What if there was someone for Bella besides Jacob? What if she helped her through it all?
This starts right after Twilight in August. Enjoy!
All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer except Amy and Abby.
Pieceing Her Together Table of Contents:
Thanks Lynn Wolf for the Banner. I love it and owe you big time :)
Keeping It Together Table of Contents:
Abby Point of View
I missed California beyond belief. I had always been a girl who enjoyed warm weather, days at the beach, flying kites in the park with my sister, Amy. But I realized that life in Los Angeles was in no way good for her. I did not want her to grow up where there was constant ciaos.
My boyfriend had just been shot. He had never done drugs, had a single drop of alcohol, he had perfect grades, he was on the varsity football team, and he loved my sister like his own. And most importantly he cared about me. If I had to cancel a date because my sister was sick he understood, and then brought over a teddy bear, a get well soon card, and a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Even though she was just sick with the common cold. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. And then he was taken away. The main reason for moving was to get away from the bad memories. He was shot one day as we were walking to pick up my sister from school. He was not in a gang, but the members of a gang accidently shot him. I held him in my arms and watched him bleed to death. The last words he said to me were, “Don’t forget me, but move on. There is someone out there for you. Go find him. I was only part of your life. But you were all of mine. Be happy again. Take care of yourself and Amy. I will always love you.” That day, Amy and I sat in my bed and cried. We went through about four boxes of tissues, two gallons of ice cream, and five sappy movies. The next day we started to look for a new place to live.
I was eighteen, and held the custody of my five-year-old sister, Amy. My parents had died in a car crash. They loved us both and that was another unbearable event. I was sixteen, became emancipated, and took custody of Amy. She was the most important person in my life. And I was going to make her life better. After I went to court and did my part in putting the gang members away, I decided to take my sister somewhere she could be safe. We were moving to Forks, Washington. My mom had a brother named Charlie. He was ten years older than she was, and they did not talk very often. Maybe once a year, but often times not even that. When my parents died, I tried to keep in touch with him. I called him every three months and sent him Christmas cards, but that was it. Charlie was the Chief of Police. We were moving into the house next to his. Apparently his daughter Bella had moved in a little bit before us.
It was August and it gave us just enough time to move in and get settled before school started. It was my senior year and it was Amy’s time to start first grade. We moved in quickly. There was an extra room where we put all of our stuff. We were painting our rooms today.
“Amy, you sure you want your room pink?”
“For sure! I want to have a princess room! Can you paint a pretty castle on the wall like you did in our old house?” She asked with the biggest puppy dog eyes.
“Of course. Now let’s get to work.” We painted the room in no time at all. We were professional painters. NOT! But we were good. We let the pink in her room dry while we worked on my room. It was going to be a lavender color. Once my room was finished we went back to Amy’s room. I started on the intricate design of the castle as Amy watched. Then the door bell rang.
“I’ll get it!” Amy yelled and flew down stairs. I continued to paint knowing it would be Charlie at the door. He called earlier to let us know he was going to check on us and see how we were doing.
“Wow, this is a really good paint job. You guys should start a business.” Charlie said with a whistle. I set my paint brush down and went to hug him.
“Hey, Uncle Charlie, it’s good to see you.” I really was glad to be able to be around family. I loved my sister with all my heart but seeing family was good for the soul. “How’s Bella? I haven’t seen her since we were in diapers. So I guess that doesn’t really count because I don’t even remember that.”
“She’s good. She is over at the Cullen’s house as we speak. She is dating Edward Cullen.” He said that trying not to include too much distaste.
“I’m happy for her. Will she be home later? Because I want to introduce her to Amy.” And I also wanted to see her myself.
“Yeah, she’s coming home for dinner. Edward is too. You two are welcome to come over.” He offered.
“Count us in.” I said and went back to my painting. Amy and Charlie struck up a conversation for the longest time. I sat there in my own world, painting away. After about two hours Charlie left and Amy continued to talk to me. When I finished the Castle I wrote in purple lettering Where Fantasies Become Reality above the spot where her bed would be. We cleaned up the painting supplies, and then we cleaned up ourselves. I helped Amy shampoo her hair as she talked about her imaginary prince charming, Embry. It was really cute that she still had fun in life after all that had happened to us. I dried her off, put her hair in a French braid, and she went down stairs to read a book from the Magic Tree House series. I taught her how to read because she kept wondering what I was doing all the time with books. She became completely enamored with the idea of a world with in something so small. I took a shower and slipped on some clothes. I went and looked at the stuff in our extra room with dismay. There was no way I would be able to move the furniture. The movers put it in that room in the first place. Amy and I slept on the couch last night. But I did not want to keep doing that. I’d have to get Charlie and someone else to help me move it all. I went down stairs and helped Amy into her rain coat. I eased into mine and we walked outside. I locked the door, and then we raced to Charlie’s house. There were there cars parked out front, a Volvo, Truck, and a Police Cruiser. Edward and Bella must already be back, I assumed. We knocked on the door and Charlie yelled to us that the door was open. We walked in and hung our coats up. We walked into the living room to find Charlie watching football.
“What is this?” Amy asked Charlie and pointed at the football game.
“Are you asking what football is?” He asked completely shocked.
“Yeah, we don’t have cable Charlie. We have a television but it only lets us watch movies.” I reasoned.
“Then I’m going to have to teach Amy all about football.” He started, and then dove right in. He told her everything about football. I walked into the kitchen to find everything on the counter to make dinner. Apparently we were having spaghetti, but Bella and Edward weren’t home, yet. Just their cars.
“Charlie, where’s Bella?”
“She’s still at the Cullens. Edward’s sister picked them up this morning so that they could go play baseball.” He hollered back.
“Do you mind if I start making dinner?”
“Knock yourself out.” And then I was off. I started cooking like crazy. By the time I was done I saw a jeep pull up to the house. Two people hopped out, and I was assuming they were Bella and Edward. The boy sitting in the driver’s seat was a big muscle guy. He drove off once they were out of the car. They walked to the front door and came into the house.
“Charlie, I’m home!” Bella exclaimed. The put there jackets in the closet and came into the kitchen. “Abby! It’s so good to see you!” Bella said and hugged me tightly.
“It’s good to see you too. I hope you don’t mind but I started making dinner.”
“Not at all. Abby this is my boyfriend, Edward. Edward this is my cousin, Abby.” Bella introduced us.
“It’s nice to meet you.” I said and shook his hand. It was slightly cold, but assumed it was because of the weather. He looked gorgeous. Not in a way that I wanted him, but more in a way that I couldn’t deny he was handsome. “Hey, Amy! I want you to meet Bella and Edward.” I requested her presence. She merrily skipped into the room and came up beside me. I picked her up and settled her on my hip. She may have been five, but I would always want to hold her like this. “Amy this is your cousin, Bella. And this is her boyfriend Edward.”
She squirmed out of my embrace, got on the ground, and curtsied in front of them and bowed. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Sir Edward and Lady Bella. I’m Princess Amy.” She said playing her game.
Edward and Bella both played along, he bowed and she curtsied. “It’s is such an honor to meet you princess.” They played along.
“Queen Abby, is the feast ready?” Amy asked me politely.
“It is princess, as soon as you wash your hands.” She skipped to the sink and I helped her up so she could wash her hands. She was kind of short. But she was perfect that way. Once that was done we all sat around the table and ate spaghetti. Except Edward, he was apparently on a special diet. Bella asked us how the move was going. Amy told her about the painting session today. She and Edward were going to come over afterward and see it. Once we finished easting, Charlie washed the dishes and the rest of us walked over to our house. We walked up to Amy’s room and they both ogled at my Castle painting.
“This is absolutely amazing! How long did it take you?” Bella questioned. “A couple hours. No biggie. The real issue is getting all the furniture into our rooms. We had the movers put all of it in the spare room. And I can’t lift it all alone.”
“My brother’s and I can come over tomorrow and help move it.” Edward offered.
“That would be amazing. Thank you.” And then I noticed Amy trying to hide a yawn. “I guess it’s time for bed, Princess Amy.”
“No! Please! I’m having too much,” She yawned again, “fun… Okay, I’ll go to bed.” She said and went to change into pajamas and brush her teeth. I said goodbye to Bella and Edward. Then I went back upstairs to help Amy get ready for bed. I did the same. I was exhausted. We went downstairs and read for half an hour and fell asleep with the worlds of a magic wonderland.
pls more and pls call me missdesiree or missdesi you see desibug is a petname but if you like calling me by my petname you can
Sorry that I have taken so long to post to this website. Love always, VampAndWolfLover
Chapter 6 (Part 1)
Crossing the Border
Bella texted me as she was boarding the plane, thanking me for convincing her to go. I sent her my love, reminding her to go crazy and have some fun, telling her she would have to recount everything that happened that weekend. She quickly replied telling me to do the same. I smiled, snapping my phone shut. While Bella would be enjoying the Florida heat rays, I’d be enjoying the torrential downpour of Forks. Not that I could mind, I personally found it soothing. It was a normal Friday night that I spent inside reading curled up with a good book, Amy at my side, curled up with her own piece of fiction, Lobo at our feet.
Embry came home at some point in the night to find the three of us snoring on the couches. He chuckled, carrying Amy up to her bed, Lobo trailing at his heels. He returned back down the stairs, carrying me to bed, as if I weighed nothing more than a cloud. He peeled back the sheets with one hand, sliding me under the covers with the other, joining me seconds later, after turning off the bedroom light. His heat warmed me as I vaguely recognized that everything was right with the world.
Saturday morning we spent eating pancakes shaped like dinosaurs, watching Embry get syrup all over Lobo’s head. Saturday noon Amy and Embry spent giving Lobo a bath while I stayed dry, cooking food for tonight’s barbeque. Emily had asked that I make my famous chili, especially because it was so cold and wet outside. There was nothing better to warm people up than a bowl full of slightly spiced chili.
The barbeque was supposed to start at six, so we left the house at half past five, wanting to drive slowly in the rain. Embry insisted on driving as I sat in the back, holding the crock pot of chili between Amy and me, preventing it from sliding around. I slid my phone out of my purse as the ringer started to go off. It was a text from Bella.
Thanks for convincing me on going to Florida. Couldn’t have been better. Love B
I sent a reply back, telling her that she was going to have to come to the next werewolf party but that her mom was more important. I laughed at my antics and just before I closed my phone I received a text from Alice. I had asked her earlier if she had anything planned for tonight or tomorrow because I wanted to spend time with her.
I’m busy tonight, and I think you are too because you future is getting more confusing by the second. Have fun with the wolves. <3 A
I giggled, sending lots of love back her way, insisting we spend time together tomorrow. I think it was about time to tell her about the baby. Embry and I talked about waiting until the end of May, so then we would know the gender and there would be a better guarantee of the baby’s survival. But, I couldn’t keep it from Alice anymore. She was one of the most important people in my life; to keep this secret from her any longer would be nearly impossible. Besides, I needed a shopping buddy. Alice had a knack for knowing what would look good before going through the unbearable process of searching for a decent looking outfit, and then penetrating through piece of clothing after piece of clothing to possibly find the right size. Alice could cut searching time from an hour to ten minutes, without the hassle to even try clothing on because she knew what would fit and what would not. Finding maternity clothes was even more of a bother, simply because clothing rarely looks flattering on an elephant and there is simply not enough energy or time to go shopping when you are tiered, pregnant, hormonal, hungry, and dying to go pee. Shopping with Alice made life easier. And keeping secrets made life much too hard.
Telling Rosalie and Emmett was a whole other story. They’ve known for only a week and are gearing up to have another little one in the world as if the baby was coming tomorrow. I sat them down in the living room, Amy sleeping upstairs, Lobo snoring at her feet, Embry running patrol. Intentionally, Embry wasn’t there for this, incase either of them lost control. Apparently, my precautions were unnecessary.
Rosalie and Emmett looked a bit worried when I said that I wanted them to stay after Amy fell asleep because I needed to tell them something important. They retained their composure but you could see the worry in their eyes if you knew to look for it. Sitting on the couches, me relaxed and laid back, them uptight and worried, sitting on the edge of their seats, hands clasped together.
“Don’t look so worried. It’s nothing that terrible, in fact the news is kind of wonderful.” Their expressions and stiff positions didn’t change. I guess that only the actual news would determine whether or not they should be concerned.
I looked down to my belly, covered in layers by shirts and sweatshirts. I’d been doing this for weeks as to not alert anyone prematurely to my bump. Unless you knew, it was hard to tell. The only people who knew at this point were the wolves (because Embry couldn’t keep the baby from his thoughts); Esme and Carlisle; Amy; Embry, of course; Embry’s mom; Bella; and Edward. It was time my “pretend” parents knew.
“I’m pregnant.” I said, my voice strong with conviction, having finally said the words often enough to enough people that I even believed the words.
They didn’t gasp, or take a breath in shock, because they weren’t even breathing. Vampires. I laughed mentally, taking another breath because I was breathing for two. Although I sat for what felt like hours, their expressions changed immediately according to actual time rather than my perceived time. Grins both spread across their faces, and they covered the distance between us to wrap me in a family hug.
“Embry’s the father, right?” Dad asked, not a bit of skepticism in his voice, trying to make a joke.
“Of course! Em, how could you even joke otherwise?” Mom objected, punching Dad in the arm, in a way that would have hurt a human, but Dad just laughed at his humor.
“Is there anything we could do for you? Is there anything you need us to buy?” Mom’s concern shown through in the words she selected and in the emotion on her face.
“There’ll be a baby shower in a few months and you’re welcome to buy the baby gifts then, but for now, we just need your support, and that includes Embry.” I breathed in relief, realizing how worried I had been about their reactions.
“Anything you need, just ask. We never had kids and we don’t need much, so if you ever need money or an extra pair of hands, don’t be afraid to call. We’ll always be here for you. And that goes for the baby, Amy, you, and Embry.” Rosalie offered, making a huge commitment, one she had wanted to make for years.
“I know that I’m hard on Embry, and the rest of the mutts, but I’ll try and make a better effort to get along with them.” Emmett added, surprising me and Rose.
“I’m shocked that you made the offer, but thank you. It means more to me than you could ever imagine, but you do know that you already do get along with them fairly well.”
“I do not!” Dad contradicted, crossing his arms like a five year old.
“Yeah, you do. Even though you wrestle with them and have disagreements about sports, those are just normal guy things, not mortal enemy arguments.” Rose spoke the words that I was about to.
“Although, I don’t doubt that a few of those will come about now and again, the local werewolves and vampires are starting to actually communicate like normal human beings.” I added.
“We’ll just have to be weary of the dangerous disagreements.” Rosalie responded, wrapping her hand in Emmett’s.
My thoughts drifted back to the present car ride to La Push. The streets were almost too wet to be considered safe, but Embry was driving slow and had better reflexes than the average human. I decided that it was time for Alice and Jasper to know about the baby; however, I wanted Embry’s approval before I told them.
“Hey, babe, do you think it would be alright if I told Alice and Jasper about junior, tomorrow?” I asked, rubbing the side of my belly.
“It’s perfectly okay with me, sweetheart. Do you want me to be there?”
“Actually, Alice and I will probably go shopping for maternity clothes afterwards, so if you wouldn’t mind going to spend time with Jasper and Amy afterwards, then you can be there.”
“Yeah, I don’t mind spending time with Amy,” his voice dripped with sarcasm as he reached into the back seat to tickle Amy, keeping his eyes on the road, making her burst into fits of giggles. “And out of all the vampires, Jasper’s one of the coolest. Did you know he was in the army? During the civil war? And he follows pro football just as avidly as I do.”
“He likes pro football? I had no idea. He’s just so quiet, I would have never known.” I sat back in my seat, cozying into the leather.
There were a few minutes of silence until Amy asked, “Sissy, who’s going to be at the barbeque?”
“All the same people that are usually at the weekly parties, except no vampires. Embry, is anyone else coming?” I asked, turning my head from facing Amy to facing Embry’s reflection in the rearview mirror.
“The only new people will be Seth and Leah Clearwater. They finally got the clear to come out and about. Even though you got Leah out of the basement a while ago, and Sam let it slide for that one party, he banned them from future get-togethers until they could fully control themselves, especially in large groups, regardless of the vampire factor.” Embry turned the wheel, causing the car to turn onto residential streets.
“Really? I just thought that Leah just didn’t like the party scene anymore. I didn’t know she was banned! I’m going to have a serious talking to with Sam! This is ridiculous! He can’t place restrictions on her and then want her to adjust to the changes in her life, and I don’t just mean being a werewolf. Losing her dad was not easy on her: she needs to get out and about if she wants any hope of healing.” I realize that my rant was not necessary for Embry or Amy to hear, but I was just getting started, and Sam was going to be getting an ear full later. Not tonight, but that’s just because I didn’t want to ruin the barbeque.
“Good luck with Sam, Emily already tried and if he didn’t listen to her, I doubt that he’d listen to anyone else. Although, you are pretty persuasive.” Embry smiled, parking the car against the curb, in front of Billy’s house.
“I’ll grab the chili, the two of you can head for the front door,” my wolf offered, getting out of the driver’s seat. Amy and I rushed to the front door, hiding from the rain beneath our hooded coats.
I knocked on the front door, just as Amy asked, “Who is Seth?”
“He is Leah’s younger brother. He’s a wolf just like the rest of the pack, but he’s the youngest one they’ve had yet.” I answered.
“What does he look like? How old is he?” Amy asked, he curious mind getting the better of her.
“I haven’t seen him since he changed into a wolf, but he looks a lot like…” I started, but then the door swung open and Seth stood there, smiling like the goofy teenager he was. He smiled to me, then looked down to see who was with me and his stare went blank. I looked down at my side to see Amy with the same expression of awe.
Carrying the crock pot of chili, Embry came up behind me, saw the two of them, whistled, and then hollered, “Boys, it looks like we’ve got another imprint on our hands.”
Hoots, hollers, and whistling came from the boys and shocked gasps came from the girls. All in all, everyone was surprised that another imprint had even happened. There had never been a pack this big, let alone this many imprints. It was supposed to be rare. Then again, wasn’t all of this supposed to be rare, or I guess a better word for it would be unknown. Nonetheless, the most surprised out of the group were the imprint and the wolf. Embry scooted us all into the house, because the chill was starting to give me goose bumps. Still carrying the crock pot of chili, Embry gave a few parting words before going to set it down in the kitchen. “Hey, Seth, be good to her, because I really would hate to kill you.” Although his words seemed to be all in good humor, Embry did make that not-so-veiled threat clear.
I made the introductions, feeling that it was necessary at this point. “Amy, this is Seth Clearwater. Seth, this is my younger sister, Amy Caldwell. I’ll let you to get to know each other.” Curious about a few things, I walked to the kitchen, searching for Embry.
I caught him already grabbing a bowl of my chili. I knew there was a reason I loved him; he eats everything I cook without hesitation. I sidled up next to him and spooned myself a bowl.
“Em, I’m curious. How is this thing with Seth and Amy going to work? I mean, she’s six years old. Surely not old enough to have a boyfriend. Especially because Seth is over twice her age.” My voice became high pitched at the end of my statements, concern showing through even in my tone of voice.
“It’s hard to explain. I’m not sure I even fully understand it. When a wolf imprints, an unbreakable connection is made between those two people. He’ll always be there for her, for whatever she needs. If at this age, she needs a best friend, he’ll be that for her. If she needs a mentor, he’ll be that for her. If she needs someone to watch over her, he’ll be that for her. If she needs a boyfriend, he’ll be that for her. But only when she needs it. He’ll always care for her, but it won’t be a perversion. He will start to have romantic feelings for her when she’s ready. Even then, it’s not when she decides she wants a boyfriend, it’s when she is ready. See, I’m just rambling. I don’t know that I’m explaining this correctly. You should have Quil explain this to you, he can do it much better than I can, especially because he can tell you from a first-hand experience.”
“Wait! Quil imprinted?” I asked, feeling shocked more than anything else. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Quil wants everyone to find out by him, and I feel bad that I let it slip.” Embry ducked his head, feeling ashamed.
“It’s okay, baby. I am your weakness after all.” I reached on my tip toes, to give his cheek a kiss. “Now, let’s join everyone in the living room, so I can catch up on all the dirty gossip.”
Embry carried my bowl of chili as well as his own, trailing behind me into the living room, watching the sway of my hips from behind, knowing I knew he was watching, and loving every minute. I sat down next to Jake on a couch, Quil sitting on the adjacent lazy boy, with a two-year-old girl on his knee, bouncing up and down. Embry handed me the bowls then filled the empty space beside me. We started digging in after giving our greetings to Jacob and Quil.
“So, who’s the cutie on your knee?” I asked, starting to make funny faces at the baby, who was already smiling.
“This is Claire, Emily’s niece. I’ve imprinted on her.” Quil answered, barely letting his eyes leave the girl in his arms.
“I can see that,” I replied, the obvious look of adoration spread across his expression. “She’s certainly gorgeous. So, I’m curious, what is it like for you to imprint on someone much younger than yourself?”
“Embry, explained it right to you in the kitchen,” Quil responded, and I started to wonder how he heard that until I remembered the super hearing. Sometimes, it’s too weird to hang out with the super natural. Quil continued explaining, “What he left out is the age factor. Because we don’t age while we are constantly changing into werewolves, her age will catch up to mine.”
“You don’t mind waiting?”
“For her, not at all. She’s worth it.” His eyes only left hers for a second to meet mine, and the only thing I could see there was complete devotion.
Leah walked in from the back door, shaking her short cropped hair, which was wet with rain. She smiled my way and came to sit by my feet after grabbing some food for herself. Amy and Seth, with bowls of chili in hand, came to sit across from us in the empty loveseat. Apparently, Amy had a new best friend. Paul joined us as well, sitting in an empty chair next to the loveseat that Amy and Seth had just occupied.
“It would seem that imprints run in the Caldwell family, maybe I’ll imprint on your baby right there.” Paul joked, pointing at my belly.
Embry wrapped an arm around my shoulder, being protective of me and our baby. “Embry, it’s alright,” I whispered in his ear. Turning to face everyone else, I spoke to the group, “I don’t even think this baby is going to be a girl. And if it’s a boy, Leah’s the only one who could imprint on the baby.” There were general expressions of shock around the room. Why is it that everyone thinks Leah will never imprint? Sexist jerks. “Regardless, the baby isn’t going to be born until the end of October, so there’s no need to even talk about who is imprinting on the baby, if anyone imprints on the baby at all.”
All of the sudden there was this loud howling not too far off in the distance. Everyone jumped to their feet and started racing towards the back door. Embry explained to me as we walked to the back door, “Jared’s running patrol. Something’s wrong. We’ll be back soon. Stay safe. Don’t worry.” He kissed me on the forehead and then the lips, before disappearing out the backdoor, following everyone else.
“I always worry.” I said under my breath, not expecting anyone to respond.
“We all do.” Emily replied. I turned to the rest of the room to see the other imprints standing: Emily, Kim, and Amy.
“Yeah, and they expect us not to worry. Idiots.” Kim added, smiling, thinking of her own idiot, Jared.
“I wonder what’s happening. There’s never been something this…. serious. Except when that red head vampire was coming around.” Emily remarked.
Then it all clicked into place. Why the Cullens couldn’t hang out today. Why Edward had taken Bella to Florida. Why Alice wouldn’t say anything about her vision. Why all of the werewolves would need to be called to help. Victoria was close by. I raced to my phone and dialed Alice’s number, even though it was probably too late. The Cullens already knew about Victoria and were on the hunt. The wolves were just now finding out.
“Alice, I know you know about Victoria, but the wolves are on their way. Be careful. We’ll talk about this later.” I snapped my phone shut, and sat down on the couch in resignation. I opened my arms for Amy to crawl into my embrace. She snuggled into my side, resting one hand on my arm, the other on my belly. We all sat in silence. Waiting. Watching. For some sign that everyone was alright and coming back to us safely. After an eternity, they walked in the back door, arguing vocally like nobody’s business. Emily rushed to Sam, throwing her arms around his midsection. Kim ran and jumped on Jared, wrapping her legs around his waist, kissing every inch of his face. Amy ran to Seth, stopping right in front of him, unsure of how to respond, until Seth opened his arms, and she stepped into his embrace. Embry came to my side, waiting for the dam to break. The second his arms wrapped around me, I burst into tears, kissing every inch of him my lips could reach.
Paul was still outraged over whatever had happened out there. “I can’t believe that bloodsucker crossed the line and you wouldn’t let me at him. He violated the treaty.”
“Trying to catch the other bloodsucker, we are both after. Calm down.” Jake tried to appease Paul.
“But he still violated the treaty. Shouldn’t there be some… punishment?” Paul was practically whining at this point.
“Hold the phone, what happened?” I wanted answers.
“Victoria was dancing all along the border, as if she knew where it was, making it impossible for either of us to catch her. Emmett crossed the line trying to catch her, but Emmett doesn’t think he crossed the border.” Embry explained, to me, but loud enough for everyone to listen.
“Why don’t we have a meeting at my house to settle this? I’m sure the Cullens would be willing to come to some sort of agreement.” I suggested.
“Let’s meet. We need to talk about more than what happened today.” Sam replied.
“Come through the back door,” I requested, already heading for the car. Sam nodded in agreement. All of the wolves stayed except Amy and Seth came with Embry and I. Embry drove because I needed to make a call. I was dialing Alice’s number, thinking that she better pick up.
“Hello?” Her perky voice asked.
“Alice, it’s Abby. Can you all meet at my house? The wolves want to have a meeting to settle tonight’s conflict.”
“Sure, we’ll be there in ten. Bye, Abby.” She ended.
“Oh! Hey, Alice.” I called through the phone, hoping she was still on the line.
“Yes?” She asked, unsure of whether or not to be afraid.
“Firstly, come through the front door. Secondly, don’t keep things like this from me.” I requested.
“But….” She started.
“Don’t give me any ‘but’s. You knew this was coming and kept it from me deliberately. I don’t care what Edward’s motivations were in getting Bella out of the state, but you should have told me. What if I had decided to take Amy on a quick side trip and that landed us in Victoria’s path?”
Chapter 6 (Part 2)
“I… You… She… You’re right. Edward made me promise not to tell you and I felt that there was no harm in keeping it from you. I was clearly wrong. I’ll go behind Edward’s back next time and just tell you.” Alice resigned.
“That’s all I ask.” I smiled, praying that she could hear the happiness in my voice. I couldn’t stay mad, everyone was alive and safe. For now. “Are we still on for tomorrow?”
“Absolutely. See you in a few minutes.” Alice responded, the smile in her voice.
“See you.” I snapped my phone shut, just as Embry pulled into the driveway. The four of us hurried inside. We shed out layers and headed for the kitchen, where this conference was going to happen. I started pulling out food from the fridge, cooking up whatever I could find. The wolves were less temperamental when they were fed.
The front and back doors opened at the same time. Everyone herded into the kitchen. Each side remained standing on their own side. It would have to be me to get everyone to be more civil.
“Could Carlisle and Sam each sit at opposite heads of my table? With everyone else standing behind them in a straight line?” No one opposed to my proposition and just followed through with my suggestion. I placed platters of food in front of the wolves, hoping they would start eating before the deliberations began. Jacob was the first to start eating, picking up a halved turkey sandwich.
Embry pulled out one of the chairs that normal sat at the bar. I sat in the seat that was much higher than the rest of the chairs and the table. It gave me a position of power in this deliberation, while allowing me to appear biased, being exactly between each side. Embry stood exactly behind me, not picking a side, deciding to remain neutral for me. What a heart throb. Amy stood to my left, towards the wolves, with Seth at her side, his hand wrapped around hers.
“Now that we’re all set up, can we establish what exactly is being deliberated over? Whether or not Emmett Cullen crossed the boundary lines established by the treaty agreed upon by the La Push Tribe and Cullen Family? Is that correct?” Everyone nodded their heads in agreement. “With no objections, I’d like to ask if anyone from La Push would like to testify what they saw exactly. Please, no derogatory terms.” The words flowed from my mouth, my brain functioning as if I were in the midst of a life or death deliberation, my composure calm.
Jacob stepped up to bat. “We were running along the boundary line, trying to catch the redhead vampire. When she crossed out of our lands we tried to keep up in case she came back. After a mile, she jumped back into our territory, and Emmett came after her, until Paul knocked him down. So in my eyes, Emmett Cullen did in fact cross boundary lines.” Finishing his statement, Jacob stepped back into line.
“Thank you, Jacob. Is there anyone from the Cullen Family that would like to testify what they saw, either in favor or against Emmett?” I asked, not sure who exactly would give a statement.
It surprised all of us when Rosalie stepped out of the line and began to speak. Emmett surely was the most astonished. You could practically feel the betrayal he felt. Only once Rosalie gave her testimony did Emmett change. “It’s just as Jacob said. We were chasing Victoria for about a mile when she jumped back into the La Push territory and Emmett chased after her, crossing the border in the process.”
“How can you be so sure that Emmett did in fact cross the border?” I asked, wanting to cover all the basis.
“Because I was there when the original boundary lines were drawn up. I remember them well. When I saw Emmett cross the line, all I could remember thinking is what life would be like without Emmett. It’s hard enough as it is, never aging, never changing, unable to have children, unable to grow old with Emmett at my side, watching our grandchildren run around our feet. But life with Emmett now is more than I could ever ask for. He makes this life worth living. The second he crossed the line, all I could think was, I hope the wolves don’t kill him, because I really can’t live a life without him.”
I could almost feel the tears brimming in my eyes. “Thank you, Rosalie.” She stepped back into line, wrapping herself in Emmett’s embrace.
“If you ever do that to me again, I won’t have sex with you for a year.” Rosalie gave her own punishment to Emmett.
“I promise, babe. I wasn’t thinking. I won’t ever do that again.” They both kissed passionately, but briefly. It was clear that the kiss they shared was just put on hold until they were in private.
Someone from La Push coughed, trying to bring everyone back to the situation at hand. I tried to end these deliberations with a quick solution. “Is there anyone who would like to argue against either Jacob’s or Rosalie’s testimonies?” No one spoke. “Seeing no objections, Emmett could you step forward and admit exactly what you are at fault for?”
Emmett stepped out of line and began speaking, “I, Emmett Cullen, crossed the boundary line agreed upon by the La Push Tribe and the Cullen Family.” Ending his statement, he stepped back.
“How exactly would either of you like to proceed?” I asked, referring to Carlisle and Sam.
Sam was the first to speak. “We will allow this violation of the treaty, just this once, seeing as how we were, excuse me, are both chasing after a common enemy.”
“Thank you. There is no way we could express our gratitude more, but if you ever need anything, do not hesitate to ask.” Carlisle offered.
“What could you give us?” Paul scoffed. Sam turned around , glaring at Paul, who immediately shut up.
“Medical attention? I realize that you all heal extremely fast, but if there is anything that is too drastic for your healing powers, don’t hesitate to call. I am one of the only doctors that could treat you, keeping in mind your extremely high temperature.” Carlisle explained.
“Thank you, we will take that into consideration. Now, there are other matters that need to be discussed, such as this red headed vampire.” Sam replied, changing the direction of the conversation.
“Wait, so let me get this straight. Victoria is back? With all of the knowledge about the Cullens because Laurent told her as much as he could before he was killed.” I hollered in outrage. Why could she not just leave Bella alone? Is there such a thing as taking revenge too far? Granted, the Cullens did kill James, but it was justified. He crossed the line by kidnapping Bella and trying to munch on her. Either way, it seems like Victoria is sticking around for a little while.
“That about sums it up.” Emmett responded, answering my rhetorical questions about Victoria.
“What I don’t understand is how she evaded us. We were waiting for her, because we knew ahead of time, due to Alice’s visions. But she still evaded us. Not just a coven of vampires, but a pack of werewolves as well? It just doesn’t add up.” Jasper commented, more to himself than to the crowd.
“Regardless, I believe we need to come up with new treaty terms until she is caught. Just because you all have vowed to not bite a human being that means nothing to this other vampire.” Sam started.
“I agree. What exactly do you propose?” Carlisle prompted, leaning forward with curiosity, resting his chin on his closed fist.
“The boundaries are kept in place, but there will be leeway as long as this vampire is in pursuit. In other words, if either of us is chasing her, no punishment will be given with regards to the crossing of boundary lines.” Sam offered.
“That sounds reasonable. I should also mention that Victoria is after Bella. We are already taking precautions by guarding her, but is there anything else you can think of as an extra precaution?” Carlisle asked.
It was news to me that they were guarding Bella, and I’m sure it would be news to her as well.
“We will broaden our perimeter to include the Swan residence.” Sam suggested.
“Wait, does Bella know that she is being guarded around the clock?” I asked, knowing that someone needed to speak up for her while she was not able to speak up for herself.
No response was given. The silence was an answer enough. “Seeing as how she is unaware, why don’t you all wait for her to come back from Florida first? I’m sure she won’t object to the protection. She might even have a few ideas. But she does need to know about all of this. It isn’t fair to her otherwise.”
There was general agreement around the room, but only because no one could create a suitable argument against my statement. “Great,” I clapped my hands together now that we had come to some sort of compromise. “So everyone abides by the treaty but leeway will be given with regards to the chasing of Victoria?” Everyone nodded in agreement. “Anything else on the agenda?”
No one spoke up, except I could see Jacob trying to make eye contact with me in my peripheral vision. I looked towards him briefly. Without words, he conveyed his desire to speak to only me. In order for that to happen, I tried ending the group meeting.
“Seeing as how no one has anything further to add, I’d like to end this meeting so I can get Amy to bed.” She almost objected, until I slid her a wink, hidden from everyone else’s view. I wouldn’t be sending her to bed for a few more hours if she didn’t want to fall asleep. It was her first night as an imprint: I didn’t want to end it now, separating her and Seth until tomorrow.
Nonetheless, everyone took the hint and started to break up the meeting. Jared, Quil, and Sam left quickly after saying goodbye to the crowd, wanting to get back to their imprints. Paul only left after I let him take a dozen cookies I had in the pantry. Embry kissed me on the cheek, leaving to go on patrol, saying he’d be back in two hours, missing me the entire time he was on patrol. My legs went weak at his words and I had to give him a few dozen kisses before he left.
The Cullens, Leah, Seth, and Jacob remained. Seth and Amy went into the living room to talk, with Lobo in between the couple, trying to defend his Amy. The image was rather heartwarming. Leah struck up a conversation with Carlisle and Esme. I could only hear snippets of the conversation, words like “genetics,” “babies,” and “check-up.” I mentally sighed, happy that Leah had started to come to terms with who she was and wanted to take the next step in accepting her wolf genes. As the conversation continued, I heard Esme chime in that Leah was welcome to the Cullen home any time she needed anything. Leah said that was greatly appreciated and she would definitely stop by soon.
Another conversation in the room was between Jacob, Emmett, and Jasper. The topic of the discussion: basketball. Would the sports ever end? I asked myself. Then I thought, Sure, the season always ends, but then another sport season begins. If football isn’t on, basketball is. I ignored that conversation and moved towards Rosalie and Alice. They were talking shopping, of course. I decided to join that conversation, finding the topic of discussion safer than basketball.
“I need a new pair of heels.” Alice complained.
“You bought a pair two days ago,” reminded Rosalie.
“But Emmett broke the heel on one when he and Jasper were wrestling in the living room. Emmett crushed the box and I hadn’t even had to pleasure of wearing the shoes.” Alice reasoned.
“I think you do need a new pair in that case. While, I don’t need new shoes, I need new bras.” I complained, feeling my growing breasts strained in the one I was currently wearing.
“What, do the ones you have now not ‘work’ for Embry?” Alice asked with air quotes on the work, implying that he didn’t like the look.
“Oh, not at all. They ‘work’ fine for Embry. For me, not so much. They’re just one cup size,” or two, I mentally added, “small. It’s broaching the point of painful to wear the small bras I have now. Embry just said ditch bras all together, that would be fine with him.” I joked, repeating Embry’s words verbatim.
“I bet he would. He and every other man on the planet would just love that. Hell, it’d be easier access. Am I right, or am I right?” Rosalie rhetorically asked, throwing her hands up in the air.
“You’re preaching to the choir, sister. There were a few years when I was part of those feminist movements, back in the day, and I would go burn my bra with the girls. Jasper loved it cause I came home with nothing beneath my shirts.” Alice smiled, reminiscing on the past.
“You think your man liked it. When I came home, Emmett was so giddy you’d think he was a virgin, teenage boy.” Rosalie joked, throwing her head back with a laugh. We all did the same, picturing Emmett unable to control himself.
Just as our laughter started to get out of control, Jasper and Emmett came up behind their girls and wrapped their arms around their waists. Jacob came to stand by my side. “Now, who are you girls laughing at now?” Jasper asked.
That only made us laugh harder. The three of them continued to look at us with skepticism and just decided to dismiss our laughter as typical crazy female hormones.
“Don’t worry about it, boys. You wouldn’t understand.” I remarked with emphasis on the under, knowing that Rosalie and Alice would get it. They continued to giggle with me.
“She’s right, you guys wouldn’t understand. So don’t worry about it.” Rosalie agreed, smiling at Emmett, realizing that he and Jasper wouldn’t get the hidden meaning unless we said it directly.
“We should get these boys home before they start getting any ideas.” Alice winked, foreseeing they would never guess. “Jasper and I will see you tomorrow, Abby.” Alice reminded, hugging me goodbye before heading out the door with Jasper.
“Are you telling them tomorrow?” Rosalie asked, once Alice and Jasper were out of ear shot. I nodded in response, not knowing what to respond. “Good luck. I hope Alice doesn’t blow a gasket trying to arrange a baby registry.”
“Maybe it’ll give her a distraction from graduation. Everyone knows Bella doesn’t want a big celebration and I don’t need one.” I retorted.
“I doubt it. Alice can multitask pretty well. It’s almost like she isn’t even human.” Emmett joked, trying to add a bit of his own humor.
“You’re probably right.” Rosalie responded, kissing her husband on the cheek. “Well, we’re going to get out of your hair. See you soon.” She hugged and kissed me goodbye, Emmett copying her movements. They walked out the door, heading home. Leah, Carlisle, and Esme all gave their goodbyes, as they walked out the front door, making their way to the Cullen home in order to continue their earlier conversation. I could still hear Seth and Amy talking quietly in the living room, and I knew they were alright.
Jacob and I moseyed our way to the kitchen. I sat down at a stool, resting my arms on the granite countertops of the bar. Jacob made two hot chocolates, one for me, one for him. He continued pacing on the opposite side of the island until he could find the right words to speak.
“What were Edward’s intentions with taking Bella to Florida?” He started, staring me down for the truth.
“Frankly, I think there are a number of reasons. One, he wanted to get Bella away from Victoria, because the Cullens obviously knew about her approach ahead of time, due to Alice’s visions. Second, he hopes that seeing her mom will cause her immediate desire to become a vampire to lessen-“ and before I could finish my reasons, Jake interrupted with a question.
“Wait, the leech doesn’t want Bella to turn into a vampire?” Jacob asked, incredulity spread all over his face.
“Not at all. To the best of my knowledge, that’s the last thing Edward wants of Bella. She’s the one insisting on a life together forever. He doesn’t want to condemn her soul. He believes that vampires are doomed to end up in hell, if there is such a fate, and Bella believes wholly the other way. He’d rather spend a long happy life with her, and end his life after she dies, then to risk her soul at all.” I stopped there, unable to explain their beliefs any more than I already had.
I shifted in my seat, lifting the warm mug of hot chocolate to my lips. Letting the chocolate warm me from the inside out, burning my throat on the way down just enough to make me sigh in contentment, I waited for Jake to respond.
“Why exactly did you guys go to Italy? I understand that it was to save him, but from what?” Jacob, along with most others who knew of the rescue mission, knew little of why we had to rescue Edward in the first place.
“You remember the day that Bella and I went cliff diving? Well, Edward was going to Italy to ask the Volturi, the bad vampires, to kill him. It’s hard to kill a vampire, especially if you’re trying to commit suicide because there are so few ways they can die. He knew that only the Volturi would actually kill him. However, he knew that the chances of them killing him were slim to none. They wanted to have him on their side, being that he would be a powerful asset. Nonetheless, Edward had a backup plan: expose himself to the humans. The biggest rule for vampires is not to be conspicuous. By exposing himself, the Volturi, who are kind of like the government for all intense and purposes, would have to rectify the situation by killing him, as is the traditional punishment. Edward was not killing himself out of guilt for not being with Bella, as she had thought. He wanted to kill himself because he couldn’t imagine a life where she didn’t exist.”
“Then why did he leave her in the first place?” Jacob asked, seeing the idiocy in that train of thought.
“He left so that she could have a chance at a normal, happy, human life. I think he had actually hoped that you would end up together. He knew you could protect her if the need should arise. He tried to force Bella to accept the human life that she didn’t, and still doesn’t, want.”
“Wow. I guess I owe the guy some credit. He really is selfless. And playing this game much better than I am, apparently.” Jake rubbed the back of his neck in frustration and resignation.
“This isn’t a game, so stop thinking that way. The two of you aren’t competing for her affection. She loves Edward as a lifetime companion. She loves you as the brother she never had.”
“It’s not a competition because he’s already won.”
“Except, you are still competing. I don’t mean for Bella. That’s a lost battle.” I sipped at my hot chocolate for a minute, trying to think of how to phrase my thoughts properly. Jacob needed to understand this. It would be harder for him to accept not having Bella then it would be to accept another woman. “I know you are probably tired of hearing this, but there are other fish in the sea. You’re young, go explore a little. I realize that you have experienced more in your life than most people could ever dream of, but this is a whole other matter. The love of your life could be out there sipping a cup of Joe, out in Seattle, reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, sitting in the nook of a coffee shop. Got out and live a little. You’ll find her.”
“But I already have. Bella is the one.” He demanded, hearing my words but incapable of believing them.
“Don’t give me that line of bull. Did I ever hear you tell me that you imprinted on Bella?” I asked, not needing an answer, already having one. I almost put my hand on my hip, but just arched my brow instead, giving him the look, daring him to challenge me.
“Well, no…” he admitted in barely a whisper.
“Wait, I don’t think I heard you. Could you repeat yourself?” I asked, cupping my hand to my ear.
“No, I didn’t imprint on Bella.” He spoke, louder this time, hanging his head in shame.
“Come, again,” I requested, having heard his words perfectly, but needing him to repeat them just for fun.
“No, I have not imprinted on Bella. Nor have I imprinted on anyone else.” Jake repeated, much louder, with confirmation in his voice. He finally raised his head and looked at me with realization in his eyes.
“Did you honestly think that as one of the strongest members of the pack that you wouldn’t imprint on anyone? Out of all people, you are most likely to imprint on someone, you just haven’t found her yet. For all you know, she could still be an unborn baby. Stop fussing over Bella when she clearly is not the person you are meant to be with.” I ended my rant, finishing the hot chocolate, which was now luke warm. I could see all of the chocolate remains on the bottom of the cup.
Jake considered my words as I slid out of the bar stool. I walked over to the sink and rinsed out the mug. Turning around, I leaned against the countertops and looked to Jake for some sign that my words had reached.
“I understand what you’re saying. I’m not sure I am ready to accept it, yet. However, I am ready to start thinking about that possibility. It just… it hurts. Being with her, but not really being with her.” Jake hung his head in defeat. I walked towards him with open arms. He accepted the gesture, embracing me in a hug. He didn’t cry, because he was too much of a manly man for that: he did seem to let out a few shaky breaths, the closest he had ever come to crying in front of me. His face was leaning against the crook in my neck. It was an awkward hug, just because of his height and my lack of height, but we made it work, if only for his solace.
“It’s okay. I know it hurts. I may not stop for a while, but it will stop. I promise.” I rubbed soothing, circular patterns on his back, trying to comfort him. There really was no ‘good’ way to handle this. A love triangle could never be an easy fix. I may have passed geometry with flying colors, but I knew even triangles were complicated to deal with.
“I’ll help you find her, Jake. I promised to find Leah’s man. And now I am promising to find your woman, no matter how far away she is. Embry and I will help you find her. Sound good?” I asked, trying to lift his face in order to gauge his expression for confirmation.
He slowly raised his head, nodding his approval. “Thanks, Abby. I don’t know what I would have done without you to talk to.”
“I know. You all would have suffered a terrible fate worse than death. That’s what would have happened if I weren’t here.” He seemed to smile at my humor, if only marginally. “I’m only kidding. You would have been fine, I’m sure.” I spoke the words, but couldn’t believe them truly. Yeah right. None of these lunatics would have lasted five minutes without making a chaotic mess worse than the 405 freeway during rush-hour with a ten car pile-up. But no need to mention that to anyone.
“Go get some rest. You just haven’t been sleeping enough. And come over tomorrow for dinner. You need to eat a proper meal. Billy can cook, but not during sport seasons. You’re starting to look a little thin, Jake.” I commented, clearly joking, because he and the boys always seemed to be hungry, but never without food.
Jake just chuckled, and replied. “There’s always a sports season.”
“My point exactly. Bring Billy over. In fact, just tell everyone to show up, imprints and wolves alike. The party ended too early tonight.”
“Yeah, it did. I didn’t even get to eat a second bowl of chili.” Jacob’s stomach growled, as if on command.
“There’s more in the refrigerator if you want me to warm it up,” I offered, already moving towards the fridge.
“I can warm it up myself.” He insisted, beating me to the fridge. He quickly searched before pulling out a pot of chili.
I covered my mouth as a yawn escaped my lips. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who needed sleep. “Hey, Jake, I’m going to go to bed. You’re welcome to spend the night and sleep on the couch if you want, if Seth and Amy aren’t still in there.”
Jake listened for a minute, checking to see where they were. “They are in Amy’s room. He’s reading her Romeo and Juliet before she falls asleep. I don’t think he wants to leave her, but I’ll make sure he gets home to Sue, if he decides to go home.”
“I’ll invite him to spend the night, too. Undoubtedly, he doesn’t want to leave Amy on their first night. But go ahead and eat your chili, I am heading to bed.” I turned to leave the kitchen, dragging my feet.
“Hey, Abby,” Jake called, causing me to turn my head and torso, to look at him. “Thanks for everything. The advice, chili, place to crash. Everything.” The words held plenty of meaning, but what was more meaningful for me was the expression of gratefulness in Jacob’s eyes. He hurt and wanted me to know that what I was doing for him helped.
“Anytime. I’ll always be here if you need anyone to talk to. Promise. Or if you need a home cooked meal. Just stop by anytime.” I smiled, sealing the promise.
“I’ll definitely be holding you to that. ‘Night, Abby.”
“Goodnight, Jacob.” I gave him a tiered wave and let my hand drop to the hand railing as I made my way up the stairs.
First stop, Amy’s bedroom. The door was cracked open. I could not hear Romeo and Juliet being read, so I assumed that Seth had stopped reading, because Amy fell asleep. I pushed the door open and tip-toed inside. Seth sat in a chair next to Amy’s bed, watching her sleep, holding the well-worn copy of Romeo and Juliet. Amy was tucked into bed, sleeping soundly.
I turned to Seth and motioned for him to follow me to the hall, not wanting to wake Amy up with our conversation. He wordlessly followed me.
Leaning against the wall for support, out of energy to even stay standing on my own, fully, I breathed a sigh of relief. I turned my head to face Seth, who stood nervously, not having had a conversation with me yet. His hands were hid in his pockets, showing his anxiety, but his courage caused his eyes to stare straight ahead and his expression to be devoid of fear. Smart boy, fearing his imprint’s closest relative, in control of who she can and cannot see, I thought as I eyed him up and down, trying to intimidate him a little, just for fun.
Once I felt like he had sweat enough, I gave him some reassuring words, “Calm down, Seth. I’m not taking you away from Amy. I just wanted to ask if wanted to pull out the roll away mattress beneath Amy’s bed.”
“Really?” the skepticism was laced throughout his voice, as was the hopefulness.
“Of course. I’m not going to ask you to leave on your first night together. But I do ask that you keep it clean and respectable. You can’t stay over every night, just on special occasions. We’ll talk about the actual rules of my house later, but for now, just know that it needs to remain PG.” I gave him a stern look, maintaining my authority, regardless of age.
“Of course, ma’am,” he started, but I cut him off, before he could continue.
“First rule, don’t call me ma’am. Call me Abby. I don’t deserve to be a ma’am for at least another twenty five years.”
That caused a grin to break out on his face. “Yes, Abby.”
“The bed has clean sheets and has to be pulled up and locked if you want it be the same height as Amy’s bed. Second rule, after each night you sleep over, it needs to go back under her bed. Third rule, no sharing beds. Only hand holding contact, and you both need to be tucked into your own beds. I do not mean just while she is a child, this rule applies until I say otherwise. Understood?” He nodded in compliance, realizing that what was being allowed was more than he could ever hope for. “And seeing as how you are still a minor, no matter how many adult situations you have had to deal with, you need to call your mother to let her know where you will be tonight and why. The phone is in the kitchen if you need to borrow it. Third rule, every night you stay over, both your mom and I need to know about it. Is that clear?”
“Of course. I would expect nothing less. In fact, I am grateful for you letting me to spend the night in the first place. So, thank you.”
“You’ll learn quickly that I am loose with what rules I make, but not strict on how you follow them. In other words, there aren’t many rules, but the ones I do have need to be followed to the letter.” He nodded, understanding my guidelines. “We will have breakfast in the morning, and if you get hungry in the night, there are leftovers in the fridge. You’re welcome to anything, but whatever dishes you dirty, you clean. We’ll talk about tomorrow’s happenings, tomorrow morning at breakfast. Go call your mom. Jake’s eating leftovers in the kitchen so if you want some, go ahead and make yourself a plate. I, myself, am going to bed.” Backing off of the wall, no longer using it for support, I smiled at the thought of sleeping.
“Thanks, Abby. This is more than I could ever expect to want. Goodnight.” He remarked, heading down the stairs.
“Goodnight, Seth.” I replied, my feet padding across the floor, pulling me towards my queen sized bed.
I closed the door and quickly changed into a t-shirt and a pair of pajama shorts. I slid into bed, and before I could sigh into the mattress, I was sound asleep.
Embry and I woke up the next morning in each other’s arms. All we could do is smile and kiss and not rip off our clothes that instant. We made it about two full seconds before tearing at the clothes covering our bodies. It was hurried and out-of-control, but that was what we both needed every time after near death experiences. Although Embry cannot help the fact that he is a wolf and needs to hunt vampires that threaten our existence, the separation in the time being does not help either of our worries. My worry that he could be injured, his worry that he wasn’t around to protect me. On top of that worry, now we both fret over the baby, adding to the stress. What we both needed was a relaxed day, free of death threats and filled with love. There is no better remedy than a day of shopping for our baby.
A little bit later, we dressed in our pajamas that were lying on the floor, deciding that we both needed food, heading downstairs to feed ourselves. Jake, Seth, Amy, and Lobo were all awake, laughing in the kitchen. Jake and Seth were making pancakes as Amy, giggling at something Seth had said, sat on one of the barstools. Lobo sat next to Jake and Seth, hoping they would accidentally drop something.
Embry took a seat on one of the dining table chairs, opening his arms for me to slide in. I settled myself on his lap, facing the group making breakfast. The conversation continued and came to include us. Really, the conversation was just about last night, poking fun at how whipped Emmett was by Rosalie for risking his life so frivolously.
Serving the pancakes, the group sat at the table. The conversation shifted from last night to today. Seth, Amy, and Jacob all looked to me to see what today’s plans were.
“Well, Jasper and Alice will be coming over in an hour to pick up Embry and me. The four of us are going shopping for maternity clothes, baby clothes, and baby furniture. I know that you certainly don’t want to do that, so I am allowing you to have free rein. You two,” I said referring to Seth and Amy, “are allowed to do just about anything as long as you stay within a mile of this house. Is that clear? No going to the beach, no hikes in the forest. Just stay close to the house. You’re welcome to go to the Swan’s, but that’s it. People can come over, but only on the condition that you clear it through me first.” Turning to Jacob, I continued speaking. “Of course, none of these rules apply to you. You are free to come and go as you please of course, but you’re more than welcome to go shopping with us, after all, you are the baby’s… wait, Embry, do you want to tell him?” I questioned, tilting my head back against Embry’s chest, waiting for his response.
A smile appeared on his face at the mention of our plans for the baby. “I’d love to, babe.” He chastely kissed my lips, with my head still tilted back, making it more of a Spiderman style kiss. He then threw Jake a knowing smile, waiting, building the anticipation. It took all of Jake’s will power not to demand to know what Embry and I knew that he didn’t; however, he sat there patiently for the news. He seemed so tense, leaning forward on the table waiting for what Embry had to say. “We’d like for you to be the baby’s godfather. Would you?”
Jake just sat there for a minute in shock. I do not think that he imagined ever being anyone’s godfather, especially this early in his lifetime. Granted, neither Embry nor I expected to be pregnant or engaged this early in life, either. However, once the initial shock wore off, Jacob’s face was consumed by a grin a mile wide. He then realized that he hadn’t actually accepted the role as our baby’s godfather and then replied by saying, “there’s nothing I want more than to be that baby’s godfather.” He pointed to my bulging belly, the smile still on his face. But then he comprehended what that job might entail and started posing questions. “Hold on a second, does this mean I have to start attending church?”
Embry and I looked at each other and started laughing. Some people had religious beliefs, but certainly not Embry, nor me. Otherwise, we would have waited until marriage to make love. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having a child in October. “Jacob, have you ever known either of us to be church goers? We certainly wouldn’t make you go to church just because you’re the baby’s godfather. In fact, we don’t want you to teach the baby about religion or anything like that. In this instance, the term godfather is just another word for non-biological uncle.”
Jake wiped his head across his forehead, feigning that he was worried enough to make him sweat. “Whew! Dodged that bullet. Non-biological uncle sounds much less threatening than godfather. In that case, I’d love to go shopping for junior’s new stuff.” Jacob leaned back in the seat, relaxed after a few tense moments. “This is going to be great. I can teach him football, and baseball, and hockey—“
“I didn’t know that you knew how to play hockey.” Seth remarked, looking at his idol in amazement.
“I don’t, but I can learn. Besides it will be awhile before junior can ice-skate. And I can teach him how to fix cars and how to properly go cliff-diving.” Jacob smiled at his plans for his unburned godson.
“Who says the baby’s going to be a boy? No one has said that the baby is going to be a boy. In fact, I have a gut instinct that the baby will be a she. Definite gut instinct.” Embry remarked, making it clear that if he had anything to say about it, the baby’s gender would be female.
“Yeah, just like you had a gut instinct that you’d always be a bachelor?” Jacob retorted.
“No, that was just indigestion. This is a father’s intuition at work here.” Embry responded, rubbing the side of my stomach.
“It’s called a mother’s intuition when it comes to babies, and I do believe that Abby is the mother in the situation here.” Seth pointed out the obvious and then everyone looked to me to see what the verdict was on the bay gender.
“Why are you all looking at me like that? Just cause the baby is in me doesn’t mean I have a better idea of what the gender is any more than Embry does. Although I do believe the baby will be a boy, I think that could be because Embry wants a girl. I know he would be perfectly happy either way, but he thinks that girls are easier to handle. And that can be true, but Embry,” I tilted my head back again, bringing his face into view, “you will always want to guard her and protect her, where as a boy, you’ll want to protect but you won’t be afraid that a girl is going to break his heart. With a girl, you’re going to be constantly guarding her from boys that could break her heart. Besides, if this one is a boy, we could always try again for a girl, if that will make you happy.”
“You know I would be happy no matter what gender the baby is, but I just really feel that this boy is going to test me at every turn.” Embry pushed a hand through his hair, taking his bangs off of his face.
“Believe me when I say that no matter whether the baby is a girl or a boy, when they get to the teenage years, they will test you at every turn.” I smiled up at him knowing how far I had pushed my parents even when I turned thirteen.
“Don’t forget, if it’s a boy, you might have to deal with the possibility he could shift someday.” Seth commented, bringing up a topic Embry and I hadn’t really thought of before.
“Hold on a second, the same could be true if the baby is a girl, I mean look at Leah.” I contradicted, bringing the room to silence. Apparently the majority of people still believed that Leah was a genetic mistake. “You all need to get it out of your heads that what happened to Leah was an accident. The pack has never had this many members before right?”
“The most number of wolves the pack has ever had at one time was five. But what does numbers have to do with anything?” Jacob questioned, diluted in his sexist thinking.
“If there are more people in a pack, the differences between members is going to become greater.” They still looked dumbstruck, so I fished for another explanation. “The majority of the pack is fifteen years and older right? Except for Seth. He is younger than any member has ever been before, so that means it is in fact possible for someone to shift in the early teens, just not likely. The same works for gender, it is possible for a woman to be a werewolf, just not likely. For instance, just because a disease is more common in women than men, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever find a man with that disease, it just means it isn’t likely and that it won’t happen if you have a very small number of people that you know with that disease. You need more people to be able to find the anomalies.”
“So what you’re saying that the more people that shift, the more likely it will be that we will have a girl or someone younger?” Jake asked.
“It’s just a theory, but it seems most likely. I mean Leah and Seth are in perfect health, so why would anyone consider what happened to them to be a genetic anomaly? Maybe it’s more likely than you know.” I responded, sipping at my mug that was starting to cool off considerably, taking my last bite of syrup drenched pancake. “Well, it’s getting late, so I need to go get dressed for shopping.” Excusing myself from the table, I washed my dishes and headed upstairs. Embry followed a bit later. I cleared out a drawer in my dresser for him, and part of my closet space. At first, he said he wouldn’t need much because he could always run back to his house if he needed anything. His clothing had accumulated in my room over time, so I decided he needed a drawer and part of my closet for all of his clothing, even though he kept it very minimal. I dressed in panties, a matching bra that was way too small for my growing breasts, khakis that use to be too loose to fit, and a tank top, because it was starting to get warmer and it wasn’t raining so hard today. Deciding that today was going to require a decent amount of walking, I pulled out a pair of socks and sneakers. My feet hadn’t started swelling but it was only a matter of time. Throwing my hair into a pony tail, and brushing my teeth, I felt ready to go. Embry wore jeans faded in all the right places and a white t-shirt that was pretty loose, but still hugged his muscles just enough to make any girl’s mouth water. Especially, the pregnant, hormonal, mother-of-his-child and fiancée.
My desire was nearly palpable, but knowing we had Alice and Jasper coming over soon stopped me from jumping his bones right then and there. I told him so and he replied with a sigh of relief and the words, “I thought it was just me.” He chastely kissed my lips, both cheeks, nose, and then forehead, trying to keep the hunger at bay.
We walked down stairs to find Alice and Jasper talking with Jacob in the living room.
Jacob looked to me and said, “Amy, Seth, and Lobo are playing on the swing set in the backyard. Well, Amy and Seth are playing while Lobo dances around at their feet. It is really a cute sight.”
“Jake, I think you are becoming soft.” Embry said in all seriousness. Being around a family like ours could do that to a guy.
“Yeah, whatever. So Alice and Jasper are ready to go. What about you two love birds?” Jake asked, pointedly looking at Embry, signaling he was not in any way growing soft.
“We’re ready. But first we, Embry and I, wanted to tell you something kind of important.”
And for the first time today Alice looked at my entire figure and gasped in shock.
“Oh my Dolce and Gabbana! You’re pregnant?” Alice gasped again. She stood up from the couch to get a better look at me. “How could I not have noticed?”
“I’ve been covering it with plenty of sweaters and jackets this winter. And I haven’t been showing noticeably until recently. You’ve never been pregnant, nor Rosalie, nor Esme—in the time that you’ve known her— so there is no reason you would recognize the signs. Besides, the important thing that you know now is to get me clothes that fit. Cause I haven’t had time or energy to go shopping all the way in Seattle and you’re so much better at shopping than I am.” I remarked, noticing how even the bra I had on was restraining my breasts too much for it to be comfortable or appropriate.
Alice wrapped her arms around me, and if she could cry, she would have. It was one of those moments in life when you were suddenly over joyed with happiness it took all of your restraint to not let a tear slip from the joy. Still hugging me, she leaned back a bit, smiling at me. My stomach was still touching hers when the baby kicked. Alice jumped back in surprise, caught off guard by the occurrence, and looked to me for answers.
I grabbed her hand and placed it where the baby just kicked. It happened again, but this time Alice was ready for it. She smiled, feeling the baby kick against her palm. “Honey, come here.” She waved with her other hand, not letting her eyes leave my belly. Jasper moved closer, letting Alice grab his hand and place it where hers had been a moment ago. Then the little guy kicked again and Jasper seemed to be in shock just as much as Alice had been. Focusing on the baby, he smiled as the baby kept kicking.
“He’s happy,” Jasper said, his eyes not leaving the spot where his hand rested.
“Wait, you can feel the baby’s emotions?” Embry asked, thrown off by this new information.
“I have never been close enough to an unborn baby to try feeling his emotions. But it would appear that I can, and that the little guy in there could not be more content.” He smiled, letting his hand drift away.
“Hold on a second. You just said ‘little guy’. Does that mean the baby is a boy?” I wondered aloud, not really knowing if what I was hearing was true. Could this little thing growing inside of me really be a boy?
“Oh, I am sorry to have misled you with my poor choice of words, but I cannot tell by emotions whether or not the baby’s gender is male or female. Sorry to disappoint you, Abby.” Jasper responded, knowing I felt a bit dejected at realizing what I had just heard was not exactly true, that the baby’s gender was still unknown.
Jasper had known what I was feeling so he himself felt badly for creating a sense of hope, only then to deny it. “It’s perfectly alright, Jasper. I knew that we were not going to know the baby’s gender for a bit longer, I was just hoping.”
“Well, let’s get going. We want to hit the shops before everyone else does.” Jake suggested, eager to get on the road. We all walked outside and saw the Volvo parked on the street.
Alice offered the explanation. “It’s the only car we have that fits five but has enough room in the trunk for all of our shopping bags. It is also less conspicuous. Edward is letting us borrow it for the day.”
“Shot-gun!” Jake shouted, and ran for the passenger seat. Jasper was driving today, so that left the back seat for Alice, Embry, and me. Alice and I chatted for the extensive car ride about what we needed to buy today. Our list included bras, panties, jeans, shirts, dresses, jackets, shorts, and skirts. Alice mentioned that I would also need a dress for the graduation party she was hosting. “Alice, this is going to be crazy. How are we going to find a whole new wardrobe for me in one day?”
“I have a feeling we will get it done with plenty of time to spare. Maybe we can go to Babies R Us and start a baby register.” Alice remarked, not knowing the definite future, but having a gut instinct.
“With your help, this will go by much faster than I could have ever hoped for.” I remarked, sighing further into Embry’s side, at peace with the long drive to Seattle. And then all of the sudden it was over. Jasper really did drive too fast. Well I guess the more proper phrase would be that he drove like a Cullen.
Our group of five ventured into a Seattle mall. Alice and I made a beeline for the maternity stores and the boys obediently followed. Alice seemed to be much slower today than she normally was when it came to shopping.
“Alice, are you feeling alright? You’re not up to your normal speed by now.” I remarked, shuffling through the clothes on a rack.
“I don’t have my vision with the wolves around, so I have to do this the human way, which I have never done before.” She replied, solemnly, moving to another rack of clothes. “I understand that it’s not their fault. But it makes this all so much harder.” She said to herself, probably not realizing she had said those last two sentences aloud.
I turned to Embry, who stood there with Jake and Jasper, talking about sports. I came up in front of Embry and wrapped my arms around his neck, interrupting their conversation, not really caring.
“Baby, I love you, and love when you spend time with me. But being in this store has to be killing you. Would you mind going shopping at other stores with the boys?” I asked, trying not to hurt his feelings, but wanting desperately for him to leave so that Alice could get her mojo on.
“If you’re sure, then we could go to a sporting goods store or something.” Embry offered.
“I’m sure. Besides, Alice and I will get a lot more done if we don’t have to worry about you guys over hearing about…. woman stuff.” With those two words, the boys nearly ran out of the store, but not before Embry gave me a kiss on the cheek and a promise to meet at the food court in three hours.
Smiling at my triumph, I went to go find Alice. She was in the back of the store, with her arms already full of clothing. She started moving towards the cash register and dropped everything on the counter, surprising the employee with her large purchase. I moved to Alice’s side and smiled, pulling out my wallet. Alice beat me to it, handing the employee her credit card before I could even protest.
“It’ll be my treat. Think of this as a gift for not having been around for those few months at the beginning of the school year.” Alice smiled, making conversation with me, as the cashier slowly loaded two bags with maternity blouses, tank tops, shirts, pants, shorts, and skirts.
“Alice, you know I never held that against you. You don’t owe me anything.”
“I know. That is just my excuse so you let me buy clothes for you today.” She winked at me, throwing a knowing glance my way, knowing I was the reason the boys were nowhere in sight.
The cashier handed us the two bags after charging the card. We left the store when a curious thought popped into my head. “Alice, what if these clothes don’t fit right, or if they hang on my frame poorly. Shouldn’t I have at least tried them on?”
“Having my vision back, I could pick out the clothes and saw you standing in the dressing room trying them on. I knew which ones would fit and look fabulously on you and which ones wouldn’t. This is going to be a breeze now that the boys are gone.” Alice remarked, heading into Victoria’s Secret. Alice picked out new bras and matching panties, purchased them, and was walking out the store with me in less than twenty minutes. The woman was a miracle worker and needed to be admitted into sainthood.
We moved to a different store that sold formal clothing and Alice was able to pick out a dress that had enough material at the waist that no matter how big I grew in the next few months, it would simply flow over my belly. The material was a baby blue and reminded me of having a baby shower.
I mentioned to Alice that I would need to have one in a few months. Talking about a baby shower got her thinking; I could practically see the wheels turning in her brain. She would plan the entire event and that was fine with me. This was painting season and I had work to do. I needed to get at least forty paintings done before the baby arrived and this was the perfect season for it. Spring brought out colors that fit perfectly into the paintings I loved portraying.
While my brain was off in a different land thinking about work, Alice said, “I’ve got it!”
It brought my brain to a halt, and I responded by saying, “got what, Alice?”
“I have an idea, and it may not work, but you need to just trust me and try this. I want you to plan on having a baby shower but not inviting Leah.” Alice suggested, wanting to test some crazy theory.
“But of course I am going to invite Leah, why would you suggest such a thing?”
“I just need you to decide in this instant to not invite her. Trust me.” She pleaded.
So I thought hard about having a baby shower at my house with all of my best girl friends but no Leah. After a minute or so, Alice exclaimed that it worked. When I asked what, she said that she saw the baby shower and all of the decorations.
“Why does that matter, Alice? Who cares if you know what the decorations look like now? You’ll probably be the one to pick them out and hang them.” I was extremely curious to see where she was taking this.
“It matters because the decorations are going to be colored to match the gender of the baby, and I know now what the gender of the baby is.” Alice replied, suddenly giddier than before, if that were even possible.
“Wait! Don’t tell me. Embry and I wanted to find out together. I don’t want to know yet.” I insisted, moving to cover my ears.
“It is okay, Abby. I know, and I won’t tell you. However, I needed to test out this theory with only you around to be able to make the decision and start my vision. Of course Leah will be invited to the shower; I just needed to have the wolves out of the way for the vision to work. This is perfect. Now that I know, I can start planning everything.” Alice practically skipped away from me, moving to buy matching silver shoes for the dress, purchasing them before I could even respond.
I could only imagine what Alice needed to start planning now. Knowing her she would throw me three baby showers just so she could have the excuse to host that many parties and participate in that much shopping. Speaking of shopping, now that we had bought nearly every type of clothing I would need from now until the end of the pregnancy—excluding outfits for extravaganzas that had yet to be planned— we went off in search of the boys. We passed by a baby clothing store and I asked Alice if we could take a peek. She nodded the go ahead and we ventured in. My fingers trailed across the soft fabrics of onesies. I lifted up a blanket soft enough to be made of clouds. My eyes gazed upon the baby booties that seemed to big. How could the tiny little thing inside of me be big enough to wear clothing this big in less than a year? It all seemed so surreal, and then not. The baby boutique brought all of this to reality, but then caused me to believe that this couldn’t all be happening. How could a newborn fit into a piece of clothing that big?
Turning to Alice, having accepted that this was in fact going to happen, I felt ready to leave the store. For a quick moment, I saw a flash of emotion across her face that I had rarely seen on her. Sadness. In that moment I felt pity for Alice, Esme, and Rosalie. They would never know the joy of being pregnant. Esme had known it once before, and maybe that was why she was the most forlorn out of all of them when it came to babies. Regardless, seeing me pregnant could not help ease their depression over the subject.
I walked towards Alice and simply hugged her. There were aspects of life that could not be changed. Alice certainly knew this more than most, accepting that quickly, deciding to focus on the happier moments in life.
She squeezed me tight, ending the hug. Our journey continued to the food-court, where we texted the boys to meet us. Then all of the sudden, I had to pee. Not my body telling me it could wait ten minutes, but now. Handing Alice the bags, I said the word “bathroom” and she understood. I nearly ran to the nearest woman’s restroom. But in my effort to get there, I bumped into this poor man who was coming out of the men’s restroom across from the woman’s restroom. We barely nudged each other but it was enough to send me stumbling. But he had fast reflexes and caught my arms, stabilizing me, preventing me from colliding into the wall. He smiled my way, apologized, and kept on walking.
Thinking nothing of it, I went to relieve my bladder with a mind of its own. I barely made it, but I made it. Boy that was a close one. How embarrassing would it be to have to go to a store and buy a new pair of pants because I sprung a leak in the pair I wore? I was a grown woman who had troubles making it to the bathroom in time to relieve herself. This pregnancy was getting a little ridiculous on my bladder. Continuing to think about post-bathroom relief, I walked to the table where everyone was sitting, and wrapped my arms around Embry. He immediately stilled, as did everyone else. Clearly, they knew it was me, so what was the problem?
“Honey, why do you smell like vampire?” Embry asked, turning around to face me.
“I have been shopping with Alice all day.” I commented, thinking that was a stupid question to ask, when he was sitting with two vampires.
“Abby, you don’t smell like Jasper or Alice. Or any of the other Cullens.” Jake’s words sent my mind reeling back into who I could have been near recently, where there scent could have rubbed off on me.
“You didn’t smell like that before going to the restroom.” Alice’s worried tone and comment brought panic to the forefront of everyone’s emotions. Nonetheless, her words helped rack my brain for ideas.
It clicked like an old fashioned, film camera. “Oh, there was this man I collided with as I was walking down the hall to the bathroom. But there was no way he could have been a vampire. Could he?”
And then a scream erupted from behind us, sounding feminine and terrifying. Like a good horror movie. We would have jumped into action, knowing that whatever scared that woman to death had to be related to a dead body, but Alice told us to wait. Once her vision finished she said, “We need to get out of here. I’ll explain on the way.”
We were in the car heading back to Forks before you could say autopsy. Alice explained that a woman had been left in the men’s restroom, drained of blood, with bite marks covering her body. A female janitor staff was cleaning the bathroom when she found the body. Clearly, the vampire who had brushed against me was the same who left the woman indisposed.
“Abby, you need to recall everything you can about this guy. We need some way to be able to identify him.” Jasper commanded, asking for information as he sped down the freeway.
I searched my brain but could remember very little. “To be honest, I wasn’t paying too much attention because my need to use the facilities was most important at the time. He was Caucasian, dirty blonde, and he had good reflexes.”
“What do you mean?” Jake questioned.
“If I had been paying attention, I should have known he wasn’t human. When we collided as he came out of the restroom—in a hurry I might add—he nearly knocked me into the wall, but he caught me, made sure I was stable, apologized and left. His eyes weren’t red though, they weren’t gold either.”
“He must have been wearing contacts.” Alice’s added bonus of information aided my confusion.
“Probably, but to be honest, he seemed to be a pretty average guy. If I saw him in a line up, I doubt I would be able to pick him out.” I admitted, hating the feeling of not being able to help.
“Maybe he has a gift.” Jasper spoke the comment aloud, speaking more to himself than to the rest of the car.
“What are you talking about, Jasper?” Embry’s irritation finally burst; he felt useless, having not been there to defend me.
“It’s okay, baby.” I rubbed circles into his palm with my fingers, whispering the words into his ear. “We’re safe now.”
Embry let out a calming breath, squeezing my hand for reassurance, kissing my forehead, needing to feel that I was still with him, the supporting word not enough.
“I meant that his gift could be why Abby doesn’t remember specifics about him. He could either have the power to blend into his surroundings, or tweak people’s memories so they can’t remember him specifically, or I am just reading too much into this.” He admitted, pushing his hand through his hair in frustration.
“Jasper, the more we speculate the better off we will be. If we can prepare ourselves for all of the possibilities against a new vampire in town, the safer we will be.” My words seemed to bring a realistic perspective to the situation.
“We need to call a meeting. You could have been hurt today.” Embry commanded, rather than suggested. His thoughts and mine were following the same track. I could have been the girl in the bathroom.
I kissed his hand, intertwined with mine. “Embry, I am fine. The baby is fine. And another meeting wouldn’t be bad, except not much more can be done until Bella comes back with Edward. They are just as much a part of this as the rest of us. However, I did say that the party last night ended too early. We could have everyone come over for a little more food and then at the very end, once Charlie has left, we can talk about today’s events with everyone. Besides, I do believe I promised the boys more food.”
Everyone’s spirits lifted a little at the thoughts my words brought to mind; and yet, we all continued to contemplate what had happened at the mall today. We were home in a flash. The five of us brought all the purchases inside. Wanting to change out of my unfitting clothes immediately, I grabbed the bags holding bras, panties, and maxi dresses, and then dashed upstairs.
After all the price tags had been cutoff, I slipped into the clothing, relieved that I could look attractive again, even though I was so pregnant. Embry and Alice brought up the rest of the clothes and set them on the bed. Deciding that I would deal with the purchases later, I went downstairs to start cooking. Seth and Amy were playing fetch with Lobo in the backyard. Jasper called the rest of the Cullens to tell them about the dinner plans for tonight while Jacob did the same for the La Push pack. Embry walked over to the Swan’s to tell Billy and Charlie that they were invited for some grub too. Alice and I started cooking. Even though the scent displeased Alice, she fought through the disgust anyway. She cooked the beef with seasoning, onions, water, and oil to create the meat portion of the taco salad. I started chopping up vegetables: ripe tomatoes; red, yellow, and green bell peppers; three heads of lettuce; ice-cold cucumbers; shreds of carrots; and chunks of California grown avocados. I also shredded a block of sharp cheddar cheese. I set a mix of this all back in the refrigerator, moving on to cook some beans. Alice set the meat to warm on the stove and backed away, having enough of the human food, not wanting to spend more time with it than necessary.
The boys—with the exception of Billy and Charlie, who were just showing up for the actual meal in a few hours—moved to playing football in the backyard as more and more people arrived. The girls stayed in the kitchen to talk gossip. It was an ancient ritual that continued on in to modern times just because genders went with their own, separating off into male and female. I brought out one pitcher of lemonade and one pitcher of iced tea. The girls moved to the backyard, in order to watch our shirtless men play tackle football. We were entitled to stare, they were our men after all. Amy came skipping up the stairs from the backyard. She sat on my lap as she watched Seth play with the other boys. We all cheered our men on, being completely biased. The boys even tried to show off a little bit, not that we would know the difference because few of us ever watched football. At “halftime”, when the guys decided they needed a break, the girls poured their men some lemonade, while Amy and I went back inside to bring out the extra batches of chocolate chip cookies. A classic never fails.
Of course the vampire boys weren’t eating the cookies or drinking lemonade, but they were certainly taking a break. Being pinned against someone of equivalent strength, when you are used to being the toughest of the tough, can be exhausting. The wolves seemed tiered too; however, they still jumped at the smell of fresh, warm, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies.
After the cookies had been devoured, the game continued. This went on for a few hours until it was nearly too dark to play and everyone seemed to jump at the word “food,” excluding the vampires of course. I headed to the kitchen with Leah and Emily at my side. They helped mix all of the vegetables, beans, and meat. Then it was time for my special additions. Thousand Island dressing and Fritos. It scared Leah and Emily at first, but when I insisted, they stood aside and let me add the last ingredients. People seemed skeptical of the twisted taco salad at first, but Paul jumped in, trusting my cooking abilities, having faith it would taste fine.
Everyone soon followed, ready to try the oddity. The group was pleasantly surprised to find that the Fritos added a pleasurable, salty crunch, while the Thousand Island dressing gave the salad an extra little zing. Charlie was the only one not surprised, having had the salad once before. This little batch was actually a family recipe that my grandmother had made for Charlie and my mom when they were kids. He gave me a knowing look, with warmth in his eyes. Everyone needs to be reminded of the good, innocent memories of youth.
Charlie and Billy finished the food and left, thanking me for the meal, saying they were sorry to leave but wanted to get back for the other game. Then the conversation moved to today’s events at the mall. The new clothes we bought were not the topic of discussion.
Jacob started off by saying, “a new bloodsucker is running amuck in Seattle, and not the warm and fuzzy, I-eat-bunnies kind of vampire either. The human killing kind.”
Great chapters. Read them this weekend but couldnt reply (laptop battery was dying as I read)
thanks, keep reading!