The rest of the school day progressed in a monotonous manor

Chapter 3

The rest of the school day progressed in a monotonous manor. The classes dragged on as I could barely sit still from my own excitement for tonight. As last period finally ended I nearly sprinted from the classroom. I barely had time to close the Volvo's door behind me before the engine was roaring to life.

As I drove home I continued to plan out the decorations and the night's events. We had everything that could possibly be wanted for a birthday party. Bella was not eighteen and so she should have a mature party, but I couldn't help going for an elegant pink theme.

By the time I reached the house I was fully caught up in my plans for the night. It wasn't until I was out of the car that I recognized the tall figure standing on the porch steps.

"Emmett!" I ignored the open car door and raced into his arms. I instantly met his firm grip as he scooped me up into his bear-like embrace. I could feel the pressure against my chest. "What are you doing here?"

"Nice to see you too sis, I wasn't expecting you to be so surprised," he smirked. It was then that I realized that I must have been so caught up in my thoughts all day that I must have missed him coming.

"Of course it's amazing to see you too, but why aren't you in Africa?" He finally put me back onto my feet.

"We called Esme this morning to check in and she told us about the party you had planned for Bella, and I wouldn't miss that for anything."

Suddenly another figure appeared in the doorway. "Rosalie!" I turned to run towards her. Her arms wrapped around me as I clutched her tight. "How are you? I've missed you too."

"Hey Alice, good to see you." Her voice was already guarded; I was in no mood to mention it however.

The three of us proceeded inside to where Esme and Carlisle stood waiting.

"Edward is with Bella?" Carlisle guessed.

I nodded, "They will be over around seven."

Carlisle and Esme escorted Emmett and Rosalie upstairs to catch up. I began right away with decorating and preparing for what I hope will be one of the best nights we may have as a family all year.

Everything was in place. The candles, the lanterns, the roses, the 0presents, the cake, and the entire house was ready for a night to remember.

Bella's truck is pulling up outside. Edward helps her into the house while Emmett runs around the yard towards Bella's truck.

"Emmett," he turned around, his upper arm just missing the full stack of crystal plates next to him, "Bella is going to put up too much of a fuss if you simply hand over your present."

"Okay," his face looked puzzled.

"So, when she gets here, once she's out of her truck, say hello and then sneak off to install the radio directly into her car so that she can't take it out." His face suddenly lit up like a child in a candy store. "I'll re-wrap the box so that you can still physically hand her a present."

His face glowed more than I've seen it glow in a long time. "Sure, Alice."

"She's almost here!" I made the announcement just loud enough so that the household could hear. Everyone gradually joined Emmett and me in the living room.

The doors opened painfully slowly but as soon as both figures were in sight the chorus of voices sounded, "Happy birthday, Bella!" I waited for the rest of my family members to greet her before moving to her. Emmett's escape out the door was my cue.

"Time to open presents!" I could barely wait; I led Bella to the decorated table full of presents.

"Alice," Bella started, a slightly pained look on her face, "I know I told you I didn't want anything –"

"But I didn't listen," I interrupted before she could continue. I leaned down towards the table and handed Rosalie, Jasper, and Emmett's present to her in exchange for her camera. "Open it," I encouraged.

Bella's confused face as she opened the present humored us all, "It's a stereo for your truck," I heard Jasper's voice from behind me, "Emmett's installing it right now so that you can't return it."

"Thanks, Jasper, Rosalie." She smiled at them and then returned a look to Edward, "Thanks, Emmett!" Her voice rose.

I stepped forward, "Open mine and Edward's next," I handed our gift to her.

"You promised," her voice was slightly angered as she addressed my brother.

"Just in time!" Emmett's booming voice appeared a bit behind me.

"I didn't spend a dime," Edward promised, looking back at her. The look in his eyes made my own heart skip a beat.

"Give it to me," Bella adjusted her focus back to the present.

I barely had time to see the events before they happened; the next blur of images rushed through my head within a second, but a second too late. I could not react any faster than anyone else because it happened so quickly.

I smelled it before I could see it, the slight aroma of blood filled the air as I reached for Jasper but my hand was left empty in mid air.

"No!" The roar of Edward's voice brought my attention back to where Bella was. In that instant Jasper was against Edward, fighting to get past him to the fallen girl. The shock that filled my body wouldn't let me move to help at all, although I can't imagine what I would have done if I could have moved. Emmett moved in, helping Edward keep Jasper away.