Empty Skies

New Moon from Alice's POV

Disclaimer: Everything belongs to the great Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.

"You know she's not going to like this, Alice."

I stuck my tongue out at my brother, squinting up into the rain. "Don't be such a spoilsport, Edward," I chided. "She's human. Humans like birthday parties." I wished I could remember my own.

Edward opened his mouth, but I cut him off, anticipating his response to my thoughts. "And I know that, Edward."

I knew I lived vicariously through Bella—Edward reminded me often—but I couldn't resist. It was so much fun. Besides, I'd already experienced her protests through my visions, and they were easy to ignore. Despite her complaints, Bella was too softhearted to not let me have my way.

Edward rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath that sounded like "spoiled little freak."

I opened my mouth to retort when an image of Bella flashed through my mind. We both turned expectantly, and in a moment the roar of Bella's truck was audible in the distance.

Toying with the wrapped gift I held, I waited impatiently for her to park and clamber awkwardly out of the cab. She moved so agonizingly slow that I hurried forward to meet her.

"Happy Birthday, Bella!" I congratulated, feeling a wide smile spread across my features.

"Shhh!" she whispered, looking over her shoulder like it was an embarrassing secret. Strange human…

I let her odd reaction pass. "Do you want to open your presents now or later?"

"No presents," she muttered, frowning.

"Okay…later then." Why did she look so dejected? Birthdays were supposed to be happy events. "Did you like the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?"

"Yeah," she grumbled half-heartedly. "They're great."

"I think it's a nice idea," I defended, "You're only a senior once. Might as well document the experience."

"How many times have you been a senior?" she demanded wryly.

I made a face. "That's different."

Any further debate was impossible, for we had stopped in front of Edward; her eyes glazed over and her heart rate increased. I stifled a grin. This was one of my tactics in getting my way. With Edward anywhere near her, Bella was just that much less likely to argue.

"So, as discussed, I am not allowed to wish you a happy birthday, correct?" he questioned, touching her face.

"Yes," she breathed. "That is correct."

"Just checking. You might have changed your mind. Most people seem to enjoy things like birthdays and gifts."

I laughed. "Of course you'll enjoy it," I assured her. "Everyone is supposed to be nice to you today and give you your way, Bella. What's the worse that could happen?"

"Getting older," Bella responded automatically, a slight grimace twisting her features at the thought.

Edward's face hardened.

I ignored the drama. "Eighteen isn't very old," I commented lightly. "Don't women usually wait till they're twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays?" Not like I would know; I would never reach twenty. And of course, that fact—immortality—was central to the discussion.

"It's older than Edward," she murmured, looking down.

"Technically. Just by one little year, though." Both looked pensive, and I sighed inwardly. Time for a change of subject. "What time will you be at the house?"

She eyed me warily. "I didn't know I had plans to be there."

"Oh, be fair, Bella! You aren't going to ruin all our fun like that, are you?"

"I thought my birthday was about what I want," she objected.

"I'll get her from Charlie's right after school," Edward promised.

"I have to work," Bella still fought back.

"You don't, actually," I informed her, and passed along Mrs. Newton's birthday greetings.

"I—I still can't come over," she invented desperately, giving me some lame excuse about a Romeo and Juliet assignment.

Finally, I'd had enough. "This can be easy or this can be hard, Bella, but one way or the other—"

Edward didn't allow me to finish my thought. "Relax, Alice. If Bella wants to watch a movie, then she can. It's her birthday."

"So there," Bella concluded.

"I'll bring her over around seven," he offered. "That should give you more time to set up."

I giggled at her outraged expression. "Sounds good. See you tonight, Bella! It'll be fun, you'll see."

I leaned in to kiss her cheek, and then hurried on my way to class. As I slid into my seat, my eyes unfocused as a new vision unfolded. Bella, cuddled against Edward, wiping away a sentimental tear while listening to the CD that was now wrapped in silver paper.

I grinned, and immersed myself in plans for tonight's party as the teacher droned on.