have some alone time. It felt like anytime they tried to be alone, someone was always watching them, listening in on them or reading their minds. Jake spent so much time patrolling and traveling back to La Push to see his family that I wondered if he ever got the chance to just relax. Have fun.
I bit my lip, noticing again how different that gesture felt as a vampire. It felt like biting down on porcelain. As a human it felt spongy and warm. Delicate. “I love you too, Edward . . . ” I hesitated, looked down, trying to find the right words. “But, I don’t have to agree with you. I think they deserve some alone time. And we both know Jacob would never let anything happen to Renesmee. Plus, let’s not forget that Charlie allowed me go to Isle Esme alone with you.”
“Yes, but you were my wife,” he reminded me with a brilliant smile before bringing his lips to the top of my head to steal a kiss. “And let’s also not forget that after I took you to Isle Esme alone, not only did you get pregnant with my half-vampire, half-human child, but you became what you are now. You died, essentially, Bella.”
He had a point. “Fair enough. But it will happen sometime . . . if they get married I mean. We can’t stop them from honeymooning.”
“If Renesmee decides to take Jacob’s hand in marriage then she will be all his. They will belong to each other and can do as they please, of course.”
I left it at that. I knew I had to stop worrying about everyone else again; it only got me worked up. I did feel bad about Renesmee and Jacob’s lack of privacy, but they got to be alone whenever Jake took Renesmee hunting far enough out of range to keep their thoughts from Edward. That would have to suffice, for now.
“We’ll talk about this again another time,” I started. “Right now I want to go for our Thanksgiving hunt.”
Edward’s eyes were still liquid gold, but I didn’t have to look at mine to know they were pure black. My throat blazed violently, endlessly. The bears are hibernating now, so Emmett is adjusting to a primarily elk diet again – which makes him more thirsty at first. Edward went hunting with him just two days ago but I was out buying turkeys with Alice and Rosalie.
On Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter we buy as many turkeys as we can then we deliver them to homeless shelters and soup kitchens, along with fresh vegetables and anything else you’d need to create a filling holiday dinner. Esme bakes desserts, too, and even though Jacob picks at them continually, there’s still tons to deliver.
I know it’s not in our nature, not what we are, to help humans the way we do, but we go against our nature in many ways. We all do; humans included. Although I don’t have a fraction of the compassion I did as a human, I still feel. I feel something. It’s different, but it’s there, like a voice reminding me that I used to be one of them. I used to be fragile and weak.
Edward leaned his torso back, away from me, then his eyes widened and he smiled, a half smile that met his eyes, illuminating them. “I have something to give you before we go for our Thanksgiving hunt, my love.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You do know people don’t exchange gifts for Thanksgiving, right?”
“Ah, you’re right, people don’t. Last time I checked, though, I didn’t need oxygen to survive – nor did I have a beating heart,” he joked, pulling me into his chest with one arm.
“I didn’t get you anything,” I mumbled feebly into the fabric of his sweater, still nestled into his chest.
“Bella, I didn’t want you to. To be honest,” he continued, a low laugh escaping his smooth lips, “it’s just a coincidence that I got this for you on Thanksgiving. It has nothing to do with the holiday. Can’t a husband buy his beautiful wife gifts from time-to-time?”
I shrugged. “Of course,” I answered thoughtfully. “You just caught me off guard is all.”
Edward nodded then ran to his piano room and back in a flash. When he returned, he had a white box with iridescent, almost glittery writing on top. I could see every groove in the box, every tiny detail. I knew it was jewelry; the box, of course, gave it away. “It’s really nothing big,” Edward began. “Just something that reminded me of you.”
I had to make an effort to think straight; Edward’s face was the most beautiful when he was happy, which seemed to be when he was making me happy. His impossibly perfect, godlike exterior radiated an illuminating, captivating beauty that nothing could compete with. Immortals, we’re inhumanly beautiful, but Edward was still more. Still beyond words. And now that I had super-human vision, I could see him even more clearly. I still wasn’t used to it. I would never get used to it.
“Thank you,” I said, and my voice cracked just a little. Edward placed the box in the palm of my hand. I wrapped my pale fingers around it. Then with my other hand I lifted up the sparkly lid. Inside was one of the most unattractive necklaces I’d ever seen. I made an effort to keep my face expressionless. It was a long double chained gold necklace donning an ivory, gold-edged feather. A feather. That part of my human life wasn’t so vague. In fact, I suddenly remembered it perfectly:
“Why am I covered in feathers?” I asked, confused.
He exhaled impatiently. “I bit a pillow. Or two. . . . ”
I let out a big breath that I had unknowingly been holding in and a soft laugh escaped out with it. “Isle Esme. Our honeymoon . . . you, I mean we, were covered in feathers. So much happened right after that; I had almost forgotten.”
“I’d rather forget the bruising part,” Edward mumbled under his breath as he looked down to the floor then peeked up at me through his eyelashes. “But the necklace, it will always remind me of how far we’ve come . . . and it will always remind me of the night we made our beautiful daughter. I would suggest, however, that we keep the meaning of the feather a secret from the family.”
I laughed and nodded in agreeance then unclasped the chain so that I could fasten it around my neck. Sure, it isn’t the most beautiful piece of jewelry I’ve seen, but it came from Edward. It’s important in life to love what’s meaningful and not just what’s beautiful, and to see the beauty that lies beneath the surface. Next to my wedding ring, the feather is my favorite piece of jewelry; my favorite possession even. It’s a little piece of history, a piece of my human life, tied around my neck. It will always remind me of how much I trust Edward, and how much Edward loves me. We took the greatest risk of all that night; I risked death – even though to me, it wasn’t a risk. I trusted Edward with everything I had in me. Every fiber of my being.
Walking toward the oversize, dark oak-framed hallway mirror, I caught Edward flicker his eyes at me in the reflection. His face gleamed. He looked awestruck. It reminded me of the look I imagine myself having when Edward dazzled me. I loved seeing him look at me the same way, though sometimes I still felt inadequate – or like I was dreaming the perfect dream.
I was afraid terrified, that one day I’d wake up in my bed at Charlie’s house in Forks and toss my pillow over my head to muffle the sound of rain sloshing against my window. I was afraid that somehow, this world – the world I was now eternally part of – was all going to vanish, disappear. I knew some of the Cullen’s viewed immortality as a curse, but I wouldn’t trade being eternally tied to Edward and Renesmee in for anything.
I let the feather necklace dangle over my off-white cashmere sweater and smiled – a forced smile – at my reflection. My transformation, my inhuman exterior, would be something I’d always struggle to get entirely used to. After I glanced at my eyes and noticed how dark they had gotten, my throat began to blaze wildly, reminding me to satiate my growing, rampant thirst. “I love it,” I said through the same forced smile that hadn’t left my face yet. “The meaning will be our little secret. Always. Now, we have to hunt, though.” I tucked the necklace into my sweater, to keep it safe while I hunted. I felt myself lower into an almost-crouch, my fingers spreading out like claws. My instincts were kicking in. I had to hunt. . . .
Edward locked his jaw, realizing how severe my thirst had become. “Take my hand, love. Let’s go.” With that, we were off. We walked at a human pace into the backyard then as soon as we hit the edge of the forest, I ran faster than I knew I could. Faster than I had ever moved as a vampire.
After our Thanksgiving hunt – an exceptionally large elk for me and a mountain lion for Edward – I was able to extinguish the thought of ripping apart a healthy, plump human and draining their warm, sweet-scented blood into my throat.
Feeling more alive, I went upstairs to my little library and continued writing my story. The story of my life – my human life – from start to finish. I’m had fun putting my own conclusion to how my human life finished. I got to be in control through the pages of my book. I got to be the author of my own life. I’d never really know what my life would have been like as Bella Swan: a clumsy, plain girl who moved to Forks Washington and fell in love with the most lethal predator on Earth, married him, had his baby, but never became an immortal. But I had a few guesses.
The pages of my diary are getting eaten up as I continue to prattle on to you all. Soon, the pages will diminish, dwindle away, and my diary will be full. I plan to put it away; someplace where no one can find it. Not even a vampire will be able to sniff it out. I want to look back at it in a hundred years and devour the pages, relive every moment I had as a newborn, until now. This is the diary of the most challenging time in my life; adjusting to becoming a mother, a wife, and a vampire.
It snowed a lot here in New Hampshire, and Renesmee loves the snow; winter is her favorite season. Right now her and Jake are outside packing blocks together for an igloo, and Esme is making hot chocolate with marshmallows and cinnamon on top for when they come in. Alice is unraveling three boxes of Christmas lights that she plans to string around the house tonight.
Carlisle and Esme suggested that Edward and I go to the Christmas tree farm just outside of town and cut down a tree with Renesmee. We needed one more tree for the front foyer. Apparently one tree wasn’t enough in the Cullen household. We all went together – every single Cullen, plus Charlie and Jake – to rip up cut down the tree for the main TV room. Jake took Ness to help him cut down the tree for his house in the back and they decorated it together, of course.
As soon as Nessie comes in and finishes her hot chocolate, the three of us are going to cut down a tree.
I hope you all have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. If you see any pale-faced, red or black-eyed, inhumanly beautiful people walking through your town at night, keep a distance. The nomadic vampires can get viciously thirsty around the holidays, when everyone is a little more plump, their blood a little more sweet.
♥This entry is dedicated to one of the biggest Bellasdiary.com supporters for her Birthday, Angie! I hope you had an amazing day, and thank you for continually making me laugh on Twitter & being the virtual Bella’s Diary bodyguard! XO
♥EDIT: I have written a novella called, ‘My Darrling.’ You can read a preview and purchase it HERE. Thank you all so much!
I tapped my pen to the pad of paper on my desk at a slower – but stronger – than human pace. My eyes focused on the lines, each one so clear, so vibrant. The acidic smell of ink from the pen poured into my nostrils, flooding them with solvents, pigments, dyes, resins, lubricants… and whatever else ink was made from. Chemicals.
I wanted to write a book. Not a book that would go on to be published; just a book. A fictional story with fictional characters who I controlled. I didn’t know what I wanted the book to be about, exactly. I also didn’t know where to begin. I just knew I wanted to write. The only problem was that as soon as I sat down to attempt writing – either on my laptop, or in a basic paper-filled notebook – my mind went blank.
I could hear Rosalie and Alice bickering downstairs about which color they thought looked best on Renesmee. Alice liked her in dark purples, royal blues and blacks, while Rosalie preferred her in whites and pastels. I mentally agreed with Alice then switched my concentration to the footsteps gliding up the stairs, to Edward.
He opened the door to my library, slowly, and the bright light from the setting sun – that was piercing through the window – illuminated his already angelic grin and creamy, buttery golden eyes. Naturally I felt slightly weakened, hypnotized by Edward’s god-like appearance.”Bad time?” he asked, his eyebrows furrowing together in concern once he saw the obvious look of concentration mixed with frustration plastered on my face.
I relaxed my shoulders and let out a breath of air I didn’t realize I had been holding in. “No. I – I just can’t think of anything significant to write, you know? I don’t know where to start, and every time I get an idea it just seems so boring, so blah.”
Edward walked over to me and placed his hand on my back, rubbing it in short, delicate circles. That was something about Edward that would never change, no matter how much I did; he would always treat me like a fragile human. I didn’t mind, though. I knew it was because – no matter how strong I had become – Edward would always see me as his lamb.
“You do have an eternity to come up with something, love,” he joked.
“That’s it! I’ve got it!” I half yelled, ignoring the joke, relieved and surprised by the simplicity of my idea. “I know what I want to write about! I think the problem was that my life has been so full of magical impossibilities and mythical creatures that it was making everything else seem so boring.”
“Vampires have that effect…” Edward said matter-of-factly.
“But what if my life as a human didn’t have to end? What if they were just chapters of a book that needed to be written still. Pages that could put the pieces of my ‘human life’ puzzle together. What if I had moved to Forks with Charlie, and you were a boy – a normal boy – who fell in love with me, a normal girl?”
Edward’s lips pulled down and I could tell he was contemplating a thought. “Bella, you aren’t beginning to regret–”
“No, Edward. I don’t regret what I am at all,” I interrupted. “I wouldn’t… I couldn’t exist without you. This isn’t about regret. This is about having the chance to live out my human life, in a sense. To close the book, end it for good. I want to conclude it the way you initially wanted; for me to get old and live a long, happy life – then die.”
“So everything will be the same, essentially, only we will all be humans?” Edward pried.
I took a second to think about it, and remembered that if Edward had been human, things naturally wouldn’t have progressed so fast. We wouldn’t have been married, had Renesmee and Edward wouldn’t have left in order to protect me, leaving me to turn to Jacob. I wouldn’t have found myself turning to Jake to help with the impossible pain that Edward’s void caused.
My thoughts ran rampant as it occurred to me that without Edward being what he truly was, a vampire, our lives would simply be another love story; a somewhat boring story of two humans falling for each other. Besides, I never wanted to know what it would be like if Edward were human; I would always love him entirely for who – not what – he was: unconditionally & irrevocably.
“No,” I finally answered, picking my pen back up off the desk. “No, that wont work. Things would’ve been too different if you weren’t dangerous, masochistic. I’m going to simply continue my story as a human from after Renesmee’s birth. In my book, the change – making me immortal – wont happen.” I pressed my pen to the pad of paper and started writing down ideas, vague memories of my human life popping up in my mind as I struggled to cut through the thick fog surrounding those memories.
“Bella,” Edward began in an almost whisper. “My family and I aren’t going to be the reason for your eventual death in your book, are we?”
I laughed and dropped my pen to the desk. “Of course not,” I answered pushing myself up from the chair and wrapping my arms around Edward. “I’m going to live a long and healthy life with you. I’ll figure it all out as I write. I’m not giving any more away. You can read it when it’s done.”
“I’m excited to read it,” Edward whispered. The sweet smell of his breath danced across my face and into my nose then he pressed his stone hard body into mine, his hands on my back pulling me toward him gently. I, too, pulled his body to mine then kissed his neck, allowing my lips to linger for the greater portion of a minute.
“I’m excited to write it,” I finally responded before I planted a kiss of his cheek.
I could hear Alice, Rosalie, Jake and Emmett arguing debating about something new downstairs.
“She should be Tinkerbell,” Alice chimed.
Jake voiced his opinion on the ‘Tinkerbell’ idea. “Ew, no! Worst costume idea ever, Alice.”
“Want her to dress up as a mutt so you can have matching costumes?” Alice retorted, and I could visualize her folding her arms across her chest.
Rosalie laughed at Alice’s ‘mutt’ joke then put her two cents in. “Renesmee would be a gorgeous ballerina. Don’t you agree Emmett?”
“No, I think she should be something cooler. Something freaky, like The Exorcist. It’s Halloween, c’mon.” I could visualize Emmett’s contemptuous smirk, somehow, even though I couldn’t see him.
“If you think my perfect little niece is dressing up like some possessed girl whose head spins in circles then you have another thing coming,” Alice said, not hint of lightheartedness in her tone.
Edward and I laughed, then laced out hands together and made our way down the stairs to mediate. “How about we ask Renesmee what she wants to be, then we don’t have to argue over it?” I said, interrupting Emmett before he could get an argument out supporting his ‘Exorcist’ idea. “Besides, she matures so quickly that at this point she might not even want to dress up. Either way, she can make up her own mind.”
“Not dress up? Are you kidding me Bella? Even when Renesmee is three hundred years old we’re going to be having the same debate. You’re never too old to dress up for Halloween – not if you’re a Cullen, or a Hale,” Alice said darting her eyes to Rosalie.
I half laughed, remembering I still had to get a costume for the huge Halloween extravaganza Alice was throwing at our house on Halloween night. She had already bought bags and boxes full of decorations; everything from life-sized coffins to zombies with motion sensors that moved when you came close. She planned to outdo herself from last year, so I knew we were in for it.
“Trust me,” Edward began, “there’s no getting out of it with Alice around. She will, without-a-doubt, guilt trip Renesmee into picking out a costume regardless.”
“For the record, I’m just in the kitchen baking pumpkin muffins with Esme and I can hear everything you’ve all been saying,” Renesmee yelled out from up the hall. “And Emmett… no. Just, no. Rosalie, ballerinas aren’t my thing. Too much pink. And Alice, Tinkerbell… seriously? I’m going as a bull wrangler.”
Everyone froze like statues. A Bull wrangler? Everyone had the ‘did I hear her right?’ look on their faces.
Within seconds Renesmee and Esme burst into laughter then Ness poked her head around the corner – flour on her face and a glob of batter on her nose – and yelled, “Just kidding! Did you really think I would go as a bull wrangler?”
I noticed Alice’s shoulders drop in relief as everyone laughed. Edward was one step ahead, of course, with his mind reading abilities, but he still got a kick out of all of our expressions.
“She gets her sense of humor from me, obviously,” Emmett said, proud of his nieces quick wit.
Rosalie flicked his shoulder. “It doesn’t work that way with vampires, who aren’t actually related, Emmett.”
“Yeah, no kidding. She still got it from me though. She picked it up listening to me and my amazing witticisms.”
Rosalie rolled her eyes then went off into the kitchen, Jake following close behind. Edward followed after Jake, and Alice and I followed after Edward. Emmett went outside, probably bored from debating. Jake went straight over to Renesmee, his face lighting up, beaming, and he gently wiped the batter and flour off her face then kissed her nose. “What’chya making pumpkin muffins for Ness?” he asked.
“For you, silly. And the rest of the pack,” she answered, motioning toward Alice. “Alice invited everyone for the Halloween party she’s throwing. Actually, she more or less called and told them they had flights booked. We’re going to need a lot of food.”
In one swift movement, Renesmee dipped her finger in the bowl of batter and swiped it across Jake’s cheek, an innocent grin creeping up one side of her face.
“That’s it,” Jake laughed, sweeping Renesmee right off her feet and carrying her to the sofa over his shoulder. “You’re in for it.” He placed her down softly then straddled her, tickling her to the point where she was screaming and laughing uncontrollably at the same time. His tickles turned to kisses eventually and I was somewhat shocked by Jacob’s conspicuous display of affection. Normally he’d be worried about Edward tearing down some part of the house, or tearing his head off.
It was clear to everyone that Renesmee was in love with Jake, though. I had never seen her light up that way. Her face somehow glowed beyond it’s normal luminescent beauty and her grin was wider that I’d thought possible. I looked at Edward, to make sure he wasn’t about to pounce. Though his fists were rolled into tight balls, his face was steady, expressionless.
“You okay?” I asked.
“His thoughts are pure,” Edward hissed under his breath. “Actually, Renesmee is becoming more impatient than Jake. She thinks about him in ways that–” And he was off, down the stairs to our home in a blur before he could finish his sentence.
I loved Edward’s protective side. But I loved that he was learning to control himself even more. Real strength comes from the ability to resist what your mind and body are telling you to do. Real strength is using your own judgment, fighting your instincts. Especially when your instincts tell you to rip someones head off.
I watched Jake and Nessie for a few seconds longer before going downstairs to make sure that – well… that we still had a downstairs. I didn’t hear too much banging, so I figured everything would still be in tact. Everyone else scattered around the house awkwardly, wanting to give Jake and Renesmee some privacy. I tried to pretend I was cleaning up the kitchen to remain discreet.
“I want to dress up as Ariel from The Little Mermaid,” Renesmee told Jake. “Will you go as prince Eric? I was thinking it would be cool to sorta do a couples costume.”
“If I get to be your prince, then I’m game,” Jacob answered, obviously not caring what he had to be, as long as he got to be with Ness’ on Halloween.
“Perfect. I’ll get started on our costumes tonight then.” Renesmee reached up and wrapped her arms around Jake’s neck and pulled his face to hers. They didn’t kiss, they just stared at each other for an awkward amount of time. Their eyes were locked on each-others, their noses gently brushing together. They both smiled so lightly is was almost undetectable. I knew my daughter, and I knew she wanted to tell Jake something, but she was afraid. She broke her stare and pulled his face down then kissed his forehead and hopped up from the couch. “I’m going to see if Alice will run me into town to grab some fabric for the costumes.”
“Alright Ness,” Jake said, somewhat confused by Renesmee’s sudden change in mood. “Do you need help with it at all?”
“Nono, Alice will know exactly what to get. Besides, it’d be nice to have some girl talk with her. You know… talk about things guys are completely disinterested in.”
Jake laughed.”Okay, I’ll see you when you get back then.”
In a blur I was down the stairs and by Edward’s side, surprised that nothing had been smashed, crushed or beheaded. “I think Renesmee loves Jake,” I blurted out. “I mean, I’m almost certain she wants to tell him she loves him. That she is in love–”
“She does,” Edward said flatly, cutting me off so he didn’t have to hear it anymore.
I bit my lip in an attempt to hide my excitement. This was harder for Edward. He didn’t get as many years with his little girl as most fathers would. She grew up so fast, too fast. Edward didn’t really get the chance to be the only man she looked up to for very long. She already looks and acts like a nearly full-grown teen. She’s not his little girl anymore.
I put my arm around Edward’s back and rested my head on his shoulder. “In my book, I’ll have the chance to write out her entire life. I was thinking, maybe you could help me write that part. You can’t control what happens in real life, but you can in my book. If there’s something you don’t like, we can change it in my story.”
“No, Bella. I don’t want to change anything. I’m sorry I’m being so selfish. I have an eternity with my daughter and no other parents have that. Sure, she grew up quickly, but you can’t buy time and I have forever with her.” He sucked in a deep breath before continuing. “And Jake, I truly wouldn’t want her with anyone other than him. It’s not Jake I’m frustrated with, it’s how fast Renesmee is slipping away, growing up. The thing about time is that you can’t buy it, and you can’t control it, either. I just wish I would have had more time to really father her before she grew up and fell in love. At the same time, I wouldn’t trade her immortality for anything. That’s why I’m selfish.”
I laughed. “You aren’t selfish. You’re honest. Even normal human parents think these things, but they don’t say anything. I know because I watched Charlie struggle with losing me – in a sense- to you. He didn’t bother me about it, but I could tell he felt a void. He wished he had more time with ‘little Bella.’”
“Yeah, I know. I read his mind. He wasn’t particularly fond of me for quite some time,” he said, dropping his head down guiltily. “I think Jake will take great care of my daughter. I know he will. I’m sorry for being such a child when it comes to my child.” He laughed, and my favorite crooked grin crept upon his face.
“Don’t apologize, Edward. I know what will make you feel better,” I said as I let him in my mind. When you live in a house full of vampires with exceptional hearing abilities, you have to be careful what you say. I was thinking about going deep into the woods to hunt together, then building the biggest bed of colorful leaves to lay down on with Edward. I thought about pressing my lips over every inch of Edward’s stone-like body and… you get the point.
“You’re right,” he said, his eyes wide after reading my thoughts. “Lets go, my love.” He scooped me up into his arms and we were out the door and on our way into the woods.
These moments – in Edward’s arms, so free, so in love – are the moments I ‘live’ for, I thought to myself. Though I was going to write the story of my life as a human, to close the book, to – in a way -allow myself the best of both worlds, I knew I belonged in Edward’s world, right there in his arms. Always.
Edit: Looking for something new to read? I have written a novella called, ‘My Darrling.’ (This is not the Willow series I’ve been working on, rather it’s a small side project. The first book in the Willow series will be up in the early portion of this year). For now, I’m so excited for you to check out the novella I’ve written:
You can read a preview and purchase ‘My Darrling’ HERE. I can’t thank you all enough for your endless support, and I promise to run contests to give back as soon as my books get off the ground!
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Feel free to stop by my personal blog here, where I post songs, pictures and will soon be giving more previews from ‘Willow.’ Thank you all so much for reading and for the support and encouragement you’ve all given. You have no idea how important your encouragement and kind words has been.
“Jeeze, it looks like a funeral home in here,” Jacob repeated for the second time, thinking Rosalie and Alice hadn’t heard him the first.
“We heard you the first time, mongrel,” Rosalie hissed in a forced half-joking tone. “We just didn’t care to acknowledge-”
“-Acknowledge that it’s not a funeral home and that Bella isn’t exactly one to enjoy celebrations, Blondie?”Jacob interrupted with a fresh dose of sarcasm.
Alice danced over to Jacob, a smug grin creeping up the right side of her lips. “Did you wake up on the wrong side of the doggy house this morning Jake?” Without giving him a chance to retort, she handed him a string of decorative indoor lights and he simply shrugged, his eyes darting toward the kitchen. Esme was cooking him his favorite: A towerous mountain of mashed potatoes with a pool of gravy, corn on the cob and steak.
“Guys, I’m right here,” I said, half laughing. “If you’re going to argue over the details on my non-surprise birthday party… well, just don’t argue over the details of my non-surprise party, okay? Or at least argue when I’m not sitting in the same room.” I glanced back down at my laptop and continued reading my online book, ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Brontë, when a football slammed into the back of my head.
“Happy birthday, kiddo,” Emmett yelled from the front foyer.
“Uh, thanks.” I forced the words out, then placed my laptop on the floor, grabbed the football and slammed it back towards Emmett with so much force that the ball deflated when it collided with Emmett’s granite body. “A simple high-five would have sufficed, Emmett.” I sat back down and continued reading my book.
“I taught you well,” he said with a proud, borderline cocky smile.
This year for my birthday I somehow managed to have Edward convince everyone, even Alice, to keep things a non-surprise. Alice complied, hesitantly – but complied nonetheless – under one condition.
“Okay fine,” she agreed. “But, only under one condition.” I bit my lip in anticipation for this ‘condition’ and noticed Edward grin; he already heard Alice’s thoughts, of course.
Alice’s golden eyes locked on mine. Even her stare exuded grace and charm. “I still get to throw you a party and buy whatever I want for you. And, everyone has to agree to be in attendance for the bash I’m going to throw. It won’t be a surprise, heck I’ll decorate right in front of you. But, the party needs to happen. It is you birthday, Bella.”
I already knew there would be no way out of this anyway, so I agreed and spared Alice the argument…and eye rolling. “Okay, deal. Just don’t keep anything from me. That includes any weird visions, Alice.”
“Perfect!” she chimed. “Now that the decision has been made, I can see that it will be a great night.”
I’ve never liked surprises. I have always preferred planned events. Though I have endured my share of non-planned events. Speaking of Renesmee, she just had her birthday, too. We celebrated it in La Push. Her idea, we just complied. Edward listened in on her thoughts and saw a recurring theme: Bonfires, the beach, Jake, his family and her family—all together. We didn’t mention anything to Renesmee, we just woke her up—well, Jake woke her up—and headed off to La Push.
Alice and Esme went there earlier to get everything set up, so when we arrived, it was basically just everything Edward heard in her thoughts brought to life. Minus the thing…err… fantasy he heard about Jacob. Edward does his best to stay out of Jake and Renesmee’s heads now. Thoughts of Jake’s warm 108.9 °F shirtless torso doesn’t exactly appeal to him.
After Jacob kissed Renesmee that night—the night that lead Edward to break the banister—Jake and Edward talked, and Edward admitted that he understood that Renesmee wanted to be kissed, but he asked that they take things slow from now on. Basically he told Jake to be a gentleman and to forget about the idea of sex, until marriage.
Edward is old-fashioned, and he’s hell-bent on his daughter being raised the same way. But I also know things might not go the way he wants. If Renesmee chooses to be with Jacob, she will. I made up my mind with Edward, and if he hadn’t been a vampire, a predator—and didn’t make me feel like I was some kind of villain trying to steal his virtue—I would have consummated our relationship. I didn’t need a wedding to determine how much I loved Edward. I didn’t need to wear a white dress to sayI love you, and I didn’t need to say I do to articulate how much I trusted Edward…even when he didn’t trust himself. I knew he was the only one for me, and I was the only one for him.
Jake agreed, though. He told Edward that he preferred to wait until marriage anyway, should they ever get married. Right now, that’s not an issue. They’ve only kissed, and from time-to-time we catch them holding hands. Edward knows—thanks to his mind-prying abilities—that Renesmee is undoubtedly attracted to Jacob. She nestled into him the entire night of her birthday by the campfire, and her thoughts ran rampant. Surprisingly, Nessie’s thoughts were more impure than Jake’s. Edward didn’t know whether to be happy, or worried.
When Jake pulled Renesmee aside, alone, it was definitely worry that took over Edward’s face; his lips pulled tightly together, his body eerily still. His eyes followed the two as they ran off into the woods together, Renesmee scooped up into Jake’s arms. I could see Edward trying with all his power to refrain from following them, but there was a blur, then he was gone. I followed, trying to keep discreet so that the others didn’t think of us as psycho, over-protective parents.
When we got down to the shore we saw Renesmee still in Jake’s arms and the words, “Happy Birthday Renesmee. I Luv You,” spelled out with sticks on the sand that were lit on fire. Beside a tree in the distance I noticed a gasoline can and a small pack of matches. But what really caught my attention was how happy my Nudger was. How beautiful the two of them looked together, almost glowing under the half moon. Their smiles were luminescent, their laughs genuine. It reminded me of Edward and I. It was as though nothing else in the entire world mattered but that they were there, together. Then, Renesmee turned and kissed Jacob. I turned toward Edward, almost instinctively. He was grinding his teeth together, and crouched low, but he maintained his composure.
We didn’t interrupt their moment and kept hidden behind a tree, watching for a couple of minutes as they laughed together and flirted. When I looked back up at Edward I wasn’t expecting to see a smile, but he was grinning even wider than I was. “Their thoughts are pure,” he whispered, not looking at me, unable to take his eyes away from Nessie and Jake. I laughed, wondering if he noticed how perfect they looked together.
“They look so happy,” I said softly under my breath. “They remind me of us…in the beginning when everything was so forbidden, so wrong, but so right all at the same time, you know?”
Edward finally lifted his gaze away from Renesmee and Jacob and looked at me, his stare so delicate now. “They do look happy. I guess I understand things from Charlie’s perspective a little better now, too. At least I haven’t armed Renesmee with pepper spray.” His lips curled up into a quick grin.
We went back to the fire together, walking at a human pace, our hands woven together tightly. We joked about all the times Edward came through my window to watch me sleep, and how weird that would’ve been if Charlie had ever caught him. We laughed about broken headboards and feathers. I even got Edward to crack a small smile over the fact that his former mortal enemy imprinted on his daughter.
When we got back to the campfire everyone was listening to Billy play the guitar while Sue hummed along and Charlie watched her, trying not to seem overly obvious. When she caught him looking, he’d dart his eyes back down at the fire. I think the thing about love is that it’s always shy. Even when we mature, gain knowledge and life experience throughout our existence—human, or immortal—we still react to love the same way: like shy, uncertain, afraid, lost children. I can see that Charlie wants to open up and let someone in, but he’s still struggling. In time, I think he will at least try. In time.
For my non-surprise party, Alice decided that everyone should come to our home in New Hampshire. She likes to have a lot of space to decorate. Oddly, Rosalie seemed almost as excited about decorating as Alice. She picked the colors for the flower arrangements and even pulled me aside right before the party to give me a necklace to wear for the night. “I think this would look nice on you,” she began, holding out a gorgeous blue sapphire diamond necklace. “You can wear it if you want. It was mine from when I was…alive.” After all this time, it was obvious that Rosalie still struggled with what she was, and more-so with what she wasn’t. Human.
I took the beautiful necklace in my hand, holding it gently like an egg, examining its beauty. “Rosalie, this is…” I couldn’t find the words to describe it, so I just shook my head and took in one deep breath. “Wow, thank you for letting me wear this. Really, this means a lot, Rose.”
“Well, Edward has always liked you in blue. He’s right. It’s your color.”
I smiled, but not an obvious smile. I could tell that Rosalie was struggling with each and every word. She was trying, though. “Thanks, Rosalie. I’m definitely going to wear it. It will go perfectly with my dress.”
Before Rosalie had the chance to respond, Seth and Embry came flying into the bedroom, Seth screaming and laughing at the same time. Embry was giving Seth a wedgie that looked excessively painful. “Stop it! St—ouch! Owww! Stop!” Seth’s voice roared through the house and the rest of the guys came thudding up the stairs to get in on the action.
I shot Rosalie a look that said ‘thank you’ before heading back downstairs—away from the wedgie war—and she smiled back lightly. When I got downstairs, I asked Alice to help me get dressed and gave Edward a kiss before heading back up to the huge washroom—that was actually more like a lounge area with a giant shower on one side and a claw-foot tub on the other.
My simple black dress adorned with cream lace was laying over the white leather bench. I didn’t let Alice pick it out entirely. I helped this time. I really wanted something simple. Something more me. We added a pair of black flats and then Alice ran the curling iron through my hair quickly and dabbed some sticky gloss on my lips. I rubbed it off when she wasn’t looking.
Before we headed downstairs I asked Alice to fasten the sapphire necklace around my neck for me. “Isn’t this Rosalie’s necklace?” she probed.
“Yeah, she kinda lent it to me for the night.”
Alice dangled the necklace around my neck and closed the clasp. “This is her favorite necklace in the world,” Alice began, shaking her head slightly. “I asked to borrow this thing over a hundred times and she always says no. Her father bought it for her, so I know it’s quite special.”
I swallowed hard. “Wow. I had no idea. Now I’m kinda nervous wearing it. I mean, what if I break it or something?”
Alice’s eyes narrowed into slits. “You won’t. Now lets get down stairs and get this party started.”
It’s great having a sister who can see the future. I glanced at myself quickly in the mirror and then followed after Alice, who had already flitted to the bottom of the stairs and into Jasper’s arms. “Come on Bella,” she hummed.
Edward was standing at the bottom of the stairs talking to Charlie, whose eyes were glued to the back of Sue’s head. Sue was standing about ten feet away talking to Carlisle. Charlie didn’t notice when Edward stepped away and came toward me. In fact, it looked like he even kept talking to himself for a few seconds before he noticed Eward had left.
Edward’s eyes lit up like burning liquid gold and a smile melted across his smooth, angelic face. “I can’t believe I get to spend an eternity with you. You’re so incredibly beautiful, Bella. Perfect.” He pulled his face away from mine so he could get a good look at me, then continued. “You captivate me in ways I didn’t know were possible. Happy birthday, love.” He rested his lips gently on my forehead and lifted me off my feet to swirl me around in a circle.
The house looked beautiful. I asked Alice not to go overboard, and aside from the flowers—which did indeed make the living room look a little like a funeral home—everything looked perfect. Alice later admitted that she had asked Rosalie to call in the order of flowers, then without thinking, she later called in the exact same order, assuming Rosalie had forgotten to do it. Needless to say, there wasn’t a shortage of flowers in our home.
The blown-up baby picture of me that was projected onto the huge white wall in the front foyer was kinda creepy, but I just stayed away from that area to avoid it. Alice had good intentions. The rest of the decorations were beautiful. The lights, the flowers, the gold-colored balloons, the gold carpet outside that lead to the front door covered in white flower petals…I could go on. It was all so perfect.
I asked…no, I begged, everyone to skip the gifts this year. Presents are somewhat pointless to me—I really do have everything I want and need. However, I did promise Alice that as long as she didn’t make anything to do with the party a surprise, that she could get any gift she wanted to. She had asked if it was okay to keep just the present a surprise, and of course, I agreed. Somehow, saying ‘no’ to Alice when it came to shopping felt like taking candy from a child.
We all gathered around the piano, the wolves and their family sipping champagne through crystal flutes and scarfing down hors d’oeuvres, while Edward filled the room with the most beautiful melodies. His long fingers danced scrupulously across the keys. Renesmee stood right next to him and watched intently. She was learning to play and admitted that she wanted to be as good as Edward some day.
Alice and Jasper glided gracefully into the room and Alice hesitantly interrupted Edward’s beautiful song. “Okay Bella, it’s time for your present. Everyone come into the front foyer please. Sorry Edward, but it’s time.”
Oh great, she’s making me look at that awful baby picture of myself again, I thought, not letting it show through my expression. Edward got up from the piano and placed his hand on the small of my back as we all filed into the over-sized foyer.
Alice had some sort of remote in her hand, and when I looked up at the wall, the baby picture was gone. The screen was pure white, aside from the word ‘PAUSE’ in black in the bottom right corner.
“Is everyone here now?” Alice asked, counting heads to make sure. Once she realized everyone was there she grabbed Edward and then tugged us to the very front. “I felt it was unfair for me to go out and buy you gifts that I know you’re not going to use anyway, Bella. So I got everyone together, and instead of a stupid car or diamond earrings, we made you this.” Alice clicked a button on the remote and the white wall was now filled with a video. First Alice, then Jasper, then Rosalie, then Emmett…and it kept going and going. Even my mother, Renee, was in the video, despite the fact that she wasn’t able to make it to the actual party.
One by one, everyone popped up on the screen to give me their own uniquely special birthday wish. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen for even a second. Piano music was playing softly in the background of the video—one of Edward’s songs.
I thought the video was over after everyone had wished me a ‘happy birthday,’ then the screen faded out, and back in with a beautifully edited video montage of everything from me as a baby, to wedding footage of Edward and I that I didn’t even know existed. It also included footage from holidays, Renesmee as a baby and so much more. The most beautiful song played throughout the video and I knew that if I were a human, with human emotions and the ability to produce tears, I would have been bawling my eyes out.
When the video ended a message came up that read: “Happy Birthday Bella. We all love you so much. More than you know.” I felt my mouth swing open and my mind went searching for the right words to express how much the video meant to me.
“I really wish I could let you all into my mind right now because no words can explain how beautiful that was.” I took a second to roughly gather my thoughts, then continued. “Thank you all so much for that…and for not making it a car, or a house or something crazy. This video is the most perfect present I could have ever gotten. I really don’t even have the words—”
“We’re glad you liked it,” Jasper interrupted, noticing I was struggling. “Happy birthday, Bella.”
I went around and gave everyone a quick half-hug and thanked them all individually. The party kicked into full gear when Alice initiated a game of twister. It was interesting to see werewolves and vampires all bent around each other like that, not wanting to tear each other to shreds. Charlie and Sue were bent strategically in an interesting position that I’d rather never think about again…ever…in my life.
After the party was over and everyone from La Push started to pass out, Edward and I went to our home for some privacy. We didn’t bother flicking the lights on—we could see each other perfectly in the dark, of course. Edward kissed me slowly and delicately from the top of my head, to the tips of my toes and then placed me down on the bed—which we keep in our bedroom for obvious purposes.
I opened my eyes and looked up at… the stars? “Holy crow,” I blurted out once I noticed that our ceiling was now a slab of thick, perfectly clear glass. “What the…where did the ceiling go?” I asked, standing to my feet to examine the beautiful starlit sky.
“Well, I haven’t given you everything yet,” Edward began in a soft voice. “I’ve given you my love, my heart, my soul, my life and my name. But I haven’t given you the stars, the sky and the moon yet, Bella. Happy birthday.”
And there, right under the stars, the sky and the moon, Edward traced his finger over the curves of my body and kissed the hollow of my neck, then my jaw, then my lips, so delicately. Then in one swift motion he lifted me up in the air and placed me on top of him, wrapping my legs around his waist.
Right there, under the stars, the sky and the moon, we made love.
EDIT: Looking for a new love story to read? I have written a novella called, ‘My Darrling.’ (This is not the Willow series I’ve been working on, rather it’s a small side project. The first book in the Willow series will be up in the early portion of this year). For now, I’m so excited for you to check out the novella I’ve written:
You can read a preview and purchase ‘My Darrling’ HERE. I can’t thank you all enough for your endless support, and I promise to run contests to give back as soon as my books get off the ground!
For those of you who’d like to follow the progress of my Willow series, please ‘LIKE’ it on Facebook here. You can also read a tiny preview if you click ‘info’.
Feel free to stop by my personal blog here, where I post songs, pictures and will soon be giving more previews from ‘Willow.’ Thank you all so much for reading and for the support and encouragement you’ve all given. You have no idea how important your encouragement and kind words has been.
“I read the lines quietly, mostly to myself. “‘If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.’” I nodded, again to myself. “I know exactly what she means. And I know who I can’t live without.”
“Edward lay next to me and held my hand. “August thirteenth?” he asked casually after a few minutes of comfortable silence.
“That gives me a month till my birthday. I didn’t want to cut it too close.”
Edward softly pressed his smooth, porcelain finger to my lips as I feebly attempted to protest his anniversary surprise. “Shhh, Bella, my love,” he whispered in my ear, his sweet breath finding its way to my nose, intoxicating me. “I promise I haven’t done anything outrageous or overly extravagant. But it is August 13th — our second anniversary. You had to have expected something.” His perfect crooked grin widened, brightening up his buttery golden eyes and causing me to entirely lose my train of thought.
Edward was good at that.
When he realized I was mentally crippled by his dazzling effect, he delicately laced his fingers through mine, so gently — as if I were still a tender, easily-breakable human — then he led me out of the car and around the back of the Cullen’s over-sized mansion. Odd that we’re going around the back of the house, rather than in the house, I thought to myself.
“Wait!” I blurted out, stopping abruptly. “I have something for you, too. I should go get it so we can exchange surprises together.”
“Bella, you being my wife is far more than I could ever ask for. Every single day I have with you makes me feel like I’m living again. Like I’m breathing, like I’m alive. I—”
“Just let me quickly slip into the house and grab your surprise,” I interrupted, wondering why Edward figured it was okay for him to refuse gifts, but if I did it he thought I was being ‘difficult.’ But I knew that, like me, Edward probably felt like he didn’t need anything else, because when you’re in love – truly in love – you have it all.
Like immortals, like us, love never dies. But gifts, they eventually get lost, or like most things, the excitement over a gift will fade away, wear off. The love that Edward and I share will never fade away, though, and the excitement will never wear off. For as long as we both live.
I didn’t give Edward a chance to answer before I slid my hand out of his and glided instantaneously through the house, then back out with his gift. I should say gifts; I had two things to give Edward for our anniversary.
Edward glanced down at the blue and gold gift bag and half laughed then, again, gently took my hand in his and continued leading me toward the large backyard. We stopped just before we turned the corner, but I could smell tea lights and flower petals. I could see the flickering of candles illuminating behind Edward, too.
“I wanted to keep it simple for once,” Edward began as he glided his hand out of mine and placed it around my waist. “Sometimes staying close to home, close to everyone you love, is the most comforting. I didn’t want to put you on a plane or in any situation where you’d have to fight the urge to go on a killing spree, Bella. I didn’t want to take you someplace where you would have to pretend to be something you’re not. With advice from Alice, I decided our backyard would be the perfect getaway.”
I felt relieved. I didn’t want a card with plane tickets in it. I didn’t want an expensive vacation to some private island. I didn’t want an expensive car, or a new house, either. I just wanted to spend the night with Edward, my love. My everything.
Keeping his hand around my waist, Edward led me around the corner to the backyard. I felt my jaw drop dramatically, maybe a little too dramatically, when I saw what he had done. I figured Alice played a large role in it too, and made a mental note to thank her later.
My eyes darted to the ground, which had no visible grass because it was completely covered in a multitude of different flower petals. Mostly purple ones; but there were white petals, and yellow ones, too. I rested the bag with Edward’s gifts in it on the ground and slowly stepped into the paradise that used to be our backyard.
The large trees were lit up with what had to be a million tiny glittery lights. Edward’s piano was propped up in the middle of the backyardon a huge plank of thick glass which had a purple light shining up from the bottom of it, illuminating the piano.
Tea lights flickered ambitiously from every corner of the backyard, but they were no competition for the fireflies that sparkled in the air, almost as though they were there for decorative purposes. But they were just natures bonus to the beautiful, glittery paradise, of course.
The dark purple and gold satin bows that clung to the tree stumps blew softly in the weak, warm wind, and the large mixed flower bouquets sat atop the giant rock garden that Esme made at the beginning of summer. Even the tiny waterfall that flowed through the rocks had tea lights and flowers petals floating in it.
In the midst of being awestruck I heard a door slam shut and noticed Jake walking from his small house – which was also covered in decorations – out of my peripheral and heading towards the driveway. He was in a rush and tossed a somewhat genuine–sounding “happy anniversary you two,” over his shoulder. “Oh… and I’m sure if you look up ostentatious in the dictionary you’ll see a picture of the backyard,” he scoffed, a little louder now that he was out of Edward’s reach.
“I knew I could smell dog,” Edward teased, his voice a low growl. “I assumed it was just your stench lingering from earlier. Thought you were going to Forks for the night with everyone else, Jake?”
“Yeah yeah, I’m going now. I forgot something and had to come back – then noticed that the mother of all flowers and tea lights vomited in the backyard. Thank God I’m leaving,” Jake retorted before hopping in his car and taking off.
I laughed. “How’d you get everyone to leave for the night?”
“Persuasion is one of my strong points,” Edward answered, still standing still as a statue.”They’re all coming back early tomorrow. Esme wants to have a small celebration with all of us together.”
I nodded and continued eying up the glittery backyard. “It’s really one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,” I breathed. “But you said –”
“– I said I’d keep the gift simple,” Edward reminded me, his velvety voice cutting me off. “Alice wouldn’t negotiate on the decorations.”
I smiled, unable to take my eyes off of Edward now and then took three steps to close the gap between him and I. Wrapping my arms tightly around his torso, I softly whispered, “I love you Edward” in his ear.
It was twilight, and the last hints of purple and pink were gradually vanishing from the nearly cloudless sky. Edward’s face glowed beautifully in the faint moonlight making him look even more angelic than usual.
Kissing my forehead and then somehow pulling me even closer to him, Edward whispered back, “I love you too, my Bella.” I felt my legs go weak and tightened my arms around his neck, for leverage… just in case. I knew vampires didn’t faint, but Edward had a way of making me feel human again.
It was more of a mental weakness than a physical weakness, but when you’re intoxicated by love it can be hard to tell the difference.
“I could hold you all night long like this, but I’d like to play a song I wrote for you, if you don’t mind love?” Edward asked tenderly.
If vampires could blush, I would have been the color of an overly ripened tomato. “Of course,” I said, mentally preparing to be serenaded by the most beautifully, dazzling boy in the world. It was times like these that made me feel like a little girl with her first crush on the boy of her dreams.
If I could still dream, those are the moments I would dream of; moments with Edward. Each second I spent with Edward was surreal. I knew the intense feeling would never fade away and that I would be living a perfect dreamlike existence for forever, blissfully. What I never could understand, however, is how I got so lucky.
Edward sat down on the long piano bench and I sat down next to him, wondering how I had missed the giant glowing ice sculpture shaped like a swan next to the picket fence. “Swan… brilliant, Alice,” I whispered under my breath half laughing.
Before I was done smiling, Edward’s smooth porcelain fingers were dancing gracefully across the piano. It was my lullaby, at first, then it melted into another melody. It flowed so perfectly together, so seamlessly. The melody became more dynamic with every stroke, every measure, and more full of life with each flawless movement of Edward’s fingers. My expression changed at least a dozen times as the tune washed through my ears and into my chest where my heart used to beat.
When it was over, I was speechless.
Edward lifted his hands from the piano keys, turned to me and gripped my jaw in his hand then pulled me towards him, our lips smashing together. “I don’t even know how to describe that,” I began, in between kisses. “Edward, that was… it was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.”
He smiled. “I wanted to add a continuation to your lullaby because you can’t sleep anymore, love. You have no use for a lullaby. I made the melody stronger, more tenacious, like you.”
“It’s perfect. You don’t even know how listening to that made me feel.” I took Edward’s hand and placed it to my chest, right where my heart used to pump. “I felt it here.”
“I will play it for you anytime you like. All you have to do is ask, my beautiful Bella.”
I lifted Edward’s hand from my chest and brought it to my lips, kissing each one of his fingers gently before giving his hand back then bolting towards his gift in the blue and gold gift bag. “My turn,” I said, holding the bag out to Edward.
He sighed. “I have one more thing for you.”
“No Edward. This is all so much as it is. This night I get to spend with you is –”
He cut me off, trying to dodge another lecture about how he already does too much for me. “Just follow me,” he said through a grin. Placing his hand on the small of my back, Edward guided me inside the huge house. I asked at least ten times where he was taking me, and he just smiled, refusing to drop even the slightest hint. We could have walked faster, but we walked at a normal, human pace. It was as though Edward wanted to drag it out, torture me longer.
We finally reached the very top floor of the house and stood outside the door to a room the Cullens used for storage. Mostly Alice used it to store all the clothes and shoes she bought online. “You got me a storage room?” I joked.
“Not exactly,” he laughed quietly, wrapping his hand around the door handle and slowly twisting it. He teased me by opening the door slightly, then shutting it. Finally, he opened it the entire way then stood back so I could take everything in.
“You got me a library?” I screeched. “Edward this is…” I couldn’t finish because my eyes flickered to a copy of Wuthering Heights that rested all alone on the over-sized brown leather sofa, which was flat against the wall and framed by bookshelves. It was a rare first edition of Emily Brontë’s novel. There was no doubt that the book had cost at least six figures, and a lot of persuasion to get.
Edward was right; persuasion was one of his strong points.
I picked the book up delicately, careful not to damage it in anyway. I decided to leave out the questions and forgo the lecture about how he had already done too much for me. Instead, I looked up at him and whispered a soft “thank you,” then gently placed the book back down on the sofa and ran over to Edward – who was still in the doorway – and kissed him slowly, all over his neck – one of his biggest turn-ons.
In between animalistically kissing Edward and ripping my clothes off, I breathed: “I . . . need…to give you…your gift…. still.” Although I didn’t want to stop, I managed to pull myself off of him to grab his gift bag.
“You forgot to read the letter I wrote for you though, love,” Edward said, pointing to the sofa. I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t noticed a letter sitting there because I had been blinded with excitement from the limited edition book.
I glided to the sofa and picked up the most beautiful letter, written in Edward’s elegant script. I’m not as good with words as Edward is, so I thought I’d just add his letter here for you to read, if you want:
How could I thank him for everything? He made our anniversary the most magical night possible, and I felt so undeserving, but so lucky. I’ve always been a good person, but I don’t know what I did to deserve this perfect boy.
It was obvious that tears would have flooded the room if it were possible for me to cry. The library was perfect; each shelf full of books I’ve read, and others that I had planned to read. There was a laptop sitting on the hardwood floor with about ten different bookmarks resting next to it. It was my own little escape.
It was perfect.
“I have no words. How do I thank you for all of this? Sometimes, I still feel like I don’t deserve you. You’re too perfect…” I didn’t know how to word everything I wanted to say, so I just let Edward into my mind.
“Shhh, my love,” Edward soothed as he traced his fingers around the curves of my lips. “I feel the same way about you. I wish so badly I could let you read my mind so you could see how similar our thoughts are.”
“Okay, ” I said assertively, trying to gather my thoughts. “I have to give you your gift now. It’s not a library, or a song . . . and it’s not a gorgeous, glittering backyard. But, I hope you like it. Carlisle helped me with it.” I held the bag out, and Edward took it slowly from my hands.
“I made it myself,” I whispered nervously as he pulled the large scrapbook from the tissue paper. I hated watching people open gifts from me. I liked the ‘making them happy’ part, just not the initial unveiling of whatever awful present was awaiting.
Edward’s smooth buttery golden eyes were so peaceful as he opened the book and began flipping through the pages, my favorite grin creeping up one side of his face. “Bella, how did you get all of these photos?” he asked pointing to the page with the large black and white picture of his mother, Elizabeth, and father, Edward Sr.
“Carlisle helped me out. We hunted for every photo we could find of you and your family. Carlisle had a bunch that he’d forgotten about until I asked him.”
His expression continued to warm each time he flipped a page in the scrapbook of pictures. “I haven’t seen all of these photos,” he said, unable to pry his eyes from the book. Flipping the page again, his smile met his eyes as he pointed to another photo. “That’s a painting of me when I was a baby. Incredible!”
“Keep going,” I murmured shyly, biting my lip. I was excited for him to see the progression of photos, from when he was born, to the most recent. The book was filled with photos and paintings from when Edward was a human; then pictures from before he met me – of him and the Cullens – and finally, it ended with a snapshot of Edward, Renesmee and I standing in a pile of leaves. We were all smiling, the widest, most genuine smiles.
I loved that photo because none of us knew it was being taken. In fact, I didn’t know about it until Alice danced into the room when I was making the scrapbook. She didn’t say a word; just placed the photo down, smiled impishly and danced back out.
Still grinning, Edward finally placed the book down beside him.”Bella, you don’t know how much this means to me. It’s the most beautiful, perfect gift I have ever received since the beginning of my existence; next you you, of course.”
“I’m glad you like it,” I said with a nod and a smile. “There’s one more thing in the bag.”
Edward lifted the small gift card out of the bag and laughed, a roaring laugh, once he saw what it was for. “You got me a gift card to The Doors & Banisters Hut.” It wasn’t a question. He put his head down in embarrassment and thanked me shyly.
“I figured that since Renesmee and Jacob have been getting closer lately, you could benefit from it,” I laughed. “Esme fixed the last one, but the next one is on you.”
After exchanging gifts, I looked around my new library some more, then Edward led me back downstairs and into the backyard. There was an iPod nestled into a speaker mount, and he flicked it on. The play list was perfect: a mix of some new indie bands we’d been listening to lately, some Debussy, Stravinsky and we even slow danced under the moon to Pachelbel’s Canon. The night was perfect.
After slow dancing, Edward lifted me up and placed me gently on the huge bed of flowers, then kissed me ethereally from the top of my head, to the tips of my toes. Feeling Edward’s smooth lips caress my entire body so delicately made me feel numb; like I was dreaming, and in the dream I was paralyzed by my own love for the beautiful bronze haired boy.
“You know,” I started, somehow breathless, “you have this way of making me feel like a delicate, fragile egg shell. It’s not fair. I thought that once I was turned, you wouldn’t be able to impact me the same way and make me feel so warm inside. So dazed.”
Edward rested his nose on the top of my head and breathed in deeply, taking in my scent. “I know exactly what you mean, love.” Without further explanation he lifted me up and rested me on his lap and I wrapped my legs around his waist.
Slowly, I unbuttoned his black shirt – one button at a time – melting my lips into his in between. But I couldn’t keep at the slow place much longer and finally ripped the last three buttons open simultaneously, smoothing my hands across his chest then pulling him closer to me.
I ran my fingers through Edward’s hair as he delicately undressed me, in the most gentlemanly manner possible. I froze like a statue every time his lips made contact with my body; or his sweet-smelling breath blew in my face.
In that moment, I felt completely intoxicated by his love.
There, under the mellow – almost cloudless – night, Edward and I made love to each other. The moon illuminated Edward’s body, highlighting his already angelic exterior, and I was sure to take in every detail of those moments.
Every smell, every look, every crooked grin.
Just because we live forever, doesn’t mean each beautiful moment together isn’t worth capturing and adoring. I treasured every moment I spent with Edward, and always would.
“I’ll love you forever my beautiful Bella,” Edward whispered as dawn began to break. We were still laying on the bed of flower petals, unclothed, cradling each other tightly. The music was still wafting softly through our ears, and most of the tea lights had already burnt out.
“I love you so much Edward,” I whispered back, tracing my fingers up and down his stomach, my eyes locked on his. “Happy Anniversary.”
P.S. Before I go, I thought I’d leave you with two songs from the playlist that Edward and I danced to on our anniversary. One is a song I mentioned earlier: Pachelbel’s Canon. The other is one of my new favorite songs and it’s called Roll Over by Uniform Motion. I hope you enjoy.
I wondered what would benefit Edward more; keeping my shield draped around him so he wouldn’t feel nauseated, or taking the shield off, and allowing him to feel repulsed in exchange for having to hear Fred’s thoughts about Renesmee. It was clear that whatever Fred was thinking was not something a father would like to hear about his daughter.
“Listen Fred,” Edward began. “I have a gift, too. I have the ability to read your mind. So please do me the extraordinary favor of keeping your thoughts about my daughter to yourself, or you might get a taste of what Victoria’s newborn army had to endure when we ripped them all apart… limb for limb.”
Fred cringed, embarrassed. “My apologies. I wasn’t aware that you were the mind reader. I know you have some very gifted members in your clan, Riley informed us all, of course. I will keep that in mind and try to keep my thoughts pure around you.”
Renesmee was blushing and glaring at Edward at the same time. Even while she was glaring, she still looked charming and innocent, somehow. Edward raised one eyebrow then rearranged his entire expression, leaving me to assume that Nessie was giving him a small piece of her mind through her thoughts.
Everyone seemed awkward, so I spoke up to try and break the tension. “So…Fred, you said you came here to see us. Is there something we can do for you, or…” I trailed off, noticing that Edward and Renesmee were still making faces at each other.
“Will you two please stop with the mental arguing?” I hissed, shifting my eyes between the two of them. They were having a normal father-daughter argument; Nessie sharing her displeasure with Edward through her mind, and Edward, in return, making the ‘I’m warning you’ face. I should say a normal vampire father-daughter argument. Mortals don’t argue using their thoughts, of course.
“I’m sorry love,” Edward said, his beautiful eyes meeting mine. “If you could hear the things she is saying in her head though.”
I shot Renesmee a calculative glance, and she grinned. She looked so much like Edward when she grinned. Her beauty was equal to his, just different. I couldn’t help but think of how normal we actually were as a family, despite our obvious differences from mortals. In a way, I guess it felt good, comforting, to see Edward and Renesmee arguing like a father and daughter normally would.
“I came to ask you about Bree,” Fred finally responded, answering my question, and breaking the tension. “Well not just about Bree. I was also hoping you could educate me a little on the higher power, the vampire law leaders.” He asked the question as if he were afraid of the answer, his expression wavering between curiosity and apprehension.
I suspected he heard about the Volturi. About the control and power they hold. I wondered what Riley had told them. Probably a bunch of lies. When I thought about the girl, Bree, I felt hallow. I felt a slight clenching, tightening, where my heart used to beat. I couldn’t help feeling guilty – those newborns were created because of me. They were created because Edward destroyed Victoria’s love, James, to save me. It was my fault that Bree had her human life revoked, then was later destroyed.
Edward’s lips went flat and all the expression drained from his beautiful eyes. He looked distant and finally spoke, his voice cold, bleak. “We tried to help the girl. Bree.” He choked out her name and his eyes searched for comfort in mine. I moved closer to Edward, and grabbed Renesmee’s hand to keep her close.
“There was nothing we could do,” Edward continued. “The Volturi simply don’t make exceptions. She asked me to be nice to you, Fred. She figured out I was the mind reader and told me everything she could through her thoughts… before they destroyed her. She cared about you.”
Fred darted his bright red eyes to the side and held them there, staring at nothing. Thinking. I heard a low hiss escape his lips, which was followed by Edward squeezing my hand unnecessarily hard.
“Don’t even try it, Fred,” Edward warned. “They are malicious and will kill you without any thought at all. Bree is gone and there’s nothing we can possibly do about her destruction. Going to the Volturi, to confront them, will get you destroyed, too. I understand that you’re gifted, but there are far too many of them – and to try to fight them for something that is unchangeable, for Bree, is just…” Edward looked down and his voice trailed off. He didn’t want to insult Fred, but it was true; attempting to take on the Volturi, for something that was already over with, was not rational.
A cold rain began to pour through the leaves in the tall trees above us and the smell of freshly drenched earth washed through my nose. The rain felt like silk dancing down my granite skin and made my long hair fall completely flat, clinging to my cheeks and back.
Renesmee batted the rain water off her big beautiful eyelashes, then placed one hand to my cheek to show me what she was thinking:
Fred seems lonely, mom. He doesn’t have anyone, and because of his special gift – which I seem to be immune to – it will be difficult for him to meet other immortals. He can’t be alone forever. I think we should offer him a place in our family. It’s not his fault that he is what he is. This must be such a lonely way to live. Please, mom.
Fred watched closely as Renesmee communicated through touch, and raised one eyebrow, confused. “So, do you guys even need to talk to communicate then? This is pretty weird… I mean, you’re all communicating in front of me, and I have no clue what you’re talking about.”
Edward ignored Fred and responded to Renesmee’s plea. He already heard everything, of course. Mind reading.
“After the things I heard Fred thinking about you, Renesmee, I don’t think Jake would appreciate him being part of our family. You know how much fighting that would cause. Jacob has imprinted on you. He will forever be protective of you and you know that.”
“Wow. I’ve got a lot to learn,” Fred said, looking as through he were trying to follow people who were speaking a completely foreign language. “Imprinted? So, I take it this is a vampire thing I don’t know about then?”
“Actually, it’s a wolf thing,” I started, wondering how crazy Fred was beginning to think we were. “It’s a long story…” I opened my mouth to continue, but Renesmee interrupted me to respond to Edward’s comment about Jake. This time she said it out loud, as if she couldn’t bear to hold it in. She erupted and her soft, melodious, child-like voice now stern and somewhat cold.
“So I’m supposed to live my entire life, an eternity, worrying that Jacob will be upset if I so much as look at another male? I love Jacob, more than anything, but I should not have to deny myself of my desire to help someone out.” She pointed to Fred, who was darting his eyes between the three of us, his face smothered in confusion.
Edward relented, understanding where Renesmee was coming from, to a certain degree. After all, he refused to live his life based on what others wanted from him. He met, and fell in love with a human – which nearly turned his entire family upside down. A lion falling in love with a lamb, and likewise. But Edward wasn’t living for anyone else, he wasn’t existing to seek approval from others. Nessie shouldn’t, either. Imprinting isn’t an arranged marriage. She is still free to do as she pleases.
Fred was staring intently at Renesmee, and this time he looked more puzzled than awe-struck. “She has blood running through her,” he said, nodding. “I can smell it, but it does not appeal to me. Yet, she was able to show you her thoughts through touch, and she is the daughter of two immortals. I’m confused. Is she a human, or…”
“She is half human, yes.” I said, thinking of how to explain this one. “She still drinks blood, though. And she is strong. She grows, but is supposed to stop soon. She is part vampire, part human. We hang around a werewolf a lot, too. He lives in our backyard. That might be why you’re not overly attracted to her smell.”
Fred’s blood red eyes widened and he cocked his head to the side, puzzled. “H-How?”
“Again, it’s a long story,” Edward answered coldly. “We have a lot of long stories.” He was grinning now, that grin that could make even my rock hard body feel like jello.
“I see I have a lot to learn about our kind,” Fred admitted.
I wanted to help Fred, too. He was basically left in this world with no direction. No friends and no family. His one friend, Bree, was destroyed. He was given a gift which would be helpful in some situations, but repulsing people seemed like more of a curse than a gift in this already lonely world of his.
I decided that I was going to ask Fred if he would like to make an attempt at adapting to the ‘vegetarian’ lifestyle, but he started speaking before I could get the words out.
“And just so you all know, I am not here to join your clan. I don’t want to try to fit into anything. I don’t know what the girl told you through her touch, but based on your response,” -he glanced at Edward- “I can tell it had something to do with me joining your family. I truly don’t believe I could live as purely as you all do. I know I wouldn’t have the strength. I truly just wanted to hear it from you that Bree would not be coming back. I wasn’t sure how those things worked, exactly. I also wanted to know what my chances of confronting the higher power…”
“The Volturi,” Edward interrupted. “They’re called the Volturi.”
“Yes, the Volturi.” Fred corrected himself. “I wanted to know what my chances of confronting the Volturi would be, given that I have a special talent. But I don’t want to join you. Besides, I wouldn’t want to be make any wolves mad, or interfere with their imprinting… whatever that is.”
Fred was being honest. He really didn’t see himself living as we do. It’s in his nature to hunt, and kill. Human blood keeps him strong and it’s what he is used to. This life, if you can call it that, was already confusing enough to him. Having to resist human blood would only complicate things more for him. I could still see the vacancy in his crimson eyes, though. It bothered me. I could feel his suffering and his emptiness. He seemed like a nice guy and I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d been like as a human.
The least I could do was leave Fred with some advice before he took off, back into his lonely, disordered world. “If you choose to continue on alone, we wish you the best. And about the Volturi, you have to make sure no one ever finds out about our kind. Ever. Never expose yourself to the humans. If, for some reason, you create another vampire, you must control them. Make sure they don’t get out of hand. Any risk of exposure to our kind will end you.” I paused and thought for a half second. There was one more thing I should tell him.
“Don’t let the Volturi know you’re gifted, if you can help it. They will try to have you join them to make themselves more powerful. They’re corrupt and all they care about is power. And blood. Before you go, know that if you need us for anything, or you would like to try living as we do, we will help. We wanted to help Bree. She wanted to be helped, too.”
“Thank you,” Fred answered, shifting one foot as if he were about to run in the other direction. “But I don’t think I need help. I’m not doing anything that isn’t in my nature. Killing for blood is what we’re made to do. It’s what keeps us alive.”
Renesmee bit her bottom lip as if she were trying to hold back from saying something. She could see that Fred wasn’t getting the point and wanted to say something about it. I liked that she was beginning to develop strong opinions that she stuck by.
“Yes, and for humans it’s in their nature to eat animal meat, but vegetarians are some of the healthiest humans,” Renesmee began in a factual tone. “Some humans believe that it is completely unethical to kill anything that is living and breathing. Because they are only weak humans, they cannot kill an animal in the way we can when we hunt. We can do it so fast that they don’t even know what happened. But humans have to cause some degree of pain in animals to eat them, so some choose not to. This is how we see humans. Sure, we can kill a human fast enough so they wouldn’t feel pain – but the pain of their absence is still left for their loved ones to feel.”
Edward moved closer to Nessie and put his arm around her shoulders. He was as proud as I was. She was so incredibly compassionate. She understood why practicing control was so important. Why humans deserved to live. She was conceived inside a human, and is half human, so I figured she would always have a natural compassion for them.
Edward tried to keep his voice casual. “We aren’t trying to preach to you, Fred. Do as you choose, of course. We just see that you’re incredibly confused and don’t understand your options. Renesmee only wants to let you know that abstaining from human blood is in fact an option.”
The pouring rain turned into a soft drizzle and the sun began to set. Fred smiled, a polite friendly smile and nodded once. “Thank you all for your time. You helped me a lot with the information you’ve given me. I know how to keep myself out of trouble now – and have learned some interesting things about what we’re capable of. I’m going to be on my way now, though. For now, I will continue to exist in this life the only way I know how.” He paused and looked at each of us, holding his gaze slightly longer on Nessie. “Besides,” he continued, still smiling playfully. “I prefer bright red eyes to golden ones.”
And he was off.
Renesmee’s shoulders slouched and she let out a frustration filled sigh. She felt connected to Fred. I figured she liked him because she was immune to his special gift. Listening to her thoughts, Edward confirmed that she felt as though that meant something. Like there was a reason she did not feel repulsed by him.
“I’m sure I’ll see him again. One day. Maybe,” Nessie whispered. “Can we go back now? I want to see Jake. I miss him.”
We ran back home and to our surprise, Renesmee told Jake everything. She even told him that she found Fred ‘charming’ and ‘good-looking.’
“He’s a killer, Nessie,”Jake replied in disapproval, and jealously. “Why would you want to have a pale, blood suc…” Edward cut him off with a low growl.
“Well, he’s gone now so I don’t really care anyway,” Jake half-snarled. “I don’t want to talk about him anymore. Looks like I’ll have to make sure I come everywhere with you for now on Ness’. To protect you from the bloodsuckers and their spells. Seems like they have the ability to wrap anyone around their finger.”
Nessie rolled her eyes and smiled, her brilliantly dazzling smile, then laughed at Jake. She understood. She knew he had gone through losing someone, me, to a vampire in the past and that he was petrified of it happening again. She didn’t want to break his heart again, and she did love him. Edward tells me that she can even picture herself being with him. But, she doesn’t have to clean up my mistakes, either. She doesn’t have to be with him just so he wont be heartbroken.
Right how, though, Renesmee just wanted Jacob to tuck her into bed. “Give it up Jake,” she said through a smile. “And come tuck me into bed, will you?” With one swift movement, he lifted her up into his arms and carried her to her room, placing her on the bed as if she were a delicate, fragile package.
Edward and I kissed her goodnight, then left Jake alone to tuck her in. We were almost all the way down the stairs when Edward stopped, froze on the spot, and ripped the banister up, bending it like a pipe cleaner. So effortlessly.
“He kissed her on the lips” he said through his teeth. “And sh-she liked it. She kissed him b-back.” His eyes were clenched tightly and he was still holding onto the now broken banister. I half laughed to myself and mentally started thinking of when it would be raining next; we needed to go banister shopping.
NOTE: This entry will make more sense to those who have read ‘The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner.’ If you haven’t, you should still be able to follow. Sorry for any confusion, and happy reading!
Hearing Dr. Cole’s menacing hisses and shrill half yells brought me back to the burning; a memory I’d like to tuck into a bottle and send out to sea. He tried diligently to repress the scorching, excruciating pain, and after almost a day his chocking, feral outcries became more subdued. But I knew it was just because he had given up. He realized that nothing in his power could extinguish the fire that was blazing, scorching and burning it’s way through his body. He probably began to wish for death. Death would have been a lot easier.
Carlisle stayed with Dr. Joseph Cole throughout his entire change, watching over every movement, every small detail, his eyes hardly flickering from Dr. Cole’s painful expression. Near the finishing stages, Dr. Cole’s heart thudded and thrashed like helicopter blades. It sounded as though it was going to rip through his chest and take flight at any moment. We knew then that it was almost over. The blaze was dwindling. Finally, the violent thudding came to a halt. It was over. Dr. Joseph Cole was one of us.
Renesmee stayed with Jacob in his small cabin in the back. Blood runs through her veins, and Dr. Cole will be craving blood – will kill for blood, regardless of the fact that he did this all to save lives. I was certain he would forget the value of a human life, that the burn in his throat would drown out his desire to help save humanity. I was almost certain that his thirst would overpower his desire to help the sick, weak, fragrant human beings.
I was wrong.
Dr. Cole opened his piercingly blood red eyes and the most charming, animated smile danced across his lips. He stared straight ahead for the greater portion of a minute, then slowly, calculatedly, his eyes drank in everything in the room.
I had never seen anyone look at a blank wall with such obvious delight before. I understood though. His vision was amplified to the point where he could see every single particle of dust in the air. Every smooth detail of our skin. Everything was so clear to him now, like he had been blind his entire human life and finally, for the first time, he could actually see. He could smell every note of the pleasant fragrance in our breath. He could hear the sound of Jacob’s heart beating in the backyard… and Renesmee’s, but I wouldn’t allow myself to think of that.
Dr. Cole wasn’t thirsty and his first words as a newborn were very confusing to us all. “Carlisle,” he half whispered, his bushy eyebrows knitting together in confusion. “When will I begin to crave blood?”
Everyone in the room had a clouded expression, especially Jasper, who was probably hoping Dr. Cole would have a hard time repressing his burning desire to drink in any human he could get his hands on. Poor Jasper. All these new vampires are making him look bad.
“I don’t understand Joseph,” Carlisle said, his perfectly composed voice concealing his concern. “Is your throat burning?”
“It is burning, yes. More of a dull ache than a burn, but I don’t want blood just yet. I’m certainly not craving it.”
Carlisle looked around the room at all of us, looking for answers. He was speechless, we all were. Edward was reading Dr. Cole’s mind, of course, scanning his thoughts for any indication of thirst.
“His thoughts are pure,” Edward said, still scanning, trying to catch even the tail end of a malicious thought in Dr. Cole’s head. “It will take some time, but the burn will intensify soon. Every change is different. My assumption is that because he had studied us for so long, and knew what to expect that he will have greater control, but regardless, he wont be able to fight his nature. Blood is his source of everything. His existence.” Edward was right. Dr. Cole would begin to crave blood sooner or later. Every change is different and it seems like those few who came into this willingly have more control.
After a few short-seeming hours Dr. Cole admitted that the flame in his throat was beginning to scorch him. He still had no desire to kill anyone, but it was time for his first hunt – before the blaze got out of control. Carlise, Emmett and Jasper took him to the most secluded forest in the area, just outside of town. When they returned we all got the play by play from Emmett, as if he were a sports broadcaster. Apparently Dr. Cole was a natural.
Carlisle wants to keep Joseph around for another month, to make sure he adheres to the rules. To make sure he remains a vegetarian and to ensure that Dr. Cole learns to control his strength, his thirst and to make sure he doesn’t do anything to expose our kind, in any way. Creating a newborn is really a project. It’s a huge responsibility.
For now, Carlisle has that under control. What we don’t have under control, though, is Edward. Lately, he’s been having a difficult time dealing with the developing relationship between Jacob and Renesmee. My little Nudger isn’t exactly little anymore. She is only four years old, almost five, but she looks like a beautiful blossoming fifteen year old. Maybe sixteen. She has grown even faster than we anticipated. Then again, how do you anticipate how fast a half human, half vampire baby will grow?
Renesmee is beautiful. No other words could possibly describe her. Her huge chocolate brown eyes and lush, full lashes make a butterflies fluttering wings look plain, boring. Her long, pure silk bronze curls illuminate under the sunlight while her rosy red cheeks make rose petals appear bland. Her smile is simply brilliant. She has Edward’s beautiful dazzling grin and it makes me feel weak, somehow, every time she flashes that beautiful, brilliantly dazzling smile. She is taller than me now, too. She is lean and her skin is flawless, glowing.
Although Edward understands Jacob’s attraction to Renesmee, he cannot get over the thoughts he is beginning to hear lately. They aren’t completely impure, but they aren’t as squeaky clean as they used to be, when Nessie resembled a small child.
Mostly, Jacob pictures kissing her, holding her, pressing her against his chest, while she listens to his heart beat. Edward says that he constantly hears Jacob thinking of Renesmee cuddling with him and listening to his heart beat. He wants this more than anything. He wants to show her that he’s alive, and more similar to her than she thinks. He is more than afraid of Nessie being blinded by their differences and losing interest in him. Jacob has been burned before. This is different, though. This would ruin his entire existence. Now that he has imprinted on Renesmee, he can only feel truly alive with her and he wants her to know how alive she makes him feel.
Last night Edward pulled Renesmee’s bedroom door off the hinges. We were taking turns saying goodnight to her. When it was Jacob’s turn, he kissed her on her forehead, then her nose. Jacob was wishing he could kiss her lips, just once, and of course Edward heard it in his head. We plan to go out tomorrow to get her a new door. It’s expected to rain tomorrow.
“You wont have a house left if you keep popping into my head, uninvited,” Jacob growled, his teeth clenched.”If you hear one thought a week that makes you mad, what’s that? Seven doors? Maybe a bent staircase banister?”
“You wont have a head left if you keep…,” Edward stopped himself, his expression reminiscent of the one Jane causes her victims by smiling at them. It was nearly impossible for Edward to hold back.
“Guys,” Alice chimed in, her voice energetic, like a freshly wound music box. “Renesmee would like to get some sleep, take this down stairs, please.” She half shoved both of them until they began to make their way down the long staircase, and into the living room.
“I’m sorry Jacob,” Edward started, more composed now. “Can you just try to keep your thoughts to yourself when I’m around? Save the impure ones for when I’m not so close? That’s all I ask.”
“I wont make any promises,” Jacob breathed, looking at the television behind Edward, refusing to make eye contact. “But I’ll try… just so that you don’t go ripping her door off the hinges again.”
What Jacob didn’t know was that Edward wasn’t his biggest problem. Tonight, before Nessie went to sleep, Edward, Renesmee and I went hunting. Edward’s eyes were pure black and I was losing my ability to tame the fire burning the walls of my throat to ashes. Or at least that’s what it felt like.
After Edward caught and drank his prey – a more than average plump deer – he turned and met my smile with a repulsed expression.I bit my bottom lip, trying to figure out why he looked so sick, ill. Vampires don’t get sick, but Edward looked like he was about to throw up.
Instinctively, I stretched my shield around him and Renesmee. Edward was back to normal now. Renesmee seemed fine to begin with, but of course, I kept my shield stretched around them both, just in case.
“What’s going on,” I hissed through my teeth. “Why did you look like you were about to get sick?”
Edward’s eyes were focused on something behind me now. Renesmee’s big eyes were darting between me and whatever was behind me, but she wasn’t afraid, she was awestruck. Careful not to disrupt my shield, I turned slowly to face a beautiful tall, blond vampire. It was no secret that he was gifted with the ability to repulse others. It was a mental ability, though, so I was immune. Almost. I still didn’t catch his scent, which was interesting. I didn’t know he was standing right behind me. Oddly, Renesmee was immune, too. She was staring right at him and felt nothing. Edward on the other hand…
“We didn’t know there were others in the area,” Edward said, his eyes scanning the forest to see if the blond had come alone. “Are you just passing through?” Edward didn’t want the boy to know he could read his thoughts. Once someone finds out, they usually control their mind by repeating the same things over and over so that Edward can’t get in their head properly. Edward could only read Fred’s mind when my shield was stretched around him, though. Otherwise, it made him sick to even try.
The blond boy had piercing red eyes. His handsome face was framed with wavy blond hair. His lips were full, soft looking, but curled down slightly on both sides. He seemed unhappy, despondent.
“Actually,” he said, his voice hard. “I came to see you. The golden eyed ones.” He described us like we were a different make of vampire. A different brand. I guess in a way, we are. “The name’s Fred. I was created to be part of Riley’s army a while ago. One of his numbers. I got away, though. You and your friends took out an entire army of newborns – so it’s obvious I haven’t come here to fight you.”
Fred shifted just his eyes towards Renesmee, who was gazing back at him, still in awe. Fred smiled at her and Edward ripped a tall tree from it’s roots and threw it in the opposite direction. I guess I’m kinda happy I can’t read minds, in a way. I don’t even want to know what he heard in Fred’s head.