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t'. It seemed oddly inevitable, though, facin' death again. Like I really was marked fer disaster. I'd escaped time 'n time again, but it kept comin' back fer me. Still, this time was so different from th' others. Ye could run from someone ye feared, ye could try t' fight someone ye hated. All me reactions were geared toward those kinds o' killers â th' monsters, th' enemies. When ye loved th' one who was scuttlin' ye, it left ye no options. How could ye run, how could ye fight, when doin' so would hurt that beloved one? If yer life was all ye had t' give yer beloved, how could ye nah give it? If 'twas someone ye truly loved? Chapter 1: Engaged No one be starin' at ye, I promised meself. No one be starin' at ye. No one be starin' at ye. But, 'cause I couldn't lie convincingly even t' meself, I had t' check. As I sat waitin' fer one o' th' three traffic lights in town t' turn green, I peeked t' starb'rd â minivan, Wench Weber had turned her whole torso in me direction. in her
Her eyes bored into mine, 'n I flinched back, wonderin' why she didn' drop her gaze or look ashamed. 'twas still considered rude t' stare at scallywags, wasn't it? Didn' that apply t' me anymore? Then I remembered that these windows were so darkly tinted that she prolly had no idea if 'twas even me in here, let alone that I'd caught her lookin'. I tried t' loot some comfort in th' fact that she wasn't really starin' at me, jus' th' car. Me car. Sigh. I glanced t' port 'n groaned. Two pedestrians were frozen on th' sidewalk, missin' thar chance t' cross as they stared. Behind them, Cap'n Marshall was gawkin' through th' plate-glass window o' his wee souvenir shop. At least he didn' 'ave his nose pressed up against th' glass. Yet. Th' light turned green 'n, in me hurry t' escape, I stomped on th' gas pedal without thinkin' â th' normal way I would 'ave punched it t' get me ancient Chevy truck movin'. Engine snarlin' like a huntin' panther, th' car jolted fore so fast that me body slammed into th' black leather seat 'n me stomach flattened against me spine. "Arg!" I gasped as I fumbled fer th' brake. Keepin' me head, I merely tapped th' pedal. Th' car lurched t' an absolute standstill anyway.
I couldn't bear t' look around at th' reaction. If thar had been any doubt as t' who was drivin' this car afore, 'twas gone now. Wit' th' toe o' me boot, I gently nudged th' gas pedal down one half millimetre, 'n th' car shot fore again. I managed t' reach me goal, th' gas station. If I hadn't been runnin' on vapours, I wouldna 'ave come into town at all. I was goin' without a lot o' thin's these days, like Pop-Tarts 'n shoelaces, t' avoid spendin' time in public. Movin' as if I were in a race, I got th' hatch open, th' cap off, th' card scanned, 'n th' nozzle in th' tank within seconds. O' course, thar was naught I could do t' make th' numbers on th' gauge pick up th' pace. They ticked by sluggishly, nigh-on as if they were doin' it jus' t' annoy me. It wasn't bright out â a typical drizzly day in Forks, Washington â but I still felt like a spotlight was trained on me, drawin' attention t' th' delicate rin' on me left hand. At times like this, sensin' th' eyes on me back, it felt as if th' rin' were pulsin' like a neon sign: Look at me, look at me. 'twas squiffy t' be so self-conscious, 'n I knew that. Besides me cap'n 'n mom, did it really matter wha' scallywags were sayin' about me engagement? About me new car? About me mysterious acceptance into an Ivy League college? About th' shiny black credit card that felt red-hot in me back pocket right now? "Yeah, who cares wha' they reckon," I muttered under me breath. "Urn, wench?" a scallywag's voice called. I turned, 'n then wished I hadn't. Two scallywags stood beside a fancy SUV wit' brand-new kayaks tied t' th' top. Neither o' them was lookin' at me; they both were starin' at th' car. Personally, I didn' get it. But then, I was jus' proud I could distinguish between th' symbols fer Toyota, Ford, 'n Chevy. This car was glossy black, sleek, 'n pretty, but 'twas still jus' a car t' me. "I be sorry t' bother ye, but could ye tell me wha' kind o' car ye're drivin'?" th' tall one asked. "Urn, a Mercedes, right?" "Aye," th' scallywag said politely while his shorter matey furled his eyes at me answer. "I know. But I was wonderin', be that... are ye drivin' a Mercedes Guardian?" Th' scallywag said th' name wit' reverence. I had a feelin' this scallywag would get along well wit' Edward Cullen, me... me fiancÃ© (thar really was no gettin' around that truth wit' th' weddin' jus' days away). "They aren't supposed t' be available in Europe yet," th' scallywag went on, "let alone here."
While his eyes traced th' contours o' me car â it didn' look much different from any other Mercedes sedan t' me, but wha' did I know? â I briefly contemplated me issues wit' words like fiance, weddin', ol' mate, etc. I jus' couldn't put it together in me head. On th' one hand, I had been raised t' cringe at th' mighty thought o' poofy white dresses 'n bouquets. But more than that, I jus' couldn't reconcile a staid, respectable, dull concept like ol' mate wit' me concept o' Edward. 'twas like castin' an archangel as an Jack o' Coins; I couldn't visualize 'im in any commonplace role. Like always, as soon as I started thinkin' about Edward I was caught up in a dizzy spin o' fantasies. Th' stranger had t' clear his throat t' get me attention; he was still waitin' fer an answer about th' car's make 'n model. "I dunno," I told 'im honestly. "Do ye mind if I loot a picture wit' it?" It loot me a second t' process that. "Really? Ye wants t' loot a picture wit' th' car?" "Sure â nobody be goin' t' believe me if I don't get proof."
"Urn. Okay. Fine." I swiftly put away th' nozzle 'n crept into th' fore seat t' hide while th' enthusiast dug a huge professional-lookin' camera out o' his backpack. He 'n his matey loot turns posin' by th' hood, 'n then they went t' loot pictures at aft end. "I wench me truck," I whimpered t' meself. Mighty, mighty convenient â too convenient â that me truck would wheeze its last wheeze jus' weeks aft Edward 'n I had agreed t' our lopsided compromise, one detail o' which was that he be allowed t' replace me truck when it passed on. Edward swore 'twas only t' be expected; me truck had lived a long, full life 'n then expired o' natural causes. Accordin' t' 'im. 'n, o' course, I had no way t' verify his tale or t' try t' raise me truck from th' dead on me owns. Me favourite mechanic â I stopped that thought cold, refusin' t' let it come t' a conclusion. Instead, I listened t' th' scallywags's voices outside, muted by th' car walls. "... went at it wit' a flamethrower in th' online video. Didn' even pucker th' paint." "O' course nah. Ye could furl a tank o'er this sprog. Nah much o' a market fer one o'er here. Designed fer Middle East diplomats, arms dealers, 'n drug lords mostly."
"Reckon she's somethin'?" th' short one asked in a softer voice. I ducked me head, cheeks flamin'. "Huh," th' tall one said. "Maybe. Can nah imagine wha' ye'd needs missile-proof glass 'n four thousand pounds o' body armour fer around here. Must be headed somewhere more hazardous." Body armour. Four thousand pounds o' body armour. 'n missile-proof glass? Nice. Wha' had happened t' good ole-fashioned bulletproof? Well, at least this made some sense â if ye had a twisted sense o' humour. It wasn't like I hadn't expected Edward t' loot advantage o' our deal, t' weight it on his side so that he could give so much more than he would receive. I'd agreed that he could replace me truck when it needed replacin', nah expectin' that moment t' come quite so soon, o' course. When I'd been forced t' admit that th' truck had become no more than a still-life tribute t' classic Chevys on me curb, I knew his idea o' a replacement was prolly goin' t' embarrass me. Make me th' focus o' stares 'n whispers. I'd been right about that part. But even in me darkest imaginin's I had nah foreseen that he would get me two cars. Th' "afore" car 'n th' "aft" car, he'd explained when I'd flipped out. This was jus' th' "afore" car. He'd told me 'twas a loaner 'n promised that he was returnin' it aft th' weddin'. It all had made absolutely no sense t' me. 'til now. Har har. 'cause I was so fragilely human, so accident-prone, so much a victim t' me owns dangerous bad luck, apparently I needed a tank-resistant car t' keep me safe. Hilarious. I was sure he 'n his brothers had enjoyed th' joke quite a bit behind me back. Or maybe, jus' maybe, a wee voice whispered in me head, 'tis nah a joke, silly. Maybe he's really that worried about ye. This wouldna be th' first time he's gone a wee o'erboard tryin' t' protect ye. I sighed. I hadn't seen th' "aft" car yet. 'twas hidden under a sheet in th' deepest corner o' th' Cullens' garage. I knew most scallywags would 'ave peeked by now, but I really didn' wants t' know. Prolly no body armour on that car â 'cause I wouldna needs it aft th' honeymoon.
Virtual indestructibility was jus' one o' th' many perks I was lookin' fore t'. Th' best parts about bein' a Cullen were nah expensive cars 'n impressive credit cards. "Ahoy," th' tall scallywag called, cuppin' his hands t' th' glass in an effort t' peer in. "We be done now. Thanks a lot!" "Ye're welcome," I called back, 'n then tensed as I started th' engine 'n eased th' pedal â â down. ever so gently
No matter how many times I drove down th' familiar road ship, I still couldn't make th' rain-faded flyers fade into th' background. Each one o' them, stapled t' telephone poles 'n taped t' street signs, was like a fresh slap in th' face. A well deserved slap in th' face. Me mind was sucked back into th' thought I'd interrupted so immediately afore. I couldn't avoid it on this road. Nah wit' pictures o' me favourite mechanic flashin' past me at regular intervals. Me best matey. Me Jacob. Th' HAVE YOU SEEN THIS BOY? posters were nah Jacob's cap'n's idea. It had been me cap'n, Charlie, who'd printed up th' flyers 'n spread them all o'er town. 'n nah jus' Forks, but Port Angeles 'n Sequim 'n Hoquiam 'n Aberdeen 'n every other town in th' Olympic Peninsula. He'd made sure that all th' police stations in th' state o' Washington had th' same flyer hangin' on th' wall, too. His owns station had a whole corkboard dedicated t' findin' Jacob. A corkboard that was mostly empty, much t' his disappointment 'n frustration. Me cap'n was disappointed wit' more than th' lack o' response. He was most disappointed wit' Billy, Jacob's cap'n â 'n Charlie's closest matey. Fer Billy's nah bein' more involved wit' th' search fer his sixteen-year-ole "runaway." Fer Billy's refusin' t' put up th' flyers in La Push, th' reservation on th' coast that was Jacob's ship. Fer his seemin' resigned t' Jacob's disappearance, as if thar was naught he could do. Fer his sayin', "Jacob's grown up now. He'll come ship if he wants t'." 'n he was frustrated wit' me, fer lootin' Billy's side. I wouldna put up posters, either. 'cause both Billy 'n I knew where Jacob was, roughly speakin', 'n we also knew that no one had seen this lad. Th' flyers put th' usual big, fat lump in me throat, th' usual stingin' tears in me eyes, 'n I was glad Edward was out huntin' this Saturday. If Edward saw me reaction, 'twould only make 'im feel terrible, too. O' course, thar were drawbacks t' it bein' Saturday. As I turned slowly 'n carefully onto me street, I could see me cap'n's police cruiser in th' driveway o' our ship. He'd skipped fishin' again today. Still sulkin' about th' weddin'. So I wouldna be able t' use th' phone inside. But I had t' call... I parked on th' curb behind th' Chevy sculpture 'n pulled th' cell phone Edward had given me fer emergencies out o' th' glove compartment. I dialled, keepin' me finger on th' "end" button as th' phone rang. Jus' in case. "Ahoy?" Seth Clearwater answered, 'n I sighed in relief. I was way too chicken t' speak t' his older sister, Leah. Th' phrase "bite me head off was nah entirely a figure o' speech when it came t' Leah. "Ahoy, Seth, 'tis Bella."
"Oh, ahoy ya, Bella! How are ye?" Choked up. Desperate fer reassurance. "Fine." "Callin' fer an update?" "Ye're psychic." "Nah hardly. I be no Alice â ye're jus' predictable," he joked. Among th'
Quileute pack down at La Push, only Seth was comfortable even mentionin' th' Cullens by name, let alone jokin' about thin's like me well-nigh omniscient sister-in- law-t'-be. "I know I be." I hesitated fer a minute. "How's he?" Seth sighed. "Same as ever. He won't natter, though we know he hears us. He's tryin' nah t' reckon human, ye know. Jus' goin' wit' his instincts." "Do ye know where he be now?" "Somewhere in northern Canada. I can nah tell ye which province. He doesn't pay much attention t' state lines." "Any hint that he might..." "He's nah comin' ship, Bella. Sorry." I swallowed. "S'okay, Seth. I knew afore I asked. I jus' can nah help wishin'." "Yeah. We all feel th' same way." "Thanks fer puttin' up wit' me, Seth. I know th' others must give ye a hard time." "They be nah yer hugest fans," he agreed cheerfully. "Kind o' lame, I reckon. Jacob made his choices, ye made yers. Jake doesn't like thar attitude about it. 'Course, he ain't super thrilled that ye're checkin' up on 'im, either." I gasped. "I thought he wasn't natterin' t' ye?" "He can nah hide everythin' from us, hard as he's tryin'." So Jacob knew I was worried. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Well, at least he knew I hadn't skipped off into th' sunset 'n forgotten 'im completely. He might 'ave imagined me capable o' that. "I guess I'll see ye at th'... weddin'," I said, forcin' th' word out through me teeth. "Yeah, me 'n me mom will be thar. 'twas cool o' ye t' ask us."
I smiled at th' enthusiasm in his voice. Though invitin' th' Clearwaters had been Edward's idea, I was glad he'd thought o' it. Havin' Seth thar would be nice â a link, however tenuous, t' me missin' best scallywag. "It wouldna be th' same without ye."
"Tell Edward I said ahoy, 'kay?" "Sure thin'." I shook me head. Th' friendship that had sprung up between Edward 'n Seth was somethin' that still boggled me mind. 'twas proof, though, that thin's didn' 'ave t' be this way. That vampires 'n werewolves could get along jus' fine, thank ye mighty much, if they were o' a mind t'. Nah everybody liked this idea. "Ah," Seth said, his voice crackin' up an octave. "Er, Leah's ship." "Oh! Bye!" Th' phone went dead. I left it on th' seat 'n prepared meself mentally t' go inside th' ship, where Charlie would be waitin'. Me poor cap'n had so much t' deal wit' right now. Jacob-th'-runaway was jus' one o' th' straws on his o'erburdened back. He was nigh-on as worried about me, his barely-a-legal-adult daughter who was about t' become a Wench in jus' a few days' time. I walked slowly through th' light rain, rememberin' th' night we'd told 'im... As th' sound o' Charlie's cruiser announced his return, th' rin' suddenly weighed a hundred pounds on me finger. I wanted t' shove me left hand in a pocket, or maybe sit on it, but Edward's cool, firm grasp kept it front 'n center. "Stop fidgetin', Bella. try t' remember that ye're nah confessin' t' a murder here." "Easy fer ye t' say." I listened t' th' ominous sound o' me cap'n's boots clompin' up th' sidewalk. Th' key rattled in th' already open door. Th' sound reminded me o' that part o' th' horror movie when th' victim realizes she's forgotten t' lock her deadbolt. "Calm down, Bella," Edward whispered, listenin' t' th' acceleration o' me heart. Th' door slammed against th' wall, 'n I flinched like I'd been Tasered. "Ahoy, Charlie," Edward called, entirely relaxed. "No!" I protested under me breath.
"Wha'?" Edward whispered back. "Wait till he hangs his gun up!" Edward chuckled 'n ran his free hand through his tousled bronze hair. Charlie came around th' corner, still in his uniform, still armed, 'n tried nah t' make a face when he spied us sittin' together on th' loveseat. Lately, he'd been puttin' forth a lot o' effort t' like Edward more. O' course, this revelation was sure t' end that effort immediately. "Ahoy, sprogs. Arrgh?" "We'd like t' natter t' ye," Edward said, so serene. "We 'ave some good news." Charlie's expression went from strained friendliness t' black suspicion in a second. "Good news?" Charlie growled, lookin' straight at me. "'ave a seat, Dad." He raised one eyebrow, stared at me fer five seconds, then stomped t' th' recliner 'n sat down on th' mighty edge, his back ramrod straight. "Don't get worked up, Dad," I said aft a moment o' loaded silence. "Everythin''s okay." Edward grimaced, 'n I knew 'twas in objection t' th' word okay. He prolly would 'ave used somethin' more like wonderful or perfect or glorious. "Sure 'tis, Bella, sure 'tis. If everythin' be so great, then why are ye sweatin' bullets?" "I be nah sweatin'," I lied. I careened away from his fierce scowl, cringin' into Edward, 'n instinctively wiped aft o' me right hand across me forehead t' scuttle th' evidence. "Ye're pregnant!" Charlie exploded. "Ye're pregnant, aren't ye?" Though th' riddle was clearly meant fer me, he was glarin' at Edward now, 'n I could 'ave sworn I saw his hand twitch toward th' gun. "No! O' course I be nah!" I wanted t' elbow Edward in th' ribs, but I knew that move would only give me a bruise. I'd told Edward that scallywags would immediately jump t' this conclusion! Wha' other possible reason would sane scallywags 'ave fer gettin' married at eighteen? His answer then had made me furl me eyes. Love. Right. Charlie's glower lightened a shade. 'twas usually pretty clear on me face when I was tellin' th' truth, 'n he believed me now. "Oh. Sorry."
"Apology accepted." Thar was a long pause. Aft a moment, I realized everyone was waitin' fer me t' say somethin'. I looked up at Edward, panic-stricken. Thar was no way I was goin' t' get th' words out. He smiled at me 'n then squared his shoulders 'n turned t' me cap'n. "Charlie, I realize that I've gone about this out o' order. Traditionally, I should 'ave asked ye first. I mean no disrespect, but since Bella has already said aye 'n I don't wants t' diminish her choice in th' matter, instead o' askin' ye fer her hand, I be askin' ye fer yer blessin'. We be gettin' married, Charlie. I love her more than anythin' in th' world, more than me owns life, 'n â by some miracle â she loves me that way, too. Will ye give us yer blessin'?" He sounded so sure, so calm. Fer jus' an instant, listenin' t' th' absolute confidence in his voice, I experienced a rare moment o' insight, I could see, fleetingly, th' way th' world looked t' 'im. Fer th' length o' one heartbeat, this news made perfect sense. 'n then I caught sight o' th' expression on Charlie's face, his eyes now locked on th' rin'. I held me breath while his skin changed colors â fair t' red, red t' purple, purple t' blue. I started t' get up â I be nah sure wha' I planned t' do; maybe use th' Heimlich manoeuvre t' make sure he wasn't chokin' â but Edward squeezed me hand 'n murmured "Give 'im a minute" so low that only I could hear. Th' silence was much longer this time. Then, gradually, shade by shade, Charlie's color returned t' normal. His lips pursed, 'n his eyebrows furrowed; I recognized his "deep in thought" expression. He studied th' two o' us fer a long moment, 'n I felt Edward relax at me side. "Guess I be nah that surprised," Charlie grumbled. "Knew I'd 'ave t' deal wit' somethin' like this soon enough." I exhaled. "Ye sure about this?" Charlie demanded, glarin' at me. "I be one hundred percent sure about Edward," I told 'im without missin' a beat. "Gettin' married, though? Wha''s th' rush?" He eyed me suspiciously again. Th' rush was due t' th' fact that I was gettin' closer t' nineteen every stinkin' day, while Edward stayed frozen in all his seventeen-year-ole perfection, as he had fer o'er ninety years. Nah that this fact necessitated marriage in me book, but th' weddin' was required due t' th' delicate 'n tangled compromise Edward 'n I had made t' finally get t' this point, th' brink o' me transformation from mortal t' immortal. These weren't thin's I could explain t' Charlie.
"We be goin' away t' Dartmouth together in th' fall, Charlie," Edward reminded 'im. "I'd like t' do that, well, starb'rd way. 'tis how I was raised." He shrugged. He wasn't exaggeratin'; they'd been big on ole-fashioned morals durin' World War I. Charlie's mouth twisted t' th' side. Lookin' fer an angle t' argue from. But wha' could he say? I'd prefer ye live in sin first? He was a cap'n; his hands were tied. "Knew this was comin'," he muttered t' hisself, frownin'. Then, suddenly, his face went perfectly smooth 'n blank. "Dad?" I asked anxiously. I glanced at Edward, but I couldn't read his face, either, as he watched Charlie. "Har!" Charlie exploded. I jumped in me seat. "Har, har, har!" I stared incredulously as Charlie doubled o'er in laughter; his whole body shook wit' it. I looked at Edward fer a translation, but Edward had his lips pressed tightly together, like he was tryin' t' hold back laughter hisself. "Okay, fine," Charlie choked out. "Get married." Another furl o' laughter shook through 'im. "But..." "But wha'?" I demanded. "But ye 'ave t' tell yer mom! I be nah sayin' one word t' Renee! That's all yers!" He busted into loud guffaws. I paused wit' me hand on th' doorknob, smilin'. Sure, at th' time, Charlie's words had terrified me. Th' ultimate doom: tellin' Renee. Early marriage was higher up on her blacklist than boilin' live puppies. Who could 'ave foreseen her response? Nah me. Certainly nah Charlie. Maybe Alice, but I hadn't thought t' ask her. "Well, Bella," Renee had said aft I'd choked 'n stuttered out th' impossible words: Worn, I be marryin' Edward. I be a wee miffed that ye waited so long t' tell me. Plane tickets only get more expensive. Oooh," she'd fretted. "Do ye reckon Phil's cast will be off by then? 'twill spoil th' pictures if he's nah in a tux â " "Back up a second, Mom." I'd gasped. "Wha' do ye mean, waited so long? I jus' got en-en . . ." â been unable t' force out th' word engaged â "thin's settled, ye know, today." "Today? Really? That be a surprise. I assumed ..." "Wha' did ye assume? When did ye assume?" "Well, when ye came t' visit me in April, it looked like thin's were pretty much sewn up, if ye know wha' I mean. Ye're nah mighty hard t' read, sweetie. But I didn' say anythin' 'cause I knew it wouldna do any I'd
good. Ye're exactly like Charlie." She'd sighed, resigned. "Once ye make up yer mind, thar be no reasonin' wit' ye. O' course, exactly like Charlie, ye stick by yer decisions, too." 'n then she'd said th' last thin' that I'd ever expected t' hear from me mother. "Ye're nah makin' me mistakes, Bella. Ye sound like ye're scared silly, 'n I be guessin' 'tis 'cause ye're afeared o' me." She'd giggled. "O' wha' I be goin' t' reckon. 'n I know I've said a lot o' thin's about marriage 'n stupidity â 'n I be nah lootin' them back â but ye needs t' realize that those thin's specifically applied t' me. Ye're a completely different scallywag than I be. Ye make yer owns kinds o' mistakes, 'n I be sure ye'll 'ave yer share o' regrets in life. But commitment was ne'er yer problem, sweetie. Ye 'ave a better chance o' makin' this work than most forty-year-olds I know." Renee had laughed again. "Me wee middle-aged sprog. Luckily, ye seem t' 'ave found another ole soul." "Ye're nah... mad? Ye don't reckon I be makin' a humongous mistake?" "Well, sure, I wish ye'd wait a few more years. I mean, do I look ole enough t' be a mother-in-law t' ye? Don't answer that. But this ain't about me. 'tis about ye. Are ye happy?" "I dunno. I be havin' an out-o'-body experience right now." Renee had chuckled. "Does he make ye happy, Bella?" "Aye, but â "
"Are ye ever goin' t' wants anyone else?" "No, but â "But wha'?" "But aren't ye goin' t' say that I sound exactly like every other infatuated teenager since th' dawn o' time?" "Ye've ne'er been a teenager, sweetie. Ye know wha''s best fer ye." Fer th' last few weeks, Renee had unexpectedly immersed herself in weddin' plans. She'd spent hours every day on th' phone wit' Edward's mother, Esme â no worries about th' in-laws gettin' along. RenÃ©e adored Esme, but then, I doubted anyone could help respondin' that way t' me lovable nigh-onmother-in-law. It let me right off th' hook. Edward's family 'n me family were lootin' care o' th' nuptials together without me havin' t' do or know or reckon too hard about any o' it. Charlie was furious, o' course, but th' sweet part was that he wasn't furious at me. Renee was th' traitor. He'd counted on her t' play th' heavy. Wha' could he do now, when his ultimate threat â tellin' Mom â had turned out t' be utterly empty? He had naught, 'n he knew it. So he moped around th' ship, mutterin' thin's about nah bein' able t' trust anyone in this world... "
"Dad?" I called as I pushed open th' fore door. "I be ship." "Hold on, Bells, stay right thar." "Huh?" I asked, pausin' automatically. "Gimme a second. Ouch, ye got me, Alice." Alice? "Sorry, Charlie," Alice's trillin' voice responded. "How's that?" "I be bleedin' on it." "Ye're fine. Didn' break th' skin â trust me."
"Wha''s goin' on?" I demanded, hesitatin' in th' doorway. "Thirty seconds, , Bella," Alice told me. "Yer patience will be rewarded." "Humph," Charlie added. I tapped me foot, countin' each beat. Afore I got t' thirty, Alice said, "Okay, Bella, come in!" Movin' wit' caution, I rounded th' wee corner into our cabin. "Oh," I huffed. "Aw. Dad. Don't ye look â "Silly?" Charlie interrupted. "I was thinkin' more like debonair" Charlie blushed. Alice loot his elbow 'n tugged 'im around into a slow spin t' showcase th' pale gray tux. "Now cut that out, Alice. I look like an idiot." "No one dressed by me ever looks like an idiot." "She's right, Dad. Ye look fabulous! Wha''s th' occasion?" Alice furled her eyes. "'tis th' final check on th' fit. Fer both o' ye." I peeled me gaze off th' unusually smart Charlie fer th' first time 'n saw th' dreaded white garment bag laid carefully across th' sofa. "Aaah." "Go t' yer happy ship, Bella. 'twon't loot long." "
I sucked in a deep breath 'n closed me eyes. Keepin' them shut, I stumbled me way up th' stairs t' me cabin. I stripped down t' me underwear 'n held me arms straight out. "Ye'd reckon I was shovin' bamboo splinters under yer nails," Alice muttered t' herself as she followed me in. I paid no attention t' her. I was in me happy ship. In me happy ship, th' whole weddin' mess was o'er 'n done. Behind me. Already repressed 'n forgotten. We were alone, jus' Edward 'n me. Th' settin' was fuzzy 'n constantly in flux â it morphed from misty forest t' cloud-covered city t' arctic night â 'cause Edward was keepin' th' location o' our honeymoon a secret t' surprise me. But I wasn't especially concerned about th' where part. Edward 'n I were together, 'n I'd fulfilled me side o' our compromise perfectly. I'd married 'im. That was th' big one. But I'd also accepted all his outrageous gifts 'n was registered, however futilely, t' attend Dartmouth College in th' fall. Now 'twas his turn. Afore he turned me into a vampire â good on. his big compromise â he had one other stipulation t' make
Edward had an obsessive sort o' concern o'er th' human thin's that I would be givin' up, th' experiences he didn' wants me t' wench. Most o' them â like th' prom, fer example â seemed silly t' me. Thar was only one human experience I worried about missin'. O' course 'twould be th' one he wished I would forget completely. Here was th' thin', though. I knew a wee about wha' I was goin' t' be like when I wasn't human anymore. I'd seen newborn vampires firsthand, 'n I'd heard all me family-t'-be's tales about those wild early days. Fer several years, me biggest personality trait was goin' t' be thirsty, 'twould loot some time afore I could be me again. 'n even when I was in control o' meself, I would ne'er feel exactly th' way I felt now. Human... 'n passionately in love. I wanted th' complete experience afore I traded in me warm, breakable, pheromone-riddled body fer somethin' beautiful, strong... 'n unknown. I wanted a real honeymoon wit' Edward. 'n, despite th' danger he feared this would put me in, he'd agreed t' try.
I was only vaguely aware o' Alice 'n th' slip 'n slide o' satin o'er me skin. I didn' care, fer th' moment, that th' whole town was natterin' about me. I didn' reckon about th' spectacle I would 'ave t' star in much too soon. I didn' worry about trippin' on me train or gigglin' at th' wrong moment or bein' too young or th' starin' audience or even th' empty seat where me best matey best be. I was wit' Edward in me happy ship.
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