Author's note: Anybody bothering to read my other stories will see that this is the only AU I've posted. There's a reason for that – I'm not good at AU. :) Enough people convinced me this is an enjoyable story, so I'm continuing it, but please bear with me if the quality of the story "ends badly." ;) Everything previous to this chapter was written prior to Eclipse. From here on out, I'll be more or less following Ms. Meyer's universe with the one obvious exception that Bella has already met the Denali coven. Thanks for your patience and encouragement. Enjoy!
Emmett, Rosalie, and Irina darted in from the dining room, while Kate lagged behind just long enough to filch a couple of poker chips from Rosalie's stack. I wonder how long it will take her to notice.
Alice was instantly at my side, her eyes flashing with delight as a hundred different visions of Bella's and my respective embarrassments flashed through her mind. "You were going to throw a party without me?"
Emmett slugged me in the shoulder. "Little brother's finally gettin' some! When's the big day?"
"Of course not," Irina grinned at Alice, ignoring Emmett. "But we thought you Cullen women might be a bit more inclined toward the bridal shower."
Bridal shower. Esme's face was alight with bliss at the thought.
I shoved Emmett off. "She hasn't even accepted the proposal yet."
Rosalie stared sullenly at Tanya. Of course she would have to upstage MY wedding.
"No one is throwing any party!" I snapped, trying to dampen my family's dizzyingly excited thoughts.
"Yet," Esme said firmly. "Not yet . But if Alice can be prepared, so can we."
For eighty years, that tone of voice had been law, and I gave up on Esme, turning to plead with Alice instead. "You know how she hates to be in the spot-light."
Alice glared at me briefly, then grinned at an image of Bella at a bachelorette party in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Were they on an actual beach in that vision? "If we make it casual – no strippers, Irina – she'll enjoy it."
"Strippers?" Esme eyed Irina, a slight frown on her lips.
Carlisle put a fatherly hand on my shoulder. Edward, this is simply the way weddings are. It's not about what you want, and half the time, it's not about what the bride wants, either. If you just remember that, the whole experience will be much more pleasant. To the others, he said, "I think, ladies, that this is a discussion best left for another time."
"But – "
Carlisle cut Irina off. "Until there's a ring on her finger, at least."
"But we might not have enough time," Alice protested.
Carlisle chuckled softly. "I have full confidence in your abilities, Alice."
"If you need to special-order anything, though," Esme cut in, "go right ahead."
Carlisle glanced sharply at Esme who gave him a sheepish smile and shrugged. With a grin, Carlisle shook his head indulgently. "Very well, love. I'll let you keep the females in check."
"Good luck," Emmett muttered.
Kate playfully smacked him up the back of the head, then skipped over to Alice. "So Esme said you've already made some preparations?"
"Just the dress." Alice brightened again. "Come see!"
Tanya and Irina raced Alice and Kate up the stairs.
It suddenly occurred to me that half of Tanya's coven was missing. "Where are Eleazar and Carmen?"
Emmett, realizing the show was over, lumbered off to pack up the poker game.
"Over at the airstrip." Carlisle relaxed, putting his hands in his pockets. "It's almost dawn and I actually expected them to call before now. They're fueling the plane and getting it ready to leave."
"Good," I snarled darkly.
He grimaced. Yes, it is. We can't have Chief Swan catching sight of the Denali girls in town.
Laughing, Esme hugged me tightly. "We're just happy for you, Edward. Be patient with us."
I returned her hug with a grudging smile. She was as good as Jasper at dispelling my black moods. "I'll do my best."
"HEY!" Emmett roared through the living room and up the stairs. "Who stole the poker chips?"