Chapter 1: Her perfect life.
As much as you want to plan your life, it has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned.
Today had started out as one of the most perfect day.
That should of given me some warning to the grievous Blow that was to come.
It had been roughly 6 months since Bella was lured to the ballet studio by James who we subsequently killed.
Life had returned to normal and even better than before.
Bella was officially welcomed into the family, by everyone sans Rosalie.
However even Rosalie had toned down her viciousness.
She didn’t call Bella “the Human” anymore or make a giant fuss when she came to the house, she would just spend it pretending Bella didn’t exist.
I guess it helped that she along with Emmett, jasper and mom had “Graduated.”
She and Emmett had decided to take another honeymoon, doing some travelling of there own.
Last we had heard they were in London.
Mom had decided to stick around forks, to be with William and I.
She and jasper had enrolled in an online course.
Ironically both decided to study history.
Alice and Bella had officially become BFF’s and if Edward wasn’t with Bella then the two were almost attached at the hip.
That gave her a good excuse to spend most of the summer at our house.
Whenever she wasn’t sleeping or working she would be at the house.
Either spending the day with Alice being used as a human barbie doll or with Edward alone in his room.
This also gave her the opportunity to meet my children when they came to visit over the summer.
I was nervous at first, however that worry was unneeded, the children took to Bella especially willow.
Bella had become there best playmate.
So yes, the summer was amazing, We took the children on trips to Seattle, to the cinema, to the zoo and just did normal family activities.
Victoria had departed, I have a feeling she’s going to return one day to seek vengeance but when she does we will be ready for her.
All that there was for me to do is enjoy my children and my family.
Life was perfect.
Anyway back to the present.
It was September thirteenth today.
All morning we had been getting the house ready for tonight.
We were going to have a party for Bella.
Bella being who she was had made it clear that she didn’t want to do anything or receive anything.
Of course, Alice had conspired against her she had roped us all into it.
Don’t let her small frame fool you, Alice can be quite scary.
Anyway Alice had rushed us out the house to be some of the first people in the school parking lot.
It was just the 4 of us now.
Edward, Alice, William and I.
We were using Edwards Volvo.
Right now all of us were leaning against it watching the familiar beat up red Chevy truck pull into the school parking lot.
Bella slammed the door of truck shut a shower of rust specks fluttered down to the wet blacktop.
I could practically feel Edward cringe next to me.
Edward keeps trying to get Bella to agree to let him buy her a new car, but Bella won’t budge.
Speaking of new car.
Our beat up pile fo crap as Emmett would call it had finally had its last drive.
So William had gifted Mom a brand new Range Rover.
Not as fast as some of the Cullens more exotic cars but equally as fancy.
Bella walked slowly toward where we waited. Alice unable to wait any longer skipped forward to meet Bella, her pixie face glowing under her spiky black hair.
"Happy birthday, Bella!"
"Shh!" Bella hissed, glancing around the lot to make sure no one had heard Alice.
Still not one for having people celebrate her I see.
“Do you want to open your present now or later?" Alice asked eagerly as they made our way to where The Rest of us still waited.
“No presents," Bella protested in a mumble.
"Okay… later, then. Did you like the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?"
Of course Alice would know what Bella got for her birthday.
"Yeah. They're great."
"I think it's a nice idea. You're only a senior once. Might as well document the experience."
"How many times have you been a senior?"
Bella shot back
"That's different." Alice protested
Yh, Bella your most likely going to have many senior years but the first one is always the most special.
They finally reached the rest of us.
Edward held his hand out for Bella, who didn’t hesitate in griping onto it.
He lifted his free hand and traced one cool fingertip around the inside of her wrist over the bite James had left as he spoke. "So, as discussed, I am not allowed to wish you a happy birthday, is that correct?"
"Yes. That is correct."
“Just checking." He ran his hand through his bronze hair.
“You might have changed your mind. Most people seem to enjoy things like birthdays and gifts."
Alice laughed, and the sound was all silver, a wind chime.
“Of course you'll enjoy it. Everyone is supposed to be nice to you today and give you your way, Bella. What's the worst that could happen?"
She meant it as a rhetorical question.
"Getting older," Bella answered anyway.
William and I trade looks.
Not this again.
For some reason Bella seems to have this obsession with getting older, seriously why?
She’s a baby.
Heck, Crispin is older than her and he still wears diapers.
Beside me, Edward's smile tightened into a hard line.
"Eighteen isn't very old," Alice said. “Don't women usually wait till they're twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays?"
Try being 2,163 years old.
“It's older than Edward," bella mumbled.
Mums older than William physically and what about Esme and Carlisle.
"Technically," Alice said, keeping her tone light. "Just by one little year, though."
“What time will you be at the house?" Alice continued, changing the subject.
"I didn't know I had plans to be there."
Oh no, Bella you are not wiggling out of this, not after all the hard work Alice made us do to set everything up.
"Oh, be fair, Bella!" she complained. "You aren't going to ruin all our fun like that, are you?"
"I thought my birthday was about what I want."
You don’t get a choice in this I’m afraid.
"I'll get her from Charlie's right after school," Edward told her, ignoring Bella altogether.
"I have to work," Bella protested.
"You don't, actually," Alice told Bella smugly. "I already spoke to Mrs. Newton about it. She's trading your shifts. She said to tell you 'Happy Birthday.'"
“I... I still can't come over," bella stammered, scrambling for an excuse.
“I, well, I haven't watched Romeo and Juliet yet for English."
Bella, you and Edward are almost like Romeo and Juliet.
Alice snorted. "You have Romeo and Juliet memorized."
"But Mr. Berty said we needed to see it performed to fully appreciate it that's how Shakespeare intended it to be presented."
I’ll tell you a little secret about Shakespeare Bella.
Some historians think Shakespeare was a fraud.
Edward rolled his eyes.
"You've already seen the movie," Alice accused.
"But not the nineteen-sixties version. Mr. Berty said it was the best."
Finally, Alice lost the smug smile and glared at her. “This can be easy, or this can be hard, Bella, but one way or the other..."
In simple words Bella.
Your gonna be there, wether you like it or not.
Edward interrupted her threat. "Relax, Alice. If Bella wants to watch a movie, then she can. It's her birthday."
I glare at him.
"So there," bella added.
"I'll bring her over around seven," he continued. "That will give you more time to set up."
Oh clever, Edward.
I take back my last comment.
Edward shoots me a grin.
Alice's laughter chimed again. "Sounds good. See you tonight, Bella! It'll be fun, you'll see."
Alice grinned the wide smile exposed all her perfect, glistening teeth then pecked Bella on the cheek and danced off toward her first class with me in toe before Bella could respond.
William and I share a laugh before we both leave the couple and head towards the building.
As the day progressed Alice became more and more exited.
In art she could barely keep it together.
“You picked a good gift.” Alice commented while she was using the pencil to add shadowing to her already stunning self portrait.
You really any keep anything secret with Alice.
For Bella’s birthday I picked out a beautiful jewellery set, just a simple small diamond on a chain with a matching bracelet, but it screamed Bella, it wasn’t anything big or fancy.
One of Bella’s issues with Edward was his indifference to money.
The Cullens had a lot of money I didn't even want to think about how much.
Money meant next to nothing to Edward or the rest of the Cullens. It was just something that accumulated when you had unlimited time on your hands and a sister who had an uncanny ability to predict trends in the stock market.
Heck, gran was just as bad.
Though she made her money through auction and real estate.
Edward didn't seem to understand why Bella objected to him spending money on her.
It made Bella uncomfortable when we went to an expensive restaurant in Seattle, as for Edward he didn’t understand why he wasn't allowed to buy her a car that could reach speeds over fifty-five miles an hour or why She wouldn't let him pay her college tuition.
Edward doesn’t seem to understand.
But then he is from a era when it was the man jobs to provide for the woman.
However that doesn’t sit well with Bella’s independence streak and the age in which she grew up in, the age of women’s independence, most women nowadays worked just like the men, had their own homes, paid their own bills.
Unfortunately despite being a teenage boy Edward Still holds the male dominate mentality of the 1910s.
I do worry that mentality might cause issues between the two in the future.
As the day went on, none of us brought Bella birthday up again, much to Bella’s relief
We sat at our usual table for lunch.
A strange kind of truce existed at that table. The five of us Edward, Alice, William, Bella and I sat on the extreme southern end of the table.
Now that the "older" and somewhat scarier in Emmett's case, Cullen siblings had graduated, Alice, William and Edward did not seem quite so intimidating, and we did not sit here alone.
My other friends, Mike and Jessica who were in the awkward post-breakup friendship phase, Angela and Ben whose relationship had survived the summer, Eric, Conner, Tyler, and Lauren though that last one didn't really count in the friend category all sat at the same table, on the other side of an invisible line.
That line dissolved on sunny days when Edward, William and Alice always skipped school, and then the conversation would swell out effortlessly to include Bella and I.
Edward, William and Alice didn't find this minor ostracism odd or hurtful the way I would have. They barely noticed it. People always felt strangely ill at ease with the Cullens, almost afraid for some reason they couldn't explain to themselves. Bella was a rare exception to that rule.
The afternoon passed quickly. School ended, and Edward walked bella to the truck as he usually did. But this time, he held the passenger door open for Bella.
His job was to make sure Bella actually arrived.
Alice, William and I set home to Finnish of the last details.
Emmett and Rosalie were waiting for us at the house.
I gave them both a quick hug.
“I didn’t think you guys were coming.”
Emmett smiled his dimples showing.
“As if we’d miss the chance to celebrate a birthday.”
Rosalie said nothing.
I suppose she was following the If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything phrase.
It was around 6 when Edward texted us that he and Bella had just left and I was putting the last touch to my outfit.
My hair had once again reverted back to a beautiful auburn with burgundy and copper hues.
My eyes had taken on the familiar purple tone that reminded me of grapes.
As for my hair I just put in in a simple Dutch Braid, I was proud to say with the help of Alice I was becoming quite the pro At braiding.
I have myself on last look In the mirror.
My outfits included and simple Cotten spaghetti dress, a grey cardigan and some thie high black boots i borrowed from Rosalie.
The familiar sound of Bella’s truck came up the driveway, Alice in a sing song voice yelled
I will admit she has outdone herself.
A long line of glowing Japanese lanterns hung from the porch eaves, reflecting a soft radiance on the huge cedars that surrounded the house. Big bowls of pink roses lined the wide stairs up to the front doors.
Alice, had covered every flat surface with pink candles and dozens of crystal bowls filled with hundreds of roses.
There was a table with a white cloth draped over it next to Edward's grand piano, holding a pink birthday cake, more roses, a stack of glass plates, and a small pile of silver-wrapped presents.
Edward and Bella walked up the steps and opened the front doors.
When they walked through the door, we greeted Bella with a loud chorus of "Happy birthday, Bella!"
Esme hugged Bella first very carefully, she kissed her forehead, and then Carlisle put his arm around her shoulders.
"Sorry about this, Bella," he stage whispered.
“We couldn't rein Alice in."
Rosalie and Emmett stood behind them. Rosalie didn't smile, but at least she didn't glare.
Like I said progress
Emmett's face was stretched into a huge grin.
“You haven't changed at all," Emmett said with mock disappointment. "I expected a perceptible difference, but here you are, red-faced just like always."
"Thanks a lot, Emmett," Bella said, blushing deeper.
He laughed, "I have to step out for a second" he paused to wink conspicuously at Alice
He’s going to put the new stereo in the truck.
“Don't do anything funny while I'm gone."
I playfully roll my eyes.
Wouldn’t dream of it Emmett.
Mum approached Bella next. She brought the girl into her arms and gave her a big hug.
“Thanks.” Bella mumbled
William also embraced her, though not nearly as long.
Alice let go of Jasper's hand and skipped forward, all her teeth sparkling in the bright light. Jasper smiled, too, but kept his distance.
Despite his improvement he still wasn’t as confident yet.
He leaned,against the glass at the foot of the stairs.
I know Bella was a little disappointed at that, but tried not to show it.
I guess she hoped that the days we'd had to spend cooped up together in Phoenix he'd gotten over his aversion to her.
“Time to open presents," Alice declared. She put her cool hand under Bella’s elbow and towed her to the table with the cake and the shiny packages.
"Alice, I know I told you I didn't want anything..."
"But I didn't listen," she interrupted, smug.
"Open it." She took the camera from Bella’s hands and replaced it with a big, square silver box.
The tag on top said that it was from Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper.
Once Bella opened the empty box she looked stills confused but said
Rosalie actually cracked a smile. Jasper laughed. "It's a stereo for your truck," he explained. "Emmett's installing it right now so that you can't return it."
“Thanks, Jasper, Rosalie," Bella told them.
“Thanks, Emmett!" Bella called more loudly.
I heard his booming laugh from the truck, and I couldn't help laughing, too.
"Open mine and Edward's next," Alice said, so excited her voice was a high-pitched trill. She held a small, flat square in her hand.
Bella turned to give Edward a basilisk glare. "You promised."
Before he could answer, Emmett bounded through the door. "Just in time!" he crowed. He pushed in behind Jasper, who had also drifted closer than usual to get a good look.
"I didn't spend a dime," Edward assured her.
He brushed a strand of hair from her face
Bella inhaled deeply and turned to Alice. "Give it to me," Bella sighed resigned.
Emmett chuckled with delight.
Bella took the little package, rolling my eyes at Edward while She stuck her finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape.
A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut.
It all happened very quickly then.
To quickly to properly react.
"No!" Edward roared.
He threw himself at Bella, flinging her back across the table.
It fell as She did, scattering the cake and the presents, the flowers and the plates. Bella landed in the mess of shattered crystal.
Jasper slammed into Edward, and the sound was like the crash of boulders in a rock slide.
There was another noise, a grisly snarling that seemed to be coming from deep in Jasper's chest. Jasper tried to shove past Edward, snapping his teeth just inches from Edward's face.
Then everyone jumped into action.
Me and Mom run to Bella, who’s arm is completely bloody with glass shards stuck in her skin.
Emmett grabbed Jasper from behind in the next second, locking him into his massive steel grip, but Jasper struggled on, his wild, empty eyes focused only on Bella.
Bella was clearly in shock, which is good, that means her brain hasn’t yet registered the pain.
I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of her arm into the fevered eyes of the eight suddenly ravenous vampires.
Centuries of experience in the emergency room were evident in Carlisle’s quiet, authoritative voice.
Emmett, William get Jasper outside."
Unsmiling for once, Emmett nodded. "Come on, Jasper."
Jasper struggled against Emmett's unbreakable grasp, twisting around, reaching toward his brother with his bared teeth, his eyes still past reason.
Edward's face was whiter than bone as he whirled to crouch over Bella, taking a clearly defensive position. A low warning growl slid from between his clenched teeth.
I could tell that he wasn't breathing.
Rosalie, her divine face strangely smug, stepped in front of Jasper.
Of course she’s smug, she did say something like this would happen.
Time and place.
keeping a careful distance from his teeth William and Rosalie helped Emmett wrestle jasper through the glass door that Esme held open, one hand pressed over her mouth and nose.
Esme's heart-shaped face was ashamed. "I'm so sorry, Bella," she cried as she followed the others into the yard.
"Let me by, Edward," Carlisle murmured.
A second passed, and then Edward nodded slowly and relaxed his stance.
Carlisle knelt beside me, leaning close to examine Bella’s arm.
“Here, Carlisle," Alice said, handing him a towel.
He shook his head. "Too much glass in the wound." He reached over and ripped a long, thin scrap from the bottom of the white tablecloth.
He twisted it around her arm above the elbow to form a tourniquet.
"Bella," Carlisle said softly. "Do you want me to drive you to the hospital, or would you like me to take care of it here?"
"Here, please," bella whispered.
“I'll get your bag," mum said before getting up and walking to Carlisle office.
"Let's take her to the kitchen table," Carlisle said to Edward.
Edward lifted Bella effortlessly, while I kept the pressure steady on Bella’s arm.
My hands were covered in her blood, Carlisle was rushing in front of us.
“I'm fine." Bella's voice was reasonably steady.
Which surprised me, for someone who just got thrown into a glass table.
But then again it’s Bella.
Edward's face was like stone.
Mum was there Carlisle's black bag was already on the table, a small but brilliant desk light plugged into the wall.
Edward sat Bella gently into a chair, and Carlisle pulled up another. He went to work at once.
Edward stood over Bella still protective, still not breathing.
"Just go, Edward," I sighed.
"I can handle it," he insisted. But his jaw was rigid his eyes burned with the intensity of the thirst he fought, so much worse for him than it was for the others.
"You don't need to be a hero," I said.
"Carlisle can fix me up without your help. Get some fresh air." Bella added
"I'll stay," he said.
"Why are you so masochistic?" I mumbled.
Carlisle decided to intercede.
Before it could escalate.
“Edward, you may as well go find Jasper before he gets too far. I'm sure he's upset with himself, and I doubt he'll listen to anyone but you right now."
"Yes," I eagerly agreed. "Go find Jasper."
"You might as well do something useful," Mom added.
Edward's eyes narrowed as we ganged up on him, but, finally, he nodded once and sprinted smoothly through the kitchen's back door.
If she hadn't been in my line of sight, I wouldn't have noticed Alice give up and steal out of the room.
Mom not far behind.
With a tiny, apologetic smile on her lips, she disappeared through the kitchen doorway.
It was just the three of us
“Well, that's everyone," I sighed.
“I can clear a room, at least." Bella joked
"It's not your fault," Carlisle comforted her with a chuckle. "It could happen to anyone."
"Could" She repeated. "But it usually just happens to me."
He laughed again.
“How can you do this?" Bella demanded. "Even Alice and Esme…"
He’s been in this diet longer than the others Bella.
“Years and years of practice," he told her. "I barely notice the scent anymore."
"Do you think it would be harder if you took a vacation from the hospital for a long time. And weren't around any blood?"
"Maybe." He shrugged his shoulders, but his hands remained steady. "I've never felt the need for an extended holiday." He flashed a brilliant smile in our direction.
“I enjoy my work too much."
Plink, plink, plink. I was surprised at how much glass there seemed to be in her arm.
"What is it that you enjoy?" I wondered
It didn't make sense to me the years of struggle and self-denial he must have spent to get to the point where he could endure this so easily. Besides, I wanted to keep him talking; the conversation kept my mind off the feeling of Bella’s sticky drying blood on my hands.
I had let go a long time ago, but still stayed close just incase.
His dark eyes were calm and thoughtful as he answered.
“Hmm. What I enjoy the very most is when my… enhanced abilities let me save someone who would otherwise have been lost. It's pleasant knowing that, thanks to what I can do, some people's lives are better because I exist. Even the sense of smell is a useful diagnostic tool at times."
One side of his mouth pulled up in half a smile.
I mulled that over while he poked around, making sure all the glass splinters were gone.
“You try very hard to make up for something that was never your fault," bella suggested.
“What I mean is, it's not like you asked for this. You didn't choose this kind of life, and yet you have to work so hard to be good."
"I don't know that I'm making up for anything," he disagreed lightly.
“Like everything in life, I just had to decide what to do with what I was given."
"That makes it sound too easy."
He examined her arm again. "There," he said, snipping a thread. "All done." He wiped an oversized Q-tip, dripping with some syrup-colored liquid, thoroughly across the operation site.
"In the beginning, though," Bella pressed
“did you even think to try a different way than the obvious one?"
His lips turned up in a private smile.
"Hasn't Edward told you this story?"
"Yes. But I'm trying to understand what you were thinking…"
His face was suddenly serious again, and I wondered if his thoughts had gone to the same place that mine had.
"You know my father was a clergyman," he mused as he cleaned the table carefully, rubbing everything down with wet gauze, and then doing it again. The smell of alcohol burned in my nose.
Better than the smell of blood.
“He had a rather harsh view of the world, which I was already beginning to question before the time that I changed."
Carlisle put all the dirty gauze and the glass slivers into an empty crystal bowl he lit the match.
Then he threw it onto the alcohol-soaked fibers, and the sudden blaze made bella jump.
"Sorry," he apologized.
“That ought to do it… So I didn't agree with my father's particular brand of faith.But never, in the nearly four hundred years now since I was born, have I ever seen anything to make me doubt whether God exists in some form or the other. Not even the reflection in the mirror."
I pretended to examine the dressing on Bella’s arm to hide my surprise at the direction our conversation had taken.
Religion was the last thing I expected, all things considered.
Sure I have my beliefs.
I’m proof that gods are real, there are multiple gods each have there own sources of power, own domains and followings.
Some where older than others.
you only have to look through History.
You have the Mesopotamian gods and our creators:
Enili: God of air, wind, earth and storms.
An: god of sky
Inanna: goddess of love, beauty, sex, war, justice and political powe
Sîn: Goddess of the moon.
The Egyptian gods
Osiris: God of the underworld
Horus: God of the sky
Seth: God of chaos, violence, desserts and storms
Anubis: God of death.
Indus Valley Civilization two gods, Shiva and Rudra
Minoan civilization worshipped a variety of goddesses.
Mother Goddess: who was typically associated with snakes.
Greek and Roman gods
Just to name a few.
Not to mention modern day religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Celtic and a variety of others.
Each with there own god and goddesses some of them multiple dietys.
“I'm sure all this sounds a little bizarre, coming from a vampire." He grinned,
“But I'm hoping that there is still a point to this life, even for us. It's a long shot, I'll admit,"
he continued in an offhand voice.
“By all accounts, we're damned regardless. But I hope, maybe foolishly, that we'll get some measure of credit for trying."
"I don't think that's foolish," I mumbled. I couldn't imagine anyone, deity included, who wouldn't be impressed by Carlisle.
In fact If any deity disagreed i would happily March down to the underworld and rip them a new one.
"The rest of them don't feel the same?" Bella asked, surprised, clearly thinking of only one person in particular.
Carlisle also guessed the direction of her thoughts again.
“Edward's with me up to a point. God and heaven exist… and so does hell. But he doesn't believe there is an afterlife for our kind." Carlisle's voice was very soft he stared out the big window over the sink, into the darkness.
“You see, he thinks we've lost our souls."
Which is crap in my opinion.
Every human even a vampire has a soul.
For they were human once to.
"That's the real problem, isn't it?" She hit the nail on the head.
“That's why he's being so difficult about me."
Carlisle spoke slowly. "I look at my… son. His strength, his goodness, the brightness that shines out of him and it only fuels that hope, that faith, more than ever. How could there not be more for one such as Edward?"
Bella nodded in fervent agreement.
"But if I believed as he does…" He looked down at her with unfathomable eyes.
“If you believed as he did. Could you take away his soul?"
“It's my choice," bella insisted.
Clearly not interested in anyone’s opinion
"It's his, too." He held up his hand when he could see that She was about to argue.
"Whether he is responsible for doing that to you."
"He's not the only one able to do it." Bella eyed Carlisle speculatively.
Edward would kill the person who did it .
He laughed, abruptly lightening the mood.
"Oh, no! You're going to have to work this out with him." But then he sighed.
“That's the one part I can never be sure of. I think, in most other ways, that I've done the-best I could with what I had to work with. But was it right to doom the others to this life? I can't decide."
This is getting to much for me, I take this as my chance to exit.
I find everyone else outside.
Emmett and jasper have gone to hunt, William is trying to speak to a stone cold Edward.
Mum and Esme are speaking in hushed voices.
Rosalie doesn’t seem to bothered and is absentmindedly listening to Alice ramble.
All eyes turn to me.
“She’s fine.” I reassure everyone.
I heard a yell from the forest as Jasper took his anger out on the poor trees He was less thirsty now having just returned with Emmett, but now he was filled with guilt and remorse. He was ashamed of himself.
We all slowly return without jasper to the house and Bella comes into the living room all stiched up.
She turns to Edward however he is already walking out the room.
“I’ll drive you home.”
If Bella was put out by his less than warm tone she didn’t say.
I place a hand on her non injured arm.
“C'mon," I said. "I'll get you something less macabre to wear."
I found a shirt of Esme's that was close to the same color Bella’s had been.
Charlie wouldn't notice, I was sure.
It doesn’t take long for Edward to get Bella back into the truck, wanting her to be far away as possible.
Finally I can relax.
Still need to keep an eye on Edward just in case.
Mum and Esme had done a great job of cleaning the mess of broken glass up.
Wanting to get rid of lasting remanence of what was a terrible evening.
One that had started out so great.
But making everything look like new was not enough to change what has happened.
Nothing good is going to come from this situation.