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Edward Point Of View (Part—6) Stephanie Meyers owns all things Twilight!
I pressed my lips to the silken skin of her collarbone, damp with sweat, the salty moisture combining with her sweet, lilting taste, creating a slight tang against my tongue. The sun filtered through the blue curtains, reflecting the hue of morning sky over her body, as the waves embraced the shore outside. I listened as her heartbeat and breathing finally began to slow, savoring the tantalizing, addicting thrill of her response. She shifted slightly beneath me, sighing, her hands stroking my head through my hair, her airy touch a breathtaking catalyst, provoking sensation through every nerve in my body. I stroked her shoulder with my thumb, and then trailed my fingers down her arm, her bare skin exquisite, my hand then falling and flowing into the curve of her waist. I stilled my touch against her hip, willing myself not to move, trying not to betray the wanton, unceasing passion I felt, even in this moment when she was still languid and sleepy. But, as if sensing my thoughts, her hand trailed fire down my cheek, weightless fingers encouraging my chin to lift so our gazes met. I tried not to let my eyes reflect my need, but she knew. "Again?" she asked, her face tired, but pleased. Feeling weak, and yet extraordinarily happy, I rose up slightly, gently covering her body with mine, my lips meeting hers tenderly. "Yes," I murmured. "Again..." "Poisonous!" I was jolted out of my memory by Bella's distressed shriek. I realized I was still standing in the doorway of the dining room, gazing at her, with who knew what kind of expression on my face. I refocused myself quickly to see her staring in horror at Jasper, who had his hand on Bella's shoulder and was trying to calm her. He looked up at me. Sorry, Edward. He shrugged. I thought she knew. I realized he'd just informed Bella that our venom was poisonous to the wolves. That had she, purposefully or not, bitten Seth, it would have killed him, even if we had been able to get her off him. I sighed, giving Jasper a look. As if Bella wasn't already upset enough. Well, he thought, slightly indignant at my expression. Seems like something she should know, if we are going to have dogs hanging out here all the time. He tilted his head slightly towards the front porch, where Jacob was listening intently. I didn't know the bloodsuckers knew that, Jacob grumbled. Sam is going to flip! "So you mean that if I had bitten Seth or Jacob, I would have killed them?" Bella's voice was still several octaves too high. "Well," laughed Jasper, "that's a heck of a lot better than the venom turning them into one of us." Damned straight, thought Leah from outside.
Bella stared at Jasper with wide eyed dismay. I walked swiftly across the room to her side. "Don't worry, sweetheart." I knelt down next to her. "They are just fine." She looked at me, irritation flashing in her crimson eyes. Jasper was keeping a steady flow of calm into her. "How could you never have told me that?" she growled. I glanced momentarily at Jasper, again thanking him for bringing this up at such a perfect time. "If just…never came up before, love." Suddenly, the phone rang loudly. We all looked towards it silently. "See who it is, Edward," Carlisle said. He and Seth were just coming down the stairs, Carlisle carrying a brace. Caller Id, he thought. Oh. With Alice around we rarely used it. I shot over to the phone and glanced at the display. Swan, C. "Charlie," I murmured. Bella sucked in a swift breath. Let it go again, Carlisle thought, worried. It's too risky without Alice here to see what he will do. I nodded, walking slowly back to Bella. She looked at me with sad eyes. "Oh, Edward," she said softly. "My dad. What are we going to do?" I sat next to her, rubbing her back gently. You know this can't go on, Edward, Jasper thought. We have to leave soon. Carlisle and Seth neared the sofa. Carlisle glanced up at me as he settled Seth down. Collarbone and shoulder, he thought. I'm going to brace it. "Can you give me a hand, Edward," he said aloud. I got up and moved over next to Seth, holding his arm in the position Carlisle needed while he started to fit the brace to Seth's mammoth shoulder. Seth was keeping his face passive, but I could sense the pain in his mind. "Seth, again, I'm so sorry," I said softly. I heard Bella grind her teeth behind me, apparently still thinking I shouldn't be apologizing. "Really, man, it's not your fault," Seth said. Don't worry – it was actually kinda cool! "Should we…should we call Sue?" Bella asked in small voice. "I mean, can you still not go home? Because of the pack?" Then panic flared in her face, as if a sudden thought had struck her, and she stood up swiftly. "Wait - the treaty," she gasped. "Do they know about me? That I've been changed? Will they attack when they find out?" Her eyes flew to the front porch, where Renesmee waited with Jacob and Rose, exposed. "Oh, no, love," I said quickly. "That's all straightened out." As much as it ever can be. Bella looked at me with surprised eyes. "What do you mean?" she breathed. "Well," I said slowly, thinking where to begin. "Firstly, technically we didn't break the treaty." Bella gave me a questioning look. "Jacob, as Alpha, gave me permission to change you." "He did? When was this?" Bella said quickly, her face hardening slightly. "Why didn't you tell me?" "I didn't get a chance," I responded. "It was in the minutes before Renesmee was born." "Oh," she said softly, her hand moving unconsciously to her flat stomach. She stared towards the front wall, relief and gratitude passing briefly across her face before being replaced by a grimace.
"Uh, thanks Jacob, I guess," she muttered, clearly not up to being too nice to him yet. Jacob laughed softly out on the front porch. "And then Jacob went to see Sam," Seth said, "to explain everything. Alone, of course." He frowned, still aggravated to have been left behind. "Really?" Bella said, sitting back down slowly. I could hear the interest piqued in her voice, and I smiled. "Then what happened?" I let Seth do most of the explaining of what had passed between Jacob and Sam, and then later Sam and Carlisle. I saw Bella glance at me, a conflicted, tender look in her eyes, when Seth explained that I had refused to leave her side to translate between Sam and Carlisle. "Wow," said Bella, when Seth finally stopped for a breath. "So, will you be going back to La Push now, Seth?" "No," said Seth. Yes, thought Jacob and Leah in unison. There was a small noise from the front porch, a light cry of protest from Renesmee. Bella stiffened, her face immediately filled with fear and yearning. "She's just hungry," I whispered reassuringly, reaching out and taking her hand to pull her onto the couch next to me. Renesmee was squirming in Jacob's arms, her hand on his face, insistent pictures of him feeding her filling his head. The door clicked open softly, and Rosalie stepped inside. "Feeling better?" she asked Bella kindly. Bella shrugged, tilting her head to the side. "I'm calmer," she said. "But I still feel terrible about what happened." Rose smiled and swept into the kitchen. I heard the refrigerator door swing open. "Well, I certainly hope you aren't feeling bad about almost killing that reeking throw rug out on the front porch," she said breezily. The refrigerator slammed shut, and Rose carried a bag of blood over to the counter. "God knows he deserved it. I wanted to do it myself when I found out, but…" Her head suddenly popped into the room through the doorway and she glared at me. "Edward wouldn't let me." She disappeared back into the kitchen. Bring it on, Ice-Queen, Jacob thought. I tried to bite back a smile. "Honestly, Rosalie," Carlisle said, still adjusting Seth's brace. Ow, Seth thought, grimacing. I felt a stab of guilt again, the smile dropping from my face. Whatever my feelings towards Jacob and the imprint, Seth should never have had to put himself in the path of danger. Why couldn't it have been Leah, I mused. Bella owed her one for that rant the other day. "I'm so sorry, Seth," I said. "I should have been closer." "Seth, I…" Bella tried to jump in with an apology, a miserable expression on her face. She glanced with despair at Carlisle and then Jasper, and I knew, had she been human, her fragile skin would have been a deep shade of red. She still didn't seem to appreciate that we were all impressed by how well she had been holding things together, not upset. "Bella, love, no one is judging you. You're doing so well." "Don't worry about it Bella, I'm totally fine," Seth interjected. Hand me that piece, Edward, please, Carlisle thought, gesturing to one of the final pieces of the brace on the table. I handed it to him and he slid it into place. Seth winced again. "Sorry, sorry," Bella whispered. I caressed her arm reassuringly.
"I'll be back to normal in half an hour. . yawning. "She does?" Seth grinned. she got up and moved towards the back window. He grimaced. There was soft click behind us." He caught my eye and I smiled back at him. thankfully none came." "Just give me the bottle. I think that's as much as I can do. anticipating the smell of blood. These couches are so damn soft. "I got it ready. Rose had gone back outside with a prepared bottle for Renesmee." Rose snapped." Rose said outside. Without looking at me. seeing Bella through the glass. I should have…" "Stop that. He was anxious to take notes in his journal of everything he had observed of Bella today. as his mind faded and blurred until he was breathing deeply. I took her hand and watched as her eyes followed Leah's movements along the river bed. grateful his injuries had not been as extensive as Jacob's had been. Whenever he and Rose don't get dinner in her mouth fast enough. what with Jake and Nessie-. damn you. including Jacob. Seth. "I mean. I'll feed her. Anyone would have done the same. "Sure." Bella snapped. lost in sleep. let's see… "Lucky thing Ness" – dammit – "Renesmee's not venomous. Carlisle stood up. Bella was watching Seth with troubled eyes. and I shook my head at him in exasperation. nodding. She had wanted to come inside. Leah glanced up." he mumbled." Oh. If you ever touch my little brother again. oh. and though Jasper and I both tensed. eyes on Bella. shoot. "Well. Several emotions passed through Bella's expression. I'll just rest my head for a minute. Sorry! I was trying to cheer her up. I suspected she was trying to suppress a smile at this revelation. at least you didn't bite me or anything. Bella. "Stay still. That would've sucked. he thought." He was healing even as I worked on him. "No. He carefully laid his head back. closing his eyes. very young. 'Cause she bites Jake all the time." he said affectionately. not wanting her to feel alone. hiding her head in her hands. Seth realized his error with the nickname. I wish treating humans were this instantaneously gratifying. "I'll feed her." he said. had thought she needed to stay out and calm down. She had had the good sense to wrap the bottle tightly in a dishcloth. I let you hold her all this time." Bella's head popped up. and he placed his hand on Seth's head. "Let me?" Jacob spat." Bella moaned slightly. she fumed. Seth shifted awkwardly. blondie" Jacob quietly growled. All set. Rose thinks it's pretty hilarious. but everyone." Consider yourself lucky. "Give her to me.You should be. Um. he thought. I debated a moment and then followed. "Of course you aren't. "I can probably manage sitting still for a while. "I'm a bad person. Seth watched him go. "Don't freak. looking very. Leah growled down by the river." Bella mumbled into her hands." Seth patted her knee. He tried to think of something positive to say. "Try not to move for. He was caught by a sudden memory of treating Jacob after the newborn attack. Yah. and then he headed upstairs. I guess. a few hours.
Her control was incredible. Outside there was sudden silence. and I nodded at him. "You did well. "I suppose we are surprised. at the very least. Bella's tight muscles eased slightly. Still upset about the wolves? His gaze was questioning. I realized then. "I'm going to miss him so much. I looked at her questioningly. just great. He was pleased that Bella seemed to understand the necessity of removing ourselves from the area. his stress level high. her expression strained. Many of the obstacles to our staying in Forks had been removed. Her eyes stared straight out. and she is my niece. He glanced back at me momentarily. I can't be away from her. you damn vagrant. She's getting tense. This is my house. let you." Jacob's mind was working outside. concerned. Jasper thought. Bella snorted suddenly. that he could at least feel her emotions. or something. The treaty was still intact. Bella looked sad. Edward. worried. I…" I sighed. drinking peacefully in Rose's arms." "Listen." And our family. And our greatest fear – controlling Bella – seemed to have been for naught. His eyes moved back to Bella." Speak for yourself. "Yes. that no matter where we went. Bella?" he said softly. really. She had finished the bottle. Rose started towards the door but Jacob put an arm out in front. I'll miss everyone here. Jacob would follow. following him inside. as Jacob took note of the conversation. he thought with despair. "For a while. as her anxiety increased his own tension." "Ah. if you've forgotten. stepping in front of her to enter the house first." Jasper continued. To be expected. They'll have to go back to Sam. but she just shook her head. or even surprised." said Jasper. Six o'clock. I thought irritably. and Rose was looking at Jacob." Jasper said. bloodsucker. bringing me back to her. Jacob thought. But he knew in his heart that Leah would never agree to that. "It's the only way to protect your father. My pack. Jasper met my eyes. . "We really have to leave. wishing for the millionth time I could see what was going on in her head. whereas I was shut out completely. She shouldn't feel bad. But secrecy remained our greatest foe. trying to shut out their voices. Why is that? I wondered despondently. I felt a flash of jealously towards Jasper. I wished they would keep it down – Bella didn't need to hear this. Both of their eyes moved directly to Bella. as he did. "What's the matter. There must be some way for the Cullens to stay in Forks. her mind obviously far away."Yes. Better than anyone expects of you. and checked on Nessie through Rose's eyes." Bella took a deep breath and then looked at him. his eyes attached to my daughter. "Well. Surprised that you were able to snap out of it so quickly. pausing her moved. actually. tapping her watch." He smiled at her reassuringly. For a moment. I heard movement outside. he mused. Leah snarled. Rose tightened her grip on Renesmee. "I was thinking of Charlie. relaxing his own body before radiating out into the room." I stared at her intently. "No one is angry with you. Pretend we're in Atlanta. I watched her carefully. The rule of the wider world of our kind could not be upheld as long as Charlie remained such an immediate threat. don't we?" Bella asked. Great. Cool calm swept up in his mind.
. he realized. worried. gesturing Rose towards the couch." Carlisle answered. her brow furrowed. "Oh. Edward. But I suspected Bella would protest . it was a relief to know that now it was something we could cope with together." I said quietly." Carlisle blinked slightly in surprise. "Every day? Why?" "She's still growing quickly. if my measurements are perfect. glaring at him. Today it's less. It has to slow down. I knew she felt guilty about the attack. and questioning." "It's slowing." Jacob snapped. "What do we do?" Bella whispered. hearing their approach. and relieve us of his interference. Do you think it is too soon to try this again? Maybe we should ask the wolf the leave – he was the one who agitated her in the first place. What can we do? My thoughts mirrored her horror.Has she got this. I'd love to throw Jacob out for the time being. I glanced at him and he inclined his head towards Bella. It has to. She seemed to be put out. Jasper thought. moved directly to Bella's side. I looked at Bella – her eyes were narrowed at Jacob. And stench. "Must be six. But of course he would. As much as I hated to burden her with these concerns. Doc. I can't make any promises. I wrapped an arm around her. The god damned nerve." – oh. We were nothing short of helpless to control her growth. Edward? Rose thought.aggravated as she was with him. "You do this every day?" "Four times a day. Bella was watching Carlisle come down the stairs with the scale and measuring equipment in confusion. perhaps by his hovering. She approached apprehensively. thought Rosalie." Jacob suddenly growled." Carlisle said. "I don't know." "Yesterday she grew two inches. oops – "er. "So?" "Time to measure Ness. I considered. Renesmee. Jasper. He's pissing her off again. He looked at me." Bella said." I explained. "Four times?" Bella said in confusion. her terrified eyes sealed onto Renesmee. "Guess that's all I can ask. grateful once again for her presence. "We'll need several more days of measurements to track the trend. her mouth set in a firm line. Jacob." Carlisle sighed. "You know I'll do my best. He hadn't realized Jacob had been paying such close attention to the measurement." Jacob muttered." "Be perfect. "By a thirty-second of an inch.
affection flavored with a sort of possession. gently allowing Bella to take Nessie from her arms. a beautiful smile lighting her face. his eyes fixed on the situation. and on Bella. Her thirst seems firmly under wraps. Jasper affirmed. she thought. to keep the tension that filled the room from bleeding his focus on the situation. Rose took a small step towards Bella. all of our anxious fears. This is Bella. I watched with pleasure . stop! Seth's body entered the picture. nodding reassuringly at Rose and Jacob. Jacob's mouth hung open in shock. a resounding crack as he slammed into Bella. We worked so hard for this – she worked so hard." Bella sighed. stress in every line of his body. she thought. Jacob. concerned.Carlisle picked up the smaller tape measure to use on Renesmee's head. I pressed her to me with my arm. "Bella. Ugh. He was working to keep his mind calm. thought Rose. Bella moaned. and relief. her eyes fixed on Bella. Jasper could clearly sense her solid control. and a reminder what this was all for. biting his lip to keep from saying anything. she reminded herself. Renesmee stretched out anxiously. although Jasper remained tense. but while Bella was nervous. and I cringed. Bella reached her arms out for the baby. Renesmee melted into Bella. her body and mind tense. Mommy! She reached out a small hand and Rose bent forward to meet it. slip in a little. I don't like it. Then we all fell out of the picture as Renesmee's thoughts focused solely on Jacob. Mommy. Mine. "Perfect. unhurt. Then Jasper appeared. of course. Rose's mind filled with the image of Bella. But that's not what I meant. Seth. She'll be okay. the view from her arms when she had held Nessie earlier. Mommy. I relaxed." Bella said. followed by a loud thump as she knocked him into the dirt behind her. seeing my expression. but wanting to give Nessie what she wanted. There was no doubting the demanding tone of Renesmee's thoughts. Carlisle stepped closer. "Worried." Rose said. Is it okay? She looked with anxious eyes at Bella. questioning." Bella moaned. But he stopped. and she smiled. and I couldn't help laughing at his rather dumbfounded expression at her flight towards him. She would never hurt Nessie. but she had had enough. wonderful. and Rose took a step closer. "How are you?" she asked Bella. that interference now would lead to his expulsion from this house. He let Nessie's radiating joy. Renesmee's vision took on an edge of satisfaction. Renesmee placed her fingers to Bella's cheek. of course. But her anxious emotions. Jacob went to open his mouth to protest as his eyes swept up to mine. glancing at me. he thought." . her face growing more serious." she said. her lovely body so lithe and powerful as she launched herself at him. ready. There was a growl and a flash of Leah's fur. sighing. catching the tone of Renesmee's thoughts. Jasper and I opened our hands. Yes. from which he managed to comprehend. as the snap of his bones rang through the air.Bella was amazing. "Oh. and what she had just witnessed of her growth. "I'm in control. her face a dazzling blaze of fury. anxious. fine. "We all are. safe. providing some relief. luckily for him. Bella gasped as her mind filled with the memory of Jacob being stalked by her across the lawn. as Bella's flight was clearly halted. there was no sense of increased thirst from Bella. and adoration. "What does she want?" Jacob asked. Bella winced next to me. Although her scent must have been intoxicatingly strong. the smile falling from my face. betrayed us to Jasper. and I realized she meant about Renesmee. She was done with waiting. shaking her head and closing her eyes as my arms wrapped around her in Renesmee's mind and she struggled to pull free.
"Yes. my gaze locked onto Jasper's increasingly distraught face. Jazz. he thought. and then the flash of thirst he felt from Bella. her voice slightly puzzled. his eyes wide. Renesmee's next memory grew – she was lying in Rose's arms. it seems. as he realized we were talking about him. and not have her instincts driven mad with thirst? How could she have maintained control? "But she was remembering being thirsty. thinking of the flicker of thirst he had felt." I whispered in Bella's ear. "It looks like she's going to give you a rundown of everything you missed. "I told you she likes me. a bored tone to the thought. let her go. Jacob and Rosalie watching in confused horror. "And nothing at all. I laughed. . miraculously. that it wasn't. Then his eyes met mine. and I gave her back the baby. most with success. the foil gift in her hands. Still in control? How is that possible? I thought. standing by my side. sliced by the thick paper. many months later. and Carlisle measuring. scouring her expression. Jesus. looking at Bella. "What did I do?" Bella asked. "And?" I watched her carefully for another second. I glanced at Jasper." My god! Rose's eyes were wide. and love. and Nessie began to remember the scent. engulfing his mind in black thirst. Unbelievable. some not. That's a damn close call. I don't understand. He thought of his constant struggle against the scent of human blood. and he swallowed it down with disgust. no blaze of thirst in them. too. a silver cup appeared in the image. and reading her emotions in Jasper's mind. Carlisle pressed forward. Then. Bella immediately reached out for Renesmee. his hands ready. In her eyes is an innocence that I myself will strip away mere days later. How could she so acutely be reminded of the smell of human blood. The overreaction was mine this time. her body loose. just brimming with things she wanted to share with her mother. grabbing her arms and bending them behind her back. Edward. smiling but still tense. Innocence that will no longer be there when I see her again. Jasper moved immediately. and such…such youth. the taste of human blood… No! I snatched the baby from Bella's grasp." I muttered. Her eyes were calm. His mind flashed through the hundreds." I said desperately." Bella said. releasing a tempest of scent from a single drop. her gaze full of adoration. and the memory cut through both of us. I smiled – I could tell Renesmee was excited. I looked back at Bella." Jasper released her quickly. alarmed. which sweeps with blinding speed through the minds and bodies in the room. questions and doubt suddenly spiraling through his mind. unexpectedly. What set her off? he wondered. thousands of temptations he had fought over the years. But as I looked at Bella." Jacob said. the power that the barely controllable thirst held over him. muscles uncoiled. He didn't sense it anymore – she was in control. There had been no instinctive reaction other than the slight burn Jasper had sensed. of Rosalie brushing her hair."It's just because he tastes better than the rest of us. How is she able to do it? How can a newborn be so controlled? Is it always possible? Are we all just weak to give into it? Am I weak? His own mouth still stung with venom that had seeped in when he had sensed the quick burn of her thirst. Her finger slips. I realized. Jasper gripped Bella's arms harder. Bella. dark wind around Jasper until it finally rips through him. What the hell? he grumbled. swirling into a burning. faceless humans. She watches me. her voice shocked but surprisingly calm. responding to my movement and fear. who was quickly succumbing to shock at her lack of thirst. I watched more memories. "She was remembering the taste of human blood.
He moved swiftly across the room and out the door." I said. He shouldn't put that on himself. and turned away. What the hell is that all about? Rosalie wondered." he snapped. then?" I sighed.perhaps he only has such difficulty because he believes it's natural and unavoidable." "Is he mad at me?" Bella whispered. And then Alice's face filled his mind. with her warm hands and soft lips. "He'll be back. "I can't bear this. "Everyone is different. I felt a flash of concern. hoping Alice was paying attention and would see where he was heading – I wasn't sure it was a good idea for him to be alone filled with such self-doubt. "He's wondering if the newborn madness is really as difficult as we've always thought." Self-control as a gift? "That's an interesting theory. or just a product of all her preparation?" . I knew Jasper was taking was taking this too hard. I looked at Bella with interest. abruptly changing course. with the right focus and attitude. watching the replay of Jasper's rather dramatic departure in her memory. hard to quantify. "Do you really think that's a gift. anyone could do as well as Bella. "He's worrying about…self-fulfilling prophecy. and she was showing Bella her memory of Jasper leaving. Even now . As painful as that memory was. I thought. I glanced towards the back windows. unable to suppress a feeling of pride. her amber eyes always full of trust. I almost killed her. and hope. thinking of the many times in her small bed that she'd shown little self . I relaxed – he was heading towards the cottage." I need to get the hell out of here. and worked hard to thwart my own. "You're making him question a lot of deep-rooted assumptions. I need Alice. running down the lawn and jumping the river. for what was supposed to be natural. You all forgave me. surprised." Carlisle murmured." I murmured." I said. He shuddered. he thought despairingly." "How so?" asked Carlisle. But was it really just simple weakness on my part? Was I always capable of more? I sighed." "But that's unfair. banishing the rest. glancing back at her. I suppose you could say. "No. trying to think of something to say to relieve him. I kept watching out the window. and quite plausible. I almost killed her. everyone has their own challenges. instinctive. And he always accuses me of being the drama king. wondering when Alice was going to return. I shook my head slightly. looking back at Carlisle.Jasper closed his eyes. Bella.control. "He's upset with himself. smiling at Bella. And our gifts often came from strengths present during our human lives – or at least that had been Carlisle's theory. heading north. thinking of all the times he had disappointed Alice. "He just needs a moment alone to readjust his perspective on life. before settling his gaze on me again. "I can't stand this. Renesmee's mind was filled with concern. but he saw only the pity in my eyes. Perhaps what Bella is doing goes beyond the natural. she wanted… I suppressed a smile. What Bella was proving capable of was beyond anything that could be expected – truly beyond what was normal. without betraying his more personal thoughts." I paused. "Have you ever seen an equivalent to self-control as a talent?" I asked. but when she knew what. and she forgave me. so to speak. he would rise to those expectations. Maybe this is her gift. Jasper? She wondered. or who. I tried to frame the tumult in Jasper's mind. thinking. "Why would he be?" "What's the matter with him. or if. he realized. Bella. It would be a rather intangible gift. trying to suppress a smile. Had Bella shown a penchant for selfcontrol when I'd known her? She was definitely a very careful person." I said quietly. Maybe if he expected more of himself. not you.
the curve of her eyes were mine. or a gift to manipulate the future. actually. while their color had bloomed from her mother. Let's sit. that she was truly mine." "Jasper affects our physical body. and somewhat unworthy. though. that sharing the thoughts she put into Bella's mind was almost as if I was seeing into Bella's mind myself. the resemblance went much further than that. human or vampire?" "What about what Jasper does. in a breathtaking. "Siobhan. Liam was very territorial. catching Renesmee's memory of me singing my mother's lullaby. My eyes were drawn towards them. "When she included Maggie. "He affects how we feel and act. fundamental way." "What exactly is Chelsea's gift?" Rosalie asked. In the delicate shape of her rose colored lips. do you feel she can extend her desires to guide future events?" Carlisle shook his head. Edward. pale skin tinted with a familiar blush. irrevocably. My mind wandered back to Bella and Renesmee. I thought. "I don't mean to say that she uses a mental power to control others. Keep an open mind. and she uses that information to help sway the outcome. My wife holding my daughter. not our mind. There had been a time when I had thought this vessel that I lived in was only capable of destroying life." Rose looked skeptical. "Or at least that is what you have always said. I nodded. Carlisle cocked a head towards the furniture. hating to leave her side but wanting to give her space. while I added some insight I had gained in the minds of those I had met. And the shape of her eyes… With a catch of my breath. though she wouldn't call it a gift. That my body had been involved in her creation."It's slightly similar to what Siobhan has always been able to do. As I watched the varying images Nessie shared. And give Bella a little time alone with Nessie. Do any of us have that innate possibility. for instance. From the moment I had laid eyes on my daughter. And I was present in the straight lines of her nose. Carlisle. fleetingly. it was only now." "Well…" I started. To know that I had contributed to . finally." Carlisle answered. suddenly. that she was the child of my heart. through death. I had known. but Siobhan want it to work out. our attachment. of what motivates or influences them. "Our gifts are an intensification of traits we held as humans. he thought. I frowned – Carlisle was aware I didn't fully agree with his theories about Siobhan's possible talents. And I grasped. as I acknowledged my face echoed in her own." I countered. I realized that although I had always been captivated by Bella's brown eyes set in Renesmee's face. from the moment I had been blessed to hear her beautiful mind. I realized." "Yes. Carlisle launched into a discussion of the Volturi's known gifts. I thought it was Maggie who was talented in that bunch. feeling suddenly inordinately happy. What would Siobhan's human characteristic have been?" I paused. She considers it good planning. "You could say the same about Chelsea's gift. He and I moved over to the chairs. He glanced at Bella. her back to the window. or. But. Siobhan thinks the same. and Rose took a seat on the couch. They were truly a vision. How had this miracle come to be? Watching them together. that I finally comprehended that she was also the child of my flesh." Rosalie said. to another person. but I've always wondered if it was something more. and so it did. or the eternal loss of a soul. "What you theorize about Siobhan suggests she has the power to affect the decisions or actions of others. "I wasn't aware that she did anything special. And the color of the curls that framed her face. Bella's still form next to us. She can affect our emotions. thinking." I said. Bella was standing. perhaps. if we are going to have a discussion. your friend in that Irish coven?" Rosalie spoke up. Renesmee's small hand caressed Bella's cheek as she shared the many moments Bella had missed while she slept. it felt. Renesmee reflected Bella in the heart shape curve of her cheeks. gazing down at Renesmee's face." He put a finger to his chin. "In saying Siobhan can will things to be. But she has this way of deciding her goals and then almost…willing them into reality. More that she is gifted with a six sense of what others will do.
" "Fascinating. He's going to wash those windows himself! Jasper followed. my eyes catching the clock. decorated with an enormous. She really believed they went hunting! Alice danced up to Bella. "Finally. taking in Bella's blank face. dousing the back windows with water. Edward. Oh. The rest of us will stay here. her expression slightly exasperated. or mental." she said. She glanced around cautiously. Edward. Alice. was a staggering. meeting my eyes. She had absolutely no idea what's going on. Where are they? "I asked you if you thought Kate's gift was physical. he thought gleefully. but Bella carefully picked it up. okay! They came through the door quickly and we stood up to meet them. pink bow. as predicted – by me! She held out her hand. until finally her eyes closed and she was asleep. She caught my eye. Bella opened her hand and Alice dropped the key into it. "That is. and she shook her head imperceptibly. I realized Renesmee was drifting off. her grin wide. I so hope she loves it. "Hello. Alice insists on being there when Bella first sees the cottage. "Are you listening at all?" "Hmm?" I turned back to her and Carlisle. "Happy Birthday. "does her body actually produce an electric current." . "I've seen in her mind as she visualizes the current. her eyes roving over Renesmee's face. Emmett was looking back and forth between Bella and me. Look at her. thinking for a moment. and mind. She has control over it mentally. Eventually. watching as Alice and Esme leapt from the far river bank. Almost midnight. Emmett instead obnoxiously plowing straight through the river. Someone's going to get lucky tonight. I turned my head. seeming to notice all the eyes on her. forming a loose group around Bella. Rose thought. I looked at her slightly confused. brimming with excitement. I was compelled to stand up and embrace them both when Bella's face creased suddenly with worry. Her hand fell. but she has promised to come right back. or is the sensation a mental one?" I paused. After everything you've both been through. that the essence of my body had been mixed with that of the one I loved to produce skin." Carlisle said. Esme shot him a look over her shoulder. you need a chance to just concentrate on each other. Much like Jane." Rosalie said." I muttered. We spent some more time analyzing the respective gifts of our vampire friends and family. I'm fine. the moving kaleidoscope of faces against a sea of soft colors. "Your first birthday is at the year mark. presenting Bella with a key to the cottage." Alice squealed in delight. Her eyes flickered to Alice. Twelve o'clock on the dot. We thought it would be nice for the two of you to enjoy it just yourselves tonight. She looked back. to be truthful. I smiled at the wonder in Bella's face as she watched the dreams of her daughter. her thoughts beginning to float in uneven patterns. placing it gently against her cheek again. "No one starts counting on the actual day of birth. and I smiled my gratitude at her. alone." murmured Carlisle. Bella immediately rolled her eyes. I caught Alice's mental call. Esme was smiling widely." Rose's irritated voice broke into my thoughts. and bones. We're back. new awareness. his thoughts slightly embarrassed. She was flying towards the house. over the top.the organic process of life.
Bella looked at it. making Alice smile even wider. "She is also the most unspoiled half-vampire in existence. pressing the key back into it. "It's been killing me all day. With Esme leading the helm in this family." I laughed." I was just needling Alice as it was . She smiled weakly. Bella glanced at me and her eyes narrowed." Bella's slightly annoyed look quickly melted into one of horror. her arms aching to hold Nessie again. "Presents." Alice insisted. See. Jasper laughed. "The beauty of being one of a kind."Renesmee to Rosalie. brother. Alice looked to the side." she sang. give Ness" – oh . I am eighteen forever. "No." I parroted my own words." I said. "Or Jacob's. man. let's go!" she called. Spoiled just like her father. You get the picture. "I know – I'll play you for it.Oh. She stuck her tongue out at me.I was far more excited to get Bella out to the cottage." "Where does she usually sleep?" Bella asked. "I think it might be more fun if Jacob was awake for the big reveal. anyway. seeing me choose rock. her expression turning somewhat resigned. "Whatever. I stopped aging three days ago." Bella sighed. "Why don't you just tell me who wins?" I muttered. Yeah. turning to Bella and taking Nessie in her arms." "It's probably better that I wait for morning. Yet. chuckling. I can be reasonable. "No. not dressed. Emmett thought. Plus. this is my show! "Mine first. grinning at me. She's going to be the most spoiled half-vampire in existence. Get a move on. She was still mourning that damn red truck." she wailed. . "Happy nineteenth birthday!" Bella shook her head desperately." I think she'll be getting undressed. she thought. Gee – I think I'll choose paper! "I do. Back off. Bella. I said in her mind. don't you agree? So that someone there is able to express the right level of enthusiasm?" "Yay!" Alice crowed. It's September thirteenth. There we go! "Are you ready to open your present?" she asked excitedly. pulling out the key Esme had given me earlier. Alice fumed. she thought. Rosalie had moved forward quickly. She looked back. Or Esme's. paper. Some things never change. grinning. pushing the key back into Alice's hand." she said. and I saw comprehension in her eyes that it was for her "after" car." Alice answered. Edward. That is clearly the priority. I was kidding myself thinking Bella would be excited about the Ferrari. "Excellent. Edward." Alice shrugged. "Let's go. No way!" she cried. Rock." Alice smiled sweetly. I smiled. and then taking her arm and pulling her towards the back of the house." Alice grabbed Bella's hand. Mine is closer. Jerk. good luck with that. so suck it up. She has never been set down in her entire life. there was never any doubt my daughter would be spoiled. this doesn't count. "In Rose's arms. We're celebrating anyway. not this time! "We're not celebrating your vampire birthday. "Bella. She checked the future quickly. grinning. "But look at how she's dressed. scissors. "Mine is closer.
"C'mon. In fact. Bella!" Alice called from the other side of the river. Alice thought. "Sort of. I realized she planned to grab Bella and cover her eyes." Rosalie said. although circumstances might force us to leave soon. too?" "We'll give you a chance to enjoy it alone." Alice said. even though the visits had decreased dramatically since we arrived home." Bella turned and frowned. She let go of her arm and sprinted down towards the river. I hoped we could spend some days enjoying the cottage. standing next to him. The vision shifted to Alice hanging off of Bella's back. I'm not so much into voyeurism. Congratulations.but I can't bear to have you far from us. taking my jump across the river just as Bella leaped. that Carlisle and Esme hadn't agreed to his request. watching from the window. pressing her hands quickly over Bella's eyes. Emmett had been threatening for the last couple of years to fix it up and fill it with a huge. Don't give her any hints! "Enjoy your gift. "Aren't you coming. son. since it was technically a gift. Alice pulled her out the door. Not that there is much. crumbling structure that lay on our lands. and a vision flashed in her mind of Bella throwing her off. She had always hated when Rosalie and Emmett had lived too far away. on our own. when suddenly she turned and raced back towards us. Carlisle thought. hearing the anxiety and excitement in her mind of her plans. as if she had an idea what he was thinking. but I had been consulted on most of the major decisions. I turned and raised my arm to my family. now. I'll take good care of her. Hmm. Alice grinned and then leapt. She reached out and put an arm around Jasper." she said to Bella. I expect details! Emmett laughed loudly. I was glad. I shook my head quickly at her. Esme waved." Alice said. feeling no need to lead – I knew she would be able to follow Alice's quiet footsteps and lingering steps. she had said." That's right. and I followed. This will be perfect! Esme had always been intrigued by the small. Then she smiled widely. Bella glanced at him. We had all imagined at the time the idea for refurbishment had been agreed upon that Bella would be living here with me as a human. Now. . I ran behind Bella. Privacy would be at a minimum in the house in New Hampshire. "Don't attack me. slowing as she came up to where Bella had paused. not sure what she wanted me to do. I know I'm being selfish. "There's the enthusiasm I'm looking for. slightly chagrined. Renesmee's sleeping form was visible in Rose's arms. I turned and ran down the lawn. It will ruin the surprise. Rose thought. I wondered at the smile – she couldn't possibly have guessed the gift – but was happy to see it. and Jasper and Emmett had done most of the carpentry. putting a hand on Bella's shoulder and swinging herself around to cling on her back. as something seemed to occur to her. alarmed. "It's from all of us."Is it outside?" Bella asked. The path to the cottage was still well worn with the scent of my family. I slowed slightly. Bella jogged down after her. He said that men needed a place to get away from the women – a sentiment that usually gained him a lot of glares and a smack from Rose. at least for a little while. I was reminded of running this same path with Esme in late June. if we did end up there. Esme had drawn up the initial plans. all of the family had checked it out at one time or another. Don't let her see it! Alice thought suddenly. "You can tell us about it…later. Edward. Esme especially." Rose said. Don't worry. her face confused. custom made pool table. I hadn't been allowed much of a hand in the renovations. Don't do anything I wouldn't do! Emmett grinned. catching Bella's pleased expression.
making careful adjustments as we went so she didn't run into any trees or branches. The roses had opened as well – specifically chosen by Esme so that they would hopefully still be blooming when we returned from the island. but I was certain that the light in Bella's eyes was one of wonder. columns and a tower. I could see that Emmett and Jasper had laid the stone path we had discussed before the wedding. "This is as much for you as it is for her. we can get back to work. The silence stretched as Alice panicked. but she said nothing. Emmett was all for adding a few thousand square feet. the cottage rising up in front of us. turning to glare. her voice just a whisper." Bella protested." Alice muttered." I began to pull her gently forward. the honeysuckle curving higher up onto the house than the last time I had been here. The flowers had been lovingly tended. "Making sure you can't see." "No knocking my house. "I mean. and that Carlisle had installed the front door he had carefully refurbished." "Yeah. "Then she'll go annoy someone else. "You might let her cheat. We came around a curve in the path and entered the clearing. . looking as if she meant to speak. "I could take care of that without the theatrics. her expression frozen. I sighed. I caught Alice's eye." Alice said." Bella continued to stare silently at the house. And I also thought Alice might just deserve it. without grabbing Bella and taking off with her into the cottage right now. Then we turned our eyes to Bella. "Don't you like it?" she asked anxiously. but she didn't want us too far away. Oh no." I said loudly. It won't take long…" "Shh!" Bella said quickly. She smiled. containing a flood of words. if you want. yeah. who was standing. Bella. I'm sure we could fix it up differently. "I…" "Don't bother. but Esme thought you would like it best the way it was meant to look. Alice. Alice shut her mouth." Alice said. Because we love you both. "Us. amazed and thankful for the beautiful work my family had done. I think the word house implies more legroom. ha." I saw a vision of you smiling! Maybe I misinterpreted." Do I need to show you my vision of tonight again? Because I've seen a few more! I didn't think I could take anymore of Alice's visions. "True. Alice thought." You both know this is a losing battle! I sighed. trying to rely my gratitude for such a gift. interlocking our fingers. this gift completely unexpected. Regardless of what Alice saw. "If she was wrong. "And she loves any excuse to renovate." "Alice." I said softly. Alice's face wrinkled slightly. her voice miffed. "What do you think?" she asked. "Take her hand and lead her forward. Okay." I ascented. I could see that she was shocked. We're doing this my way. It's not what she wanted. "You're giving me a house for my birthday?" Bella said. reaching out and taking Bella's hand. "Thank you again. squirming slightly. Ha. This little place has been crumbling away out here for at least a hundred years. "And it's no more than a cottage. "Just a few seconds more. as she tried to discern Bella's reaction. It's too small." I said. too old. and admiration." Bella said softly. a second story. I thought she might still throw her off – any other newborn would." I said. Bella. So that's the thanks I get! "You might be a little more appreciative."What are you doing?" Bella said anxiously." Alice said. Bella's mouth moved slightly. "Esme thought we might like a place of our own for a while.
" she replied. Alice. your loss. "Edward knows his way around. tugging her gently towards the house. They didn't want to put you under too much pressure to like it. Ah. "I was just thinking – today is the first and last day of forever." Trying being the key word. and then back at me. Now I feel guilty. your closet is stocked. "Love it?" Alice ventured. "That was weird. No one thinks you're that unreasonable." I said. I wasn't sure what she was thinking." Alice said to Bella." She turned and took off into the trees." I laughed. "You like it." She glanced at me. It's top priority. "Let me show you what they've done. looking confused. "Am I really that bad? They didn't have to stay away. Even with all this extra room for wrapping. awkward." Bella looked surprised. Edward! But I rather liked watching her squirm." Alice said. I reached out and gently took her hand. now. Alice was trying to be subtle about it. her voice unconvincing. Alice backed up slowly towards the woods. She hadn't even seen the inside of the house yet. taking in the too big white shirt over the tattered. tell Esme – " "Bella. frowning." "Aren't you going to come inside?" Bella asked. Use it wisely. but the look in her eyes made me want to clutch her to me. avoiding her eyes. and Alice clapped her hands. "Do I get to hear the joke?" "It's not very good. Closet first! Before you get distracted. I was ordered to return and leave you two alone – they're probably sending out a search party now. her stare seeming to become hotter. unsteady laugh." . time for me to make my exit. Uhh… "Oh. Surprise flickered across her face. I'll stop by…later. And…I guess that's everything. I didn't even thank her right. "But of course I love it! How could I not?" "They'll like that. you know…they all remember how you are about presents. bouncing up on her toes." "Why didn't she come?" Bella asked. Bella suddenly let out a single. as if in a far off dream. I thought. Feel free to help me out here." Bella shook her head. This was surreal – all the planning. a smile forming quickly on her face. and we were actually here. Bella watched her go. "Jazz wants to hunt. and I smiled." Her forehead wrinkled. touching Bella's arm. Call me if you can't match your clothes right. Don't be selfish. and work. "Then what…" "Alone time is their other gift. I glanced back. "See you. if she would let me. We should go back. It's kind of hard to wrap my head around it. "Don't be silly. "I can't wait to tell Esme. Real smooth. just for a little while? I narrowed my eyes and she shrugged. "Oh. Are you sure you don't want me to stay and help. Well." she said. And I wanted to do this properly.Yes! Alice sagged with relief. Fine. She looked at Bella for a moment. "Anyhoo. dirty dress." she murmured. more intense. her expression doubtful. Bella nodded.
" As I walked through the small house with her in my arms. noticing the furniture Esme and Carlisle had purchased during endless hours searching antique stores. wrapped up in the fear of hurting her. and the expectation of the unknown. I recalled similar emotions when we had arrived at Isle Esme." I said." Bella sighed. I never allowed myself to forget the marks I had left on her body the first time we had been together. her voice. ." What must be going through her thoughts? "I wish I could hear it. I pushed open the door with my shoulder and stepped inside the living room. "Or. you know. "No one was planning for Ness-" uh "-Renesmee." she said. of a mind capable of many separate thoughts at once. And as the lust waned. and frustration. "We're lucky Esme thought to add an extra room. "But I'm curious." She smiled. knowing Bella enjoyed it." she protested. Tell me what you're thinking about right now." she moaned. by her scent. A selection of Bella's favorite paintings from the house. smiling. "I'm sure you're dying to see the closet. at least I'll tell Alice that you were. Rosalie had even donated one of her own. In the purple darkness. and joined by the bewildering concept of eternal life. had been ruled by precision and control. My family would be living here. full of astonishment. "Not you." I joked. but also nervousness. Like the concept of immortality." Bella's eyes narrowed. the onslaught of the thoughts from other minds. "Hey. I could feel something twining within me – anticipation. her face a mixture of exasperation and resignation. She placed the key in the lock. "Thresholds are part of my job description. I could smell the fresh oil in the locking mechanism – my family had thought of everything. to make her feel good. And." Then. afraid suddenly she would refuse if I asked. I swept down and lifted her quickly into my arms. but I still." Cradling her to my chest. I forget how very strange this all must be for you. It's so perfect!" I glanced around. hoping I wouldn't spook her. I grimaced. need. still wishing I could peer into her mind. to give her the response she needed. you know. felt vastly inexperienced. this was an aspect that took a while to embrace. "Everything. which Esme and I had decided on together. "Sorry. too. It had all once seemed so untouchable. I worried if I would know how to let go of that control now. I watched Bella's eyes roam the room. "All at the same time. love. and now we would be living here. Bella. How I keep using too many superlatives in my head. in some ways. her hair that gently touched my face. I'm thinking that Esme is an artist. Most of our love-making. there was still a lengthy adjustment period. I gestured towards the door. There were books Carlisle had gathered from his own shelves. "Right now. I had forgotten the overwhelming sensation of the patterns of my thoughts during my early existence. Still. Bella's favorites plus others he thought we would enjoy. And yet Bella was not only casually acknowledging these massive changes. I could no longer hurt her. coupled with my forcible senses and strength. most newborns initially too consumed by bloodlust to appreciate. Good things and things to worry about and things that are new. she was doing it with laughter. I was utterly distracted by the feel of her. "You're such a natural at this. for me. I took another step into the house. specific only to me." I said. turning it easily. Emmett's fire flickered softly. It's rubbing off on me. I hear it in their thoughts all the time. not having seen the inside since it was furnished.I laughed. but didn't push me away. determined to never forget what my hands had done. understanding both the exhilaration. the first night of our honeymoon. my body had still proved more than capable of experiencing the intense pleasure she brought me. Loving her always. Hoping to distract her. and could do. Even caged by restraints.
in her breathless voice. had transcended even humanity itself. pushing the dress back. I lowered myself down. they gripped at my skin. She tried to pull me frantically onto her body. moaning slightly as her mouth urgently met mine. or excited. the sensation unparalleled. ethereal. Then I pulled back against her clutching hands. Bella pulled back and raised her head. and I felt a rush of excitement. and sensation exploded within me. I should warn you – it's bigger than this room. both torturous and tantalizing. her feet touching the floor so that she was standing in front of me. stone melting into stone. "The closet is through those double doors. Her eyes seared into mine. "We're going to tell her I spent hours in there playing dress-up. joy and danger. for the first time. It was breathtakingly perfect." Bella breathed. Then. and. her skin molten under mine as her head fell back slightly. dragging against her body. we entered the sanctuary Esme had created. the buttons melting away as she wrenched it off. sweet honey. her glowing eyes." Bella whispered. and needs. Now. her lips meeting mine once more. And I knew now there was no doubt I could let go. hot and challenging.the small. twisting my finger into the top of her dress. Did she feel the tension between us? Did she want what I so desperately did? Was she nervous. She twisted out of my grasp. Her fingers roamed against my bare back feverishly. in the end. as I grazed. . flowing over the landscape of her body before swiftly bending and gathering her back into my arms. her hands gripping my shirt that she still wore. barely touching. Then. finally. To be able to touch and feel her without fear – it was extraordinary. "Oh. When we had kissed earlier. and in the lines of her heated expression." she said softly. Our bodies were stretched against each others. sending my body spiraling into a new. Finally. We're going to lie. unrelenting. At a million points between us there was the intangible electric spark that had always been there. her hand moving into my hair. her eyes reflecting our shared fervor. the atmosphere thick with memory. and devotion. that had survived heartache and loss. learned signs of mounting passion." Bella suddenly twisted her fingers in my hair. "I know. consuming intensity that had been bound for too long within me. scorching my tongue. I watched Bella's face as we moved out of Renesmee's room. her strength overwhelming.You didn't have any trouble when you kissed her earlier. just dancing on the edges of the real thing. seeing the entrance to Alice's shrine on the far wall. Her passion was laid bare to me now. like slicing through dark waters. and knew only her. She gasped softly. only small glimpses. burning love. warm and strong. the intensification of her scent. soothing shrine to the moments we had spent on the Island. taking it all in. familiar and yet racing with a new." "We're going to tell Alice that I ran right to the clothes. My arms were wrapped around her back. and need. or just diverted by the cottage? I realized suddenly how much I had relied on her human reactions to gauge her moods. I lifted my hands to her shoulders. I reached out. With the swift movements of her insistent hands on my clothes. a cool. I felt slightly lost now. she had tasted of melted." I whispered. trying to decipher where her thoughts were. and pulled her forward abruptly. and want. much more powerful in reality to what I had seen in her thoughts. gripping as she turned my face towards her and pulled close. but bound securely by brilliant. hard. savoring. soon there was nothing between us. With a flick of my wrist I removed what remained on her body. Then she pulled back. but now she was all fire and heat. I pulled my finger slowly down the front of the tattered remains of her dress. I cradled her for a second before falling to my knees and lowering her to the floor. and I kissed her again. overpowering abandon. So much of this we'd never been able to experience before. I clutched her head with one hand. Forever. her body silent as I tried to determine the intensity of her eyes. and pulled. and I slid one hand slowly down. and heard it flutter to the floor. Smiling. pausing. the connection that had once seemed against nature. We belong together. and I acquiesced until I was just hovering over her. I thought wryly. When she had been human. the exquisite border of pleasure and pain. crushing her to me. almost too hard. I glanced around. The material split easily. Bella's hands had been the gentle caress of soft feathers. "Edward. The flush of her skin. her pounding heart .
in the same day. giving her skin the slightest diamond sheen. I reached out and touched one luminescent cheek. "Miss what?" I spoke with my lips pressed to her neck." I inhaled her aroma of sweet flowers. The faintest light was moving into the sky. "Do you miss it?" she asked quietly. lilting tune of a songbird outside. no burn coating my throat. Impossible." "Imagine kissing that. When I closed my eyes I could see the face that changed my existence. with each shared moment of abandon." I laughed gently. well. I slid my fingers along her jaw. filtering through the glass doors to reflect off the white-blue sky of the walls. were forever enshrined in my mind. I am purely full of joy. but all the more potent in their aching depth and power. keeping it against her skin." . and she placed her hand over mine. for her human face and body. Her movements were slower. lustrous canvas. shifting slowly. "You aresoft. so I could be with her without fear of hurting." "Are you avoiding the question?" she murmured. and with every exquisite movement. but not for me – I would carry them always. face to face. But what I realized now was that her humanity was not lost at all. or even killing her. that anything in this moment. "Oh. "So the answer is no. splendid body. taking solace that it would be preserved in the face of our daughter. trailing down her neck and savoring each part of the skin along her chest and waist. Bella's memories of her mortal image would fade quickly for her. feel and voice. She was everything. I couldn't say I missed that. the soft skin. No one has more than I do now. the features of the girl I fell in love with – her human presence was indelibly imprinted on my consciousness. but a temperate. and sighed. I moved so that we lay on our sides. Not many people get every single thing they want." "Precisely. "You are warm. what I also now understood was that I did not miss her human frailties. while Bella had lain sleeping. I had felt a simple melancholy at the loss of the unique human in the girl I loved. I was intoxicated by the exhilarating freedom of being physical equals. Her grip tightened and tightened until a consuming release came. soft eyes gradually opening to reveal brilliant pyres of love. could possibly make me sad. "I've been trying very hard not to. in every way." Bella's eyes tensed slightly. if it had been in the range of possibility. But now she was like me. and I would have became so in an instance. I moved my hand around so it pressed against her cheek. although I cherished her humanity. I remembered my thoughts on this." I wrapped both arms around her again and pressed her tightly to me. and her hand slid up to her throat. still changing. fragile silk. And yet. an angel hovering in the heavens over the fallen. her scent. Her body relaxed to lie against mine in a perfect silence broken only by the gentle. wondering how she could think that anything about her lovely. "It would be hard to find someone less sad than I am now. her eyes unfocusing slightly. because I am missing nothing. Do you remember the scent of those hikers on our hunt?" Bella grimaced. and the boundaries they created between us. Holding her close with my hands around her back. until Bella was above me. and I just wondered if it was a little bit sad for you that you were. She let out a throaty breath. plus all the things they didn't think to ask for. I had once wished I could be human. "And as for the scent. no longer heated. "All of it – the warmth. relieved of the frenzy after many hours. for eternity. that tasty smell…I'm not losing anything at all. I'd venture." I whispered.Chapter 27—Paternity We moved together. I could hear the doubt in her voice.
a flash of want in her expression. her eyes moving restlessly around.I dragged a hand up her back. Distracted from me now. even if they matched mine. Bella growled in horror. when her own mind. rising so that now I was above her. I remembered having to endure two months of constant wheedling by Alice about the size of the original closet before Esme. "Fine. Right now. worry creasing her face and she whipped over to the closet. heading towards the closet before pausing and swinging her head back to look at me. prevented it. and body. I smiled. She sighed. the dark angel this time. unzipping it. "Get dressed. "It's all about balance. "You're so good at all of this." Bella spit out at the same time. I guessed it would be a while before she gave up on Bella. even if it felt her body was telling me something different. throwing open the doors and exposing row upon row of clothing. stroking her neck with my thumb. my eyes roving her naked form. "Alice. beyond pleased that being with me presented such a tantalizing option for her. My senses screamed in protest at the thought of letting Bella go. I don't imagine it will take too long to put everything in perspective. resigned. for Bella. I touched a bar of clothing to the left of the door. remembering Alice's plans. a gentle reminder. I shrugged. I looked at her questioningly as she glanced away towards the wall. shifting her body away slightly. she had muttered. I thought about one of the conversations we had during the night. handpicked by Alice. if she hadn't already. I needed to be the responsible one. I realized she was betraying her newborn status. and she seemed equally consumed with me." she muttered. I knew we were approaching the time Renesmee would wake. her brow furrowed with worry." I reminded her. and even worse ." I said. before looking back at me. And as she had already shown the ability to balance her newborn thirst. "To the best of my knowledge. Judging from the assortment of cocktail dresses and evening gowns hanging on the racks. and exposing a light pink evening gown. everything but this rack here is yours. I was sure she would learn to control these other desires. Do what you want. . white shirts and sweaters." Bella nodded. She nodded seriously. right?" she asked. As she repeated this movement several times. "Renesmee.Alice given free rein. and then rose swiftly. Great minds think alike. with rare exasperation. "Which ones are mine?" she growled. "All of this?" Bella snapped. Alice had." I said. When I didn't offer any other explanation. grabbing the nearest garment bag. fisting her hair and crushing her mouth to mine. This was Alice we were talking about. her loss an immediate blow to my system. which I knew contained several Brioni suits and tuxedos. "Alice. but it wasn't fair of me to take advantage of her overwhelming desires. and we'll be back to the house in two seconds." "And we have all night. As we stilled later in the increasing morning light. I just don't want to know! Bella let out a fairly menacing hiss at the sight." I said quietly to her. had relented on the expanded closet. her competing desires wreaking havoc in her newborn brain. and I felt her muscles stiffen. looking down on the innocent below. I sighed. she rolled her eyes. to help remind Bella of her priorities. love. She would be looking for us. "It's all right. Then her expression darkened again. grinning. the lost hours with Renesmee were clearly totaling in her mind. "Do you think I could bear to let you get dressed now if that weren't the case?" I said. in the direction of the house and Renesmee. I worried how long it would take for her to get to that point with Bella. slowly come to accept what I would and wouldn't wear. as well as my standard khakis." I said gently. love. Then her expression darkened. about balance. And I knew what Bella's top priority would be this morning. over the years.
and then looked her over. looking around but not seeing him. She's demanding to see Bella. I moved away from the rows of garment bags and towards a cedar lined bureau at the back. She was also thirsty. smiling and laughing. sniffing at the clothes. it seemed there had been several moments of panic when Renesmee awoke. as I judged distance and direction. turning to find Bella distracted again. discerning each individual scent. and I let her pull me out the back door." I said. I gave her a moment and then took her hand. slowing as I approached the house so Bella and I could enter together. It was hard to admit that rather than feeling insulted by being spoon-fed my outfits by Alice. what the rest of my family already knew – I was not to be beaten for speed. Bella was instantly at my side. flying forward as she glanced back at me with a glint in her eyes. hearing our approach. I concentrated on the inky. I grinned. "How did you do that?" she asked. I moved over to my small section. Mommy! Mommy! Everyone turned. Emmett snorted. and Jasper and Emmett's improv attempts at comedy had been soundly rejected. kid. I hope she's dressed properly – I'm counting on you. My Bella would want jeans and a t-shirt. before Esme. Jacob will be pleased. inhaling again. flew into the room and scooped her up.I smothered laughter. We jumped the stone wall and were running full out immediately. organic smell of cotton. Nessie latched onto the sight of Bella. sooner rather than later. thinking it would just infuriate her further. Almost as if Alice was trying to hide it." Right. At a glance. searching for the clean. kissing her cheek. After several seconds. and then weeded out the light. "Now… stretch cotton?" I walked back into the closet. Rose thought. whose excitement clearly mirrored her daughter's. I had grown rather used to the ease of it. She glanced up. tossing aside a mangled piece of silverware and pointing demandingly towards her with a small finger. to watch as Bella. I pulled open a drawer and smiled. wailing when Bella was not produced immediately. I thought. which seemed to be located in the back. my family's thoughts filtered into my mind. and separating them in my mind. I easily discarded anything synthetic. She might as well learn. I could tell her growth was continuing to slow. showing him a picture of Bella. pulling out a pair of jeans. in desperation and knowing Nessie liked shiny objects. laden with the smell of wood rather than plastic. clearly memorizing the scents. and I was fairly certain Alice had bought a few. I inhaled deeply. keeping in front but close enough to retreat back to her quickly if needed. thoughts clearly swinging swiftly back to Renesmee. during which time I pulled ahead of Bella. touching her growing curls and smoothing her hands over Renesmee's lengthening limbs. refined scents of silk and satin. touching her arm." I said soothingly. had garnered her attention with an antique silverware set. finding a plain white shirt buried in the racks. Gathering from what I saw in my family's minds. About time! Alice thought. I moved further inside the room. She pulled away. I took the river in a leap. smothered in plastic. She and Emmett were sitting on the floor next to the baby. Several various toys and household items had been destroyed. and a kaleidoscope of different materials. "Denim has its own scent just like anything else. her eyes wide. bringing a mixture of scents down my throat. As we came into view up the lawn. Bella hugged her tightly. Mommy's…well…been kind of busy. Bella's floral nectar mixed with the sharp tang of cedar. Nessie's mind was a jumble of images of Bella and me. "Let me help. her eyes narrowed. Jeans and a t-shirt! She wasn't supposed to find those! That was the best you could do? . lover-boy? Sighing. "I told you. heavy fragrance of denim. taking on her challenge. She twisted a silver knife into a ball before reaching up to touch Emmett's throat. I pulled the outfit on. "Race?" she questioned. As Bella got dressed. Alice had already told them we were coming back. unzipping a bag to uncover a matched outfit of pants and sweater. Alice whipped her head towards me. I could see that Renesmee was awake already.
There had to be something that precipitated his leaving. could go at it all night inside that little wooden box and leave it in one piece! "So it's still standing?" he choked out. tipping the cup back further as it quickly emptied." And good riddance. I frowned at her – that didn't seem likely." Rose muttered. She's okay. "We would have called you soon. I stayed back from Bella. After refusing to leave Renesmee's side for a moment. his mouth hanging open like the moron he is. phasing at the edge of the yard and moving away. her eyes on the cup. "What was he so upset about?" I asked casually. certain that was probably not a good idea. "I was glad to be rid of him. And then we'll be rid of him permanently. "I still say we should go straight to New Hampshire and get things set up. but could not sense him. Emmett winked at me. and then he just jumped to his feet without any kind of trigger – that I noticed. slightly shocked. clearly trying to ignore him. and hopefully we would have been interrupting something! "We'll get your room set up right away. Rose thought. I headed into the kitchen to prepare a bottle before she grew too insistent." said Emmett." The cottage made it through the night? Emmett burst out laughing. when Jacob left." Rose said. "Where are the wolves today?" she asked instead. She stopped breathing. Jacob had left? I searched the surrounding area as far out as I could go." said Rose. It felt off. and realized this was the discussion he and Rose had been having earlier. "Thank you. her mind filled with the image and scent of a bottle of blood. I sighed – didn't they have any idea what our leaving would mean for Jacob? This had been. It's absolutely perfect. his face serious but calm." My little angel. We won't be here much longer. Was Sam's pack rethinking our agreement? But then why wouldn't Jacob tell my family if he was concerned? Rose adjusted Nessie in her arms. leaving an uncertain weight in my stomach. She's been asking for you – demanding might be a better description. She wanted her mother to feed her. So. Smoothing my expression to hide my concern. Could he have heard something dangerous approaching? I glanced out the front window. my throat stinging slightly from the scent. what had upset him. she thought. "Just a few minutes. The more time he spends here. and Jasper took a step towards her.Esme was glowing up at me. Bella handed Nessie quickly to Rose. I went back into the room." Rose said. smirking. except for the necessity of confronting Sam. a pleased smile on her face. I imagined. anyway – and stormed out. who wrapped her hands around it and started taking long pulls. I nodded. Esme sacrificed her second-best silver service to keep the little monster entertained. Renesmee touched Bella's face. "Jacob took off this morning pretty early. "I don't know – or care. bother you. seeing a vision of her memory Jacob's strained and worried eyes as he left silently. how did it go? Glad to see she left you in one piece – I was a little worried." Emmett laughed. "Seth followed him out. Edward. Then she looked up at Bella." Bella said to Renesmee. It's magic. but saw her shoulders stiffen. not yet. "We didn't want to…er. in direct competition with her words." said Esme disapprovingly. smiling back. Only you. "You'll like the cottage. Alice said she loved the cottage. What were you doing last night? Discussing the national debt?" I could hear Bella grinding her teeth as I twisted the top securely on Renesmee's cup. I glanced at him. the less chance there is that we'll ever get the smell out. I frowned. Esme. flickering in with pictures of Bella. although I was . "How long has she been up?" I heard Bella ask. Yeah." She turned to my mother. I scanned Rose's mind. So much. "I would've thought you two had knocked it to rubble by now." "Rose. "He was watching Nessie sleep. "I suppose it doesn't matter. I could not believe he had voluntarily left." I froze. grabbing the cup from me and angling it towards Nessie. I was rather hoping Bella would snap and give Emmett what he deserved.
Jacob had been to see Charlie? What the hell? I'm glad I told him. "Look at you! You need me to show you how to use your closet. Edward? "He told Charlie?" Bella cried. Jacob thought. Perhaps he was making arrangements to follow us if we left. He'll come now. putting his life. Seth thought." I growled. all of our lives. I'd like the pleasure of killing him first before we made any other arrangements. flying out the door. "Jacob's on his way in now. Coming here. but it was completely gone. Edward will see that I'm right. clutching Nessie. furious." What's going on. "But . searching for the image of her dressing up Bella in the closet. adrenaline coursing through him. I had to explain to Charlie. I think maybe you deserve it this time. You're such a freakin' idiot sometimes. He was running full out towards the house in wolf form. . There were sounds of phasing and then three sets of footsteps across the lawn. and we might as well wait until he arrived to assess. relief and love flooding through him at the sight of her. She had been perusing visions of the afternoon . An image flickered in his mind of Charlie's stricken face. flanking Jacob along with Leah. and Jacob cocked his head towards the house. it will all be out in the open and they won't have to leave. I stiffened. and then whipped towards me. Jacob came through the door. as I suspected he would. motionless with shock. The wolves were pausing at the edge of the woods to phase and dress. He had a smile of mock confidence on his face that didn't match demeanor. Where is that future pile of ground chuck? Rosalie thought. Today. his mind tense and wired. Frankly. but shook my head slightly. A furious growl burst out of me. and lured him here. once I explain. Her eyes! She turned. His eyes went immediately to Renesmee. betrayed us all by telling him God knows what. "He thinks Charlie is following after him. I hissed softly. and once he understands. Leah thought with disgust. "No!" she cried. Leah snarled. in jeopardy! "What is he doing?" Alice suddenly shrieked. "Shit!" Alice squealed. Should we prepare to leave? I considered. Edward? Carlisle thought in alarm." There was a collective gasp. His eyes were alert. his anxiety betrayed in tense movements. God dammit! What the hell. Coming here.surprised he would respond by leaving the house. Jacob would be here in a moment. before glancing around to meet our eyes." I growled. wet and reeking more than usual. Jacob continued. followed by a view through the trees of Charlie getting into his car and driving away from town. If they let you explain. turning to Bella. I caught Seth's thought. It was the right thing to do. Everything had just disappeared. That little rat had gone to Charlie. Rose and Em should have been more discreet with the conversation… Edward's going to kill you. He needed to know.her and Jasper hunting as well as a great deal of time with Bella in the new closet. Contacts! Jasper watched her go with worried eyes. "What is that dog doing that has erased my schedule for the entire day? I can't see anything!" She struggled again. just coming into my range. Edward's gonna know what you did. She won't have to leave. They'll be waiting.doesn't he understand? How could he do that? No!" Carlisle took a step towards me. I had to do something. Has Jacob done something? "He talked to Charlie. Billy is going to be furious.
It's better this way. a relationship. if you ask me."Hi. he is a piece of work. You. "I didn't put him in danger. his scent thick and dank in my nose. He couldn't be man enough to come to me first before making decisions that affected my family? I couldn't. How could you put him in danger this way? Do you realize . Emmett thought. I stepped slightly away from Jacob. I assume Alice is getting you sunglasses or something?" Bella sucked in a furious breath. you'll see. "You should have been stopped-" "This isn't about me. guys. mongrel. That he would put her in this position made my head reel with fury." he said." I growled. Except from you. looking pleased. Damn. and Rose gave her over. "You assume way too much. Rose flicked her eyes towards me. staying still as I struggled to control my reaction. "Much less exciting. Jacob. he thought desperately. "This is about Charlie. Done?" Jacob faltered slightly at the intensity of her wrath. Charlie was the biggest issue there. But you've got some kind of supernatural self-control. ready to intercede emotionally." she spit out between gritted teeth. bloodsucker? He looked back at Bella. "What." Bella interjected." Jacob said. "Rose. "You would have stopped me. At his words the room spun red for an instant. I didn't move. "You think we should test it out on Charlie? Did you consider the physical pain you're putting Bella through. Right. moving his gaze to Bella. his casual cheerfulness infuriating me even further. She reached out for the baby." He grinned. right? Well. and we both turned to look at her. I was surprised Bella wanted to hold her in such a charged environment. regarding him. selfish and shortsighted. or self control? He had no God damned idea what the temptation of human blood would be like for Bella. "I didn't know that. Jasper was close behind her. "Blondie and Emmett woke me up this morning going on and on about you all moving cross-country. My family was silent. Like I could let you leave. Her eyes were wild." Bella said suddenly. "Then perhaps you should have asked me. didn't acknowledge him. and I moved across the room swiftly until I was standing right in his face. Physical pain? "Bella will be in pain?" asked the thankless mutt in obvious disbelief. sensing her control battling with despair. "Like you've shoved a white-hot branding iron down her throat!" I yelled." His eyes flicked towards mine momentarily. grinning cheerfully. and I fought the natural urge to lunge at him. Man. "The danger you've put him in?" Jacob laughed." My control broke then. Have. "Do you even realize what you've done?" Bella snarled. Chill out. And now – did he give a damn about her at all? "I supposed what happens to Bella no longer concerns you!" You worthless piece of garbage! Jacob's expression tightened. her voice low and determined. but she must have had a reason. problem solved. but her body was still. Now can we finally kill him? Jacob regarded my dark eyes. My wife had been through more pain in the last couple of weeks than she deserved in her entire existence. Edward. He would risk her killing her own father just to keep what he wanted close? "That's just a theory." Of course I would have – he was being impetuous. "Charlie'll be here soon. even if she can resist? Or the emotional pain if she doesn't?" For months he did everything in his power to take her. right? Not as good as mind reading." I snarled. How dare he treat this so lightly? What the hell did he know about newborns. I thought we had formed some sort of trust. "Just a heads-up." he said softly.
" "Then I have no idea why you dragged me out here. "Say it straight. Just spit out whatever it is you have to say." Charlie said. I watched the memory unfurl in his mind. a nervous edge to his voice. "Relax. "Well. "What are you doing?" he gasped. Incredibly. "Then show me. but you'd never believe me. catching in her throat. Bella. deep breaths. I want to see her. let's see it. that's the idea. I may not be able to tell you about this. "Yeah. Jake. "Deep breaths?" His eyes widened as Jacob began to swiftly undress. "Okay. She's my daughter. Really sick." "What are you talking about. if I do say so myself. Dying…" His voice trailed off for a second. I could. It was the only way to save her. I mean. "I'm heading back." Jacob nodded. I think you're as ready as you'll ever be. trying to decipher his thoughts. "The problem." Charlie grumbled. He turned and walked towards the tree. I told him about me. and no one is going to keep me from her. "I don't appreciate you being so secretive. Carlisle told me she was in Atlanta – was he lying? What about the disease?" "Look. He and Jacob were walking down the path in the woods behind the Swan home." Charlie said irritably. "The thing is.its death or vampire life for him now." he snapped. I don't have the patience for this." They walked in silence for several more paces when Charlie stopped abruptly. Jake. but I can show you. Well. Over by that tree. Jake. "It will all make sense soon enough. I stared at him. If you have news about Bells that I don't." "I didn't tell him anything about you. turning." Charlie threw up his hands in exasperation." He reached the tree and turned. You tell me Bella is in town – I don't understand." Genius. Charlie. really. Jake? Different? Tell me what's going on!" Anger and confusion flooded Charlie's face. "I'll just need you to back up a little. give me some space. "But she's better now. Charlie. his changing eyes never leaving Charlie. arms crossed." "Wait." "Okay. "What?" "Just back up for me. Except. Jacob relaxed next to me." Jacob said. first. Not really. Charlie. this is far enough. slightly confused. I reached out and stroked her arm." Charlie's brow furrowed in confusion." He looked at me. I didn't tell him anything you weren't planning to tell him. in case Carlisle calls. If you'd just let me explain. "Well." Jacob grabbed his arm. . fine. too?" Bella's voice was unsteady. she's a little different. furious Jacob had done this to her." "But he's coming here!" Bella gasped. and I don't know what to tell her. Bella. "This better not be some sort of stupid teenage prank. is this really isn't something I can just tell you about." Jake said. Wasn't the whole 'let him make the wrong assumptions' thing your plan? I think I provided a very nice red herring. Jake paused next to him. If she's in town. "She was…sick. space altering in a rush of wind as Jacob's form phased into something new. And then the world shifted. "But just remember. "I have to be at the house. And Renee is getting suspicious she hasn't heard from Bella. just tell me now!" "Don't worry." Jacob said. meeting his eyes." Charlie rolled his eyes. Jacob. show is a better verb. before you rip my head off." "Fine. Bella's body flinched with annoyance. turning away from him.
Jake? How did I just see…what was that…that thing?" Jacob took a deep breath. "What the hell just happened. his voice laced with fear. I was impressed." came Jacob's voice. I can assure you. He's tough. "I don't know what you're talking about. "Bella." Bella snarled." Rose smiled sweetly at Jacob behind her. "You have thirty seconds to tell me every single word before I give Renesmee to Rosalie and rip your miserable head off. I don't want to know. You should've seen his face when I started taking my clothes off. kid's got balls. Jake? What did you do to me? Did you give me some sort of Quiluete hallucinogen or something?" Jacob laughed sharply." "Then what…why…what is going on. to a human. Charlie's whole figure seemed to grow smaller. "Bella." "You have half of that. at least yet. steeling himself. She's practically as bad as you now. bitch. Jacob looked at her." I was stunned by shock and anger. My family relaxed somewhat. hitting the tree behind him." He took another step closer. Then the world phased again. "Stay away from me!" Charlie shouted. "Jesus Christ! Oh god. Brave as you are. Emmett shook his head. Life'll go on the same way it always has. "Charlie.Charlie stood frozen. If you'd give this just a minute. as he drew in a sharp breath. you'll see that I did you a favor here." Leah bared her teeth slightly. "No. "You absolute moron!" Bella shrieked. Is that a vampire thing?" He glanced at me." he breathed. Why did you show me?" Jacob took a deep breath. no!" His expression was a mask of white-faced horror. his wild eyes calming slightly as Jacob silently put on his clothes. The good news is." Jacob chuckled. Priceless. Bells."Seth won't be able to stop me this time. pain and horror lashing across his face." I hissed. "It's okay. "Jeez. you don't live in the world you thought you lived in. "Everything's fine. his hands out in front. folding in on itself until vision came from human eyes once again. agonizing moment. relieved he had not betrayed us. The wolf took a tentative step towards him. "Charlie's fine. That's my girl.." Jacob muttered. I gotta say. Charlie." Jacob whispered. though. I'm afraid what you just saw was very. "You could have given him a heart attack! Jacob grinned. Remember what I said – deep breaths. Gotta say. "No!" Charlie stumbled backward. "The reason I showed you this. . Charlie. You can go right back to pretending that you don't believe any of this. actually has nothing to do with me. and one hand went up to grip his chest. unblinking. Just try something. nothing has changed – except now you know. Charlie. Didn't pass out or throw up or anything. "Yes. His chest rose and fell heavily for several seconds. Jacob had changed to wolf form in front of Charlie? His impulsivity seemed to have no bounds. very real. "He's brave." Charlie stared at him silently for a few moments. "He phased in front of Charlie. "You what?" Bella gasped. "You didn't used to be so melodramatic." And in a slow.
and curious. 'She wishes she was that cool!'" Rose snorted in disgust." Bella took a deep breath. I should have sent her to Florida! "I let him rant till he got it out of his system. "I didn't think you'd mind me lying. with the whole rare-disease thing. . This is about what Jacob wants. Gramps. feeling a stirring inside at the look of yearning in her expression that accompanied the idea of Charlie knowing about Renesmee. "What was the other thing he wanted?" Jacob smiled. He wanted to see you. you wish. since she first came to Forks. but the Volturi won't care about the finer details. It's too dangerous for everyone." she said softly. Batman – perfect for you. This has nothing to do with what's right." said Jacob. he followed me out into the woods. He wanted to know what I meant by 'change". he thought. Edward. instead concentrating on Bella. "She's your orphaned ward – like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. "After a few minutes. "But she's changing so fast. and I said. Here's the best part. if you turned into an animal too. "I can handle that part." Bella blinked with surprise. I told him that you had been sick. "So I told him that you and Edward had inherited a new little mouth to feed. but I didn't even get the whole word out – Charlie cut me off and said he'd 'rather not know specifics. After he got calmed down. he asked. His main request is that he be told as little as possible about all of this. I told him yes." He explained how he had phased in front of Charlie. "So I knocked on Charlie's door this morning and asked him to come for a walk with me. He was way too distracted by me. Jacob thought. She's been hiding this from me all this time? I always knew that guy was no good for her! I should have never let her out of the house. In his own. only. Why the hell would he bring Esme into this? Pointing out the similarities among my kind was sure to lead to questions." Jacob laughed. "What did you tell him about Renesmee?" Bella's voice was still harsh. He technically may not know. Blondie. watching for Alice. "Other than that. I ignored the jab. As if! Yeah. not liking the air of menace in the room." Jacob looked pleased with himself. but you were fine now – it was just that you'd had to change a little in the process of getting better. "You'll like this.' and all of that. he'd just like to pretend things are normal. twisted way. That's all part of the game. and I told him that you looked a lot more like Esme now than you looked like Renee. real quietly. He's just trying to do what's right. "And I said. her eyes hesitant.' Then he asked if you'd known what you were getting yourself into when you married Edward. then keep it to yourself. I thought furiously. 'sure. Jasper shifted uncomfortably. and told him he lived in a different world than he had always thought. yeah. and trouble." Bella growled. and then he wanted to know what was really going on with you. Edward. and then back to me. she's known all about this for years. "Oh. He was confused. Jacob rolled his eyes and sat down. His eyes moved towards the back windows. he doesn't suspect. but when I told him it was about you and that you were back in town. If it's not absolutely essential for him to know something. 'Congrats. "It took him a minute to get his head together. 'Like a daughter? Like I'm sort of a grandfather?' were his exact words. He even smiled a little. "I started to tell him more about the werewolves. but he did ask if you were adopting her."Twenty-six seconds. Need to know. "Charlie was way past being shocked at this point.' He didn't like that very much. Calm down." I caught a glimpse in his mind of Charlie yelling in the forest. he wanted just two things." He looked at me." I watched the unexpected wonder spread across Bella's face. and I said it would be better if he gave me a head start to explain. Leah and Seth staying protectively close behind him." she said. glancing briefly at me. but the edge was relenting a little. right?" God knows you're good at it." Esme gasped while Carlisle stared at Jacob with a hard face. Seth caught my eye. I don't know if we can let this happen." Jacob laughed.
he'd deal. Allowing Charlie in such close proximity to her. Rose thought. Time meant something else to an immortal. But the circumstances are certainly extraordinary. through casual investigation. and Bella had yet to experience this expedited passage of the hours. Jacob held out his hand. The safety of the entire family is at stake. Charlie was already more than halfway through his mortal life. and I felt a surge of sudden confidence that this was something she could handle. and had been showing us since she came into our lives. days. thinking about robbing Charlie of the joy he had experienced in knowing her. But that if it was too much for him. Ultimately."I told him she was more special than all of us put together. didn't mean we wanted the same thing for Bella. give me a break. There was a moment of silence. But other concerns troubled my family. hopeful yet uneasy. it is up to you and Bella. this was something she was willing to try. and I had to resist the urge to groan and roll my eyes. Carlisle caught my eye. Oh please. you're going to be amazed. his expression tight." Jacob said quietly. even from a distance. were what had once held us to the mortal world. We both have people we can't live without. you don't want to know about this. Edward." she said. I was torn. "He said as long as no one forced too much information on him. there was another path. Then he glanced at Nessie. How does he do that? Emmett wondered. all other issues aside. If she wanted to go down this path. But Charlie Swan is a man I would trust. Renesmee thought. regardless of what you may think. and your daughter." she told Jacob. but an amazing. waving back Leah and Seth. the desire to see Charlie. promised. pulling out the big brown eyes and giving her a sheepish grin. "I didn't know it was like that. and then Bella exhaled and shifted. but Bella gripped her tightly. Edward.' And then I told him that if he could deal with that." His eyes lowered for a moment to Renesmee's face. There was a determined light in her face. Bella. And yet." . and it will need to be handled carefully. For her to keep someone so important to her in her life was an enticing possibility. "I'll consider forgiving you for this. or careful inquiry. their eyes slightly conflicted. Some of us had had relatives still alive when we had been changed. Jacob. I would support her. you would leave. But Bella had proven beyond a doubt that she was not a mindless newborn. the more heartbreaking would be his inevitable loss would be. That crap would never work with Rose. These ties. or any humans. our blood relatives in the family of men. that." "I am sorry about it hurting you. and I knew – if it was at all possible. and share Renesmee with him. She was showing us. 'Trust me. "If I don't kill Charlie tonight. And then there was the one rule of my kind – secrecy. and I'll always love you. This is not something I would normally condone. aware creature with incredible control. seemed like an incredibly foolish risk. maybe. It could be difficult to watch our human relations grow old and pass on." I truly still care about her. But if you can ignore all the strange parts. reaching out her arms. "I told him. and would swiftly be gone. things are different with us now. her free hand reaching out to grasp Jacob's. as is Bella. especially with a newborn. His eyes moved momentarily around to everyone in the room. We feared the closer she remained to Charlie. I had promised. Jacob looked back up at Bella. But I love you the right way now." Jacob smiled hopefully at Bella. But they faded away in the blink of an eye. you all would stick around for a while and he would have a chance to get to know her. "I'm not going to say thank you. just because we had been forced to follow what we thought was the only possible way. "Still friends?" A small smile flickered on Bella's face. I would keep her from hurting her family. He'd better not expect forgiveness so easy from me – his brash actions would still put Bella in terrible pain. I looked at Bella's expression and I could see the hope invading her eyes." My family was watching the confrontation silently now. She's the most wonderful person in the whole world. and years. but you'll always be my best friend. for the few that cared. This severing of human ties was considered part of the price of immortality for our kind. resting for a moment on Esme. however few or even distant. There's finally a balance. "You're still putting Charlie at a huge risk. rising and walking towards Bella and Nessie.
where Jacob and Seth sat down." Her expression remained frozen with anxiety. "It will be fine. "Oh course. "Stay east so you don't cross Charlie's path. while I got Bella a safe distance away. anyway. we'd disappear today." We'd all had to wear them during assorted times when our changing eye color might be scrutinized – sometimes during overseas travel to better match a passport photo. Alice turned to Jasper. but Leah remained standing. "You can do this. but her breathing slowed slightly. And. right?" She tossed Bella the box. Bella's expression remained tight. Those were a specially made topaz color. Edward. I'm almost back. Jacob. "Bella. Bella. you'd better give him the baby." she mouthed at him." The back door flew open as Alice scurried inside. Bella looked confused. red terror in Bella's eyes. you and you. The wolves headed over to the far wall." Bella rolled her eyes. feeding mainly off of my emotions. and he released a wave of calm confidence. It's annoying." Alice murmured. I moved close. "If I didn't believe you could handle it." Alice glanced at Jasper. I don't need this. I need to see. As much as I hated to admit it. This very minute." she snapped at Jacob." Jacob held out his hands for Renesmee. her face set. But you can. thought Alice. but it's still better than bright red. I'll help you. get over in the corner and commit to being there for a while. chosen to cover red eyes – we'd used similar ones in the past for Jasper on a few unfortunate occasions. catching a look of desperate. I turned swiftly. jumping up to kiss his cheek. so I'm assuming you didn't kill him. raising her eyebrows. "Maybe later. "These will irritate your eyes – they won't hurt. I realized. I wanted this to happen. I'm outta here. slow him down." Bella replied seriously. Do you think I'm stupid? Leah banged out the back door. "When you don't kill Charlie tonight. "Am I allowed to leave?" she asked. who was clearly unhappy." . or uncertain." She looked at Renesmee. She was clearly second guessing herself. I want these wolves out of my vision! "You. "Can I?" "I'm actually holding her so that my hands aren't free to kill you. darting through the woods. I was prepared for several possible futures. Alice handed her the contacts she had retrieved from the dresser table at the cottage. "When did you—" "Before you left on the honeymoon. Jacob smiled. while Jacob had been motivated by his desire to keep Renesmee close. what he had done was as much for my wife as for my daughter. The ones Alice had purchased for Bella were darker. Emmett laughed softly. "They also won't match your old color. still tense. Someone could intercept Charlie. too. "I know you can. Jasper suddenly thought urgently. But I knew that she would be able to control herself around him. her brow furrowing." I said softly. you'll owe me huge. She's upset. touching her face gently." said Jake. You'll need your arms free." As Bella handed the baby to a thrilled Jacob. It would mean the world to Bella to not have to be separated from Charlie. Leah and Seth. we all will.Eh. And you'll be happier if you can have Charlie in your life. panicked. He smiled a little. we could leave right now. but they'll cloud your vision. "If you must stay. touching her hair before she flitted back to Bella. I know I'm already forgiven. If she was afraid. I still can't see anything.
"Humans don't stare at one thing for too long. yes. She blinked and then frowned." Esme raised her eyebrows. trying to refocus on the present and not the past. even with the contacts. hugging Bella. And then there had been the truly terrible visions." Alice explained how the venom would disintegrate the contacts after a few hours. Of course-" "Yes. her hand on his neck as she replayed various scenes from the day – her distress at discovering Jacob had left. "Sit. I nodded slightly. She blinked up at me. What the heck was that supposed to be? Rosalie thought. looking around. I glanced over and saw him watching me with calm.. you'll have to excuse yourself to replace them. blink. "Charlie will be here in five minutes. Emmett had his own ways of acting human. ashamed. "Right." She grabbed Bella's hand and pulled her to the couch. Bella's angry reaction when Jacob had returned." As my family threw suggestions at her. and then shook her head. and noted the time as she glanced at the clock on the mantle." Jasper said. Emmett and Jasper looking like idiots doing headstands to try to amuse her. I think I got it all." She looked Bella up and down. not wanting to relive Alice's visions of my having to change Bella on the island." said Esme. because humans need bathroom breaks. "Sit down if he does. passing down the road a few minutes from our drive. after all." I heard Bella say. We said human. Pick your nose. Alice saw a vision of Charlie knocking on the door. looking down. look around." "Cross your legs for about five minutes. drawing me back. "I see you what you mean." Emmett grinned. Jasper frowned. inhaling." Emmett nodded." "Let your eyes wander every thirty seconds or so. "You'll be holding your breath as much as possible. Humans don't like to just stand there. I glared at him before he could share his ideas. stop. I watched Bella open the box. Jacob remained silent. Maybe you should start out already on the couch. That way he won't have to see you move right at first. I glanced over to check on Renesmee. letting her sift through the images as he gently caressed one of her soft curls between his fingers. Which is a good idea anyway. Jasper gently admonished. Bella moved with exaggerated slowness.. few and fleeting. awkward manner. aware eyes. You've been sick. give her a few pointers on acting human while I stock the powder room with contacts.I tensed. or my own weakness. ." she grumbled as she put in the other contact. "No. She was seated in Jacob's lap on the floor. scratch your butt. She doesn't look human. I wrapped an arm around her. Whatever you are doing to yourself. dull brown." Bella took an unsteady breath. swinging her arms and legs in a strange. "So if Charlie stays longer than that. "You can do this." I said softly. her fair skin flushed still by the hunt yesterday. "Esme. but you need to move your shoulders a little to make it look like you're breathing. "The main thing is to not sit too still or move too fast. startlingly different with her crimson orbs covered by a dark. Now is not the time. fidget. "How do I look?" "Gorgeous. grinning. "Then switch to crossing your ankles for the next five. generally to Rose's dismay. pressing it into her eye." Esme took Bella's hand." Alice interrupted me. "Two minutes. not drunk. looking nervous." Rosalie added. and certain I was nothing more than a black cloud on Bella's life… Edward. Keep it simple. but leaving me shaken. either because of uncontrolled wantonness. "How long do I have?" Alice envisioned Charlie. thinking about his struggles at school. "She always looks gorgeous. She picked up a contact.
her mind filled with the image of sinking her teeth satisfyingly into Jacob's chest. suddenly pleading. "But you mustn't bite him. looking shocked." I said. and understood. He won't heal like Jacob." Bella said urgently. or even like Jacob. "That's fine. I nodded. won't you. "And he's going to make you thirsty. And I was afraid she would be tempted to communicate with him by her gift – something that I suspected would overwhelm Charlie beyond what he could handle. Renesmee? You'll help us?" Renesmee reached up and touched my face. I know that she instinctively sensed. "Exactly." Alice muttered. A born actress. As Jacob got up and approached. I know. and she gazed back. she could grasp new parameters for her grandfather. remembering the sight of small. only her head and shoulders unobscured by Renesmee's presence. Although she controlled herself fairly well around Jacob. Even she wasn't that clumsy! "Jacob. He sighed. and then we turned our eyes to Renesmee. sighing. Yeah. remembering all the times Renesmee had bitten him. Please do. wrapping my arm around them. I hope you appreciate what I go through for you! "Hold her as still as you can and I'll try to see around her." Jacob laughed. someone special is coming to see you and your mother.Alice rolled her eyes. I knew she was still very aware of the scent of his blood. Let's hope the mother has better self control than the daughter. We have to be very careful with him. she controlled herself around Seth. . Daddy. I don't care if you bite Jacob." She frowned. as well as her family. "But he's not like us. "Maybe you should leave. for Charlie's sake! I glared at him. Jacob. and Charlie's would be far more appealing." Jacob remained still. if explained. but clear enough to watch her movements. Glad you find this so funny. I need Renesmee. finding her slightly blurred." "But I need her. That seems like a bad idea." Bella said. sensing the tension around her. she grumbled. This is going to give me a headache." I smiled. "Can she understand you?" Bella asked. Is Nessie ready for such close proximity to a human? Esme looked at me with a worried expression. No. showing a memory of her reaching up to touch Jacob's face. I wished he could feel the burn Bella was going to face thanks to his actions. He stayed on the floor. "She keeps me calm. even when tempted. I leaned over to catch Nessie's dark chocolate eyes." "Fine. fading tooth marks on Jacob's skin. mongrel. the sweet. clutching Nessie." I said. Alice's vision faded completely. I sat down next to Bella and Renesmee. enticing aroma hidden in deep musk. understanding that the parameters were different with him than Jacob. and I raised an eyebrow at him. You shouldn't tell him things the way you tell us. Alice was shaking her head as Bella suddenly blurred out of her vision." I snapped. There was a questioning air to the vision. Although she had bitten Jacob. "She understands. she concentrated on Bella. and share her thoughts. that doesn't help me see. I felt a soft thrill at the word. She was quiet and still. that Jacob and Seth were different from herself." Renesmee put her hand on my cheek. yeah. pleased she so clearly understood my words. you could still throw me out. no! "Bella." Her mind filled with the memory of Jacob's scent. glancing briefly at me. When he sat back against the wall. "You'll be careful. "No. I thought that. "Renesmee. She watched him with impatient eyes as he handed Nessie to Bella and backed away." I said quietly. Jacob looked unhappy.
Jacob balked." I answered. his message clear." he said softly. thought Jasper. "Sorry. "I told Charlie I'd be here. although his thoughts were slightly shaded with fear. I glanced at Bella. Geez." "Repulsive?" Jacob said. I caught some jumbled images of Jacob's human and wolf facades. "Moral support." Jasper said. and then looked back. woman! Don't believe it…see her for myself…not Bella. An image of a wild Bella lunging at Charlie appeared in my mind. He laughed lightly. even after what Jacob has shown him. I nodded. The car stopped in front. kissing her soundly. but impressively steady. would respond. If she doesn't relax this isn't going to… Oh. Get your mind out of the gutter. I felt Bella turn to frozen stone beneath my arm. and Bella. I watched Charlie's approach in Alice's head while I listened to his tires turn off the highway. I could sense heavy disbelief in his mind. but her thoughts must have lingered on me because Jasper sighed. Bella." I laughed." "Right. Priceless. Protect him. He flicked a longing gaze at Alice. As he approached the door. knowing her appearance would be an excruciating shock. "Well done Bella. Alice could see as far as Charlie knocking on the door. Not my Bells. At all costs. If I unleash this on everyone the situation is going to get ugly in here! "Bella. Please. "You can do anything. My chest tightened as Charlie's characteristically indistinct thoughts began to break through to me as he drew closer. We would betray our inhuman abilities if there was any indication Charlie was in danger from Bella. "you might not want to distract her like that right now. Jasper shifted uncomfortably. Tense. I thought. Jasper's face. revealing the fact that Charlie had always been intuitive enough to be slightly intimidated by my brother." Bella looked away. anxiety pulsing out of her. She's amazing. I hoped if things did get tenuous we could physically remove him from the situation before his human eyes could comprehend – it would devastate him to see the uglier side of his daughter's new nature." She's about to drag you to the bedroom. Jasper. Give me a break. Bella laughed. I smiled slightly. Denial – a dangerous but useful thing. I squeezed Bella proudly. smothering lust washed through him. Who are these people…should bring her home…my daughter… His heartbeat was a little fast. "Later. and her gaze locked on my face. but not beyond – too many variables at this point to how Charlie. who winked. especially if it was directed towards him. he thought." I leaned close. God knew the façade was already mostly dropped as it was – we would use all our resources to protect him. Smart man." "Moral support." I hadn't realized I was having that affect on her. Says the creature that sucks the blood out of people. Edward. As Charlie's car took the turn into our driveway." he said warningly. "You sure?" she asked me. eyes burning bright. She needs to be able to focus. concerned. . I'd seen the look of horror on Charlie's face when Jacob phased. and surprisingly." Emmett laughed. you're the most repulsive monster of us all. They better answer the door…done with lies. her sweet scent filling my mouth… "Er. he thought desperately as another wave of hot." she said. "As far as Charlie knows. I watched her face. An angry haze flushed through Charlie's thoughts as he approached. "Oops. and she leaned into me. her lips separating slightly. He was so focused on Bella that her emotions were coursing right through him. I blinked with surprise and pulled away. "Positive. very tense." he said. Edward. glancing at Renesmee. Carlisle looked at Bella and then caught my eye. and I pushed it away with horror."Focus. Surprise filtered through his thoughts as he sensed Bella's anxiety slowly easing.
Perfect how she was… He looked back at Bella. chocolate smeared across her young mouth. "It's really me." he said. I think it is going to be okay. Oh. a young woman with a nervous face in her wedding dress. her differences and similarities even more startling at this close proximity." Jacob said from the corner. too. My family shifted. Dad. tense and ready. Bells. and he took a half step backwards with surprise. Bella. You. Impossible…how did this happen…should have protected her…failed. his eyes soon resting on Bella's face. Here goes. "Bella?" he asked. a sullen pre-teen with a fishing rod. firm presence quickly reminding me that." Bella cringed. thought Alice. who nodded slightly and stepped closer to Bella. anger temporarily eclipsing his thoughts. Bella remained frozen on the couch." she said softly. god. Bella smiled slightly. …really her? Charlie took a deep breath. her warm. Alice caught a new vision of Charlie walking across the room towards Bella. she thought. not breathing. His mind started shifting through a kaleidoscope of images of Bella…a wailing newborn in Renee's arms. I hugged Bella against me. as he came within a few feet of Bella. altered face and body in front of him belonged to the daughter he loved. The edge of his thoughts shifted slightly. Oops. her voice too loud again. far too loud for around humans. Forgot to tell her to tone down her voice! What was that…? Charlie's eyes scanned the room looking for the source of the unfamiliar voice. his eyes tightening as he remembered the last phone conversation. Bella. watching for any interference. Don't forget that. Charlie thought. He knocked firmly on the door. Jasper was radiating a subtle calm into the room. unreadable for a few seconds as his mind painfully comprehended that the unfamiliar. graduation day across the crowd. a toddler seated next to a Christmas tree. Then Bella's tear streaked face as we left for the honeymoon. "Yep.Carlisle's eyes moved to Jasper. …eyes wrong…so pale…different." Bella said softly. Always have. Bella?" he whispered. For Bella. Some nerve…hiding my daughter. fortunately for Charlie. "Hey. his daughter was in miraculous control of her nature. a flash of his wolf form running through his mind. seeing the familiarity in the expression. Dad. Alice's vision traced his movement. I needed to remain confident in that. Charlie's thoughts contorted. Who is that one…haven't seen before…oh. always one step ahead. Failed her. Emmett watched and then shifted his position so that he would be in the path of Bella and the door. "Carlisle. The last time he had seen her. when Esme had assured Charlie that Carlisle was in Atlanta with Bella and myself. "Where's Bella?" "Right here. Charlie looked back at Bella and began to slowly approach her. unblinking. Dad. …to think I wanted Bella with him…not human… I felt a flash of grim satisfaction at this thought. always will. Did this to her…no good…leave my daughter alone. Carlisle smoothed his features and then moved over to open the door. I love you forever." We all cringed as Bella's voice rang out. He stared. My daughter…no…my Bells…how…can't be… "Is that you." Annoyance shot through Charlie's mind. Charlie. her arms wrapped around him. Why? . Bella. to the role of the indignant. "Hello. "How're things?" Charlie started and then looked over at Jacob. Charlie's eyes moved to mine for a moment. "Hi. angry father. Charlie.
and realized she was about to draw a breath. and knew I would feel the same if it was her. and what would probably end up being the standard. "I thought you'd lost your family. and changed her." he snapped. But the courts located me when he and his wife died in a car accident. "Oh. In control. restraining as well as comforting. "Jacob was telling you the truth." he demanded. I heard the air flow down her throat as her shoulders and chest raised slightly. Alice was concentrating hard. and protect. Alice said. Bust as she grew. Jasper inched closer. Jasper stiffened behind us. shock registering. "Are you okay. Truth…why hear it from Jacob…how many lies? "That makes one of you. Many years of lying had taught me the closer the lie was to the truth. "Healthy as a horse. admitting at least a blood relation between Renesmee and myself. Jasper relaxed slightly. trying to see around Renesmee's blur at the immediate future. "My niece. endangered her." Charlie's voice was questioning. while we waited for the true measure of her response." I said. and accepted his anger. She's got this. and I knew she was out of air. seeing a fairly clear vision of Charlie accept my version of the truth. Truly. Warm. Total control. I think. hating the position she had been put in. pulling in Charlie's scent. She's burning…burning badly." True. son." he said. Better to start with the story Jacob had given him. and we were both eternally bound by the paternal instinct to nurture. I felt Bella press against me. I think she stays on the couch. He looked back at Bella. and Bella and I remained young. …or more lies… "I lost my parents." Bella said. His fault…why…been another way…his fault. I understood." He noted the similarity of hair color between Nessie and me. …can take her away right now if she wants… "Really and truly great.we were both fathers. thought Carlisle. He'll believe it. ." Her shoulders tightened. thought Jasper suddenly. I had taken his daughter. Renesmee was beginning to inhale deeply. at least for today. realizing Charlie's scent was not lined with the less appealing smell of the wolves. I tightened my grip around her shoulders. and Charlie's eyes were drawn to her. She was comparing it to Jacob's. adopted would be the cover story. The orphan Jacob said you're adopting. like me. she thought. I realized suddenly that Charlie and I shared this now ."Sorry. Trying to explain that Bella had given birth would be too much." Bella said. his whole being having been concentrated of Bella. I never saw him after that. No one's moving. much as it was for my siblings. I realized suddenly it would be easier to stay as close to the truth as possible. the daughters we loved. The baby." Bella mumbled. more similar to the scent that came from her metal cup. Warm." Charlie growled. I saw Bella tighten her grip on Renesmee. and I closed my eyes for a brief moment. Opening my eyes." His eyes flickered momentarily back to my face. I wanted nothing more right now than to claim my daughter as my own. leaving their only child without any other family. "This is her. He hadn't even truly realized her presence yet. and despising that she had to experience pain. "Jake told me this was…necessary." Well done. I hugged her tightly to me. "That you were dying. the easier it was to keep up the deception. Sounds like a bad movie script. Rosalie rolled her eyes. public story we would used for Renesmee – adoption. The blood in the cup was always cold. I glanced at Renesmee. his fist opening and closing with anxiety. and suspicion entered his mind. "My older brother was adopted. After a couple of seconds. I don't see any struggles. Dad.
He hadn't seen her eyes yet. Charlie stiffened. her mind replaying my earlier words…he's going to make you thirsty. inhaling again. That changed everything. Warm. who shrugged. Too emotional. The eyes. You two are just getting started. dark hair in ribbons. Her decisions might be impetuous. seeing those human features in her expression." Admirable. So pretty. smiling at my father. Alice's vision was still showing the edges of Bella sitting calmly on the couch. leaning slightly closer as if for a better look. a gasp leaving his lips. Maybe 4…6 months old? He remembered Bella at that age. "I guess that does sort of make me felt better. too. "She's…she's. …eyes…brown…familiar…too familiar. his scent even more potent when not mixed with Bella's. she's a beauty. well. "I want her." I said. Jacob fought back a smile. …grandfather…too young to be a father… He laughed once. and back at Renesmee. She quickly turned back away. Theirs… Bella's…impossible. "Need to know. Charlie. "You gonna make me a grandpa so young?" "Carlisle is a grandfather." Bella said sharply. but in his mind saw only her human face. I glanced pointedly at Alice. we don't. His mouthed soundlessly as he counted the months." Renesmee was still inhaling deeply. It's okay. sending a current of scent towards us." In the corner. wondering why I had ever imagined he would not see Bella in Renesmee. though. remembering my warning. Like her mother.Renesmee's face was buried in Bella's hair. He patted Charlie on the back. Ahh. wide brown eyes. "Well. Thirsty. Jake says you call her Nessie?" Bella stiffened." Jasper cringed. standing back up straight. I suppose. Charlie's eyes darted over to him. Oops. … young…to soon… "How do you feel about this? Maybe Carlisle and Esme could-" "She's mine. drawn instinctually toward the scent. "No. It seemed fine." . surprised. He looked at Bella's face." He exhaled. upping the calm a little. his warm breath on her tongue. "Her name is Renesmee. cut grass and fresh leaves combining with a warm. Look at those cheeks. he thought. And my own features. thought Charlie. Charlie looked at me. I had thought he would be too overwhelmed by the changes in Bella – I had totally underestimated him. away from Bella. "She sure is something to look at." I said. thought Renesmee. I watched as Charlie's mind filled with a vision of Bella in her wedding dress. She turned her head slightly towards Charlie. Close. Even if 3 months…4 months…been a few weeks…impossible. Charlie was uncertain. but still – she was young. But you mustn't bite him. "What else could we do?" I said to Charlie as I reached over and brushed Renesmee's lips with my finger." she snapped. Poor guy. I promise. He looked between Bella and me. as if he was trying to reassess. Eighteen years…too young… "Kind of a big responsibility. but she couldn't see Renesmee at all. My bad! She raised her eyebrows." "Yes. fit a pregnancy into her slim form. Charlie's heartbeat starting to thunder in her ears. Bella's hair falling away from her face. Striking. Jacob suddenly got up and walked over to Charlie." He looked back at Renesmee. enticing sanguine breeze. I felt like kicking myself. She leaned towards him. "Would you have refused her?" "Hmph. She glanced at me.
the public story is the one that counts. Jake?" he asked. Lies…right to my face." said Jacob. smiling. He remembered Jacob telling him Renesmee was special. "You might've given me some warning." Charlie said. we would need to leave now. And in protecting him. "How old is she?" "Um…" Bella faltered. my earlier words filling his ears. Jacob's wolf form flashing into his mind. "I could tell you all about it – Billy knows absolutely everything – but it involves a lot of stuff about werewo -" .. Charlie. thought Emmett. but usually people accepted a slightly younger age for us. I smiled.. acknowledge him. kid. her mind filled with Charlie. when Charlie spent more time with her." I said. bringing his warmth and scent even closer. Wait. We always started out younger than we were. "Well. but it would just be too dangerous for him if he inquired too deeply into our nature." A quick vision of Jacob phasing in the forest flashed into Charlie's mind.Right. we protected ourselves. yeah…for them. He swung at me. She's younger in some ways. looking at her smile. rather liking the idea. thought Charlie. It's to protect Bella and Renesmee as well as the rest of us. "How much does Billy know? Why are you here?" Should we tell him? An evil grin appeared on Emmett's face. "Told you she was special. Ugh. thought Nessie. but I'm done with the lies!" he growled. "Whoa. he would quickly realize her capabilities were far beyond a three month old. His eyes widened. She actually looked a bit older. Bella's child…special. He eyed Jacob for a moment. pulling her back. "Would it really have made this any easier?" she asked. Now he began to understand. my face confident in his memory. she's the size of a three-month-old. …why?… "Just what is your part in all this.. and her thirst. Although." I said. immediately. Just pretend this afternoon didn't happen. Totally busted. Not that any of us believed that Charlie would betray us. Jacob smiled proudly. looking at Bella. but you need to know the public story more than you need to know the truth." Jacob said. She reached out to touch him. wanting to show him his face in her thoughts. Charlie. didn't I?" He nudged Charlie with his elbow. "I'm sorry. putting as much distance between us before he could learn any more of the truth. It was the best way to protect him from the Volturi. Resentment swirled through his mind. c'mon. So many teeth. She reached another hand up to Bella's neck." he said. Maybe. and he cringed. "Rather. "I don't want to know everything. more or less. Can you go along with the lies for them?" I watched Charlie carefully for his reaction. "Three months. not about to go in that direction. if Charlie balked now at accepting the façade. and he took a step towards me. Or a three year old. although I had no plans to explain that to him. and his scent and warmth. If this had become too much. Bella wrapped her hand around her wrist." As if to prove my point. If the Volturi appeared to check on Bella. Adopted…my niece…died in a car accident. "If you're going to be part of this secret. Yeah. I'd love to see Charlie's reaction to the idea the Jacob worships his three month old granddaughter. He glared at me. Nessie waved at him. "I'm the same person I've always been. He knelt down in front of us.. It gave us more flexibility. "Oh. more mature in others. I looked at Charlie apologetically. He pulled his arm away. we could not risk being near Charlie if he might draw any of their suspicion. along with the rest of my family.
"Uhh…" "Forget it. rolling her eyes. "When he left. and then back to Rose. Charlie." Charlie said suddenly. He raised an eyebrow back. and his thoughts became slightly uncertain. I couldn't kick him out the back door and straight over the river." "Oh. forget it. Of course." he said. "Please. looking desperately at Carlisle. Carlisle and Esme moved over closer to Charlie's chair. Hello? Providing distraction here. and Bella growled softly under her breath. once Emmett got started on something. their arms around each other and their eyes on the game. Charlie. "Go Gators!" I turned and stared at him incredulously. "'Bout time somebody scored around here. I rubbed her arm in sympathy. Rosalie sat down on the other side of Bella. He turned and stared pointedly at Bella. Charlie's gaze wandered over to them. was that related to all this…stuff? We're you really in California? I always thought…. after sending Jacob retreating back to the wall with a stern gaze. we're really married. "I think they don't have what it takes to go all the way. as I'd like to. and they'll be able to stay. inhaling deeply. "And you two are really brother and sister?" Rose opened and closed her mouth a couple times." …like to forget… Charlie mumbled something under his breath." Bella groaned. Unfortunately. Don't want to know! "Never mind. And then some." He looked back at the television. He sat down like he was exhausted. Alice." Bella's eyes narrowed furiously. Because now you know. "Just scored the first touchdown. "I don't want to know. and then you disappeared. glaring between Bella and me." He winked." she said." Emmett replied." "Dad. laughing quietly. it was next to impossible to stop him until he'd completely worn the joke out." Emmett bellowed from across the room. Football – now that's something I can believe in. It was silent for a few seconds. What are you gonna do about it? Charlie stood up. had moved behind the couch to stand with Jazz. walking in a wide circle around Jacob. "Sorry." . "Just try not to believe anything you see." "Everything's going to be great." He looked to the side. and moved towards the open chair. covering his ears. And with Charlie here." he said. I don't know. holding his hand. "Right. She reached out and touched Charlie's shoulder gently. "Woo. He looked suggestively at Bella. and the atmosphere relaxed when he suddenly whirled towards us again. "I think Ohio State is showing good promise. I wonder…how far it goes… "You two are really married." "Who do you like this year?" Emmett asked. Carlisle and Esme glanced at him in surprise. "I guess we should see if they can hold on to the lead. at Rose next to Bella. and then Jasper behind her. smiling. but his grin just grew wider. smiling at Nessie. You're welcome! "Florida winning?" Charlie asked."Ungh!" Charlie interrupted. I glared at him warningly. "Yes. and then Esme smiled warmly. right?" he asked suddenly." Jacob said. "Well." said Emmett loudly. His wary eyes followed her movement. That's all ancient history.
at the entrance under the stairs. He was unable to avoid noting the similar tone of my family's skin. "Still got your shirt on. "Whoa. the heavier his scent had become in the air. too long trained to notice and record the details of his surroundings. despite his reassurances otherwise. Come and see me in the kitchen. He also still harbored a suspicion that Bella might be able to turn into an animal like Jacob." Bella stared pointedly at the TV. I got up and headed towards the kitchen. He had watched with carefully concealed interest as a rather panicked looking Bella had passed on increasingly squirmy Renesmee off to Rose to be fed in the kitchen. As I turned back. Chapter 28—Balance Edward. in some cases." Charlie mumbled. When Bella's hands moved too quickly as she talked or her voice rose too loud. He turned to look at my wife." Charlie said."Right. She gave me a strained smile. he tried to look away. distracted. In spite of his desire not to know more. including Bella. Nessie was asleep now. His eyes glittered. He looked away quickly. contented and back in Bella's arms." Emmett said. Bella?" I sighed. "Forget I said anything. taking in our obvious. Charlie was just not capable of turning off his policeman's brain. I rolled my eyes and then nodded. Jasper caught my eye." Emmett said. he had chided himself. I caught Charlie watching us. and had spent some time trying to decide what kind of animal it might be.but Bella should have been going out of her mind with thirst by now. Not to me. but later would notice Alice flitting across the room with similar speed. The longer Charlie had remained in the room. I sighed quietly. right. his mind distracted and confused. Even with Emmett's nearly constant sports commentary. turning away. she thought. he thought. until he got frustrated with his own thoughts. and numerous jokes and jabs at Bella's expense. She was obviously trying to hide some secret from me. and then suddenly was singing the Star Spangled Banner in her head. . attempting to ignore this latest comment. and I think it's a crucial position to shore up the defense. It was going to be a long afternoon. "And what's your favorite position. "What are your thoughts on the draft for the Seahawks this year?" "I hope they can grab a cornerback." "Hey Charlie. She's doing great. "They are sorely lacking. The second college football game was coming to a close. You don't want to know. We could handle it easily . Charlie glanced at Bella blankly. looking casual but ever vigilant. She was practically humming with excitement. I bet a lot of people lost their shirts betting on that one." "Great point. if they don't pick up one in free agency. I glanced up to see Alice standing at the back of the room. …don't get it… I leaned over and kissed her cheek. Charlie had been quiet and thoughtful most of the day. silent exchange. Bella? I bet you keep it all on. Keeping our subtle or less than subtle." Emmett said loudly. with a resounding loss for the University of Tennessee. differences from Charlie had been harder than expected over the course of the long afternoon. He was leaning against the wall. Except that she wasn't.
Looking for food. Neither would Bella. I glanced down at the folded object in Esme's arms and cocked my head questioningly. dear. the room needs some serious redecorating. Studying them. "For Renesmee's new crib. who had something clutched in her arms and was absolutely glowing. I caught Esme's eye. They were delicately decorated with pure white clouds. She can sleep with you in the cottage tonight! I paused with surprise. Esme and I will go and get things all set up right now. "What are those?" he asked. "Well?" We're going to set up Nessie's crib! Alice danced around in a little circle. Of course. There just won't be enough room in your closet. "I'll meet you in the garage. Where did you set it up? The office? His mind briefly filled with a vision of himself sitting in Carlisle's office. Sheets for the crib. finding Jacob behind us." she said kindly. and she nodded. I sighed. sky blue. and then felt deep warmth spread through my chest at the thought of bringing my daughter to our home to sleep in her own bed. "What a surprise. Alice read my expression. Don't tell Bella yet! I nodded and she disappeared. The wrought iron crib they had purchased a couple days ago had been stored out there. but a soft. you know…" He gestured towards the refrigerator. looking at both of them. He flushed." "Oh. The crib had been one of Alice and Rose's purchases when they had gone out shopping for clothes for Nessie." I muttered. Her soft eyes rose up to meet mine. and she bounced up and kissed me on the cheek. I reached out and traced the edges of one with my finger. unable to contain her excitement.I shook my head at him to indicate my ever increasing amazement. Esme had originally hoped to shop for an antique wooden cradle. patiently watching a sleeping Renesmee through the bars of a crib. Esme thought. She was not going to like that idea. Jacob glanced down at the sheets in her arms. I raised my eyebrows and glanced at Esme. She smiled. so we might have to add another closet. We'll be back shortly." I murmured. glancing at Esme." Esme said quietly. unaware of Alice's thoughts. "I was just. Alice was in there with Esme. I was surprised to find they were not the familiar pink. "Thank you. I held my finger to lip. but within the first day it had become obvious Renesmee would need something sturdier. Esme nodded and Alice turned to glare at me. She quickly sketched in her mind an additional closet that rivaled even the one off our bedroom." he said in surprise. We turned. realizing a turning point was coming that Jacob did not yet see. and she reached out and touched my cheek. I smiled at them. and then headed into the kitchen. ." he said." she whispered. There was an uncomfortable cough from the doorway behind us. "Secret. "An angel should sleep in the clouds. "Sorry. Suppose she needs one. We really thought you'd like to keep her with you. Alice was bouncing up and down on her toes and quietly clapping her hands. He looked behind me out into the hall. "Eat whatever you want. Alice touched Esme's arm." I mouthed. who was smiling warmly. Guess she can't sleep in our arms forever. and we have to figure out where to put Nessie's clothes.
I checked on Bella through Jasper's eyes, finding her distracted, discussing Renee's newest hobby, jewelry making, with Charlie. Charlie, looking embarrassed, was telling her Renee had sent samples of her new creations to the female Cullens. I turned to Jacob. "The crib will go in the cottage, Jacob," I said in a low voice. "Nessie will sleep there, with Bella and me. Her parents." He blinked a couple times, and I watched as the reality of my words sunk in, his shoulders lowering slightly as some of the life drained out of his face. Damn. We had been ensconced in a surreal state since Renesmee's birth. As I had been suspended in time, waiting for Bella to wake, and we had all faced so much unknown, circumstances had allowed Jacob to spend almost every moment in Nessie's presence. I could see that he had known it would end, eventually, that things would have to change. But now he felt the pain of letting go. The last few days had been a blur for him, and yet were the most extraordinary of his life, because of Nessie. And he didn't know, yet, how to be away from her. "Maybe it's time you went home, Jacob," I said gently. He stiffened immediately. Are you saying you want me out of here? Panic laced his thoughts, and a defensive anger brimmed to the surface. I felt a rush of familiar irritation. Why does he always have to be so defensive? I took a calming breath, not intending to get in an argument. "No, Jacob," I whispered. "It's just…my family. Bella, Nessie and I – we've had a rough start. We need some time together, just us." I sighed. "You can't be here all the time. There has to be…balance." I paused, feeling the weight, and truth, of my own words. It was time for us all to find balance. There had been imbalance between Bella and me since the day we met. Since the first moment I saw her. Physical hurtles creating impossible inequity. Inescapable emotional barriers created by discord over Bella's future, human or immortal. And Jacob had brought for a time a new imbalance into our relationship, creating a painful, unsteady asymmetry of three where there should have only been two. His life had also been out of focus, too long in love with one just beyond his grasp. And now – while I knew that Jacob felt his imprint on our daughter created a sort of symmetry, the nature of this powerful connection made him prone to extremes. As Bella and I finally found balance with each other, he needed to try as well. "You haven't seen your father since you left," I said softly. "And there is your pack's future to figure out, as well as Sam's." I sighed. "And school, Jacob. You're young. You need to think about your education." I grimaced at my own words, suddenly feeling like my father. School, Jacob grumbled internally as he looked away. I could see he had no immediate plans to return. But there was nothing I could do about that. I considered pointing out that the others who had imprinted in the pack went on, to a certain extent at least, with their normal lives. But perhaps it was too soon for that discussion. Finally he glanced back at me with a resigned expression. I know you and Bella need time alone with her, he thought. I want her to have a family. A miserable edge crept into his mind as he averted his gaze again. I only ever want her to be happy. That's all I want. I closed my eyes momentarily as the sympathy I didn't really want to feel began to seep in. Damn his sincerity. He did only want to make her happy. How could I pretend not to understand that? I took a deep breath, opening my eyes. "Having you around is one of the things that make her happy," I said softly. His eyes rose to mine, brightening slightly, and gratitude flashed across his face. "And I'm not telling you to leave. I'm just suggesting you remember the other things in your life. You are welcome here, anytime. In moderation." I stressed the last word, although I suspected his definition of moderation and mine were probably drastically different things. Jacob nodded slightly. Thanks, Edward. I appreciate that. Then he grinned. Guess you're not that bad for a bloodsucker.
I laughed once. "I'll take that." I reached out tentatively and grasped his shoulder briefly, before turning and heading back into the living room. The second game had officially ended, and sports commentary was beginning. Charlie was still settled in his chair. Talk about overstaying your welcome, Rose thought irritably. He's as bad as those wolves. I gave her a dark look, and her expression turned slightly chagrined. Sorry, but I'm so sick of football. I considered letting her know she was welcome to leave moved slowly through the sports show, and then the 5 o'clock news. Eventually Esme and Alice returned, slipping quietly into the room. Emmett inquired into Bella's preferences on bed style ("I bet you like something sturdy"), and even went as far as to ask Charlie if he had heard the sounds of two animals mating in the forest the night before. Finally, though, an uncomfortable silence settled over the room. Charlie was staring at Bella, going back over the time since she arrived to live with him, looking for the signs he had missed that she was getting involved in all this. Well, I'm starving. Seth stretched dramatically, and then stood up. "It's 5:30. You gonna stand Billy and my mom up, Charlie?" Jacob had quietly instructed Seth earlier to accompany Charlie to dinner at his mother's house. Seth also hadn't been home since leaving the pack. "C'mon. Bella and Nessie'll be here tomorrow. Let's get some grub, eh?" Anxiety mottled Charlie's thoughts at Seth's words, and he glanced nervously at Bella and Nessie, sitting next to him. …be here tomorrow… Jacob had told him earlier in the forest that our family had been planning to leave – would be forced to leave because of the secrets we held. He had stayed so long today partly because he was afraid to leave. Fearful that we wouldn't be here when he returned. Scared that Bella might change even more in his absence. Or find herself in more danger. Finally he took a deep breath and nodded, patting his stomach and standing up. My family rose with him. "Well," he said, turning to Carlisle. "Uh, thanks for the hospitality." He slowly held out his hand, and Carlisle reached out and grasped it, shaking firmly. Charlie made quick note of his icy skin, trying to recall if he had noticed it before during interactions with my father at the hospital. Then he nodded at Esme. "Good to see you again." She smiled back warmly and he met her eyes, a realization of their golden hue washing over him. …familiar… He looked at me, my eyes reflecting a similar color, and then slowly he took in my family around him, varying shades of the same golden amber. …idiot…never noticed before…how. His gaze rested on Bella …so different…such a strange brown…almost like… Emmett suddenly slapped Charlie on the shoulder, making him stumble forward a couple steps and earning a glare from everyone but me. I was glad for the interruption to Charlie's thought process. "Great watching the games with you, man." Ow, Charlie thought, smiling at Emmett weakly. "Yeah, thanks. Bye, everyone." He turned and faced me, his slightly cool eyes appraising. They flickered to Bella and Nessie at his side, and then back to me again. …can I trust him…keep them safe…I hope… "Edward," he said, inclining his head. "Thanks for coming by, Charlie," I said sincerely. "Your…visit…means a lot to Bella. And myself." Charlie's gaze softened slightly as love for his daughter, and new granddaughter, flushed into his mind. "Well, see you, guys," Seth said brightly. He tugged on Charlie's sleeve. Charlie glanced up at Seth. When did this kid grow so tall, he thought. "Yeah, I'm coming," he mumbled, watching Seth lope quickly out the outside. "I'll walk you out, Dad," Bella said. She moved with her father towards the door, Jasper and I trailing behind at a cautious distance. Charlie sighed as they reached the front porch, turning towards her. "I don't know how much we should tell Renee about this," he said. "I know," Bella said. "I don't want to freak her out. Better to protect her. This stuff isn't for the fainthearted."
Charlie cringed internally, wondering what else there was he didn't know. "I would have tried to protect you, too, if I'd known how," he said softly. …still will … His mouth twisted into a small smile. "But I guess you've never fit into the fainthearted category, have you?" Bella smiled, inhaling. Jasper and I tensed with her as she burned. Charlie frowned slightly. …what to tell Renee… "I'll think of something. We've got time to discuss this, right?" "Right," Bella said. But how much time… "Jake says you guys were going to take off on me," he murmured, hurt tingeing his thoughts. Bella looked apologetic. "I didn't want to do that if there was any way at all around it," she said softly. "That's why we're still here." "He said you'd stay for a while, but only if I'm tough enough, and if I can keep my mouth shut." "Yes…but…" Bella looked pained. "I can't promise that we'll never leave, Dad. It's pretty complicated." Curiosity flared for a moment in Charlie's mind, and then he pushed it away. "Need to know." "Right." "You'll visit, though, if you have to go?" "I promise, Dad. Now that you know just enough, I think this can work. I'll keep as close as you want." …always want you close, Bella. I realized Charlie was leaning in for an unexpected hug, and took an anxious step forward. Could Bella keep it together being pressed against him? Jasper circled around behind me to be in a closer position. Bella reached out an arm and wrapped it around his waist. "Keep real close, Bells," Charlie murmured. "Real close." "Love you, Dad," Bella whispered roughly. She was clenching her teeth. Then he pulled away and she straightened, in control. I couldn't believe she had touched a human, and still managed her instincts. She hadn't even fed today! When I thought of how his body must have felt under her newborn hands – soft and warm, coursing with blood just under the surface – she was just incredible. Jasper caught my eye, shrugging and backing away slowly. She doesn't need us. If she can do that, she's got this. I don't think I could have done that right now. I nodded, waiting another second before backing away, moving silently up to the piano. I looked around the room for a moment. The atmosphere had quickly rebounded, and it felt satisfying to see my family fall back into some of the normal patterns of existence that had too long been put on hold. Carlisle disappeared for a second, returning with a book on genetic research for himself, and Esme's sketch pad, which she hadn't picked up in days. Alice had drawn Jasper over to the stairs, where she caressed his head in her lap and tried to ease the tension of the day out of him. Rose had dragged Emmett over to build a card house with her, a passion carried over from her human life. Jacob, unbelievably, was in the kitchen again. Looking down, I played a few notes lightly on the piano, remembering the tune I had been thinking of for Nessie.
"Wow. Charlie felt a flash of surprise as Renesmee's weight moved into his arms. …my granddaughter…hope they're safe… "Can I come back tomorrow?" he asked suddenly. rubbing his hands together. just the slightest flush on her cheeks." Charlie went on." Relief painted her voice. I was thinking of something light and playful. "She'll need to be tough." Emmett called out." I said in her ear. "Oooo. Keep an eye on things. giving them privacy for final good-byes." I tried to concentrate on my song. We'll be here. including you. who squirmed and then inhaled. kid. again reminded of Bella at this age. I got up and moved swiftly across the room. examining Nessie. watching him go." He rocked her slightly. she'd probably reached it a long time ago but couldn't do anything with Charlie here. Bella hissed loudly. showing his face. I did it. her mind immersed in colors and starry images of loved ones." he murmured gently. calming slightly. I heard Charlie's steps on the front stairs. "Sturdy is good." "You'd better be.Charlie was admiring Renesmee. Sorry." And she always accused me of being good at everything. She touched Bella's cheek. Rose laughed next to him. "Edward. All that worrying over being a newborn. continuing to play quietly." Emmett grinned." Bella's head whipped in the direction of his voice and she growled. …like an angel… "Prettiest baby I ever saw. "Do I ever get to hold her?" Bella stiffened slightly. Jasper raised his eyebrows. Actually. Seems like yesterday. Behind her. "You took the words right out of my mouth. Bella carefully passed the baby to Charlie. "I'm not even sure she's really a vampire." I said. trying to decide on a key. surrounded by all this craziness. I gave her a few moments with her thoughts. Do I have to stop her if she attacks him? I hope not. Her instinct to use scent before sight. much as my kind did. waking Nessie. searching for Charlie's scent. "Sure. Of course. "She's…sturdy. Nessie's curls swayed slightly against her fair skin. Please. "Charlie will be back tomorrow." Bella grinned. I ran through a couple of arpeggios. scary. "She's too tame. and then you skip it altogether. "Excellent. kissing her neck. wrapping my arms around her waist. "You did. ." Charlie leaned closer to Renesmee. eyes flashing angry red. She stood there long after he had driven out the drive and onto the freeway." Emmett mocked." Bella finally whispered. "You were unbelievable. It seemed she'd reached the end of her rope with Emmett. but I knew she was deeply asleep. "I know it is. and I glanced over to see Bella standing in the doorway." Bella said. but it's true. Bella growled angrily. She smells good… "Pretty baby. breaking her reverie." Bella looked surprised. Dad. let alone a newborn. surprised me. I'm shaking here.
Rather than trying to keep Bella calm. Don't get him started. I could see the doubt in her eyes that her strength could possibly match Emmett's. and folded her soft body into my arms. "Really?" Bella asked. Hope you don't mind your woman getting her ass kicked. "What?" he growled." I said."Do me a favor and challenge him to an arm-wrestling match." I had said. he was intentionally antagonizing her – had been all day. "It's a little dense. Bring it. putting her hands on her hips. It would be a good experience for him. She glanced at me in confusion. "Awesome. she would exceed it. I recalled suddenly a conversation I had had with Bella a few months back. her eyes brightened. Now. except for the ones he had torn to pieces last spring. my brother. taking a deep breath and turning to Emmett." Excellent. regarding how strong she would be as a newborn. What's so funny? Emmett glared at Alice for a moment. "As strong as Emmett?" Bella had asked. "Please!" Strongest my ass! "Bella. I smiled – forget match it. I asked you to do me a favor once you were immortal?" Bella face clouded for a moment.Emmett was such an idiot. wondering how Emmett would handle not being the strongest one of us for once. Emmett. The girl's not fool enough to take me on. Teach him a lesson. "Yes." Rosalie stood up quickly next to him. a stunned look on his face. Carlisle and Esme watched. Jasper. She burst out laughing. "Oh!" she gasped. as Jacob appeared from the kitchen. don't you think. "Trust me. biting her lip. "Emmett. She would need her hands free. "What do you mean?" Emmett asked suspiciously. Then. Emmett grinned widely. letting her know I had a plan. looking slightly perplexed. Arm-wrestling. And clearly Emmett was having difficulty recalling his own newborn days. Edward! I ignored her." Yes! Alice cheered mentally as she saw a vision of Bella and Emmett arm wrestling at the table." Emmett laughed loudly once. when we all had to walk on eggshells for a year to keep him from blowing up and destroying the house. and I winked. "You. reaching out to take Renesmee from Bella. Bella's eyes flashed. suddenly. and then looked back at me. Me. how do you feel about a bet?" Sweet! Few things made Emmett happier than a bet. Despite his bravado. but clearly loud enough for Emmett to hear. and she stiffened. I knew just how to get a rise out of him. He jumped up. "Not brilliant. "Unless you're too afraid…?" Emmett taunted." She nodded. to antagonize the strongest vampire in the house. pointing a finger at him. I slid my hands under Nessie." I said softly. . clearly showing Bella easily slamming Emmett's hand into the table. Alice's vision shifted. But Bella was no brainless. blood crazed creature. Bella was looking nervous again. Emmett actually had no direct experience with trying to handle a newborn. Dining room table. and his eyes met mine for a second. "Do you remember a few months ago. as she struggled to sift through human memories.
surveying her vision. replaying the exchange in my mind." Here we go. Emmett. His eyes glittered with anticipation at Bella. Renesmee placed her hand on my face." Esme's eyes widened in realization." Emmett looked at her appraisingly." she growled. You can do this! Suddenly. It's an antique. Alice's vision moved to the large boulder behind the garage. His grin grew as Bella froze in dismay. confused and questioning "You'll see in a minute. Oh my. "Deal. "One. "You gonna back down so easy. little sister?" Emmett widened his eyes innocently. She laughed in delight. Bella paused a couple feet away. Nothing. exchanging a smile with Jasper. What the hell! No God damn way I'm losing this. this is so much fun! Alice thought delightedly. which showed Esme's much-loved dining room table smashed to splinters." And you ain't seen nothing yet. "I win. and kissed the top of her head. he thought. "I think Esme is fairly fond of that table. Her eyes flickered for a moment between Emmett's unnaturally bulging biceps to her own arms. sighing quietly. and it's going to get a lot worse. Damn. He was well aware of Emmett's strength from our battle with the newborns. and I didn't think she was even applying any pressure. squeezing it. no innuendos – no nothing. her face serious. is there? I bet that cottage doesn't have a scratch. and she ground her teeth. and he shifted so that he could bear even more force down on Bella's arm. Bella's was staring at her arm and Emmett's with a slightly surprised expression. pushing Emmett's arm back an inch. He waved at her to come closer. "Right this way. "Thanks. Her muscles were relaxed. Come on. "No problem. His face creased under the strain." she mouthed silently at Alice. What the… Emmett's face twisted in confusion and shock. Prepare for defeat. "Not much wild about you. Did Edward tell you how many houses Rose and I smashed?" And ten times as many beds. Esme will kill us! "Er. I win. She is not stronger than me. and yet there was no movement of Bella's hand. I took Bella's hand. looking uncertain. No allusions." she said." Emmett said. But her hand didn't move. I felt a slight pang of anxiety as Emmett shoved against Bella's hand with all his strength." Emmett turned and headed out the back. I relaxed. and we followed with the rest of the family. She pressed into me. God dammit. as she temporarily lost the vision. . pleased. two-" "Three. Bella smoothed her expression and bent her arm against the boulder. placing his elbow against the granite surface. He found it almost impossible to equate Bella's physical power with the girl he had known.Alice shifted nervously." I whispered. Bella's eyes narrowed to crimson slits. Then her eyes narrowed and her muscles twitched slightly. smiling. She grabbed his hand. kid. Bella. Emmett reached the stone and bent his arm. Oh. not even Rose. No! Emmett snarled in fury and frustration. and you cannot say one more word about my sex life to anyone. wanting to take her down quickly. with even Jacob trailing along. Bella. Five more seconds before she puts him in his place! Jacob was watching open-mouthed. "Okay. Bella. Alice pleaded.
One flew past Jacob's head and he ducked. I looked at her in amazement as this new sound left her lips.to see laughter."Just keep your mouth shut. Oh. but a high. clearly reveling in the abandon of letting her strength flow through her limbs. he thought. Edward. and then grinned. Rose and Em had stopped to watch." Bella blinked innocently. "Tomorrow. as she stomped and kicked and punched. Show-off." Bella said sweetly. thought Rosalie in irritation. somersaulted twice in the air and came down. Further up the lawn. You go girl! This is bullshit! Emmett launched the rock off his foot and across the river. You tricked me! I couldn't hold back my laughter at this. This was all I had ever wanted for Bella . grating noise and I turned quickly to see Bella pulverizing a handful of rock with a delighted look on her face. Nice. her eyes wide. She turned and glared at me. "Did she just laugh?" she asked. and happiness in her face. "It's not going to wear off that fast. "Rematch. smashing the few remaining bits of rock to dust under her feet. grinning. Bella began to giggle. almost adult peal of laughter that echoed softly around us. and then suddenly she laughed. . Bella suddenly jumped. "Hey. Not the bubbly giggles of infanthood we had heard from her before. Seeing her joy in this moment was a balm for many agonizing moments of indecision and apprehension. Funny. She was a sleek and graceful vision of destruction. where it smashed through one tree before knocking down two others. Thanks for nothing. I had a feeling he'd be happy soon enough. pressing my face into Renesmee's hair to try to muffle the sound. clear. smashing it into a dozen small pieces. Dammit! I choked back laughter. and the rock fell apart in two pieces. There was a sharp crack. Renesmee squirmed in my arms. delight. before charging back towards the house. and I quickly got out of her mind as she began to formulate plans to help him feel better. There was sudden silence. slamming into Emmett's foot. her laughter elated. and I drank her in. I only ever want her to be happy. and she smashed Emmett's hand into the rock. big brother. clapping her hands. creating a spray of crushed rock." she said. real mature. "Cool. There was a loud. baby. A fissure opened under their hands. Now she's really lost it. Emmett grumbled. It was a fluke! I wasn't ready. Emmett whirled on Bella. "Maybe you ought to give it a month. although I had often not known how to create it. punching the boulder. chuckling. Nessie drew in a quick breath of surprise. Tomorrow. splintering it into several pieces." she said quietly. He turned to glare at me. pulling back her arm and punching one of the halves. In your dreams. hate me for making her a monster like myself." he snarled. Mommy. Now I have to listen to him sulk all night! She stalked away after Emmett. I watched with pleasure as exhilaration filled Bella's face. and I glanced up to see Bella staring." Emmett growled. He looked down with furious surprise. whatever makes you happy. smiling and nodding. So long I had feared Bella would hate me if she ever became one of us. chortling quietly. Nessie's hand shot up to my neck and she replayed Emmett's outburst several times with a mixture of confusion and amusement. I remembered Jacob's words from earlier. Alice jumped up and down. Esme looked at the downed trees unhappily while Carlisle patted her arm. thought Jasper. and a portion of the rock fell off. and then whirled in a blinding circle and smashed the rock with the side of her other hand." Emmett turned. She spun again and kicked at the other half.
Standing next to him. Nessie touched Bella's face. I glanced up to see the sun move out of the clouds." Jacob said. flitting over and taking her from my arms. "You're the prettiest. he reached out from behind me and touched Nessie's arm. almost instinctively. I grinned. I had seen the skin of my kind in the light of the sun countless times before. dog. a thousand diamond sunsets. its rays slicing through the brilliant red-orange sky of sunset. Nessie held up the stone to Bella. Ugh. Everything was new. heat bathed over me. but fell silent. taking the stone between her thumb and forefinger and pressing it into sand." I said. seen my own skin reflect in the golden rays. Married and a mom and all that. her face creasing with exertion. Jacob held up his hand as if to ward off the glow." "Am I funny?" Bella smiled brightly at Nessie. merely holding my eyes. giving me a light punch in the shoulder. Too weird." I said. Bella turned to me as if to speak. "That's different. and an acknowledgement and yet question of the contrast. I let the crystal beauty of her skin blind me with pleasure for a moment. Jasper had been enjoying the flow of emotions coming from Bella. pleased to see him so happy. happiness and pleasure. remember? He smiled. already cataloguing other substances he would present her with to see how her strength compared with ours. slightly insistent. "I'll get it. and more intense. and everyone smiled. replaying the scene of Bella pulverizing the stone several times. her message clear." Bella said reassuringly. Fascinating. raising my eyebrows. "Do you want to try?" Carlisle stepped forward slightly. She opened her hand – she had ground the rock down slightly but it was still intact. smiling. As advanced as she was. interested in this test of Nessie's strength.he thought with a contented smile. Alice squeezed him around the waist with her small arm. "Tell me you didn't let go a bit on your first run. Carlisle thought. Bella glittered. Nessie smiled. smiling. "What does she want?" Bella asked anxiously. as I realized that the differences between herself and her parents were beginning to quickly gather in Nessie's mind. "Freaky Bella. There was something of an envious edge to the thought. filling her mind with a comparative vision of her slightly luminescent skin against Bella's brilliance. "I'm not sure I can agree to that. innocent joy. Hey. More. laughing loudly again. Their beauty was of equal miracle. teeth bright. absorbing her pure. Considering the production you were putting on! Like he doesn't understand the thrill of new power. I felt a flash of worry. Ahh. irreplaceable human traits belonged to a part of her mother she had only known in the womb. and more beautiful with her. Now. I moved my eyes down slowly to the vision beside me. and squeezed the rock in her small palm. I'm just a kid. She was having almost as much fun watching you enjoy yourself as I was." . His mind did a quick calculation of the pressure per centimeter necessary to crush the stone." I murmured. iridescent loveliness of every discernable color. But with Bella. it was different somehow." she said."Yes. Nessie clapped her hands. She gave her a small slice of rock from her hand. "Who wasn't laughing?" Jake rolled his eyes. basking in the emotion. "Less dignity. Suddenly. "Bella's supposed to be a grown-up. Shouldn't there be more dignity?" Nessie touched my face. it might be a while before she grasped the idea that those precious.
"I'd really appreciate that. "See ya. "Hunting." he said with a forced casualness." he responded quickly. The rest of us leapt at random intervals. moving closer. Except Rose. "Let's all go together. "We can't bring Renesmee. I bent close to her ear." she said." Jacob. "Come on. ran up the slope and disappeared around the house." He frowned suddenly. "Well. time to shut up." He took her hand from his neck and gave it a squeeze before letting it go. Esme stepped forward. he thought looking at me. she thought with affection. "But I'll be back in a few hours." He grinned at Bella. kicking at the ground nervously. . "Please." Bella frowned. she thought. "Time to hunt again?" I asked in a quiet voice. a desperate tone creeping into his voice. Jasper was particularly anxious to hunt after a long day bathed in Charlie's scent. thinking he probably should have warned Billy and Sue in advance that Charlie was now in on the secret. Swing by the Clearwater's and make sure Charlie is doing all right. "You lost that bet! No more comments!" Rose came up behind him. filling his mind with a memory of walking along the river with him. Off to the side in the forest." Bella glanced at me and I nodded. nothing but a soft brush of air as we landed. Then he turned his eyes to Nessie. "Goodnight. He leaned forward and she touched his neck. She handed Nessie to Esme." We all turned and ran. I could hear a shriek of delight from Nessie. her crimson eyes reflecting the shimmering colors with a dozen facets of red. her voice slightly panicky as she clutched the baby to her. you kids go and have fun. flashing brilliant teeth. "Maybe it will finally bring out the animal in you. his focus on Bella as he felt a sudden burn of thirst. smiling." Bella said earnestly. there was a snap of branches and a flash of fur – Leah moving to meet him. Jasper suddenly shifted next to me. "I promise. Bella quickly pulling in front. She's gorgeous. and she held out a small hand towards him. flying across the lawn together. Behind us.Alice narrowed her eyes at him." I said softly in agreement. I'll run the woods." Her eyes were alight with the prospect of having Nessie to herself. "I think I'll take off for a while. "Ooh. Alice pulling Bella into a synchronized somersault halfway over." "Hey!" She punched his shoulder and he winced. Jake. smiling reassuringly. We all murmured goodbye." "Take care. I turned to see Bella touch her throat anxiously. They jumped the river together. We all watched in silence as Bella regarded her shining arms." he said. glancing at me." She grabbed his hand and pulled. Bella slowed and Alice grabbed her hand." Bella said. "Bye. "Yeah. "Tomorrow." He glanced around at my family. "What an amazing creature she is. He turned. Jacob. Ness." Alice clapped her hands. Finally. "Bye. Jacob moved. He smiled broadly at her. pleased. "Bella!" Alice called. Great idea. Everyone smiled at each other. Even Emmett brightened. Emmett. "Carlisle and I would be happy to stay with Renesmee." Carlisle said.
come on. Emmett jumped down from the rock next to me. Something Carlisle had always schooled us on was that one of the keys to successful. Bella broke out in front again. I grabbed Bella suddenly to kiss her. I was not the tag along with the two couples on this hunting trip. I was not on the outside. of course.I reclaimed Bella's hand from Alice and we ran together for a few moments. I had. babe – you know you love it. Surprised. Bella. learned to show all of my true self to Bella long ago. and scrambled up to the top of the rock. She shrieked. I realized she'd never truly seen my brothers and sisters in a totally relaxed. My wife. giving him a shove. even though they were mostly completely comfortable around Bella. "Wow. chasing Emmett up into the trees. Alice and Jasper disappeared somewhere off to the side together. and some surprise in her expression. despair. Too suddenly. burst out laughing. lifting her off her feet and biting her lightly on the neck. Feeling exhilarated. I was suddenly hit by the very boyish thrill that for once. her hands shot out defensively. under the advice of Carlisle. "Idiot. bending her over backwards and kissing her before throwing his head back and roaring. There was a moment of stunned silence as my siblings turned and stared." he choked out. most importantly." He slapped her on the bottom. Em. Bella was watching my siblings with interest. "That was awesome." ." she said. emotional moderation. Our dangerous. I had my own mate with me. Bella appeared like an arrow in front of me. excitement. Finally. But soon she pulled away. which Bella looked at in horror for a second before turning back to me. "Edward. and I ran beside her before catching her hand and pulling her gently to a stop as the large stone rose out of forest before us. I had too. Then Emmett burst out behind them. "Where are we going?" she asked." Rose scoffed." He held up his hand. "Oh. kicking wildly. who had now slung Alice over his shoulder while she giggled and beat him on the back. "You'll see. He grabbed Rose. Jasper grabbed Alice around the waist. some twenty feet above. "High five. hitting my chest and sending me flying several feet backwards where I landed hard in a sitting position on the ground. safe interaction with humans was physical and. Everyone was automatically heading towards a large boulder at the foot of the hills we called "The Rock" – our normal launching off spot for any group hunt. Glancing at Bella." She straightened. he's fine. carefree form. This ability to finally let go and be himself around Bella was particularly freeing for Jasper. but it could also be triggered by any extreme emotion: anger. Hear me roar!" he bellowed. while Rose stayed out in front. where they taunted each other. I was not alone. except Bella. "Get off me. Bella. "I am vampire. I…" "Oh. and then everyone around me. her eyes bright with excitement." Alice and Jasper were laughing. trying to haul me up. I thought with giddy satisfaction. But my siblings. leaving bent and trampled branches in his wake. Rose appeared out of the forest. "Stop acting like an animal. "See if you can do it again. running past us and climbing straight up to the top of the rock. instinctive nature was provoked by scent and thirst. had remained somewhat restrained in her presence. Emmett was murmuring quietly into Rose's ear above us. Alice and Jasper slipped through the trees. pausing by us." I grinned. looking up." Emmett said. launching branches to try to knock the other down. howling with laughter. He grabbed me under the shoulders.
" Bella twisted in my arms to glare at him." complained Alice. She still looked stunned. He preferred to feed on his own. Bella. Jasper was just inside the borders of the forest. It's been a long time coming. an elk in either hand." Jasper said." she said in a warning voice." We took off in a group again. I reached out. Now. laughing lightly. One already lay dead beside her. I whipped my head around just as he launched an elk right at me. "Emmett." She huffed and crossed her arms." I said." Seeing his thoughts. Alice reached out a hand and pulled Bella to her feet." Bella whispered. but…" she stammered. trying to cover my embarrassment. catch. and smiled. draining it quickly and then jogged over to her." I yelled at Emmett." she muttered. "It's alright." Emmett said. She looked up at me from the now still elk. complaints. Watching them flee immediately triggered all of my instincts. "Perfectly clean again. draining his third carcass." Alice muttered. narrowing my vision as a rush of flames shot up my throat. and then shook her head and rolled her eyes. as always. "Last one in is a rotten egg!" And then he was flying over us. still laughing. slowly this time." "Yeah. "I am totally with you on that one." Jasper grinned. "I really wish they smelled better. Bella." "Well.I shook him off irritably and stood up by myself. landing in the middle of the herd and yelling "Boo!" The elk screamed with terror and scattered. let's hunt. Me. "Ugh. sweetheart. I went for a large buck when I heard Emmett yell "Edward. "Don't sweat it. I'm going to hold you to that! She caught a vision of a sullen Bella dressed in a gold sundress standing before her in the cottage closet. Bella." she said. I caught it easily. and her jeans were ripped. "You. Closet. out of sight. "And you're a perfect mess again. "I see you both enjoying it just fine. "Grow up. coming up behind us. searching for mountain lion. She was on the ground again. "Come on. Bella's face suddenly creased with worry. I whirled. but none were around. Bella caught a scent and we followed her to a large clearing filled with a herd of elk. gripping a struggling buck. That's better. Her thirst sated. the hot blood. . breaking its spine and emptying it in a moment. He grinned back. "Tomorrow." "Complaints. inexplicably and imperfectly cooling to my blazing throat. "None of us can ever get an upper hand on him. taking Bella in my arms. "I asked for it. We stood silently just within the trees together. Rose jumped down. Jasper and I scouted out to the sides." "Yes. "And who would have guessed that you like it rough. looking for Bella. shaking her head. "I want to get back to Renesmee." Emmett said from behind us." I said sternly." "Alice. I grabbed one more elk. Bella's white shirt was smeared with dirt and blood.
grabbing Rose's hand and taking off into the forest." Bella's face creased for a moment. She turned her head. when you were…sick. . I held out my hand to her. although at the time hopelessness had forsaken that a new day would ever arrive. I wish we could have visited the meadow again. "Will be fine with her grandparents for a little longer. "Do you remember. and then we started back towards home. There was so much I wanted to show her. And Rose will be home soon. Now. To do for her. Fantastic idea! Alice chimed in mentally from ahead of me. I smiled. suddenly excited. miraculously. "Shall we?" Chapter 29 —Absolution It was twilight when we entered the meadow. casting a gentle glow even in its physical absence. You have all of eternity. There was a spread of fall flowers."Of course. finally. seeing my plan. was no longer hanging over us. So many places I wanted to take her. I thought to myself. Another day." She looked startled. "Well. she had said. kissing her fingers. we'll go on ahead. During Bella's pregnancy." I said. She turned towards me. and there was so much I wanted to do with her. you wanted to visit the meadow again?" Her face clouded temporarily as she searched her thoughts. weaving in the circling air. Time." Alice said. I smiled wider. turning the tips of the longest grass a golden brown. I lifted Bella's hand. "Yes. Autumn had begun its descent. you fool. looking at me questioningly." she said tentatively. Don't worry. But now. I wished we had more time to go further into the mountains. Bella" Emmett said. spinning and heading into the forest. She paused. it had. the curse was lifted. "It was fun watching you finally get dirty. it's about three minutes from here. inching unstoppably towards seeming death. pulling her gently to a stop. time had been a black evil. "But Renesmee…" I reached out and touched her cheek. and then relaxed. I was reminded of one of Bella's wishes as she lay fading away. and happy anticipation danced in her eyes. "Bella. She tried to swing at him but he had already darted away." "I'll grab Jazz. love. staring in the direction of the house. The sun was below the horizon. Thinking of that dark time.
"So beautiful through these eyes. really. waiting. that she was yearning to remember at such an early point – I believed it would allow her to retain many more memories than she would have otherwise. as I always have. and despair was etched in the features of her face." I said. But this time. Here. eyes searing red with emotion. I paused at the edge of the grass. caressing the back of her hand with my thumb. Her gaze swept around the field one more time. shh." I gestured around the meadow in an arc with my other hand. an ache building within me at the sight of the anguish in her eyes. Her eyes moved restlessly. confused. In this place. remembering the first time we had entered this field together. and then suddenly her breath caught in her throat. There was just her. "Just you. ever overwhelmed by her beauty and her smile." I said quietly. and the air spun with drifting insects. turning from me and taking a step away. as she had that first time." "You will. and curious excitement. Just keep those memories alive in your mind. My breath caught as it had then. "This place. "You will remember. letting Bella walk ahead of me into the fading light. giving into the magnetic pull until my hand was clasped in hers. We all seemed to retain the events of our last few minutes of humanity. as most of my kind had no interest in looking back at their human life – it could be hard to extract our remembrances from the gray fog within which they had became encapsulated. Bella turned when she reached the middle of the meadow. as if taking in every detail. remember you here. Like everything else about her transition. there was no fear. "Bella. and I…I…" She turned back. riddled then with doubt and anxiety. impossible desire for her to stay with me. perhaps to pull me forward out of the past. and she shut her eyes with a small. confident. And so I strode quickly into the openness. older memory our mind chose to embrace. "What is it?" she asked. and even the odd. I promise. reaching my hand out as well. "Nothing." she said desperately. I won't let you lose . reaching out with a hand as if to beckon me. And her hand did not beckon but instead reached for mine. and questions. And the profound terror of what would happen if she didn't – if she ran. so bright and pretty. as if the heat of the setting sun had yet to leave its memory. "Bella!" I said in alarm. before concern seemed to flash across her face. this cognizance was unusual. looking around. nearly inaudible. keep bringing them back. we were too consumed by thirst when we first awoke to worry about the loss of our human past. of losing those memories." I murmured. For most of us. Edward. I could still taste the memory of my fear. I felt myself drawn back into the past. No insurmountable walls. The sting of the burning. And then when we finally comprehended what we had lost – if we did at all. The meadow still smelled of warmth and sunshine. it required vigilance and devotion to hold onto specific memories She shook her head. She shut her eyes again. lit her eyes. anguished cry. As if aware of my memories. eyes searching my face. but beyond that. "I want to remember this place. "I know." she whispered. a living ghost of the past. It's all so…so perfect. my apprehension of how she would react when she saw my inhuman skin in the sun. That everything will be replaced by these new images. But it was a blessing. She opened her eyes. "I can feel them slipping away. I never truly saw it before. "The time we spent here. but so…so different. and they will stay with you. reaching out and taking her hand. Bella. It all means so much to me.yellow willowherb and purple aster. As her form was embraced by the landscape." she said quietly. The first time I had hesitated just outside." I studied her. Her hair blew gently in the breeze. "What's wrong?" I gasped. I never want to forget. My human memories…" She stumbled over the word human. "I'm so scared. The beginning. "It's all so beautiful." Her voice was desperate.
I grinned. We were silent for a moment as she swept her hand over the top of the long grass. almost unconsciously. "Tell me more." She searched my eyes." This was not something I was particularly anxious to discuss. while I stroked her back. rolling onto her back as well. flooded through me. I hugged her. even with her now safe beside me. as always." I pulled her a couple feet into the center. familiar guilt. "Sit with me. smoothing my hand down again and again. I'll remember for both of us. well. rolling onto my back." I felt air pull sharply through my teeth as guilt. "Ah. "We'll never get back home if we start that. evolving blue-gray clouds with faint stars suspended between them. "Don't be. Bella pursed her lips. "More?" I questioned. Changing. It was as I deserved. pressing my face into her hair. and then lowered myself to the ground." she muttered. "I know. lost pain. . "Well. "You…you haven't forgotten. I wish you would.them. Everything. Her hand reached up and she ran her fingers through my hair. pulling back slightly. But I knew her curiosity would demand feeding. "Oh. "Oh." Her face darkened slightly." I pulled her to me. actually. my skin dancing with pleasure under her touch. Her hand lifted. almost lifeless body." Bella said. that's a time I'll be happy to forget. "Sorry. Then she pulled back abruptly. looking up at tableau of the darkening sky above me." she said wistfully. knowing that I would never forget." I laughed. putting my hands on her shoulders and lowering us until we were lying face to face in the bed of autumn grass. out of it." She nodded. She shivered slightly. eyes on the trees beyond the meadow." I leaned into her hand. "Yes. and then dropped her arm." Bella snorted. "You know." Her expression was still slightly clouded. pain lancing quickly through me. but she nodded and sat swiftly next to me. love. "I'm sure they'd eventually send out a search party. She smiled somewhat grimly. so I bent forward and kissed her gently. like she wanted to say something else. Bella lay against me for a long moment. forcing a smile. as if remembering a distant. Then she finally sighed. The thought of Bella's still." I froze. and she came easily. by abandoning her. She lifted a hand to touch my face. It doesn't matter now. "About when I was." I whispered. After you managed not to kill Jake for the imprint. her expression falling immediately. was agonizingly clear. I had caused the pain she was happy to forget." she murmured absently. Bella glanced at me." she gasped. "When you were…gone. her eyes far away. "I'm so sorry. allowing me to wrap myself around her. Every moment. and touched her chest. I came here once without you. Edward. inhaling her sweet scent. I'm sure Emmett would have a field day with that.
As I had faded with her." Her voice caught slightly. her brow furrowed as her other hand brushed over her stomach. She shrugged. Even you. She stared upward. How you kept going." Her hand tightened into a fist over her stomach. "Nothing will ever separate us again." I glanced at her sideways. still asking. "Oh. here she was." Bella said quietly." It was awful enough that those memories lay crystal clear on my consciousness – she did not need to be burdened with the memories."Well." Bella said after several seconds of running." She grinned. We stared at each other silently for a long minute. "No. So dark. "Then the others returned. gripping them tightly between us. And yet. Finally. she turned." she said. or describe aloud." I whispered. I cleaned you up a bit. I felt like I was losing everything. and she smiled up at the sky. "Speaking of…" I reached out and brushed a soft wisp of hair from her face. "You know what kept me going. "Renesmee. She kissed me hard and then hauled me up to my feet before I could protest." she growled. "Because watch out – you can't run and hide from me any more. "Bella. how I had felt as I watched Bella fading away from me. "It was dark for me. "But I remember I knew you wouldn't stop fighting to save me. "It was very dark. "I hate to leave her all night again. cringing internally. and then reemerging in a surge of conviction I would never let it happen. a smile lighting her eyes. together. and Carlisle checked your…your injuries. pulling me up with herself so that we faced each other on our knees. "I don't want to miss her." I said." ." She looked suddenly at me. Still smiling." I pulled my eyes from her. I thought of the incredible creature we had created. too. almost too hard. "You shouldn't dwell on those things. Her hands gripped the side of my head. cutting." I said. Not even death. watching her. her hand still on her stomach." I said anxiously. Finally. unspoken. "Forever. "Forever. "Time to go back?" She nodded." Forever. matching her fierceness. keeping just one of my hands and tugging me to a run into the forest. When I wasn't…I don't know how you did it. "I thought of her. Bella sighed." I said quietly. I rolled so that I faced her again." The memory of the sound of her spine snapping rung. I thought of Renesmee. "I don't remember a lot of it. So many times she had asked me for forever. "Never. and then suddenly grabbed my arm. and so many times I had wondered if she understood the enormity. Something sparked in her eyes. the magnitude. and her hands slid off my face and took my hands. The words hung. everyone. plunging momentarily into the cold oblivion of the thought of losing her. even with eternity now in her eyes and body. as if satisfied." She nodded her head. Alice helped. her voice fierce. in the end. of what she asked. through my mind. one who not only bound us to each other. but to the earth itself when we were threatened with a descent into endless darkness. "I hope she's still awake when we get there." The world grew very still for a moment. I didn't want to relive. too. Edward." Her face creased with worry." "Together. "Bella.
"You won't have to leave her. Edward. you deserve. and then she reached out with one hand and grasped my arm. I foresee more arm wrestling. swift beat of her heart. "Why am I not surprised? Enjoying the scenery too much to do anything else? If Rose and I had been alone in that meadow we would have…" "Emmett Cullen!" Bella shrieked. Finally. filled her head. asleep. But I had not truly faced the demons beneath. "Alice and Esme set up of the extra room in the cottage for her with a crib. glaring at Emmett as he held his arms up in a mock. I leaned over and kissed Bella's cheek. the draw and push of sweetscented blood through the delicate veins of her small body." I said." Ugh. Bella looked at me questioningly. she thought. I think she is only just lightly asleep. Esme's thoughts were in my bedroom. Alice was standing by the back door. the pain I had once caused her. defensive pose. We can bring her home with us. I could hear the steady. "Where's Renesmee?" Bella asked anxiously. sitting on the edge of the bed. Jasper slid out the door as I went inside. I laughed as we jumped the river and came up the lawn. Sorry. I'm so happy for you. Esme hovered. I glanced away quickly. I half expected Bella to want to hunt them – the scent was very strong – but her anxiety to get back to Nessie was stronger. Every happiness. I moved quickly through the front room and up both flights of stairs. hands on her hips. copper curls darker than the gold fabric beneath her." A smile flared on Bella's face. arms and legs splayed out around her body. She'll win. "Back so soon?" Emmett drawled. Esme and I leaned over her. Over the last couple of days I had been enamored by my immediate happiness. "That's it! I'm not leaving until we settle this. My mind flashed suddenly back to the moment in the meadow with Bella. sitting down on the bed on the other side of Nessie. I pulled her gently to a stop. I smiled. She glanced up as I came into the room. layers of guilt and regret. and the constant presence of my unchangeable mistakes." She didn't look at me as I left. swept up in the newfound joy of Bella's reawakening. I lifted my eyes and nodded. smiling. "Upstairs with Esme. beliefs so long or deeply held they had become part of the very fabric of who I was. pulling me towards the house. looking us up and down. I don't even know how to put it into words. I hope you know you deserve this. Renesmee was lying on her back on my bed. Images of Bella and Emmett. After several moments we passed close by a herd of elk. Esme looked up at me." Rose said. This was one reveal Alice would just have to miss. watching the rise and fall of her chest for several minutes. Alice thought. pleased I could put aside that worry for her. of course." she said anxiously. I'll make sure there isn't any permanent damage. I quietly pushed open the door.I smiled. Edward. I tried to keep her awake. Esme regarded me for a moment. Rosalie and Emmett emerged as we came close. arms clasped. You go to town on him. he thought. I can't believe you told her! Alice was shrill in my head as we approached the house. she thought fervently. "I'll get the baby. . "Let's go.
this fear became utter reality. everything that has passed. Everything you. deep at my core. have done." I stared. but you considered it weakness. "Don't you see. would destroy her. why don't you bring your daughter down to her mother. as I always had. her voice quiet but steady. and knew she saw into me. Standing up. Edward? You don't need to regret those things anymore. Always. I sighed." Her hand moved down to touch my shoulder. Be happy. running her fingers through my hair. Looking back up.I knew that. right or wrong. the cold. unable to speak. Carlisle appeared in the doorway of the bedroom. rapt. her gaze intense. the ones that brought us terrible pain and the ones that begot unsurpassed joy. gripping my hands tightly. and she took my hands in both of hers. a tragedy. For I had always thought. The journey Bella and I had taken. and Bella. To just let it all go. Esme squeezed my hands hard. It's time to let it go. a selfish act on my part. smiling down at us. Her hand shot up to my neck and her mind filled with the thought of Bella. Even before you met Bella. has guided you to her. into her ocher eyes. I stared at her silently." her hand moved to my cheek. I had not truly known at the time where the current was taking us. so that they were clasped over Nessie's sleeping form. and she never would have existed without our love. Neither Bella nor I would change any of the choices that led to her existence. You had what you wanted. and neither of you would dream of changing anything that led to her birth." I promised. She was proof that my loving Bella. all the decisions we had made." Esme leaned towards me. I knew Esme's words were true. "No more guilt. hugging her close." I smiled. Renesmee is your absolution. But with the birth of Renesmee. and move forward." she murmured. had never been a mistake. I love you. "And after she came into your life. to finally reach out and take it. carefully sliding my hands under Renesmee's sleeping form. "Edward. and so much pain for the ways you felt you hurt and endangered her. I'm sure Bella's anxious to see her. it was inexplicable." She took my face between her hands. Edward. I wrapped my arms around her. It's all we've ever wanted for you. had led to the creation of Renesmee. "I'll try. She is the meaning in this all. "We're going to see her right now. "Me." I whispered. and yet you despised yourself for it. I reached down. and feared. I cradled her to me. Esme reached up with one hand. I could see Bella standing against the far wall with Alice and Jasper. "Oh. As we came up to the banister. and becoming a part of her life. that the love I had for Bella was an aberration. You are absolved. I was blessed with my sudden fortune. "and so much worse. "Would you do anything that would take Renesmee away from this earth? Would you change one single thing that led to her being born?" I shook my head. Edward. hard truth of my monstrous nature. But as soon as I began to lift her eyes flew open. She pulled away. she thought. I remembered the day I had stood by the river. looking pleased with herself. smiling. I found Esme's eyes burning into mine. Emmett was sulking on the couch. Apparently Bella had challenged him to best out of ten arm wrestling. Selfish. watching the path of the water as death shadowed me. Edward. I still felt unworthy. ." she said. You finally tried to be happy. bending forward so that our foreheads met. "Now. Not deserving. and after losing six straight times he seemed considerably more subdued. "You always take so much on yourself. You carried so much guilt just for loving her." Esme and Carlisle followed me as we descended the stairs. And when I had impregnated her with what I had thought was certain death. that ultimately. you were so much better. too. and yet. She was a beautiful miracle. both alone and together. She was right. thinking how it was our many individual choices that ultimately determined the course of events. No more regrets. I could hear Bella and my siblings just coming into the house.
" She glanced uncomfortably in my direction. "I think she's fine." "She may be getting thirsty – I can feed her for you. "Of course." Her hand rose suddenly towards Nessie. less than an hour ago.I found that very hard to believe. But before she reached us. watching Rose's back. new and yet achingly familiar." I frowned. her body stiffening. and the despised relegation back to only being able to look in from the outside. "So soon?" she asked. Her eyes lifted just for a moment to look at Nessie before she turned away swiftly. Alice thought." Rose nodded stiffly. "I've just…I've just never gotten a chance to thank you." Rose blinked.I think she may have finally shut him up. before she muted it quickly. looking back up at Rose. As Rose's thoughts spun away from her. "Rosalie. Renesmee had filled a gaping hole in her. but she held up a hand to stop me. And Renesmee. "For what?" Bella laughed softly. and then back. "For what? For so much. "Do you understand how much it means to us how you've cared for our daughter the last few days? To have you provide Renesmee with such love and support while we weren't able to be with her. The last several days Rose had." Something flashed through Rose's eyes – panic. Rose appeared in front of me at the bottom of the stairs. Not mine." I said quietly. seeing pity in my expression. Stop looking at me like that. Emmett watched with concerned eyes from the couch. laying a hand against the glass. I followed her silently with Nessie. watching in surprise as Rosalie walked away without saying anything. And us." . Rose turned. Bella glanced up." Bella reached out and touched her arm. to start. slightly surprised." Bella said. She looked down as something twisted within her. as if to touch her. For supporting me. she growled internally. or emotion. I've got her. Rose strode over to the back windows. before dropping quickly by her side. Esme and Carlisle had fed her while we were gone. smiling at me. She tried to mask her thoughts from me. embarrassment flooding her mind. Rose. Judging from her thoughts. Rose. pain." Surprise flitted over Rose's face. Her eyes were troubled. I sighed internally. "No thanks. but knowing Rose as he did. I shook my head." I said gently. glancing down at Nessie. her features softening slightly. "Rose. been Nessie's primary caretaker. but yet at the same time fired life into desires Rose had worked long to suppress. "Do you want me to take her for a while?" she asked. I gave her a skeptical look . did not approach her. She hated to expose weakness. "Yes. Her eyes flickered to mine. trying to compose the pain off her face. I started to lift Nessie into Bella's arms. "Oh. I paused. essentially. and seeing us coming down the staircase moved swiftly across the room. She turned without speaking and walked over to where Rose stood. "We'll never be able to repay you for what you've done for her. Bella and I are going to take her back to the cottage now. Bella walked slowly up. "For taking care of me. I could see she feared the loss of what Nessie had brought so briefly into her existence. but as she dragged her eyes from Nessie one thought was torn from her mind. her hand still on Rosalie's arm. Besides." And now my services are no longer required.
Renesmee. "And so do we. and Rose bent forward." I repeated. so that she and Bella cradled her face together. We all could carry a flawless tune – a vampire gift. smiling down at her. wiggling her fingers. "Watch this." I moved her hand so it lay over mine. She looked up at me." I began to play a slow simple tune with our fingers." sang Alice from behind us. propping Nessie into a sitting position on my knee." Bella. Just as the darkness is closing down… Nessie breathed in. smiling up at her. Nessie filled her mind with the memory of Rose brushing her hair. laying a hand on my shoulder. "I can tell. She played again. cradled in my arms. she thought. past and present coming together. she thought. I sat down. Lightly holding my finger over hers. curling in all her fingers but her index. I glanced back over my shoulder. her eyes fascinated. simple wonder in her eyes. I had always suspected Alice had been blessed with perfect pitch as a human. feeling a swell of pride. Nessie lifted her hand. It always sails at the end of the day. and then reached out and took Bella's hand. "Middle C. "In the morning. But Alice's talent was so pure. "C." she said quietly." I said softly. C. This is the ferry for Shadowtown. I lifted our fingers and pressed the same note again. Bella's gentle breaths filling the quiet spaces around us. I sang in unison with her memory. too. and its clear tone sang. Although she could not remember. but I could tell she was pleased. "I promise. her small fingers the faintest rose blush against my white skin. Sway to and fro in the twilight gray. teeth sparkling. I need her. and her mind flooded with the memory the song – the soft sound of my voice first singing to her. Her voice was a perfect continuation of the tone. She's so lucky to have you in her life. Yeah. I pressed a key. I took her hand gently in mine. Nessie glanced up at me." "She needs you. The tone echoed in her memory. looking pleased. "Good girl. I suppose. "Come upstairs with me – I have a few of Nessie's things in my room. I wandered slowly off with Nessie. I inhaled." A smile played on the edges of Rose's lips. yeah. suddenly filled with the desire to share more of this part of me with her. and then back at the keyboard. She reached out and laid her hand over Nessie's other cheek." Nessie smiled. eventually moving across the room and up the step to my piano. I relaxed my grip on Nessie's hand." Rose said." I said. followed her." She moved her hand over and touched Nessie's cheek. ."You don't have to repay me. C. Bella smiled. more perfect than the expertly tuned piano. I smiled. "Renesmee loves you so much. and she pressed the key down herself. glancing at me. she thought. Rose straightened up. singing softly. "C.
Thanks. holding hands. he thought. adding dimension to the song." she said quietly." "That was beautiful. Emmett came up and put his arm around Rose. and the notes multiplied and grew. allowing the simple notes to continue uninterrupted. She inhaled. my hopes and intentions forming visions in her mind. I glanced up. her eyes nostalgic." Esme handed Nessie back to Bella. Esme inhaled. "Goodnight. but he shifted his gaze back at me as she rose. brushing Bella's cheek lightly.I'll hold her while you play. sweetheart." Bella and I turned. I tried to balance the melancholy tones this song brought from my past with the intense joy of the memory of singing it to my daughter for the first time. She drew her into her body. I glanced over to see her standing at the bottom of the stairs. Edward. Don't forget." He glanced up at us and grinned. She looked at me for a long moment. . Rose leaned down. Rose held out the blue blanket slowly to Nessie. thinking it smelled of Rose." Bella whispered. and Renesmee smiled and did the same. We've reached the harbor of Shadowtown. say "Good night". Carlisle and Esme with their arms wrapped around each others waists. Rose beside her. Alice shifted Nessie so she could clap her hands. Bella reached and took Nessie from my arms. she turned towards Carlisle. "Keep an eye on your parents for me. "See you in the morning. hugging her against me. She lifted Nessie from my arms. Rosalie clutched Nessie's blue blanket in her hands. I…I know it means a lot to her. kid. Bella was holding a small hairbrush and a book of nursery rhymes. As I played. I moved to them quickly. "Tomorrow. The rest of my family was standing several feet behind us. placing a hand on Nessie's head. When my other arm was free. "Ready to go home?" I asked softly. "Good night. He reached out and rustled Nessie's hair. until a complex melody moved in the air around us. too. sweet girl. and Alice and Jasper next to them. and we both turned to Rose. What you said to her before. His eyes were on her. smiling. Grandpa. I love you. I smiled and nodded at her as we moved over to stand in front of Alice and Jasper. "Say goodnight. I stood and lifted her into my arms. She walked over to Esme and I moved with her. "Later. When I finished. who took it in one hand and then hugged it against her body." Lifting her head. Esme pressed her face into the silky curls haloing Nessie's head. Dear little passenger. She nodded. and Nessie's small arms wrapped around her neck. her eyes sparkling and her hand rose briefly to touch over her heart. this is always your home. pressing her cheek to Nessie's face. "I'll miss you. my fingers moved to the keyboard and began to play. Alice thought. what you both said." she said. She eyed the keyboard with speculative interest. She replayed in her mind the memory of our hands moving together on the keyboard. Then she reached out and gathered Nessie from Bella's arms." she murmured. Carlisle grinned. "There's so much I want to show you. I caressed the keys." she said. "Say goodnight to Grandma." I murmured.
see nearly as clearly as us in the dark." Bella looked relieved and placed Renesmee into my arms. Then she slowly lifted a hand and he leaned down so she could touch his neck. Jasper stood slightly. I looked down at her. "Ready?" Nessie nodded vigorously. Alice bounced up and swiftly kissed Nessie's cheek. I chose a spot. and Nessie reached out tentatively to grip one of his fingers. I took the weight of my landing on the balls of my feet. "Alice. "Better than wading through the water. and the familiar forest suddenly seemed fascinating through her eager eyes. eyeing it from every angle. her eyes moving slowly down and up over Bella's dirty jeans and shirt. You're fired. too. grassy patch well before the tree line. straining to touch and examine each new leaf and tree. soft awe breaking out over his expression. letting her rub her hand over rough bark of a conifer. and his bright eyes. Nessie clapped with delight. We sliced easily through the wind." I smiled. miraculously. Rolling my eyes. leading us into the forest." She narrowed her eyes at me. She liked to see Jasper like that. "There are a lot of trees over there. ascending silver bells. Caging my arms protectively around Nessie's body. No one had moved. Nessie turned the vision slowly. worry creasing his expression. Nessie's arms clinging around Bella's neck. "'Night. leaving the woods bathed in lavender tones. We jogged down the hill." he said. I glanced back. As we passed out the door.Jasper's eyes were somewhat distant. I took Bella's hand and moved towards the back of the house." I said. We stopped patiently. "Oh. Bella appeared several feet in front of us. I strode over and wrapped an arm around her waist. He was still thinking over the interaction with Charlie. It was night now. darlin'. See you bright and early. a soft southern lilt invading his voice as it often did during times of heightened emotion. his smile. kissing her lips quickly. Alice winked. focusing on Jasper's face. Her message was clear. silly. Then he bent and pressed his lips to Nessie's forehead. I vaulted off my back foot. We paused at the edge of the river. Nessie giggled with amusement. but Renesmee might not appreciate it with her higher body temperature. I can dress my own child. just on the opposite bank – a small. or caress a fire red leaf with her fingertips. She turned it around slowly. He held out his hand somewhat solemnly. I kissed her cheek. Her hand reached out constantly. darker purple and grays. Esme smiled and held up a hand. passing Nessie between us." She pulled my arm from her waist and grasped my hand. "I'll be over in the morning with your outfit. his face alight with rare." Bella said. "My girls." Alice cocked an eyebrow. Alice grinned. . "Come on." It would feel fine to Bella and me. swinging around a high branch before landing. Then she slowly drew it into her palm with her fingers. her small hands clutching my shoulders. "Let me take her. "And then I'll choose your outfit. still worrying about our safety and anonymity. Their minds filled with a vision of Jasper earlier in the day after the arm wresting. hugging Alice. Nessie could. crushing it into oblivion. "Should we jump?" Bella asked. "A maple. Nessie smiling and laughing. I turned and went out the door. holding hands. careful not to jostle her. Bella rolled her eyes. fine. feeling slightly giddy. the sun's light completely extinguished. unguarded happiness and contentment. With a soft breeze. She gazed over the water." Bella looked affronted. 7:22 am to be exact – Nessie will be awake by then. We simply walked for a while. she thought. as Nessie fingered a leaf the color of yellow sun." Bella muttered.
Of course. Remember your reaction the first time I ran with you." I grinned at her. And so Nessie might live in many places in her lifetime. "We'll start slow. Her body shifted. sighing. her head moving back and forth. angel. The walls were still plain white. She looked around for a moment and then walked quietly to the extra room. Nessie's body seemed far more resilient than Bella's ever was. Propping Nessie up slightly in my arms. Holding Bella back with an arm I stepped in first. Bella drew in a slow breath. placing my hand on the small of her back. and she smiled. As we moved faster. searching for the scent of the dangerous. I became aware that Nessie's thoughts were taking flight. Nessie's room now. and I wondered what she was thinking in her silent mind." Home. Bella brushed the curls back from her face."Vine Maple. and it was only my arms that held her to me. I took Nessie from her arms. I straightened and ran a finger down her satin cheek. She squealed suddenly. actually. yeah. and she leaned her head on my shoulder for a moment. a note of disappointment in her voice. but I did not want to take a chance. "We're here. I knew. "Oh. "She's asleep. Having her here with us I felt the truth of the word. pure snow clouds floating in random patterns. An older scent of Bella and I lingered from the night before. sweet citrus. This cottage. I moved next to her." "Yes. I slowed as we approached. my love. just give it time. weightless and relaxed. "We'll show her around in the morning. "I don't know. unfinished. this would always be home." Bella groaned. still unlocked from the night before. Bella just behind me. Bella ran quietly behind me. "She's getting tired. I touched her shoulder. taking in Nessie's slumbering pose in my arms. I stepped aside and let Bella pass in. or unknown. "We have time. For all of us. looking up at me. Quietly we entered the house. I was reminded of running with Bella. and then faintest of all wisps of my entire family." "Oh. Bella appeared next to me. Alice and Esme layered behind it. The unknown. After several minutes." I said gently." I whispered into Nessie's ear. "We're home. a quick shadow passing over her expression. Nessie's eyes brightened. "Should we run? It will be a while before we reach the cottage at this rate. "Lot's of time. standing on a hill." I murmured. Sleep well." she said. "Vampire or not. cognizant of every branch that might scratch her skin. but someone had hung a single picture – a woman holding a child. blue sheets within. She might not like it. Nessie and myself. "Acer circinatum. . speeding landscape." she said." Nessie laid her head against Bella's chest. and her voice was caught by the wind our passage created. I am never going to become such a know it all. Then she turned towards me and I bent down and kissed Nessie's cheek. when she was human. but I detected only Bella. every particle that could get swept into eyes or mouth. Forks." I laughed. Finally. looking around. the forest parted and the cottage came into view. I began to jog. I inhaled deeply. I concentrated carefully on our surroundings. swept off into the trees. staring out into an eternal blue sea. But. The wrought iron crib stood against one wall." She reached out and I laid Nessie in her arms. Circumstances for our kind could change quickly." she said. into her sleeping mind. lavender and a myriad of scents mingled together. taking in the slightly blurred. traveling out of consciousness to the flowing depths of sleep." I promised. But then she smiled." Bella's expression furrowed.
that it was they who had truly saved me. I thought of Esme's words earlier. She extracted Nessie's blue blanket. but he and Bella are going forward. Her name is Nicole Twilight. but it was her love that I inhaled with every breath. vital Bella. simply so they could be together or even under a Volturi deadline. That said. we moved forward. I am still planning to write a probably two chapter epilogue of the confrontation with the Volturi. body and spirit. I realized. Together. If you want to see her profile please follow the above link. cherishing her steady softness. They've caught my many typo's. and I am afraid if I had stretched it over the next several months in the book it would have begun to drag and lose its way. and hopefully you will enjoy it. lada_8 and noamg . Then she put a hand on Nessie's chest. I have absolutely loved hearing your comments and insights on each chapter – you are an amazing group of readers. . and poured love back into the empty chalice of my heart. Till then… floralfs . I turned and guided us towards the white blue bedroom in the back of the house.Bella moved further into the room and leaned slowly over the crib. carefully lowering Nessie's sleeping form onto the sky sheets. Together. and kept me in canon. Only a few days earlier I had held their existence in my hands. I just want to let you know that I do hear you. many months ago – on a spare piece of paper in my car in a parking lot. pain and regret. My favorite mistake one of my beta's caught was when in a scene I gave Bella fangs! What was I thinking? Talk about getting your vampire mythology mixed up! Thanks for everything. I wrapped my arm around Bella. . When Nichole will upload the epilogue I’ll post it. The name of the original story is ‘The Ties That Binds’. I've been incredibly lucky to have two wonderful beta's. for me at least. but also that the reason her life was in danger (Nessie) was something he wouldn't want to change as well. the end of the story. As a writer. it's hard to express what your reviews mean to me – to hear that someone loves your story/writing is an incredible feeling. But I just felt for me the story was winding down – I hadn't even originally planned to take it this far. I will combine all the parts of this story into one and post it. I looked at them. That would view his choice as selfish. Her scent swirled around and within me. as well as provided great comments and suggestions. the divine forms of my world. Many people have written to me asking me to continue the story through the rest of Breaking Dawn.to have people to read through your chapter is an incredible relief. the idea of Renesmee as an absolution for Edward is a theme from SM's book. What happened helped free Edward to start moving forward w/o guilt. I feel if Edward had changed a healthy. mother and child. which was still clutched in her grasp. It was important not only that he change her to save her life. and I knew that it had been both Renesmee and Bella who had absolved me. all light and love balanced precariously on my ability to save them. NicoleTwilight A/N : This is the original Author’s note. I actually wrote the very end of this chapter. they would have been happy but there would always have been a small part of Edward that could never forgive himself. . we come to the end of the story. I feel sad. but don't worry – we still have the "super-sized" epilogue coming. Together they had weaved for me a soul I once thought lost forever. that filled and animated my being. and I so appreciate your support and encouragement. I do feel that. tucking it under her arms. many. For some reason I always have ideas for my writing while I'm driving! I wanted to bring them to a point where Edward was happy – there are still unresolved concerns. So. And I had. I never expected anything like the response I have gotten. calling to us with memory and promise. and off to the Epilogue. watching as it rose up and down with each measured breath. But now. They saved me from loneliness and self-hate. her silent heart still beating in the echoes of my mind. I am excited to write it. and laid it carefully over her lower body.