Alice made me dress up. Frankly, if I’m being completely honest, she made everyone dress up. She even got a bit short with Renesmee when she didn’t cooperate. Who could blame her? But somehow, I remained her best customer when I was the most blunt. No one could stop her when she was on a roll. The entire Cullen family stood perfectly still in the upstairs lounge as she walked around handing out suits and dresses to every person. I envied Esme, though. Alice seemed least interested in her … and Jasper. With his crazy hair these days, no one could make him look better than a washed and unnaturally pale caveman. But he was still desirably beautiful.
Edward stood beside me when Alice thrust the red dress into my arms and laughed when I began shooting daggers at her. At last my eyes had faded to the sandy, golden butterscotch colour of all the other vampires in the room, though Emmett did look particularly dark today. He hadn’t hunted in a few days and he was always the first to go. It was quite suspicious.
Over the seven months since our visit from the Volturi, Renesmee had grown awfully close to Carlisle. She was so close to him, I could tell Edward was jealous and envied his patience and love for the beautiful little half-breed. But, like every other parent in this peculiar world, our time with our daughter was so special we cherished every moment, though we would have many more to come.
She had grown immensely. She looked only a little younger than I did nowadays and it was common knowledge when Jacob was around that all he wanted to do was scoop her up and run away with her, but Edward had grown to be extremely protective which made a few things complicated in our home. It was quite often that it wasn’t an Edward, Bella and Renesmee cottage out in the woods but an Edward, Bella, Renesmee and Jacob cottage. He spent most of his nights there and after convincing my perfect husband over a series of sleepless nights, I went out and bought a bed frame and mattress for him. He was still my best friend and I wanted him comfortable.
‘Where’s Jacob?’ Alice asked in her pixie voice to Renesmee who was almost stuck to Carlisle, with his arm draping her shoulder. I couldn’t help but feel a bad for myself – I never had such a relationship with my grandparents. We kept visits to Charlie and Sue’s to a minimal for Renesmee. She was mentally still so young and although she liked to model Jacob’s human food eating, she couldn’t deny her thirst for blood. Mostly, she went to hunt with Edward, Rosalie or Esme. All were clean feeders, unlike Emmett and I, and Carlisle made sure I knew that it was best if she didn’t see her mother hunt. Apparently, since turning a vampire, I was very humble except for when feeding. Whatever that meant. I didn’t go into detail.
Renesmee looked up at Alice and shrugged innocently. ‘Probably off with the pack, I assume. I can go look for him if you want.’ She looked up at Edward and I saw him nod, a smirk creeping up on his angelic face. ‘Anything to get out of this,’ I heard her mumble under her breath. With perfect hearing, I doubt Alice would have missed it.
‘That’s enough from you, Ness. I’ll send someone else.’
I stepped forward, brushing off Edward’s hand on my shoulder. I felt myself beginning to slouch and quickly stood up. It’s not very often that I lose my balance or need to rest. I only sit down when my mind feels drained or when I’m working with Renesmee – otherwise, I remain standing or running or feeding. I was nothing like Edward or my father-in-law who both liked to sit down with a book occasionally, or chess game. That was the old me – the human me. But I would never miss the chance to spectate a match between my sister and husband. No one did. It wasn’t so much a physical chess game, but a game of mind tricks and advantage.
‘I’ll go,’ I offered too enthusiastically.
Alice spun around after handing Jasper his blue silk tie. Her face wore a scowl, which if I could sleep, would give me nightmares for a year, possibly even two, and I backed up into the security of Edward’s brave and strong arms.
‘Dressed like that?’ She gestured to my outfit. I looked down and saw nothing unacceptable. Back in Charlie’s home, in the actual town of Forks – not on the borderline where my new home is – this would be what I wore unless Edward was knowingly coming over. During the night times, I would just have to hope that whatever I looked like without a bra or hairbrush nearby would impress him.
‘Alice,’ Emmett said, laying his suit over the back of the couch with a casual look on his face. ‘I’ll go get the smelly dog.’
I caught Renesmee taking in a sharp breath as Emmett walked heavily out of the room. She threw her hand up to his right, muscly arm and frowned.
‘Shut up, Emmett.’
‘Ness!’ Edward growled, karate chopping his hand between Emmett’s arm and his daughter’s hand. But even in his serious fathering, I could see his dig a little more into his favourite brother’s arm. He held Renesmee’s wrist until we could all here Emmett’s petty roar outside as he charged for the Quileute lands. As far as he could get, anyway.
‘Everyone go put on your outfits, now. Esme, you can do your own make up, so long as you let Rose do your hair.’
‘Can’t I do my own?’ Rosalie complained with much attitude. I was surprised she hadn’t begged to help with Renesmee. After all, my half human-half vampire daughter was her favourite member of the family. Three guesses who is her least favourite? Jacob Black.
‘Yes, but you can also do Esme’s … and Renesmee’s.’ That changed her attitude, so off she went into her room up a flight of stairs and down the hall two doors, next to Alice’s room. Gradually, everyone went off in different directions while Edward and I stood, taking watch over the border of the house. These days, there was nothing to look for, but it now came as a habit to stand up against the windows and peer out into the woods.
When I say we have nothing to protect or fight with, I meant at that current moment. Over the past months we’d been having visitors from all around the world, wanting to meet me in person or my strange and curious daughter – the one who aged at least six months in one day. But these past weeks have been eventless, just Alice hurrying around, busily planning Charlie Swan and Sue Clearwater’s wedding. Unfortunately, Charlie had fallen under the same curse as me: completely swept up in the wonderful and beautiful personality of Alice to accept her request of planning their wedding.
Sue got on really well with Esme. Frankly, Charlie thought she was like any other vampire – excluding the Volturi – beautiful but shocking at the same time, but despite the blank and reasonably unsociable side of him, he was kind enough to offer Carlisle a beer whenever the family, or sections of the family came around. Which wasn’t very often.
Since our visit from the Volturi, Rosalie and Emmett had been like two sheets of coloured card, stuck together with superglue – afraid to separate for the fear of tearing away a sheet of the colour. At first, I enjoyed Rosalie loosing small bits here and there of her hatred towards immortality, and she even started talking to Jacob when he was here, but after two or so months the benefits wore off and it was just the two love birds tucked down in their nest – the lounge room couch. Whenever I could avoid it, I steered away from the leather love seat when Edward pulled me toward it.
‘What do you think?’ Edward asked me, pulling my hair back and resting his smooth chin on my shoulder. We both looked out to the deep forest side of the giant mansion, the greener and prettier view and he had slid his hands around my waist. I was glad Renesmee had run off to make herself some human food because showing my affection for Edward in front of her was something I wasn’t comfortable with.
‘About what?’ I replied honestly, remaining perfectly still.
He chuckled and his warm breath blew onto my cold neck. I smelt his familiar scent and turned in his arms, stretching to wrap my arms around his neck. He smiled down at me, his bushy eyebrows raised.
‘What are your thoughts about your father’s marriage to Sue Clearwater?’
‘Well, though I’m partly glad I married you, I still hate you for forcing it. My attitude towards it hasn’t changed. Age means nothing.’
He laughed louder then, throwing his head back and looking up at the ceiling. I frowned and felt a little embarrassed that he found my confession amusing. If I could blush in this life, my cheeks would be crimson red.
‘Listen to you, Miss Age-means-nothing! Was it not you who insisted I change you before your nineteenth birthday?’
I nodded, understanding why he’d collapsed into a fit of laughter and pulled him closer to me, with a loud scraping noise as his shoes dented the wooden planks when I dragged him in.
I heard distant chatter and then when I took a breath in, wanting to smell the heart warming, soul capturing and plain awesome scent of my forever lover, I got a whiff of wet dog.
‘Get a room,’ I heard the wolf say.