Author's Notes: Okay, so these aren't the next Harry Potter or even the next Dark Is Rising. But they're fun, okay? So sue me!
Six Times The Cullens Told The Truth About Vampires
(And Other Things)
Oh, the glory of purely entertaining books.
"Other, purely mythological creatures, have invaded human history and popular culture since the beginning of culture," Professor Bateman says, looking up at his eager-eyes students with the emotionless expression of all twenty-year college professors. "The question is: why? What do we as a species perceive to be missing that we would invent legends of horror—the ultimate weapons of destruction, beyond our control? The vampire, for example, a supposedly immortal, blood-sucking creature impossible for humans to resist due to their great beauty and—some say—magic allure."
I giggle into my hand.
"Bella," Edward warns under his breath.
"Come on," I whisper back. "It's a little funny."
He raises an exasperated eyebrow at me but I can see the corners of his mouth twitching. Alice slides a sheet of paper towards me, her neat and compacted handwriting spelling out the words: 'Supposed' magic allure? How does he think Nessie got made?
Edward chuckles beside me, his hand going over his mouth to muffle the sound.
"Is there something funny?" Professor Bateman asks, squinting up at us from behind his thick-rimmed glasses.
Alice and I instantly sober, shaking out heads in the most obedient remorse we can muster. Edward, however, raises his long, pale hand into the air.
My husband leans forward on his elbows, resting his chin between his palms as if deep in thought. "Is it possible," he said slowly, as if thinking aloud, "That there was perhaps some origin of the vampire legend? Maybe there really was a disease that would…alter a person's perception of him or herself; believing, then that they themselves were faster, smarter, stronger than other humans. Maybe even to the point where they would crave human blood."
"That's ridiculous," Alice says then, her voice mockingly reproachful as she levels Edward with a pseudo-arrogant glance. "Don't you think there would be some sort of evidence of such a disease? Vampires. Please."
"I mean, by that logic," I add loudly in agreement, "you'd also have to concede the existence of, say, werewolves or shape-shifters." I punctuate my statement with a derisive laugh. Mythic creatures, hah!
Other students begin voicing their own opinions, and soon the three unnaturally beautiful debaters are forgotten. Edward takes my hand beneath the table and slowly draws circles on my palm with his long finger; I shiver and scoot closer, nestling my head under his chin.
Alice wrinkles her nose. "You know," she grumbles, "You have got to learn to control your magic allure, Bella, because I really don't want to see what I'm seeing right now."
I bury my face in my hands—unable to blush but horrified nonetheless—but Edward just laughs, sounding pleased. "Well, I guess I know to cancel my study-session tonight."
"Bella, Edward! I'm so glad you came! But… uh… didn't anyone tell you that this was a costume party?"
"Oh, we came as vampires. See the teeth?"
My favorite think about college, I've decided, is that nobody knows me. It's not that we blend in, exactly—with Rosalie and Alice on either side of me, walking down the halls always vaguely reminds me of the movie Clueless—but there are so many people here and so many things to do than no on has time to dwell on the freakishly gorgeous freshmen.
Here we're sisters in only one sense of the word: sorority. I fought tooth and nail in during rush, but of course Alice and Rose got their way (as usual). I did manage to get special permission to live off-campus, however, due to my 'special circumstances', Edward and Renesmee.
(For her sake, Jacob convinced Edward and I to enroll her in school as Carlie Renesmee, rather than the other way around; he reminded me of the cruelty of young children, who would seize both upon her unusual full name and Nessie. 'She'll get called Loch Ness,' he insisted, and with both my best friend and my daughter looking at me like that, what was I supposed to say? No?)
Anyway. The sorority thing is beyond stupid, of course, but it does offer some perks. Since we pledged Alpha-Kappa-Something we're considered off-limits for the rest of the campus, and the only "gentleman-callers" that ever bother us are from our brother fraternity, Sig-Epsi-Whatever.
Generally I just flash my ring and am done with it; only once was it ever a problem, with a particularly insistent senior who took my (still inconceivable) beauty to mean I was stupid or weak or both.
"Come on," he'd said, swaying from alcohol and smelling totally unappetizing, "Your husband isn't here, is he? And what is college for if not to … experiment a little, huh? Have a little fun?"
"No, thanks," I said, taking a step away.
He followed, leering a little. "You didn't join a sorority just for the title," he informed me. "You did it so everyone would know you were the top of the top. The hottest, the richest, the best. Why not embrace that? Come on. Come on."
Nessie emerged on the top of the stairs, where she'd been reading with Rose in the bedroom that no one ever used but kept up appearances. She was, technically, only seven years old, but she looked seventeen and was the most beautiful little girl I'd ever seen in my whole life.
(Okay. I'm biased. But that doesn't make it untrue.)
"Mo?" She questioned, with a slight cock of her head. She wasn't allowed to call me 'Mom' on campus, but neither one of us wanted her to call me Bella. It felt wrong, somehow. She looked only a year or two younger than me, but she wasn't, she was my baby girl. So we decided on 'Mo', and Edward was 'D'. It wasn't perfect, but it was the best we could do.
The persistant jerk that still had his hand on my arm lurched towards the steps. "Hey, baby," he began.
Quicker than I should have moved, I was between him and Nessie, shoving him back. "Listen," I snarled, "You are going to turn around. You are going to walk back to the party. And you are going to leave us alone."
He sneered at me. "Why would I do that?"
"Because I asked you to," I replied, as calmly as I could. Nessie watched with bored curiosity.
"I'm the quarterback of the football team," he told me with a twist of his lips. "I think I could take you."
"Well, I am an immortal vampire capable of snapping you in two with my thumb and forefinger. Wanna see who would win in a fight?"
He didn't believe me, of course, he did leave. I guess girls who think they're mythological creatures don't have too much appeal.
Here's the other thing about being in a sorority: girls want me to be a girl. All the time. Alice, of course, loves it; she flits from room to room, doing makeup, picking outfits, and giving boy advice (which is cheating, because she already knows how the relationship is going to go). Since my immortality made me more beautiful than I'm really comfortable with, and I'm less of a snob than Rose (she can't help it, really) I'm the second-best candidate for all of that stuff, and no one seems to be able to believe I can't tell eye shadow from lip gloss.
Which was how I wound up with three freshman girls in Alice's dorm room three weeks into my junior year, all of them cooing over pictures of Nessie and (probably more accurately) Edward.
"He is so painfully gorgeous," One of them says, leaning over to get a closer look.
"I'd let him knock me up in a second," another adds, then glances up at me sheepishly. "No offense."
"None taken," I answer with a distracted smile, pretending to read my book and glancing at the clock every ten seconds. I only have to stay until midnight and then I'm free to go home—to Edward and Nessie, who will be asleep. Which means…
I shift, reigning in my thoughts.
"How did you meet?" The third asks, looking up at me with a jealous pout. "I mean, how do you convince a guy that stunning to get hitched before he's twenty?"
"Being pregnant helps," I lie. It is the story we'd fed to the college: Edward and I had been idiots one night of senior year, and as a result we'd conceived Nessie. We were in love and so we didn't mind getting married. We'd planned all along to go to Dartmouth together anyway, and after that marriage had always been the plan; Nessie just sped up the process.
Which is why, Mr. Dean, sir, I really can't live on campus.
They all make faces. It isn't exactly the romantic scenario they were thinking of, so I cave a little. "We met in a lunchroom cafeteria, of all place," I begin, flipping towards them. I love telling this story. "He was sitting with his brothers and sisters—he's adopted—and as soon as I walked in, our eyes just… snapped to one another. He kept staring at me for the whole meal, not eating, not talking, nothing. Just looking at me."
The girls scoot closer, their eyes wide.
"We didn't say anything that first day, but after that every day lunch was the same. Then, one day—he was gone. Just like that.
"Well, my friend and I went up to the city to go shopping and we got separated. It was dark and I had no idea where I was… and then I heard some men cat-calling and whistling."
One of the girls puts her hand over her mouth. "OhmyGod," she breathes.
"I thought was done for," I tell her, relishing their expressions. "And then, out of nowhere, Edward's car suddenly speeds into the ally. He throws the door open and orders me to get in—which of course I do—and takes me to safety."
"What happened then?"
"He tried to take me to the hospital—he was so sure I was in shock or something. But I made him take me out to dinner instead. And, well, it's all sort of history from there."
The girls swoon. And, okay, so it's a lot more romantic in the retelling. Still. I like playing up Edward like this, horrible as it sounds. I love knowing that these girls wanting him doesn't make a difference.
"How did he know where you were?" One of them asks, her hands over her heart.
"Oh, his psychic sister told him," I say nonchalantly with a casual shrug.
They blink at me.
"Luck, I guess," I say.
"God, what's a girl like you doing with a husband and a baby?"
"The sex was too good to say no."
The magistrate stares at Edward and me.
"I'm sorry, I think you've misunderstood. The parents of the child need to sign off their permission in order for a marriage certificate for a minor to be legal."
Nessie and Jacob roll their eyes, looking woefully at me as if to say I told you this wouldn't work.
"Mooooom," Nessie whines. "This is stupid. Let's just have a ceremony. Who cares if it's legal?"
"Bella, you know this doesn't really matter. What's a legal marriage anyway? It's not like Nessie and I are ever going to break up. Who cares if she has a ring on her finger when—"
Edward growls a bit, raising his eyebrows. "Don't finish that sentence, pup," he says, only half-joking. "She's a big girl but I'm her father and I'm not going to let that"—everyone makes an embarrassed face, and Nessie buries her head in Jacobs's shoulder—"happen until she is a married woman. Do you understand?"
Jacob grumbles but says nothing. To ease the tension, I lay my hand on Jake's arm. "I understand your point," I say, "But we can't ignore the facts. If Nessie gets pregnant, I don't want it to be an 'unnofficial' Black baby. And neither does she."
Nessie grins impishly. "It'd be kind of cool though. Having Jacob's bastard kid. Very Gilmore Girls. You know, like Chris and Lorelei. Best friends with sweet benefits."
Edward's hand tightens on mine, clearly horrifyed by the words coming out of his baby's mouth. "Nessie," he groans, "Please."
She smirks. "Sorry," she says with a giggle.
The magistrate looks vaguely horrified.
"Look," I say, leaning forward and using every vampire-power I have to win him over. "I'm a lot older than I look."
He signs the papers.