Please see first chapter for disclaimer, rating, warnings, pairing, etc.

Part 3/3

Author's note: While quite satisfied with how "Onyx" parts one and two turned out, I still felt the story was incomplete. Mama Jo, lovely beta she is, was the one who realized the problem. The story was incomplete. I had yet to bring Alice and Jasper to the Cullen family. So this is (I promise!) the last installment of "Onyx." I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading!

Onyx Part III

Esme POV

"Esme, what do you think of this?"

I looked up from my book, distracted by Rosalie's question. She spun before me, blonde hair flying, skirt of her salmon-colored dress puffing out in swirls around her legs. "That color doesn't go quite right with your skin, dear," I told her. "But the style looks good on you."

Rosalie sighed and headed back upstairs. I knew she wanted to look her best when Emmett came home from his hunting trip with Edward – but did she have to parade past me in every single outfit she owned?

Carlisle looked up from his medical journal, smile infectious. "Poor Emmett," he said.

"Poor me," I corrected. "Emmett will have the luxury of seeing the finished product. I, however, have to see the start, finish, and everything in between."

"I heard that!" Rosalie called from upstairs.

Carlisle and I chuckled. "When are Edward and Emmett supposed to be back?" I asked. I set my book aside, giving up on it for the time being. It wasn't like I wouldn't have time to finish it later.

"In a few days," my husband replied. "I don't think they set an exact return date. They're probably having too much fun."

I shook my head indulgently. "Boys," I sighed.

"Hey, I'm one of those!" Carlisle protested. Then he winked.

I smiled, feeling warm inside despite my natural body temperature. Carlisle could always do that to me, make me feel so loved. Like I was the only girl on the face of the planet. . .

Rosalie came downstairs, dressed in a blue dress with white lace trim. I opened my mouth to tell her she looked fine, but then I noticed the expression in her gold eyes. "Someone's coming," she said softly. "Someone who is not who we're expecting."

Carlisle was out of his seat in a moment, headed for the front of the house. I motioned for Rose to stay behind me and followed. We'd met curious passersby before, those who were confused by our way of life and wanted to know more. But they always wound up moving on. A few had been less than friendly, but nothing had come of that because of the sheer size of our group – five healthy, strong vampires. But with Emmett and Edward gone, with two females and one male, perhaps we didn't show quite as strong a front. Were these vampires hostile, or friendly?

Stepping up behind Carlisle, I peered around his arm. The expanse of the front lawn stretched from the base of the front porch to the rim of trees shaping the forest almost a quarter mile away. The sun shone intermittently from the clouds, confining us all indoors for today. Yet two figures – one very tall, one very short – approached the house, skin sparkling like diamonds. They weren't concerned: they knew we were vampires, and apparently they weren't worried about us knowing they were vampires.

"Carlisle—" I began.

"Shh," he cautioned. "They don't look hostile." He stepped out onto the wide, old-fashioned front porch as the two vampires came closer. As they did, I began to notice more about them. The short one was female, with short-cropped black hair framing an almost elfin face. Her smile – broad, friendly, sincere – tempted me to relax. Her taller, male, companion eyed us all with a hint of suspicion, his unruly honey-blond hair framing his forehead, hanging shaggily in the back. The sleeves of his plaid shirt, rolled up to his elbows, bared his arms to the sunlight. As the sun cleared the clouds again, I noticed the crescent moon-shaped marks crisscrossing his arms. He's a fighter! I realized with a start. I darted a look at Carlisle to see if he'd noticed.

He had. "May I inquire as to your intentions here?" His smile, open and friendly, did not quite disguise the note of suspicion in his voice.

The little female danced up to the porch and held out her hand. "I'm Alice Whitlock," she said. "This is Jasper. And you are Carlisle, Esme, and Rosalie Cullen," she said, indicating each of us in turn. "Where are Edward and Emmett?" She paused for a moment, seeming deep in thought, then smiled and shrugged. "Hunting, of course. Never mind. What rooms can we move into?"

For a moment all three of us stood, stunned, staring at them. My! I thought. These two are – are— I couldn't think of a good enough word. Surely Carlisle won't let them stay?

Alice and Jasper moved into Edward's room. When my sons returned, Edward found his things in the garage. That took a lot of explaining! Only after they'd become acquainted with the newest members of our family (and the use of Edward's special gift) did I realize—

—I still hadn't finished my book.

-The End-