Author's Note: Rated F for Ferociously Funny! And Rated E for Edward's Point-of-View! Oh, in case you are wondering, the playlist for the "Cullen Mix" is on my profile. You can check out the link to listen to it on ProjectPlaylist, so it's INTERACTIVE READING! OMC, that's pretty new, I think. For me at least. Enjoy.
It was a cool summer morning, around late June. I didn't remember the exact date, mostly due to the fact that my days now ran together, blurred in a vision of Bella. She had become the very thing I didn't even know I was looking for until now. The days had become the most joyous in all my life. Well, unnatural life, anyway. The only thing that I knew could be better was that she would wake up tomorrow and still be here. That she wasn't some figment of my imagination. In all of the century that I'd been around, seen so many things that only the student body read from their history books, I could have never guessed the feelings, the passionate call of this young woman that said she loved me. Me! The deplorable creature I am and yet she still loves me.
"Happy Birthday, Edward!" Bella cried, handing me a smaller, black and white package. I smiled at her crookedly, letting my teeth show a little. She blushed a deep crimson, one of my favorite colors on her, and looked down. "It's not much," she began. "But Alice said you would like it."
"I love anything you give me."
I quickly ripped the paper off in a clean sweeping motion and opened the box inside. It was an iPod.
"You got me an iPod, Bella?" I questioned, wondering what the idea was around this gift. I took out the small, rounded, white square and earbuds, too. I would have to be careful not to break them.
"Well, it was from Alice and me, both. Alice said it would be a great gift. I know how much you love music and it made sense that sometimes you would need a little time to drown out everything else and just listen to something good."
I was surprised. Her and Alice had thought it out. And it was the thought that counts, I said to myself.
"I also filled it up with some music, too," she said, blushing that beautiful color when I winked at her. "Lots of different kinds, all for when you go hunting or for a run."
How I loved this woman! I smiled again and brushed my hand lightly across her cheek, just as I had when I first decided to keep seeing her. To get to know her several months ago. She blushed again, that lovely shade of crimson and I took her hand, leading her to the living room. Emmett and Jasper were playing some war game, mostly likely the new Halo for the game system. I thought it was foolish, but my brothers enjoyed it. Especially Jasper. I think it was all about strategy for him and about ravaging the German countryside for Emmett.
Alice, Rosalie and Esme were at the table in the dining room pouring over some women's magazine. They chatted animatedly. I reached out and heard nothing but the Battle Hymn of the Republic in Chinese from Alice and some new fashion tips from Rosalie. Esme was just reading aloud in her mind about a poor woman in New York with trouble speaking to her spouse about some marital issues.
Strange enough was Alice's thoughts, so I tugged Bella with me to see what my sisters and my mother were up to. Immediately, Alice and Rosalie snatched the magazine away and Esme stood up, questioning Bella about something for school. It was extremely odd for them and I still couldn't figure out what was going on. So strange...
Bella stayed with Esme and I walked back out to the living room where Emmett and Jasper were playing their horrid video games.
"Who's winning?" I asked, not really caring but still making conversation. I heard nothing for a moment, but then Emmett grunted.
"Jaz, of course. He's taken me down twice now. But third time's a charm!" he called, furiously tapping the paddle in his hands. I heard Alice's voice call out, overtop of my brothers' voices. "Not a chance, Emmett! Jasper's going to win again!" Emmett swore and Jasper just snickered, but their eyes never left the screen. I shrugged my shoulders and walked back to the dining room.
The girls were all at the table, with Bella between them, with Alice rearranging Bella's hair in various positions and Esme searching through a wide container with an assortment of beauty products. "Edward, Alice and I are going to give Bella a makeover. Why don't you go for a run or something until we're done?" Rosalie said, not really looking at me, but glancing between Esme and Alice.
I groaned. Any time away from Bella was a hardship. Bella must have noticed and added to Rosalie's request. "it's okay, Edward. Besides, you like running. And take your new iPod Alice and I got you. You'll love it!"
Giggles burst out, both aloud and in my mind. Something was definitely not right, but I agreed. I leaned to kiss Bella on the forehead and left like a shot. The faster I ran, the faster I would get back to Bella.
I ran for about a mile before I decided to try out my little music player. It was such a thoughtful gift from them both and I couldn't wait to see what music they placed on it. I booted it up, placing the little earbuds in my ears. I kept the volume low, knowing I could hear it well, and pressed play on something called "Cullen Mix". Underneath, a brief description of the playlist scrolled across the tiny screen: All your favorites from your family!
Strange beats filled my ears and I knew I was going to kill someone. This must be a sick joke! I thought angrily as the song "Sexy Back" began to fill my ears. I knew immediately this was Emmett's doing. I quickly flipped the switch and the next song played. It wasn't much better.
Filthy eighties nonsense! I cried, recognizing the music again. Once again, my dear brother Emmett was going to pay. I scrolled the next few songs, ones from Rosalie, Jasper, Alice and Esme. The one I found from Carlisle was especially entertaining. The Beach Boys were a favorite of his, though I had no idea why. It seemed a little too chipper for his tastes, but nevertheless, entertaining. The next song made my heart jump in my throat. Well, it would have if that was possible.
Sixties music... Marvin Gaye, to be exact, began playing. It was song Jasper and Emmett both teased me incessantly about. Bella had no idea what she was in for if she had ever hear this song. It was a song both my brothers sang to me after we came back from prom. I was glad Bella was asleep upstairs on my couch and not listening to my brothers sing about "sexual healing" and my lack of experience.
The next few songs were a bit campy, but better than the more embarrassing ones. Except for the most annoying song in the universe. Some strange song about peanut butter and jelly... and something about a baseball bat? I never could finish the song. It was giving me a headache.
All of the so-called sexual repression I seemed to somehow express to my brothers, at least as far as Jasper was concerned, ended up being the butt of the joke on this mix. A group called Fountains of Wayne appeared on the playlist, along with a song about thinking a girl named Stacy's mother was particularly good-looking. Another wasteful song of the new milllenum.
I flicked the switch again, waiting for the music to load as I ran swiftly past trees, climbing quickly so I could jump from branch to branch. It was the one semi-human escapade I enjoyed, feeling like I an acrobat. I smiled inwardly at the strange remark but then groaned immediately as the music began to play.
"Stupid, silly Alice!" I growled, hearing the revolting Michael Jackson song play in my earphones. It was the big hit of the eighties, the decade I was begging to forget. This was one of Alice's favorites, too. What she ever saw in that... man's... music was beyond me. I flipped the switch again, not caring I was breezing through the music. I really didn't want to hear any of it.
Then I heard it. I nearly fell from my perch in a spruce, laughing hysterically. This was the song I caught Bella singing in the shower one day, when I came by to pick her up for school. Alice was there, helping her get ready and I could hear her singing this song, much like a cheerleader. Bella's pick, I'm sure. I would forever be reminded of Alice's exploit of prancing around the room with Bella laughing hysterically, singing "Oh Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind!" A memory I wouldn't certainly forget.
I switched the lever again, listening. It felt like a treasure hunt, wondering what memories would be stirred up next, and in the case of my endearing brothers, if I would most certainly feel embarrassed if Bella had heard it.
Something about the next cheesy song was actually reminiscent of another song I actually did like. The lyrics were, interesting, to say the least. ...Take, these broken wings and learn to fly again, fly again so free... I sang to myself, softly. Definitely an Alice pick. I picked up speed, letting the wind whip my hair to and fro, not caring that it would look windblown when I got back. I was really enjoying myself on this run. A surprise at every turn!
But then the surprises ended. Some late disco-era song came on. I immediately thought of Rosalie. She was the one to try to get me to wear that ugly polyester suit on one of their little trips through Montreal. I vehemently said no, but they had Emmett and Jasper both tackled me. The end result was a very disgruntled me... in a white poly-blend suit that I felt revolted to wear. Not surprisingly, Emmett and Jasper both wore a similar ensemble to mine that late evening. The girls had decided to try their hands at the club scene, wanting to make a big scene on a disco floor. I sat in the back booth that night and counted the number of minutes until we left.
I smiled again, even at the awful memory. It was still one shared with my family.
The next song came on without my turning the switch. I recognized it from an obsession Esme had with The Cardigans years back. She enjoyed the retro balance and the aptly titled "Lovefool" song. Thanks, Esme, I said, slowing my pace to a reasonable trot. I sure felt like a fool in love lately...
The tune faded out soon enough as I wound my way back through the foothills around the Olympic Peninsula. The breeze from the nearby ocean was thick and salty, reminding me of the invisible boundary between my family's land... and La Push.
A growl erupted, low, from my chest as the next song played. It was the most inappropriate song to have ever been written by a human male. All the talk about treating women with the mere passing fancy of settling a physical urge made me sick. Like Mike Newton... He was someone I knew Bella would have never said 'yes' to, but still I felt nothing but a measure of malice toward this frail human child. I reminded myself that it was Emmett that most likely put the song there. His mind was always in one direction, focused on one single thing.
I rolled my eyes, flicking the device again and realizing it was a choice from Carlisle. Surprisingly, he was an Eric Clapton fan. The song was decent enough, though not quite my proverbial cup of tea. I listened to the song, the lyrics reminding me of that night I took Bella to prom.
She was absolutely stunning. Rosalie and Alice couldn't have done better for my Bella. She looked simply ravishing in that deep blue hyacinth dress, wrapping her delicate curves well, adding to the effect of what I already knew her to be: the woman that held my cold, unbeating heart in her hands. When she complained to me about the tall high heels she was forced to wear, I remember my breath catching, seeing the porcelain skin covered lightly by the deep blue stilettos. She was breath-taking. And that was nigh impossible for a vampire.
The next song came on, my mind flitting back to the open area I found myself. Our meadow. The clouds dissipated and lit the corner of the field with sunshine. I smiled to myself, remembering the first time I decided to take Bella here. The sunlight was a mystery to her and how it played havoc with my crystallized skin. She seemed to really enjoy just merely staring. Anyone else and I would have thought them to be rude. But with her, anytime she looked at me made my cold heart flutter. That is to say, if it could flutter.
…she was blinded by the light...
Yes, I was blinded by her light, but it was a subtle reminder to me of things that reminded her of me. How I wanted her to forget me and run away, screaming for her life in the beginning, but now... I don't think I could ever want to leave her side. Never. Forever. The warm sunlight didn't warm my skin like Bella could, however. Another reason why I missed her sorely.
Then the next song began the sickening sounds of 1960s pop culture shouted at my senses. Oddly enough, I was sure this song was from Jasper. He liked some of the music from the sixties, mostly The Beatles and The Monkees. It was off for him to add a song by the Partridge Family, more so, the actor/musician David Cassidy. Even odder still, I found myself singing along, remembering the lyrics from years ago.
I only want to make you happy
and believe me when I say
if you say "Go away"
But I think better still
I better stay around and love you
If you think I have a case
Let me ask you to your face
Do you think you love me?
No, I didn't think I loved Bella. I did love her. I remember clearly the morning she said it, in so many words. It was like a bright meteor to my heart. The light blinded me utterly and all I could fathom is this beautiful, doe-eyed woman loved me. She was life now and nothing would change that. I could imagine her and I in my bedroom, stretched out on the couch listening to the seventies collection she enjoyed. She preferred a song by Van Morrison I vaguely recalled. I now kept it in constant rotation, much to Esme's pleasure I'm sure. She enjoyed the seventies, for reasons I never could recall. But it was that afternoon, when Bella spent the afternoon in my bedroom, going through my vast CD collection that she ran into this song. I rarely kept seventies music in my possession, but this one I rather liked. Apparently, it was an old favorite of her and her mother's. It reminded her of the times her mother would get up and start singing to the radio, gathering Bella in her arms and whisking her around the room.
I smiled at that thought. Bella. My Bella, dancing. Her aptitude for clumsiness was surely apparent, but if one was to be a good leader, that is in dancing, anyone could look good enough. I had lots of practice in dancing. Esme, Rosalie and Alice all made sure of that. I remembered faintly the dancing I did in my past life, but it was nothing to learning all the moves to modern music. While they did drag me to clubs and even the infamous Studio 54, I never really participated. I did learn a thing or two. I remembered the steps to the Hustle, the Electric Slide and a few others popular in the sixties and seventies.
Unfortunately for me, dancing had become more about moving the hips and backside rather than the grace of the arms and full movement of the body, like when waltzing or doing the foxtrot. Ah, so much for modern music. Good thing Bella wasn't interested in such antics.
The next same switched over and I rolled my eyes. The song, so recognizable, was sung by a girl name Fergie. It was all about self-gratification and seeing how other men, boys really, portrayed her. It was a Rosalie song if I had ever heard one. I flicked the switch again.
...I'm twenty-two for a moment, and she feels better than ever before, and we're on fire, making our way back from Mars...
'100 Years' by Five for Fighting. I enjoyed this band and I had their CD somewhere. I looked at the tiny readout. I had guessed correctly the title and artist, but what I was unfamiliar with was who chose it: Carlisle. Very smart, I thought, the words floating in my head. A hundred years, a century of life, trying to take time as it comes naturally, not wanting to rush the moment. The song progressed through the life of a man; first as a young teen, then a love-smitten man. Next a fiancé and then a older man.
It reminded me, sadly, of all the things I could never get to share with Bella. Things she deserved to be, to have, in her life. She deserved a life to grow old. To fall in love with someone not so bad for her. To marry, to have children, a family. A life I could never give her. As badly as I would want to, I could never be that man for her. I'd always be a vampire, a most hated predator.
My thoughts took me to a dark place, and as the next song came on, I realized that the lyrics expressed how I felt then. How I felt every time she was away. I looked at the readout; I'd never heard of the song before. The band was Hoobastank and the song was "Disappear". It fit us so perfectly.
... Do you know that every time you're near everybody else seems far away? Can you come and make them disappear so that we can stay?...
Aptly titled, most definitely. The pain the man talked about was the pain I felt whenever she was away. I had once told her that I felt anxious whenever she left. Anxious, I smiled to myself. Yes, you could call it that.
Smitten, love-struck fool was more like it.
The next song made me groan. I detested this particular artist since she came singing some ridiculous bubble-gum pop song. But this song was very interesting. Despite its overt sexual tones, I thought this must have been something Bella had chosen. Sure enough, I was right. The readout on my iPod said the song was called "Toxic" and beside it was tiny text that read Bella's Choice.
Toxic, indeed. An addiction. How little she understood. She was really my brand of heroin, my toxic little flower. Yes, my venomous scent, smelling mouthwatering to her, was merely a toxin by my own body. But her scent, the blood that pumped through her veins was more than a normal level of toxicity should be. She was my rare, warm cognac and I was the semi-recovering alcoholic. Good thing I was in rehab, I chuckled to myself.
I got up from the meadow, brushing the dirt from my jeans. I sprinted at top speed, making my way through the trees, feeling the thrill of the wind whipping against me. Gravity was nothing. The ground barely beneath me, blurred. Yes, this thrill, this speed was something I couldn't get enough of. Would I ever tire of running as fast I do now? Would I ever tire of this thrill?
My mind said no, but my heart sighed. This thrill of speed was no match for my thrill for Bella. Yes, that aspect of our relationship had crossed my mind. She had asked me a question one night, about if marriage as a vampire was the same as human unions. I supposed so, from what I tried to block out from my brothers and sisters. I gave them as much privacy as I could, often leaving our large white house on the river for a time. A houseful of frisky vampires was something I could not tolerate well when I myself was the 'odd man out' as Esme had gently put it.
Another song played and I knew it was one of Bella's favorites. She often commented that she liked the music of Alanis Morissette. Head Over Feet was of no exception. We had heard this on the way home from school one afternoon on the radio. Surprising me again, she sang softly, hoping that I couldn't hear, I was sure. She had such a pure voice. Her tone, perfect. If I was one of those horrid judges from the show my sisters watched, American Idol, I would have told her she would be going to Hollywood.
But then again, she would have said I was biased. Sighing deeply, as a man in love should, I found myself at the door to our home. I had been gone about a little over an hour. I opened the door to hear a terrible shriek. I bolted.
In the kitchen, from where it came from, I saw the source and had to laugh out loud. Bella was looking at herself in the mirror from Rosalie and Alice's makeovers. She was covered in red rouge and lipstick, her face painted in shades that matched the ever-growing flush of her cheeks. Her normally straight mahogany hair was in two thick braids. I thought she looked beautiful.
"Hello there, lovely," I called, trying to speak over the laughter coming from around the table. Esme was trying to stifle herself while my two sisters were practically rolling on the floor. Just then Emmett came into the room.
'Hey Bella! Whoa, you look..." he stopped, searching for the right word. Then I saw the picture in his head and I had to sit down. I laughed until, if I could have, cried. Emmett, meanwhile, had went to Bella and took a handful of bobby pins, rolling Bella's braids into round, bun-like shapes, then pinned them securely.
Then, as usual with Emmett's jokes, all hell broke loose.
Bella turned another deeper shade of red, more than I thought possible with her as she stared into the mirror. I wondered when she would blow up on him.
"Emmett McCarty Cullen, you will pay!!" She charged him, placing punches here and there. Her knuckles would be bruised and she would be hurting later. I couldn't take that. Rosalie rushed over with me and slapped Emmett at the back of his head.
"Oh, Rose, what was that for? You were thinking it, too! She looked like Princess Leia!"
Jasper came in, toting a camera. Oh crap.
"Smile, Bella," he smiled, taking the candid and then running up the stairs with Alice chasing behind him, yelling at him, "You put Emmett up to it, I know it!"
I took Bella's hands and rubbed them in my own. My cold temperature would soothe the ache that would be there.
"It's okay, love, really." I cradled her into the crook of my arm, rubbing her back, too.
"Did I really look like Princess Leia?" she asked, her tone edging between mock horror and playfulness. I had to grin, too. "Well, love, you did look a little like her. Although I think you could be more dangerous than any Jedi."
By this time, Esme was laughing out loud, along with everyone else. Rosalie, with her mind now turning to something a bit more private in nature, motioned to Emmett and his eyes gleamed. They walked out of the kitchen to the staircase.
"Did you have a nice run, Edward?" asked Esme. Bella had glanced up at me, into my eyes. I placed my hand on her gentle face. "Yes, it was a nice run, but I was too anxious to come home."
Esme laughed again, and she began cleaning up the table. I lead Bella to the back porch of our house, where I sat in one of the large Adirondack chairs, with Bella curled up in my lap. I stroke her braids, pulling the pins Emmett had placed there. Her hair soon flowed freely and I was finding myself breathing in her heady scent again. Lucious, I thought, once again.
"Happy Birthday, Edward," she said softly, reaching around to place her soft, warm lips on my cheek.
"Thank you, love," I said. I returned her gesture and placed my cool lips on hers. I wasn't nearly as fearful of hurting her now. Surely she could feel that. My mouth moved over hers and I could feel heat rising from her skin slightly. I smiled behind her lips and parted, placing my lips on her delicate chin, her neck, her collarbone.
"Edward?" she said, her breath ragged. "Did you get everything you wanted for your birthday?"
I pulled away, slightly, to force the gaze of my eyes into hers. "More than I could ever ask for." I took her hand in mine, stroking her fingers idly and the diamond I had placed there only a week earlier.
"More than I could have ever dreamed for, my love."
And for that, I could be eternally grateful. My one and only love here with me. And, given a few months, my wife.