In all history of the world, never was there a girl more loved than Renesmee Cullen.
None more adored.
None more doted upon.
None more protected.
But none more sheltered.
And none more stifled.
Renesmee awoke to the sound of rain, the Maine sky overcast and dark. It would be a dreary and humid August day. Perfect for her family. She stretched, then dressed in an outfit handpicked by Alice after visiting the bathroom, making herself more presentable. When living with supermodels, that always felt necessary. She descended down the marble stairs and found her parents sitting in the living room, talking with her aunts, uncles and grandmother that had emerged from their own homes. Grandpa Carlisle had already left, then. Two plates sat at the counter, piled high with steaming bacon and eggs, waiting to be eaten. No Jacob yet, but she wasn’t surprised. Getting him out of bed was like raising the dead.
They’d moved to a small town in Northern Maine about three years prior. Before that, New Hampshire where her parents went to college together while the rest of the family had found other means of entertainment. They’d left Forks as soon as the immediate threat of the Volturi dissipated. Here, they bought over a hundred acres of land at the bottom of the mountains, far off from the prying eyes of any locals in town, where Carlisle worked at the hospital. A main house sat in the center of the area, elegant and spacious in design. It would house Edward, Bella and Renesmee, as well as serve as a main place to spend time for the rest of the family. The other couples, as well as Jacob, had their own cottages spread out over the property for the sake of privacy and breathing room. Renesmee thought it was fun walking the wooded trails from house to house, visiting or playing around. Or even just running through the fields and forest with Jacob when allowed.
But Renesmee, now nearly full grown, had her own very place that the men of her family, her Father and Jacob leading the charge, had constructed for her not long after they moved there.
Her very own art studio, made of red brick with glass French doors and blank white walls, that sat out of hearing distance of all the homes at the edge of the property. It was the only place she got to be alone and therefore it was her favorite place in her small little world.
Painting had become her primary form of entertainment in New Hampshire. It came relatively natural to her and, with some practice, became an expertise. But somehow, it was more than that to her. It was a salvation of sorts, her greatest passion. It relaxed her and allowed her to express herself, her wants and needs. It freed her from the confines of her mind and gave her peace. She’d always shown those around the pictures of her mind, her perspective with the touch of her hand and, eventually, she wanted them to become permanent to view and to study. Her world felt bigger with a brush in her hand and oil paint smeared on her cheeks.
And so an artist was born.
Renesmee poured herself a glass of juice to drink. Her Mother, then her Father , kissed the top of her head.
“Sleep well?” her Father asked and Renesmee placed her hand against his cheek, used to the chill of his skin and replayed for him her dream of running through the beach where the sand was so white and the water clear as glass. She hoped her Father might get the message. Or at least finally do something about it.
“Oh, that one again, huh? Someday you’ll see the ocean, I promise.” Her father smiled, then glanced towards the front door. “Jacob’s coming, hoping there’s breakfast. A lot of it, too.”
There was always breakfast. Enough for an army, or at least, one giant werewolf and a teenage hybrid.
Renesmee felt her heart start to race, knowing that her entire family heard it too, but fought against becoming embarrassed. Jacob had been apart of her life for as long as she’d been alive; sometimes she didn’t even understand why he was devoted enough to them, to her, to follow them across the country away from his home. Jacob had been her protector and her friend for all these years, the person she went to when both in crisis and in joy. And she’d returned that in every way she could. Not to mention the fact that he was beautiful, tall and muscular with eyes and skin the color of bronze that held more warmth than even imaginable. She’d had a crush on him for years, one that had began when she was around the mental and physical age of ten with all the girlish (childish) trimmings. Perhaps more than a crush now, real genuine feelings. She didn’t know. And she didn’t know if he knew the way she felt. She supposed it was kind of obvious, even if she worked hard to hide it at least from him.
However, she did know that he probably only saw her as a friend, a little sister. That only made the situation worse and her feelings stronger.
Jacob bounded in through the door, dressed only in a pair of shorts. Renesmee’s eyes widened and she appreciated the view, something nice to look at among such bleak weather; a very obvious move, she realized. He ruffled her hair and smiled, not noticing her attentive gaze. “Morning, Ness. Bells, other Cullens. Blondie.”
A chorus of greetings, Rosalie's missing distinctly. She’d never grown to like Jacob, despite Renesmee’s best efforts.
Her Father coughed. “Jacob, would it kill you to wear some clothes?” She flushed; having a Father who could hear your thoughts, especially the ones about boys, was a miserable experience.
Jacob laughed and sat down at the counter, legs touching the floor despite the stool’s height. “It’s hot as hell out there and sorry I’m not an ice-for-veins blood-sucker.”
Renesmee sat down beside Jacob, her legs dangling above the hardwood floor, and indicated their plates with her head. “Waited for you. Didn’t want you complaining. Again.”
Emmett chuckled from his spot on the couch. “Believe me, he’s waited for you, too.”
Renesmee didn’t understand the joke and didn’t notice Rosalie shove him. Jacob cleared his throat, eyes focused down on the counter, as he began to stuff his face. Renesmee wrinkled her nose. “These are good eggs, Esme,” Jacob said, in between bites. “You’re a great chef.”
Esme entered the kitchen and turned her attention on cleaning up the pots and pans. She smiled brightly at the compliment, even if Jacob gave it every morning. “Thank you. Oh, Renesmee, when you’re done eating, we have your French lesson and your Calculus lesson.”
Renesmee groaned. Academics came easily enough to her, an understatement considering she could do Calculus in her sleep and recite verbs while standing on her head, but she did not enjoy them. Not in the least. They bored her, even with as much as she liked learning new things. She didn’t see the point. Who needs to learn languages if you’re never allowed to go anywhere?
Maybe she could sweet-talk Esme into canceling. That was one perk of your Grandmother being your teacher-she’s easy enough to win over. “Do we have to? I have this painting I’d really like to finish ….we could just postpone my lessons for a few days.” She smiled, hopefully. Or the rest of my life, she thought. Her Dad caught her eye and raised an eyebrow.
Esme remained firm and crossed her arms, but a smile played on her lips. Renesmee looked to her Mother for help, but she shook her head too. “School is important. You can’t go through life like some kind of moron.”
Renesmee rolled her eyes. “It works for Uncle Emmett.” A chorus of laughs, particularly from Jacob, and an offended shout from Emmett in the living room. Her tone turned suggestive, yet tired, like she’d been down this road before. “You know, school might be for fun if I could be around other kids.”
Jacob looked at her then, amusement evident in his eyes. “So you can go from looking 15 to 18 in the span of a month and freak everyone out?”
Edward spoke up, doing his best to sound stern. “I hate saying this, but Jacob’s right and you know that, darling. Now no more complaining about your lessons, because your Mother is right, too, which is something I’m much more willing to admit. School is important. And if you don’t keep up with your work, there will be no birthday party.”
A horrified gasp left Renesmee’s mouth and she nearly choked on an egg. Her birthday, the final one she'd have where she'd look different by the next one, was only a few weeks away.
Alice pranced into the kitchen then, purse on her arm and keys jingling in one hand as Jasper followed behind. She let out a laugh and pointed a manicured finger at Edward. Her eyes narrowed slightly. “Oh, no. I have put so much work into this party- as I should considering it marks our little Renesmee’s entrance into maturity and womanhood-but I’ve ordered over 5,000 white fairy lights, two ice sculptures, more flowers than you can count, and a ten layer buttercream frosted cake, which is a lot of cake given that only five of our guests can eat it, mind you. Trust me, Renesmee could run off and join the circus and this party would still be happening.” She twirled on her heel, dramatically, then turned back around to face the family. She smirked gleefully. “Besides, I’ve already seen the party and you’re all there.” She rolled her eyes in the direction of Jacob and Renesmee, her voice becoming disdainful as it always did when this happened. “Except you two, of course, since I can’t see your futures.”
Renesmee finished off the remnants of her breakfast, thankful to have someone like her Aunt Alice in her life to ensure she experienced events like this. “I’m glad to know someone’s expectations are as high as mine for this party.”
Alice smiled. “Of course. Now, I’m going shopping to ensure that you have the perfect outfit to wear. It’s a big night and you deserve to look like a Queen.”
Renesmee visibly brightened. She loved new clothes. “Oh, I wish I could come.”
“You know why that isn’t possible, darling. Besides, lessons.” Edward crossed his arms and leaned back against the fridge. “And it’s as if she doesn’t own enough clothes already.”
Yes, it’s not possible because I can’t be near humans, per orders from Aro, Renesmee thought bitterly. I can’t leave this property if I wish to live. That, and they all won’t let me.
Bella nudged him. “Quit being such a stick in the mud. I think she deserves something special to wear on her birthday.”
Emmett, still in position on the couch, piped in: “Knowing Alice, it won’t just be special, but slutty, too.”
Edward and Jacob both looked at Alice in alarm and said, in unison, “No!”
Every woman in the room rolled their eyes. Renesmee shoved Jacob’s arm and he shrugged at her, then smiled, causing her to roll her eyes again. Boys. That boy. Her boy?
After her lessons were finally completed to Grandma Esme’s satisfaction for the day and she’d eaten lunch, same time as always, Renesmee sat in the bay window, watching it rain and relishing in the quiet. She wondered what it would be like to run and play in it. Or perhaps to stay in a place where it didn’t rain so much, like Florida where she knew Grandma Renee lived. She liked the sunshine and didn’t have to worry about sparkling the way her family did.
Aunt Rosalie approached her then, taking a seat beside her and crossing her legs. “What are you thinking about?” Renesmee placed her hand on Rosalie’s arm, showing her an image of herself in Florida, buried in the sand on the beach with the water lapping at her toes. She laughed when it was complete. “You and your sunshine. Hopefully it will come out tomorrow just for you.”
“I’d like that very much. Do you remember if you liked the sun when you were human?”
Rosalie shook her head. “No, I’m afraid not. But I like the sun now. I just don’t like glittering like a diamond for everyone to see, even if I am one.” She turned cheeky.
Renesmee laughed, then ran her hands through her aunt’s blonde hair. “Your hair looks like gold in the sun.”
“I like yours, the reds and the browns. Auburn suits you.” Aunt Rosalie stood, squeezed Renesmee’s chin fondly and kissed her forehead. “Your Dad is waiting for you. Piano lessons, even if you don’t really need them anymore.”
Renesmee nodded and hurried off.
By mid-afternoon, all of her lessons had been completed and she’d been permitted to go to her studio. And she did. She stood in front of her easel, dressed in a smock with a palette in hand, and worked on the beach scene painting that had been her focus for weeks now. It was set at dawn, the sky pink with blue and white and the water calm, the waves foamy. Birds disappeared into the distance, a boat embarked into open ocean. Usually, Renesmee worked alone, liking the time to think, but today Jacob joined her like he did on occasion. He was the only one she allowed to be there with her, the only one she wanted there in those moments. Her moments.
Because he knew. Knew she wanted to see things, see the world without being under the constant supervision of her entire family. Knew she hated being so sheltered.
Jacob sat on the floor, legs stretched out in front of him and weight resting on his arms behind him. They didn’t talk much in here, usually only when they needed something. She was content to work and Jacob was content to watch her do so. It was comfortable, nice. Peaceful. True friendship.
Renesmee stood back from her painting, eyebrows furrowed as she studied it, dissatisfied. “Jake, tell me again what La Push is like. I want this to be as authentic as possible.”
Jacob peered at the painting. “Well, it’s not that bright and I never saw many boats. Reminds me of more of the beaches here, darker. Less ready for a bunch of tourists wanting to soak up sun.”
“I haven’t been to the beaches here, either.” Disgusted, Renesmee removed her smock and set aside her supplies, deciding to take a break. She flopped down onto the floor beside Jacob and let out a heavy sigh.
“Feeling angsty today, huh?”
“Blame the weather.”
“If it makes you feel better, I wanted to take you to La Push before we left Forks, but your parents said no. Well, your Mom said no.”
“Figures, but how come?”
A strange looked passed over Jacob’s face, his eyes becoming distant, and he frowned, but then shook it away. “I don’t know, trying to protect you, I guess. We left pretty quick after everything settled down.”
Renesmee laid back on the floor, her long hair pillowing around her as she stared up at the wood paneled ceiling. Jacob joined her and mere inches of space laid between them. Their arms touched, hers so much smaller and his so much stronger. She felt her heart race, her skin prickle. Jacob had to hear it at this close of proximity. She could hear his, feel the heat radiating off him.
“Jake, why did you leave your family to be with us, to spend so much time with us, anyway?”
Jacob pursed his lips, thinking a moment. Renesmee turned her head to watch him, expectant of a good, non-evasive answer. Finally, he said, “You’re my family, too.”
Renesmee brushed her fingers against his then, wondering again if he knew how she felt. If he felt the same. If there was a chance for them, someday. One day. He-this-was about the most exciting thing in her life and she was a vampire-human hybrid.