Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Thanks to Alphie, Be My Escape and Bronzehairedgirl, who are most thorough betas. Also, thank you Lomesir and apocalypse cabaret for help with title a story site unseen. Even if I didn't choose to call the story or any part of it Ebola. A 'semitone' is the smallest difference between two notes.
The graduating class at Forks High School takes a senior trip to San Francisco, California. Edward has plans for Bella on their free night.
by silly bella
I could hardly believe Charlie had let me come. I'm sure if he hadn't already paid for my senior trip back when I'd been a zombie, I wouldn't be in San Francisco right now. He'd never waste that much money just to keep me under house arrest. Luckily, Edward and Alice had come back in time to get in on the trip before it closed, and we were all three here. I would have been happy to just sit in the hotel with the two of them, but we had most of a beautiful, cloudy week to enjoy the glories of Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, the zoo, the aquarium, the Explorium and the rest of San Francisco's allure.
Carlisle had arranged for Edward to have a private room and for Alice to share one with me by writing a note about their "sleep disorders." It worked out nicely. Each night after the chaperones had taped us into our rooms, Edward would slip in via the balcony and join us. Alice turned the television sound so low I couldn't hear it and Edward sang me to sleep. It might be the best trip I've ever taken.
But right about now I was beginning to have some doubts. Tonight was a free night. Most of the class had opted to get group tickets to a Giants baseball game, but Edward had made plans to surprise me. He still hasn't grasped that I don't like surprises. What worried me was Alice. She'd been dressing me for the last couple of hours. She'd taken me during free time the day before to have a manicure and a pedicure. She'd done my makeup and piled my hair on my head in a sleek French twist, held in place by a stunning jeweled hairpin. I wondered where she'd found something so unique.
I was a bit surprised when she brought out my dress, a violet-blue silk shantung formal with a tightly-fitted bodice, a strapless boat-neck draped collar and a rather full ball gown skirt. The strappy-heeled sandals gave me great trepidation. With my lack of coordination, I could only wear shoes like that around Edward, who would catch me before I could break my neck. But I balked when Alice opened a velvet box containing a necklace, bracelet and earrings. I ran my fingers over them, marveling at intricate design. From the weight, I knew the deep blue sapphires and the glittering diamonds had to be real.
"He's gone too far, Alice," I muttered. "I can't believe he bought something like that. This probably costs more than Charlie's house." I could never wear something that expensive. Some of the stones were the size walnuts. And if Charlie saw it, he'd go through the roof.
Alice smiled. "He didn't buy them." In the mirror, I could see as she shook her head and tried to look innocent while she fastened the clasp.
"So he rented them?" I reached to find the clasp on the necklace. I was not going to wear something this extravagant. Then it occurred to me. "That hair pin is a real sapphire, too, isn't it?"
"Bella, stop complaining. And don't you dare touch that clasp," Alice growled. "He didn't rent them. He's had them for a long time. They belonged to his mother. And yes, the hair pin is real, too."
I caught my breath as I stared at myself in the mirror. "These were his mother's?" My voice trembled. Alice nodded slowly and fastened the bracelet on my wrist. "What if something happens to them? What if I lose them? What if I break them?" I'd feel even worse than if he'd rented them. Edward didn't talk about his mother very often, but I knew enough to know they had a special relationship. He treasured the memories he had of her as much as any of her belongings. He knew what a klutz I was, and he wanted me to wear them anyway?
Alice laughed and carefully hung the earrings on my ears. "Bella, as long as you wear them, he'll be happy. He asked me to find a dress that would go with them. I told him that you wouldn't like it. But he said you'd agreed that I cold choose the wardrobe and that the jewelry was within bounds because he didn't spend any money on it. And after tonight, all the jewelry here goes back in the safe." She raised her eyebrows and grinned, "He's playing by your rules. He's just pushing the limits in some grey areas you didn't cover."
"This is not by my rules, and you know it as well as he does," I hissed.
She gave me a terrifying stare. "Just leave them alone. They look nice on you. And remember: you stipulated the rules. He's following them. You can't change them in mid-stream. That's cheating."
"This wasn't what I meant," I stated simply.
"But it's what you and he agreed to. He's been extremely careful to stay within the boundaries you set. But you know Edward; he does like a challenge." She grinned. "My job is to get you dressed, so don't take it out on me. If you don't want to wear the jewelry, you'll have to take it up with him."
I recognized her expression. There was no more arguing with her. But there was also something she wasn't telling me.
"Do you know what he has planned?" Unless we were crashing a prom at some elite private school, I couldn't imagine what kind of occasion needed such formal attire.
"Of course I do." She tapped her forehead. "You're going to have a wonderful time. It will be beautiful. And special for both of you." She smiled enigmatically.
I breathed deeply and took a longer look in the mirror. I looked like something from another age. I turned, listening to the skirt rustle as I took in a side view. Alice draped a simple wrap over my shoulders. The outside matched the dress perfectly and the inside was lined in lush black velvet. It felt warm. "It's going to be cool tonight," she whispered. "You'll be warm enough in this, I think."
"What's he wearing?" I asked. I remembered how he looked in his tux last May at prom. I couldn't imagine he would wear anything less formal, not with me wearing a gown like this. I'd enjoy that part, seeing him dressed up.
Alice giggled. She was enjoying this far too much. "You'll see in a minute. He's waiting for you in the courtyard. I'll go down with you. I need to meet the others for the baseball game."
I was a bit relieved that she was coming with me since I was afraid I might fall before I reached Edward. Me in heels. An accident waiting to happen. Alice took my hand and led me out of the room and down the corridor to the elevator. In the lobby, she pointed the direction of the courtyard. I walked carefully through the door and glanced about the greenery.
Edward waited, still as a statue. He heard me at the door and turned to meet me. I caught my breath. I might be wearing the dress and the jewelry, but he didn't need any of that to be beautiful. Although, I must say, he could do wonderful things for a tuxedo. He didn't take his eyes off me as he came to stand beside me. "You are so beautiful," he whispered before he kissed my forehead. "So very beautiful." He raised my hand and brushed his lips against my fingers. "I imagined how you would look tonight, but my imagination didn't come anywhere close to this breathtaking vision before me." I felt the blush rise in my cheeks and even across my chest, where, in this dress, he could plainly see. He smiled and gazed silently into my eyes for a moment. Then he took my hand and led me along the path in garden.
"What are you thinking?" I asked. I'd seen him when I'd appeared on his stairway for prom, but his gaze had just put that expression to shame.
He chuckled before he said, "I'm thinking that I have never been so happy that my mother was fond of jewelry. It looks stunning on you." He ran his fingers over my earlobe and down my neck, finally following the pattern of the necklace until he raised his hand to cup my face. He kissed me, his cold marble lips against mine. "I'm thinking how very much I love you." Everything inside me melted before he backed away.
"About that. The jewelry part, not the loving me part –" I started, ready to continue the argument I'd begun with Alice. He placed a finger against my lips, cutting me off.
"Please, Bella. They look perfect on you. I didn't spend a dime on them. If you refuse, wouldn't that mean I could do whatever I wanted?" He smirked. "You agreed to certain conditions, after all. I haven't broken them. You were quite specific. I've been very careful. But if you want to say the agreement doesn't matter, I wouldn't mind throwing caution to the wind."
He had me there. If I refused, no telling what he'd do. Something expensive, I'm sure. Something dramatic. He raised his eyebrows. "So what do you say? Will you wear it or not?"
I sighed. He was technically right. I didn't really have a choice. He would win either way. I'd either be wearing the jewelry, or he'd be able to be as extravagant as he wished. I wasn't sure what those limits might be, but they probably trumped the necklace. Finally, I nodded.
He smiled, truly happy at my surrender, and we began to walk along the path again. He was quiet. Too quiet, in fact, and I wondered what he had planned. I felt certain he hadn't dressed me up like this to walk around the hotel grounds, although they were beautiful. It shocked me when he dropped to one knee in front of me. "Isabella, my love, please marry me." He spoke calmly enough, but the nervous anticipation was clear in his expression. He held a ring, a table-cut sapphire, in his hand.
I struggled to breathe. Was that what this was all about? A fancy proposal? I'd told him that I didn't want that. That I didn't want a ring. But I hadn't specifically prohibited him from proposing tonight. The ring was probably his mother's, too. He'd waited until I'd agreed to wearing the rest of the jewelry to bring the ring out of hiding. He was tricky. "Edward, I told you that I'm not ready to get married. I keep telling you."
"I intend to keep asking until you say yes," he stated gently.
"Well, I'm saying no." I lowered my head. It was hard to keep telling him that. He was so persistent. "I love you, Edward. I do love you." And I did love him. I loved him more than I ever imagined I could love anyone. But I couldn't say yes.
A frown skittered across his face, and I couldn't see his expression as he lowered his head for a moment. Then he sighed and stood, dusting off the knee of his trousers. "Is it the ring? There are others, you know, if that's it." He gave me a sheepish smile. He was so adorable when he smiled like that. Even through the grin, I could tell he was still disappointed.
"The ring is beautiful, Edward," I whispered solemnly. It was. I'd never seen a more beautiful ring. Edward's mother clearly had exquisite taste. Or maybe it was his father.
"So you like this ring?" He grinned. I couldn't miss the hope in his eyes. "Would you at least agree to wear it tonight? Please?" he begged.
I frowned. So that was the plan. "You did this on purpose. You knew I would say no, so you asked me to marry you knowing that I could hardy refuse to wear the ring tonight right after I'd already said no to your proposal." I fumed, even though I knew he'd asked me to marry him in earnest. He wasn't playing fair, but I couldn't disappoint him twice in one night. But I didn't answer right away.
"I asked you to marry me because I love you, and I want you to be my wife." He paused for a moment then added, "But it would mean a great deal to me if you would wear this ring, even if it's just for one night." He gave me a pleading gaze. It wasn't even dazzling; it was pure puppy-dog eyes.
"You are evil," I couldn't help giggling.
"That's what I keep telling you," he grinned. "Does that mean you'll wear it?" he whispered, hope in his voice.
I sighed and nodded. He slipped the ring over my finger quickly, refusing to give me time to change my mind. "But just for tonight." I kept my voice quiet. I didn't want to ruin the moment for him. He looked slowly from my hand to my face and a smile brighter than any of the diamonds I was wearing flashed across his face as he leaned forward to kiss me.