Author's Note: Here's my new Twilight story that I mentioned I would write! I've been writing a TON for this lately, so hopefully the chapters will be put up frequently! Also, thanks to my good friend Liz for helping me with the editing and looking out for plot holes! She definitely caught several small details that I forgot to think about which, in turn, have now improved the story!
Chapter One: The Visitors
I yawned without opening my eyes. Then I stretched my feet to the furthermost point of my mattress. I sighed, cuddling into the warm layers of blankets.
"Good morning," I mumbled into my pillow. Then, with my fingers crossed, I asked, "Is it raining?"
There was no response.
Frantically, I opened my eyes and rolled over. The covers on the other side of my bed had been mussed. He was here – Edward had been here – but was now gone.
"Edward?" I whimpered, my eyes darting anxiously around the room. Where had he gone? And why would he just leave like that?
I threw my bed sheets off of my legs, shivering slightly at the chilling sensation – particularly when I knew the chill wasn't coming from Edward's fingers or lips – and I rolled out of bed.
The moment I did, I heard a crinkling noise. I looked down, beneath my feet, and saw that I had stepped on a slip of paper.
I quickly picked up the paper and read the words with eager eyes.
I needed to speak with Carlisle. Stop by when you wake up.
I didn't need to be told twice. Without the slightest bit of hesitation, I discarded my pajamas and changed into another outfit without bothering to shower. I then galloped down the staircase and entered the kitchen at an alarmingly fast speed.
"Bella?" Charlie was lounging in his recliner in front of the television. "What are you doing up so early on a Saturday morning?"
I stopped dead in my tracks, surprised by the voice. Instead of answering his question, I asked, "What are you doing – weren't you going to go fishing today?"
My dad pointed glumly towards the window. The rain was coming down much harder than the normal drizzle. It was still early morning, but I was sure the sun was supposed to have risen by now. The storm had made everything almost pitch black – impossible to see.
"Sorry about your trip," I apologized quickly. I didn't feel too bad, though; he went fishing every other weekend. One day off wouldn't kill him. I quickly diverted his attention. "Hey, Dad – I'm going to Edward's, alright?"
Charlie lifted an eyebrow. "You did see the weather, didn't you?" he asked, glancing towards the black window once more. "It'll be impossible to drive in, Bella. You should give it an hour – at least wait for the worst of it to blow over."
I shook my head, unwilling to back down. Edward's note had been clear, and I needed to find him immediately. "I'll drive extra slow," I promised my dad, already reaching for my car keys. "Don't worry – I'll be safe."
"Bella," Charlie sternly warned me, briefly looking away from the sports channel. "I really don't think that's a very good idea…"
"Its fine," I quickly brushed him off. I was already standing at the door with the handle turned and ready to be thrown open the moment I finished speaking so that Charlie couldn't talk me out of leaving. "I'll see you later – bye, Dad!" I called, faintly hearing him shout back, "At least take an umbrella!"
It was the worst weather that I had ever experienced. The rain came down with such force that I felt as if they were small ice pellets, digging into my skull. I looked at the ground as I ran, half expecting it to be covered with hail, but there was nothing but several inches of standing water.
It took me less than ten seconds to run to my truck. However, by the time I managed to leap into the driver's seat of my old, beat-up vehicle, I was soaked to the bone. I slammed the door closed behind me, instantly muting the sound of rain hitting the pavement. The only noise that could be heard was the dull pounding of rain on the roof of the red truck.
I stuck the car key into the ignition and turned it, listening to the car as it roared to life. Immediately, I turned the heat up to its maximum, silently praising myself for choosing not to shower before I left the house.
I lied to Charlie when I told him I would drive safely. In this weather, I was sure the best speed would be half the normal speed limit, considering you couldn't see further than ten feet in front of you, even with headlights. The letter from Edward, however, seemed to have motivated me to travel a bit more recklessly than was normal for me. I was nearly at the speed limit.
The Cullen's house came into my line of sight. I let out a sigh of relief as I pulled up to their gorgeous home, feeling slightly more relaxed now that I could just see it.
There was a sharp tapping on my window. I jumped, surprised by the sudden noise, but already knew who it would be. I immediately turned, elated to find Edward looking back at me with his crooked smile.
"Edward!" I called back, pressing my hands to the window and fogging up the glass with my breath. I forgot to shut the engine off in my excitement.
Edward was the one that quickly brought me back to reality. He opened my door, letting the sound of the thunderstorm fill the cab of my truck, and stepped towards the steering wheel. "Let's get inside before you freeze to death," he said, pulling the key out of the car and sticking it into his pocket. Then – without my permission – he quickly pulled me out of the vehicle and lifted me into his arms, running back to the house at top speed as my truck sat in the middle of their driveway, blocking any other car that would have tried to leave.
I had barely walked – or been carried – into the Cullen's home when I was placed back on my feet and immediately wrapped in a large, fluffy towel.
"Thank you," I said, trying to hide my shiver from Edward. He wasn't easily persuaded, however. He just held his icy hand up to my cheek, frowning.
"You're freezing," he stated, pulling his fingers away with a look of disappointment. He started to back away, keeping his hands to himself. "You're not warm at all."
"Brilliant observation," I muttered, smirking up at him. And then, trying to show him how much I didn't care about my temperature, I pressed myself into his chest.
"No, not here," Edward whispered into my ear, gently rubbing my back. My heart skipped a beat. Not here? What did he mean by, "not here"? He was never embarrassed to display his affection for me in front of his family – if that's what he was thinking about. And we were just hugging, weren't we? What was he thinking about?
"Come on," Edward said, gently placing his arm around my shoulders and guiding me to the staircase. "I have something I need to tell you."
My heart rate seemed to pick up. It wasn't the normal effect that his presence had on me – in fact, it was quite the opposite; it made me nervous. His words had sounded so harsh – almost cruel. As if he were preparing for the worst.
Whatever Carlisle and Edward had discussed was, clearly, much more important than I had realized.
"What is it?" I whispered, suddenly feeling very afraid. The last time I had felt this scared was when Edward had gone into head-to-head combat with Victoria a few months ago. I had, since then, had a very nearly perfect summer. The only thing that could have ruined the summer was hearing from Charlie that Jacob had disappeared. Of course he returned, but it wasn't for nearly a month before he did.
I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts as they were now directed towards Jake. His departure couldn't have been my fault – I hadn't said a word to Jake the day that he left. I talked to him nearly a week before he disappeared, so it couldn't have been me who caused him to vanish like that.
But I had always harbored some sort of guilt since that day – as if it was my fault.
We reached the top floor and I forced every thought about Jacob out of my head. I hadn't spoken to him all summer, even after he had returned to La Push, and that was fine by me. He loved me, but I loved Edward. It just wouldn't have been fair to Jake to maintain such a close relationship with him when I would have never returned the feelings. We were better off without each other.
While I continued convincing myself that Jake was better off alone, Edward led me over to his bed. He quickly pulled back all of the covers and gestured for me to lie down. I lifted an eyebrow, somewhat surprised – and thrilled – by his actions, but did as he requested.
"Better?" Edward asked, tucking in the several layers of blankets around my shivering form so that I couldn't even move.
I nodded, smiling. "Much."
Edward's eyes seemed to light up; as if he were relieved to hear that I was warm. "Good."
"I'm almost too warm," I said with a theatrical sigh. "If only there was someone that could cool me down…" I trailed off, looking expectantly up at Edward. He just smirked.
"You're such a tease," he muttered, lying beside me on top of the bed sheets. Then he leaned in and gave me a soft kiss. He broke the kiss off much sooner than I had hoped, but he didn't pull too far away, maintaining direct eye contact. "Did that help?"
I did my best to shrug while I was covered in several thick blankets. "It did for now," I answered in a soft voice. "But I'm sure I'll need a few more of those later when I start heating up again."
Edward chuckled. I loved to hear his laugh. It sounded like music to my ears, ringing sweetly in the quiet room. "Such a distraction," he whispered, stroking my wet hair out of my face and behind my ears. And then, cocking his head slightly to the side, he continued speaking with an amused tone. "Not that I mind…"
I grinned, feeling my cheeks heat up, but I quickly tried to tuck away these emotions for later. "A distraction?" I asked, eyeing Edward with a questioning look. "What am I distracting you from?"
Edward's bright expression seemed to vanish before my eyes. One minute, he looked like he was the happiest man alive, and the next he was frowning, trying to hide his dark emotions from me. He pulled away, supporting himself with his elbow. "There's something – important – that I need to tell you."
I swallowed, feeling as if all of our happiness had been sucked out of the room by his words. "It's alright," I said, struggling to pull one of my hands out from beneath the bed sheets. I finally managed to wiggle one free and lifted it to Edward's face, slowly rubbing the pad of my thumb across his cheek. "Tell me what's wrong."
"Well – it's the guest list," he confessed. His face was leaning towards mine, but his eyes seemed to be directed elsewhere, almost as if he were trying to avoid my gaze.
"What's wrong?" I asked, frowning. I started to move around inside the large pile of blankets, hoping to sit up, but the weight of the bed sheets – along with Edward's arm wrapped around my waist – seemed to be holding me down. "Did Alice invite too many people or something? That can't be too much of an issue, can it?"
"It's not how many," Edward quickly corrected me, shaking his head. He lifted his hand to his cheek, covering mine with his cool fingers. "It's who she invited."
My eyebrows shot up in surprise. "And who did she invite?"
Edward swallowed, clearly having a hard time delivering the bad news. Then, he closed his eyes and let out a heavy sigh. "The Denali clan."
My stomach, which had been doing a series of flips, stopped immediately. There was nothing wrong with them, was there? The Denali's were friends of the Cullen's – and their diet consisted of animal blood, just like the Cullen's! Was I missing the problem?
"And?" I asked, trying to see if there was more to this explanation. Everything that Edward had done, building up to his big revelation, made this news seem rather anti-climactic, now.
"And what?" Edward asked, his eyes darting back to meet mine. "That's it," he said, leaning forward slightly in an attempt to keep his voice softer, as if that would prevent the rest of the house occupants from overhearing our conversation. "I thought – well, I thought you might have been – "
"Afraid?" I finished his sentence with a small smile. "Edward – I'm in love with a vampire. Do you really think I'd be afraid to hear that a few more are coming to visit?"
Edward's smile covered his entire face, slowly turning into a grin. "That's true," he agreed, nodding. And then his lips curled downward into a slight frown. "But I'm still not sure why they're coming…"
My expression mimicked Edward's. "Alice invited them, didn't she?"
"Only to be polite," Edward muttered, brushing my comment aside. "None of us actually thought they would accept."
My look of confusion deepened. "Well, why wouldn't they come – they're friends of your family, aren't they?"
Edward hesitated slightly before nodding his head. "I wouldn't go so far as calling them friends – allies, perhaps. But I don't think we're friends."
"Oh." My gaze dropped to the collar on Edward's shirt, studying the v-shape it made, curling around Edward's neck. "Like – acquaintances?"
"Somewhat," Edward said, nodding. "We just didn't think they would come. I mean – the idea of you and me is just – " He watched me carefully, trying to gauge my reaction before he said anything more. I kept my face blank, urging him to continue with his statement. Finally, he sighed, pressing his lips to my forehead. "They don't understand," he concluded. "A vampire ever falling in love with a human – to them – is absurd. It's one thing for any of them to have a sexual relationship with a human – but getting married? That's just unheard of."
I was slightly stung by his words. I understood that they didn't reflect Edward's feelings on this subject, but I couldn't help but feel somewhat disappointed. I already knew how different I was from the Cullen's – it only hurt to be reminded of my inadequacies.
"But you're going to change me," I started to protest, biting down on my bottom lip. "I'll be a vampire," I said. "So it's really not that strange – is it?"
Edward chuckled softly, dipping his head so that his cool skin brushed against my cheek. "To most vampires, you're just food, Bella," Edward whispered, slowly lowering his lips to kiss my ear. I could tell he was only doing this to cheer me up – but I really couldn't care less. "It's strange to them that I can do this to you without killing you," he said, taking his time to kiss his way down to my exposed neck.
I swallowed, hiding the slight moan that I was sure was about to escape from my lips. I inhaled a shaky breath and replied. "It's surprising that anyone can do this to me," I gasped, closing my eyes as Edward's lips curled into a smile against my skin.
Slowly, he pulled away and leaned on his elbow, staring down at me. He lifted a hand to stroke my cheek with a smile.
I studied Edward's expression. And then, before he could ask me the same question, I whispered. "What are you thinking about?"
He took in a deep breath, though he didn't need it, and let it out in a slow exhale. "I'm nervous," he answered truthfully.
"About the Denali clan?" I asked, smiling knowingly. "Edward, I told you, I'm not upset."
He dropped his gaze and shook his head. "You're underestimating their power," he replied in a soft voice. "I just – I don't – " He broke off, sighing. "It just doesn't make sense."
Now I looked concerned. "What doesn't make sense?" I asked, frightened to see Edward so nervous. It wasn't like him to be this nervous.
He looked back up to meet my gaze. "Bella, we haven't talked to them in months. We sent an invitation at the beginning of the summer – and a week before the wedding, we get a response?" He shook his head, puzzled. "Something's not right."
I gave Edward the most confident and soothing smile that I could muster and placed a hand on his chest. "It will be alright," I assured him. "You're looking for problems when there are none." I pressed my lips to his chin, unable to sit up far enough to reach his mouth. "Don't worry about it."
Edward smiled. He relaxed his stiff posture and shifted just a bit closer to give me the kiss that I had tried to give him. "You're right," he whispered against my mouth.
I smiled, enjoying Edward's close proximity. "I know."
He chuckled and ducked his head to rest it on my shoulder, pressing his cool skin to my neck.
I was thoroughly enjoying my morning so far. Sure, I had panicked after Edward was missing when I woke up – but this had more than made up for that small scare.
"So," I said conversationally, trying to use my brain rather than letting it go to mush under Edward's touch. "When is the Denali clan coming?"
By now, Edward had been placing kisses along the neckline of my shirt. Between kisses, he whispered, "Tonight."
He must have heard my heart rate pick up at these words, because he quickly lifted his head so that he could look down at me with a concerned expression. "What is it?" he asked.
"I'm nowhere near ready!" I squeaked, suddenly terrified for the Denali clan's arrival. "I have so much that I need to do – I'll need the right sort of clothing to make my blood less tempting – and if I leave my hair down, my scent isn't as strong, right?" I was full-on babbling by now, but I didn't care. "Maybe I should buy some perfume at the store to mix in with the smell – would that help? Or I could – "
"Bella," Edward cut me off with a grin. "You weren't this nervous before!"
"Yeah," I agreed with wide eyes. "When I thought they were coming the day of the wedding! But now I have to get ready for their arrival – tonight!" I started to push against Edward's chest so that he would roll off of me. "You should have told me that part sooner!" Obediently, Edward shifted to the side with a look of thorough amusement, allowing me to try and wiggle my way out from beneath the heavy bed sheets, sliding closer and closer to the edge of the bed. "Are they going to want to meet Charlie, do you think? Maybe I should clean the house just in case…"
Finally, I managed to slide towards the edge of the bed. And with one final shimmy and a muffled, "Oof!" I fell to the floor with a slight thud. My feet, however, remained tangled in the sheets above my head.
I heard a slight rustling on the bed and then Edward's head appeared above me, peering down at me with his adorable, crooked smile.
"Comfortable?" he asked, cocking his head to the side as I rubbed my head with my hand.
"Oh, yeah," I muttered, pouring on as much sarcasm as possible. "You should try falling onto the floor once in awhile. Tons of fun."
"As much as I would enjoy lying on the floor with you…" Edward reached out both arms and easily scooped me up off of the floor and back onto the bed. He held me to his chest, locking his arms securely around my back. "I think it's much more enjoyable up here."
I huffed and tried to cross my arms as Edward teased me, but found it was nearly impossible to do so as he was currently pressing me tightly to his chest. Without much of a fight, I easily gave up and dropped my head onto his shoulder with a smile.
Before the words were even out of her mouth, three yellow cabs had pulled over to the curb, eager to help us out. Well, when there were two, beautiful women standing with large suitcases in front of an airport in need of assistance – who wouldn't want to help out?
"Well," Tanya muttered, smirking as one of the three cab drivers eagerly hopped out of his car, beaming at us. She removed her hand from her skirt where she had been previously inching it up her thigh in her attempt to attract a taxi as quickly as possible. She glanced over at me in an I-told-you-so type of look. "How convenient."
"Good evening, ma'am," the old man greeted Tanya with a tip of his hat. His gaze lingered on her long, bare legs before spotting me. As soon as he looked up, his smile doubled in size. "May I help you ladies with your bags?" he asked, drumming his fingers on the sides of his large belly.
"Just open the trunk," Tanya demanded, impatiently tossing her strawberry-blonde colored hair over her shoulder and resting a hand on her hip. The cab driver's smile faltered, glancing away from me and back to my sister, but he quickly recovered and jogged to the back of his car.
"Sure thing," the man replied, unlocking the trunk. He went to grab for Tanya's bag, but she was much faster than he was; without so much as a kind smile, she shoved past him and easily lifted her suitcase into the trunk.
And, as was Tanya's style, she blatantly ignored the man's stunned expression and made her way towards the back door of the cab in her tall stilettos. "Move it along, Kate – we haven't got all day."
I nodded quickly, tucking my long, black hair behind my ear as it spilled forward into my eyes. Then I sent an apologetic smile to the cab driver. I hurried to the trunk, dragging my heavy suitcase along behind me.
"Sorry about her," I said the minute Tanya had disappeared into the backseat of the car. I set down my suitcase, standing it up against the taxi cab. I tugged on my small t-shirt, pulling it down far enough so that it covered my stomach. "She's just tired after a long day of traveling."
The cab driver was grinning from ear to ear. "I didn't notice anything," he said, looking completely relaxed and at ease. He pointed to my bag. "May I put that into the trunk for you?"
"Oh, could you?" I asked, handing over my piece of luggage with a grateful expression. "Thank you so much."
"Not a problem," the man replied, clearly elated to hear such gratitude – it probably wasn't every day that his passengers were this kind to him.
The taxi driver lifted the bag and nearly dropped it in surprise once he realized just how much this small bag seemed to weigh. He managed to hoist the flower-patterned suitcase halfway into the air before dropping it abruptly into the trunk, sticking out at an odd angle. He turned to me, starting to blush after his display of weakness. I pretended not to notice.
"It's slightly heavy," he mumbled, pushing on the bag to try and force it into the small trunk space. His face went beet red at the force that he was exerting as he tried to push the bag into the car. "It just – needs a little – boost," he grunted, slamming his shoulder into the piece of luggage.
I patiently waited for the cab driver to try and push my suitcase into the car, sending him reassuring smiles every time he glanced up at me. Far sooner than I had predicted, however, I could hear the sound of a car window in the taxi cab start to roll down. And, with a sense of dread, I turned to look at the red-head glaring back at me with an expression that clearly read Get in the damn car.
With a small eye roll, I turned to the taxi driver and coated my voice with as much kindness as possible. "May I help?"
The man dropped his hands from the bag, breathing heavily. "Well, ma'am, I'm not sure if – "
I didn't wait for him to finish his sentence. Instead, I immediately stepped up to my bag and easily maneuvered it into the trunk.
"There we are!" I said with a pleased smile. Then, pretending to act as if the taxi driver had done most of the work, I turned to look at the stunned man and grinned. "Thanks!"
"Uh – sure, no problem," the man muttered, staring with wide eyes as I walked away from him and hopped into the car beside my sister.
He quickly jogged back around the car and climbed into the driver's seat, glancing at me in the rearview mirror. "All set?"
"Yes," Tanya growled, pulling a compact mirror out of her purse. She glanced up from her mirror, staring back at the driver with annoyance when he didn't show any signs of moving anytime soon. "Just drive."
The man swallowed, looking back at me with a worried look. The minute his eyes met mine, however, a grin spread across his face as if his previous conversation with Tanya hadn't occurred at all. "Where to?"
I recited off a memorized address and the man nodded, confirming our destination. He pulled away from the airport, glancing over his shoulder for oncoming traffic, and then easily navigated the yellow car through the traffic.
"So," the man said, trying to make polite conversation. "Have you been to Washington before?"
I looked up from my blue jeans and glanced over at Tanya's annoyed expression before answering him with a sweet smile. "Once or twice," I told him. "We're visiting family."
"Oh, really?" The man nodded, keeping his eyes on the road as he turned onto a highway.
"Wedding," I briefly answered his unspoken question. "Tanya and I are here for the week."
"Ah, I see," the man said. Though I kept my eyes locked on the passing scenery outside the window, I could feel the cab driver's gaze watching me with curiosity in his mirror as he spoke. "I love weddings," he said with a wistful sigh. "My brother got married a few weeks ago – though he and his wife have been fighting ever since they got back from their honeymoon…"
Tanya let out an audible groan, closing her compact mirror with a sharp snap.
I swiftly ignored my sister and responded to our cab driver's voiced concern. "They're newlyweds," I reminded him, hoping this comment might ease his nerves about his brother's new wife. "I'm sure they'll be settled down and much happier within a few months. All they need is a bit of time to get used to their new life together."
The cab driver looked as if I had just given him some life changing information. "You know, I bet you're right!" he cried enthusiastically. "I was worried they might go through a divorce pretty soon, but all they really need is time!" When he let out a loud, booming laugh of relief, I couldn't help but silently congratulate myself for helping with this man's problem. And then, with a swift glance over his shoulder instead of peeking into the mirror, the driver said, "We haven't been properly introduced." He held up his hand and waved. "I'm Tony."
"Hello, Tony," I said with kindness practically dripping from my voice. "This is Tanya, my sister. And I'm Kate."
"Kate," the man repeated in an airy tone, sounding fascinated by the word as he said it. "What a nice name."
I tried my best to appear embarrassed as he complimented me, but I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I wouldn't blush. "Thank you," I replied. "Tony is a wonderful name as well," I added.
And then an odd sort of feeling seemed to float into the small cab, spilling over me with a slight chill. Just after the sudden drop in temperature, I could sense a contracting feeling in my chest, as if I were being suffocated and something within me was flickering out like a dying flame.
I turned to glare at the red-head in the seat beside me, knowing exactly who the culprit was.
"Tanya, knock it off," I growled, loud enough for her to hear, but inaudible to Tony. "I was just trying to have a nice conversation with – "
"Oh, please," Tanya snapped back at me, tossing her curly hair over her shoulder in a haughty manner. "He's only having a conversation with you because he's susceptible to your charm."
I let out a soft sigh, trying to control my anger. She always did this! Every time I was just trying to be nice, she would go and ruin it!
I glanced back up to the front of the car, watching with disappointment as Tony stared blankly out at the road, as if he had never been speaking to me. "Besides," Tanya continued, "I was getting annoyed by your petty small talk."
I couldn't hold back an eye roll as I crossed my arms and fell back against the seat behind me. "That doesn't mean you can just – do that," I muttered, detesting this horrible, constricting feeling inside of me. I tried to take a deep breath, but it felt as if this thing that was taking over my body was restricting my breathing as well. But, I suppose, I didn't really need to breathe…
"I can – and will – do whatever I like," Tanya replied without any chance of backing down from her stance.
I did all that I could at that moment; I just shook my head and turned to stare out of the window, sulking as I watched tree after tree speed past the car.
I knew it wouldn't be worth it if I argued with Tanya for much longer. She always managed to get her way – it was just much easier to let her win without putting up too much of a fight. That way, no one would get hurt.
After several minutes of absolute silence, it started to drizzle. I glanced up at the sky, spotting a large patch of clouds that seemed to have just appeared out of thin air and were now threatening to ruin the nice, clear night.
"You remember why we're here."
I blinked, startled by Tanya's sudden statement. Because that's exactly what it was: a statement. Not a question.
I answered briefly, registering that Tanya was now speaking in her business-like tone. I didn't dare argue with her when she was speaking business. "Yes," I replied, keeping my voice soft enough so as not to include Tony in our conversation.
"And you understand the odds against us."
I nodded, almost unnoticeably. "Of course," I whispered, swallowing.
Finally, Tanya turned her head to face me directly, piercing me with her gaze. "Don't screw this up."
My jaw slackened, stung by Tanya's words. Don't screw this up? I repeated to myself, irritated, once again, by Tanya's lack of courtesy for other's feelings. What kind of encouragement is that?
But, I hurried to remind myself, I might have made a few mistakes in the past. Of course, they were all minor errors, but it wasn't as if I was going to try and mess up their plans! Obviously I would be trying my best – but it wasn't my fault if something unplanned for went wrong! So why was I the one always being blamed for something that hadn't even happened?
Ignore her, I told myself, biting into my lower lip in order to keep my comments to myself. Tanya is just trying to show me who the boss is. She just wants me to take this job seriously.
I managed not to respond to my sister's comment. Instead, I spent the remainder of the car ride staring miserably out the window at the rain that had started to pick up.
The car ride passed in an awkward silence as Tanya refused to speak and Tony seemed to ignore both of us.
Soon, he pulled onto a dark road, surrounded by large trees that hung over us as we drove past. As we got closer to our destination, a large weight seemed to be lifted off of my shoulders and I could breathe again. That horrible, tight feeling in my chest seemed to release. I nearly sighed in relief.
"Looks like we're almost there!" Tony said, beginning to speak to me once again. He grinned as if nothing strange had happened at all. "I hope you ladies have a fun time at the wedding!"
"Oh, we will," I assured him.
Tony pulled into the driveway of a beautiful, three-story house, peering up at the structure with a look of shock and awe.
"Impressive," he muttered to himself as he took in the sight. He stopped the taxi, unable to remove his eyes from the magnificent house. "Be sure to tell your family that they've got a nice place, alright?"
Tanya was already climbing out of the car before Tony had managed to finish his sentence. However, I remained behind to finish my conversation with the friendly cab driver.
"I sure will," I said, snatching up my purse from the seat beside me. I leaned forward between the two front seats and opened it, digging around for several green bills. "How much do we owe you?"
Tony read off a rather large number and I didn't hesitate in paying the man every cent. I simply handed over several bills, including a generous tip, and stepped out of the car.
"Thank you," I said, leaning back in through the passenger side window. "We really appreciate the ride."
"It was my pleasure," the man exclaimed in a rather loud voice, appearing honest. "Maybe we'll run into each other again!"
I shrugged, highly doubting that, but I chose not to dampen his spirits. "I guess we'll see!" I said with enthusiasm, slowly backing away from the bright yellow cab. "Thanks!" I called, waving as the taxi driver drove away.
I spun on my heels, searching for the owner of the voice that had called my name. Within seconds, I was able to find it.
"Alice!" I immediately called back, smiling as the small girl flew towards me and threw her arms around my neck. "It's so nice to see you!"
Alice pulled away, grinning from ear to ear. She didn't seem to care that we were standing in the middle of the driveway, getting pelted with large rain drops. "I'm so glad you two could make it to Edward's wedding this weekend!"
I smiled in response, unsure as to what I should say – that I was excited to be here? After all, this was Tanya's idea – I was just the one that got roped into it…
I chose, instead, to just drop my hands from the girl's shoulders and take a moment to glance around at my surroundings. Standing on the porch, so as to stay out of the rain, was Carlisle, holding my luggage. Behind him, the rest of his family seemed to huddle together beneath the overhang.
"Hey, there!" I called, jogging to the porch. Once I was safely protected from the rain, I shook my dark hair, trying to get as much of the water out from it as possible. I was about to ring out the bottom of my t-shirt when I was swept up into another hug.
"It's so good to see you again," the voice said. When I pulled away, I realized that it had been Carlisle that was greeting me.
"You too!" I exclaimed, grinning as I started to absorb all of the faces of old friends that I hadn't seen in years. "You picked out a really nice place this time, Carlisle."
The doctor smiled at the compliment. "Esme's the one that found it, of course."
I turned to Carlisle's wife, watching as she seemed to beam with pride. "It's beautiful, Esme."
She put her arm through Carlisle's as she grinned. If she had still had a beating heart, blood would have been rushing to her cheeks. "Thank you, dear," she responded in her sweet, motherly tone. Practically the opposite of Tanya's personality, I mused.
The moment I started to think about her, Tanya appeared, stepping out of the house and back onto the front porch. She must have taken her luggage inside already, I realized, in order to avoid getting her belongings wet from the pouring rain. She would have been an absolute nightmare if any of her clothes had gotten ruined…
"It really is," Tanya said, adding onto my previous statement, as if she had been a part of the conversation all along. "That window inside that covers the entire wall – it's absolutely gorgeous," she gushed, smiling for the first time in several hours. And though I knew Tanya's smile might have been just an act to please the Cullen family, it was still a relief to see her appear as though she was happy and relaxed instead of irritable and moody, as she normally was.
Esme beamed at the second compliment.
"So," the big man in the corner started, stepping forward. Immediately, I recognized Emmett as he grinned at us. "Where's everyone else?" he asked. "Is it just you two coming for the wedding?"
I froze, feeling the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I glanced briefly over at Tanya before looking down at my feet, suddenly very uncomfortable with the situation. I hated lying, especially to these people that trusted me. Luckily for me, however, Tanya immediately stepped in when I said nothing.
"They couldn't make it," she said with a slightly disappointed look, as if she really wished they could have come. "I mean – you understand about Irina, of course."
Carlisle nodded, immediately understanding. "Is she still upset about Laurent?"
I watched in silence as Tanya's eyes seemed to flash, but her tone was much softer than I believed it would have been if she hadn't been controlling her emotions around the Cullen family. "Yes – she's still heartbroken about his death," Tanya told them. "So we decided it might be best if she stayed home with Carmen and Eleazar."
I nodded, hoping to help elaborate on Tanya's story to make it sound as believable as possible. "We suggested it might be better if they came on the day of the wedding rather than the week beforehand."
"Of course," Esme said, giving the girls an understanding nod. "And if they decide to come down before the wedding, let them know that we have plenty of space. It won't be any trouble housing any other guests."
"Thank you, Esme," Tanya replied, reaching out to touch the woman's shoulder as she spoke. "That's so kind of you. And," she added, "if there's anything we can do to help with wedding preparations, please feel free to ask for our help! We want to do whatever we can to make it easier for you."
Alice politely shook her head. "Everything's all set," she told them, adding a slight shrug of her shoulders. "All we really need to do is just wait for the wedding day to show up!"
Esme smiled and nodded towards the front door of the house. "Well, I suppose we don't need to stand out here all night. Won't you come inside?"
I nodded, glad to finally get out of the rain. "Sure – before the weather gets any worse!" I said with a small laugh, knowing that the weather here in Forks was almost always this bad.
There were a few polite chuckles in response to my comment, but their laughter was abruptly cut off by another sound.
Both Tanya and I turned around on the front porch, staring out into the pitch black night as the roaring sound seemed to grow closer.
"That'll be Bella," Emmett muttered, smirking as he crossed his muscular arms over his chest. "She's got this horrible, beat up truck." He shook his head, as if he were reliving a past conversation. "It's just a piece of junk, but she insists on keeping it…"
Kate kept her eyes glued to the road as a large, red truck pulled in front of the Cullen's house. She watched in silence as the two people in the truck seemed to stare through the windshield, locking gazes with the new visitors standing on the porch.
And then they climbed out of the vehicle.
Author's Note: A few questions will be answered in the next chapter, I'm sure... And then I can't WAIT to post the third chapter for you all... :D A few more characters that you might enjoy meeting...
Hope you enjoyed the first chapter!