Chapter Fifty Three
Of course, Jasper was right, along with the family waiting to greet us on the porch were Peter, Charlotte, Garrett and Darius and they all looked pleased to see us. As Jasper pulled up Esme flew down the steps to open my door and haul me out into a motherly embrace.
"Did you like the lodge? Jasper only told us where you'd been when he rang to say you were on your way back. It's a beautiful part of the world."
I nodded wishing in a way we were back there, the sight of all these people was a little overwhelming after the peace and seclusion of the previous weeks.
I was led inside and Esme insisted on a blow by blow account of the lodge and the surroundings and I showed her the photographs I had taken with Jasper's help. She helped me choose my favourites and borrowed my camera handing it to Darius who took it without a word and disappeared with Peter and Emmett, now I was getting uneasy. Why did they need the photographs of our honeymoon? However, I didn't get a chance to ask Esme because she insisted on taking me for a walk muttering something about Carlisle planning a new boathouse on the lake. I hadn't even been aware he had a boat!
The lake was some distance from the house but I guess that didn't matter much to we vampires. It did underline the extent of the house and grounds though. I hadn't really taken much notice before but the grounds were huge and apparently included the lake too.
The path took us winding through the trees and I became aware that the others were following her, hadn't they seen this boathouse plan either? There were excited murmurings but I couldn't quite make out any words but by the time we broke out of the trees into the sunlight reflecting off the surface of the lake I was sure there was something going on that concerned us, or at the very least, me. I stood looking at the lake wondering where this boat house would be built and pondering the lack of any craft on the water.
"Turn to your left Bella."
I turned at Esme's instruction to see the roof of a building peeping through the trees where the lake bent at an angle.
"Isn't that a little tall for a boat house?"
Everyone laughed and Esme took my hand pulling me forward until I could see the rest of the building. It was a house built right on the edge of the lake, stone walls on the ground floor and above that glass and metal. The views must be breathtaking especially at sunset with the sun going down over the lake and reflecting off the rippling surface of the water. She turned my hand over and placed a key in the palm.
"This is your wedding present, we hope you like it but if there are any changes you want, I'm sure they won't take long. We only just finished the last of the work before you got back."
I looked at her and then the key, stunned,
"Our wedding present? A house?"
Jasper appeared at my side smiling and led me to the front door up steps to a wrap around porch with a swing seat that allowed the user a view of the lake. Using the key he took from my hand Jasper opened the door and we walked inside. It was beautiful but not ostentatious with handcrafted furniture like that in the lodge and rag rugs scattered over a polished hardwood floor. The hearth was huge and I could imagine a roaring log fire in winter and Jasper and I making love before it. The room took up the whole ground floor and had bookcases, a desk and vases of fresh flowers scattered around on little side tables, it was wonderful. In one corner a wooden staircase led up to the glass and metal first floor.
As my head peeped above the floor I gasped, this was nothing like the ground floor, they could have been two different buildings. The walls were all glass and Esme showed me how with a click of a switch the glass changed from clear to obscured,
"You have the best of both worlds, the views when you want them and privacy when you don't."
The bed was enormous but the startling thing about it was that to one side of it was a huge aquarium lit from above and full of tropical fish in jewelled colours swimming around coral and weeds. Then I saw a dark shape appear, and then another, they were tiny sharks! As I knelt on the bed to study the aquarium closer I burst out laughing. Inside were two little model figures, naked and wrestling a dummy shark twice their size. The two had faces that were instantly recognizable as Peter and Emmett!
The floor of this storey was made of glass tiles in different colours lit again from below and more glass tiles made up the ceiling.
"You can program the lights to imitate the sky above or patterns, anything you like according to Darius."
I nodded a little stunned by what I was seeing and then I noticed a curved glass partition and following it round found myself in a bathroom complete with double shower and a huge tub with whirlpool. Now, there was plenty of room in there for two I thought. Here the walls were white and glossy but inside them, I could see the photographs, my favourites from our honeymoon surrounding a photograph of Jasper and I taken during our wedding. I ran my hand over the glass just to be sure the photographs weren't somehow stuck on it.
You can change the photographs when you want, they are projected onto the inside of the glass. Don't ask me how that's Darius' pet project and he'll explain it all to you."
She looked at me expectantly,
"Well? Do you like it? Of course, if it's too close to the family we will understand."
I grabbed Jasper's hand for support but also so I could see how he felt about the idea of living here. He noticed my look and winked, leaving it up to me to decide.
"It's wonderful Esme, how could I possibly want to live anywhere else after all the work you've put into this? All of you."
They had all crowded into the room and were smiling to hear my words, how had I been so lucky, the family, my family, had worked flat out to build this amazing house so it would be ready for us when we got back. I loved the feeling of belonging, I loved my brothers and sisters, Peter, Charlotte, Darius, and yes ever flirtatious Garrett and I loved the idea of being close enough to see my family as often as I wanted and having our own space when we wanted some time alone.
Going back outside I saw a little boat bobbing on the water by the landing stage,
"Yeah, that was our idea. We found ocean fishing a bit hair raising so we'll stick to the lake in future."
Peter and Emmett climbed into the boat and started up the little outboard watched by the others indulgently. Once about two hundred feet from shore they took out fishing rods and sat back just like a couple of fishermen.
"Bella, I promise you those two clowns will not become a permanent feature."
Charlotte was frowning at the two oblivious to her displeasure but I noticed Garrett and Edward grinning at each other, not a combination I thought of as usual and wondered what it was they found so amusing.
I didn't have to wait long, at first it was just a slight disturbance in the water behind the boat. Everyone noticed but no one said anything, we just watched curiously. Suddenly it speeded up and a huge shark emerged rearing up onto the bow of the small boat tipping its occupants into the lake before submerging again as silently as it had appeared. Everyone laughed to see the two of them emerge moments later dripping wet from the lake and seeing Garrett and Edward who were doubled over with laughter. Peter and Emmett ran off in pursuit of them as they disappeared into the trees. Esme shook her head but smiled indulgently as Darius appeared grinning.
"I might have known that had something to do with you, Darius."
"I just sourced the mechanised shark from the special effects store and set up the remote Esme, the rest was down to the others."
I sighed in happiness, I was going to love being a part of this crazy extended family.