"I just don't see why you have to go all the way to Alaska,"
Bella said as her fiancé, Edward, placed his suitcase in the already stuffed trunk of Emmett's SUV. "There's plenty to do here in Washington."
Why couldn't Edward and his brothers book a room at the new resort in Port Angeles or spend the weekend in Seattle like when Emmett and Rosalie got engaged? Or better yet, why couldn't they apologize to the Quileutes and put an end to the generations-long feud no one still living knew the reason for. They could enjoy a safe week of hiking, swimming, and bonfires without ever leaving a 20-mile radius of Forks. Anything would be better than the brothers spending a week over 2,000 miles away in the Alaskan wilderness.
With great effort, Edward closed the trunk then turned to face Bella wearing the same smiled that melted her heart on the first day of junior year biology class. "Because you can't catch wild salmon, hike across a glacier, or see the northern lights in Forks."
Emmett, Edward's older brother and soon to be best man, popped up behind them, shaving a good decade off Bella's life span.
"Or take down a grizzly bear!" Emmett laughed and wrapped his tree trunk-like arm around Edward's neck. "Just you wait, Bells. Eddy Boy and I will come home with the biggest bear in Alaska!"
Bella paled at the thought of the guys anywhere near 1,000 pounds of muscle and snarling teeth. Why couldn't they hunt rabbits, deer, or anything else without the ability to rip them limb from limb?
Seeing the panic in Bella's eyes, Edward elbowed Emmett in the sternum and wiggled free. He took Bella's hand in his and squeezed.
"Trust me, there's nothing to worry about." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "Any bear with half a brain will head for the north pole the second Emmett steps off the plane."
As if to illustrate Edward's point, Emmett started drumming on his chest like a gorilla. "Me Emmett! Mighty hunter! Slayer of all creatures!"
Bella smirked. While Emmett was a decent shot, he struggled to remain quiet for more than a few minutes at a time. Countless deer had been scared off by his deep, booming laugh. Chances seemed good the only thing he'd come back with was a t-shirt from the airport gift shop.
"Hey, mighty hunter," Edward said to Emmett. "Why don't you go see what's taking Jasper so long? If we don't leave soon we'll miss our flight."
Emmett pounded his chest and took off towards the house. "I will retrieve baby brother!"
Bella shuttered at the thought of three of her favorite people in the world crammed inside a metal tube going hundreds of miles an hour. What if the engine stalled or some crazy person tried to open the emergency exit mid-flight? Watching that marathon of Air Disasters last night with Jasper had been a colossal mistake.
As soon as the front door slammed closed, Edward pulled Bella in close and kissed her on the neck. "There's nothing for you to worry about. If Jazz gets his way we won't do anything more dangerous than sipping hot cocoa at the lodge." He kissed her cheek. "I'll be back before you know. Just think, one month from today we'll be married."
Bella snuggled into the soft fabric of Edward's t-shirt. The day he dropped down on one knee and pulled out a ring was the best day of her life. While many things scared her, the thought of becoming Edward's wife had never brought her anything but pure bliss. Who knew being forced to move to a sunless town in Washington would lead her to her golden-eyed soulmate.
Bella breathed in Edward's irresistible scent and wondered why Yankee Candle had never made a product that smelled like that. They'd make billions and every house in the world would smell like honey and freshly fallen rain.
"Promise you won't let Emmett talk you into doing anything stupid?" Bella asked, staring into Edward's beautiful golden eyes.
"I promise," Edward replied, sighing in mock disappointment. "Guess I'll have to tell Emmett cliff diving is off."
Right on cue, Emmett burst through the front door dragging Jasper by the collar.
"Got him!" Emmett exclaimed. "Found the little thief raiding dad's office!"
"I wasn't stealing!" Jasper protested. "Dad said I should take some first aid supplies!"
Edward raised his eyebrow. "Some?"
The bag slung across Jasper's shoulder looked like it weighed more than Alice. While Edward and Emmett were looking at Jasper like he'd suddenly grown another head, Bella wasn't half surprised. Jasper hated hiking, hunting, camping, or anything else that took him away from a reliable wifi signal. He'd much sooner spend the weekend playing Dungeons and Dragons and watching Civil War documentaries than venture any farther into nature than the backyard. How Edward had convinced his younger brother to agree to a boy's week in the Alaskan wilderness Bella would never know.
Emmett snatched the bag from Jasper and pulled out four rolls of gauze and a Costco sized bottle of Advil. "We're going hunting, not performing surgery. You don't need all this junk!"
"But what if-"
"No!" Emmett exclaimed, cutting his brother off mid-sentence. "Nothing is going to happen. We'll have a great time and everything will be fine."
"I need that stuff!" Jasper argued. "You know what the Boyscouts say, always be prepared!" He tried to get the bag back only for the much taller Emmett to lift it high above his head.
"What do you know about the Boy Scouts?" Emmett snorted."You only made it through one meeting!
"Not everyone can become an Eagle Scout!" Jasper shouted, jumping for the bag.
Both Emmett and Edward made Eagle Scout by their sixteenth birthdays, a fact they'd never let Jasper forget.
"Most people don't cry because Mike Newton threw a fake tarantula at their head!" Emmett taunted, lifting the bag a little higher.
Jasper's cheeks turned crimson. "I was only six!"
Emmett smirked. "You were ten and the spider was hot pink."
"Was not!" Jasper cried, slamming into Emmett.
Not even the full force of Jasper's body weight could move Emmett a single centimeter. Emmett laughed and tossed the bag to Edward.
"Was too," Edward said. "I was there! You wet your pants and locked yourself in the bathroom until mom came to pick us up!"
"That was lemonade!"
Edward acted like he was going to give Jasper his bag back only to pull it away at the last second and toss it back to Emmett. "Was not!"
Bella rolled her eyes and tuned out the rest of the guy's argument. While no one doubted the Cullen brother's love for each other, it was never long before they resorted to childish arguments and insults. The Alaskans had no idea what they were in for.
The front door swung open revealing Esme Cullen, the boy's adoptive mother, holding a sketchbook full of plans for the rundown cottage soon to become Edward and Bella's new home. Alice, Jasper's girlfriend, and Rosalie, Emmett's wife, appeared behind her wearing matching pink bathrobes.
"What are you guys still doing here?" Rosalie shouted with her hands on her hips. "You should have left an hour ago!"
"Jasper wants to bring half the hospital with us!" Emmett shouted.
"Edward and Emmett are bullying me again!" Jasper whined.
"Are not!" Edward said.
"Are too!" Jasper shouted, pointing at the duffle bag now laying on the driveway covered in mud and wet leaves. "They ruined my first aid kit!"
"That was Emmett!" Edward protested.
"But you were the one who threw it!"
"It's not my fault Emmett can't catch to save his life!"
Esme sighed and rubbed her temples. "Emmett, Edward, be nice to your brother. And Jasper, you don't need to bring so much stuff along for a one week vacation."
Alice disappeared into the house and came back with another first aid kit. It was still larger than standard, but at least it wouldn't end up needing its own plane ticket.
"I figured something like this would happen, so I made this for you." She handed Jasper the bag. "It has bandages, Tylenol, a survival blanket, and anything else I could think of that you might need."
Despite the fact it was bright red and covered in rhinestones, Jasper acted as though Alice had just presented him with the holy grail.
"You're the best!" he kissed her on the lips. "I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Same here," Alice laughed, kissing him back.
Emmett made an exaggerated gagging sound. "Ewww. No PDA guys!"
Much to Emmett's dismay, Jasper and Alice didn't seem to notice his teasing.
. "Hush, Emmett," Rosalie said, crossing the threshold and wrapping her arms around her husband. "Let them have their fun. We were the same way at their age." She kissed Emmett on the forehead causing him to blush.
"Aww, come on Rosie," Emmett said, "Not in front of my baby brothers."
Edward smiled and grabbed Bella around the waist. "When in Rome."
He kissed her on the lips sending a wave of warmth through Bella's entire body. How on earth was she going to survive a whole week without those beautiful, soft lips?
Esme, who'd been looking on with a goofy smile on her face, clapped her hands twice.
"Alright, guys. Say your last goodbyes and get moving unless you'd prefer to walk to Alaska!"
"Geeze, Mom," Emmett said. "Way to ruin the moment!"
Emmett and Jasper broke away from their partners, but Bella wasn't ready to let go yet. She snuggled into her one true love's shirt blinked away hot tears. The moment she'd been dreading all month had finally arrived. Edward was leaving and there was nothing she could do about it.
Edward wiped away a stray tear with his thumb.
"Hey now, none of that." He kissed her on the forehead. "There's no need to be upset." he looked over his shoulder at Alice who's eyes were also rimmed in red. "The next few days are going to fly by. Alice has a whole list of activities planned for you."
Bella shuttered. By activities, Edward meant shopping, makeovers, and wedding planning. Was it too late to go bear hunting with Emmett?
"There's something I want you to have," Edward said. He took the bracelet off his wrist and offered it to Bella.
Bella gasped. "Edward, I can't!"
The bracelet, a leather cuff attached to a golden Masen family crest, was Edward's prized possession. It was the only thing he had left of his biological parents.
"It's not forever, just until I get back." Edward smiled and winked. "Wouldn't want it getting covered in bear guts."
Bella allowed Edward to slip the bracelet on her wrist. Somehow, it felt even more meaningful than when he placed that $10,000 ring on her finger.
Emmett honked the horn shaving another ten years of Bella's life.
"Come on, lover boy. Let's get this show on the road!"
Bella chuckled when she noticed the pink lipstick mark on Emmett's face. Surely one of his brothers would tell him before they arrived at the airport. Or maybe not. One never knew with the Cullen brothers.
Edward gave Bella one last kiss on the forehead. "Have a good week with Alice and Rose and try not to worry."
"I'll try," Bella said, forcing a smile. "Try not to let Emmett and Jasper get arrested this time, okay?"
Edward laughed and climbed into the passenger seat. "No promises."
Bella bit her lip and fought back tears as she watched the car pull away. Why couldn't she shake the feeling something awful was about to happen?
As soon as the guys rounded the corner, Alice grabbed Bella's hand and pulled towards the house. "Come on!" Alice said, seemingly unbothered by Jasper's departure. "Let's go inside! I've got so planned and we're already an hour behind schedule. If we don't hurry, we'll have to skip mud facials!"
Not quite ready to enter the Edward free house, Bella remained rooted to the spot. "Go on ahead without me. I'll be there in a minute."
"Fine," Alice said, rolling her eyes. "I'll give you a minute to pine. When you're done, I'll be inside setting getting ready for manicures."
Alice raced off into the house to find the brightest shade of nail polish she owned.
In a rare show of empathy, Rosalie stayed behind and placed her hand on Bella's shoulder. "I know it's hard, but they'll be back soon. While I can't speak for Emmett, I know Edward won't do anything to get himself killed." She released Bella's shoulder and turned towards the house. "Waiting outside on the driveway won't bring them back any faster. Now let's go inside and I'll make us a nice pot of tea."
Bella smiled at Rosalie. While she had a reputation for being a bit of a rhymes with witch, moments like that reminded Bella there was more to Rosalie than snide remarks and eight-inch stilettos.
Bella took one last look at the empty street and turned towards the house. "You're right. Let's get inside before Alice figures out I hid her pink nail polish."
Bella had just stepped inside when Emmett's SUV came roaring back into the driveway. For the first time all day, Bella had a sliver of hope. Had Edward finally come to his senses and decided not to brave the Alaskan wilderness?
Emmett parked the car and Jasper scrambled out of the back seat. He ran up to the house nearly tripping twice over his untied shoelaces. Alice shook her head and met him at the door.
"Forget something?" she asked.
"Forgot.. the...plane tickets!" he said, huffing and puffing as if he'd just run a marathon.
Alice smiled and produced three plane tickets from behind her back.
Jasper blushed and took the tickets. "Thanks."
Jasper ran back outside where Edward and Emmett could be heard laughing and shouting "Always be prepared!"
Rosalie rolled her eyes and slammed the door shut behind him. "What are they doing to do without us?"
"I don't know," Alice replied, smiling wickedly. "But I do know what we're going to do without them."
She procured the biggest, brightest bottle of pink nail polish Bella had ever seen from the pocket of her robe. Bella sighed. It was going to be one long week.