"Please?" Bella's topaz eyes widened. "Please, Jasper."
I sighed. "Can't Esme do it? She'd be much better suited to this kind of thing."
"I'd love to do it," Esme called from the kitchen, and in an instant she was next to Bella, wringing her hands. "But I need to go out hunting. It's been almost three weeks." The urgency was plain in her voice, and I was inwardly thankful that Alice and I had taken a trip by ourselves a few weeks ago.
Then I heard Reneesme's giggle from the other room, and paused. Actually, upon consideration, maybe I would rather suffer maddeningly intense thirst than do what she was asking …
"Car-?" I tried.
"He's going too," Esme cut me off. Of course he was. Esme was no athlete, and he rarely let her out of his sight on the trips.
"What about Rose and Emmett?" I asked hopefully, clutching at straws.
Bella looked thoughtful. "They're going hunting too, but I don't suppose they really need to go …"
"Then why can't they do it?" I asked in exasperation.
Bella sighed. "I dunno … Emmett and Nessie … The house will be in flames if we let those two together."
Alice snickered, and I heard Emmett call from the other room. "I heard that!"
"It's true," Esme admitted, laughing. "And it's good bear season – I doubt he'd want to miss this trip. Alice, Jasper – you two would be the best people to do this."
"I don't mind doing it," Alice said brightly. She turned to me. "It's for Bella. Come on, Jazz …"
My eyes widened in desperation. "I dunno … a kid … I've never done anything like that before … How do I keep her happy?"
Bella groaned. "Play every game in the house, and let her win them all. Let her go to bed at eight thirty when her bedtime's at eight. Give her piggybacks up and down the stairs. Pretend you're her pony and she's the princess."
Alice grinned. "Jasper will love that."
She wrapped her arm about my waist, and I sighed in defeat. "Fine. But you two better be back in twenty four hours, or I'm going to do something drastic."
Bella nodded earnestly, and Edward appeared at her side, Nessie in his arms. "Ready to go?" he asked.
"Too ready," she admitted ruefully. "Nessie?"
The little girl reached her arms out to her, and Bella enfolded her in an embrace. "Remember how I said Aunt Alice and Uncle Jasper were going to watch you for the weekend?" Bella asked, looking her in the eye. Nessie nodded silently, looking worried. "It's just a day, honey. You'll have fun."
"Be a good girl, Ness," Edward said, smiling and kissing her on the cheek. Bella kissed her as well, and then passed her easily into Alice's arms. Nessie immediately nestled into Alice's white neck, lovingly patting her stone cheek with her little hand. Alice smiled warmly at her, and for a moment I was frozen with awe.
Alice turned to me, her eyebrows raised. "What?"
"Nothing," I said quickly, embarrassed. Maybe it was a girl thing to be naturally good at these types of things. Or maybe I had some sort of genetic defection. That would explain a lot, actually.
Nessie turned to look up at me with wide brown eyes, slight trepidation in their depths. Alice laughed easily. "He's not scary, love. Really, he's just a big teddy bear." Nessie looked doubtful, wrapping her arms around Alice's neck to clutch her closer. "Look how small I am, Nessie," Alice said. "And I'm never afraid of him."
I growled slightly under my breath, and she chuckled wickedly, her eyes sparkling. Bella laughed too. "You guys should be fine," she said, in a tone that showed he was trying to convince herself, and with a reluctant goodbye kiss to Nessie, she and the rest of the family disappeared quickly out of the door.
Nessie's eyes glistened with momentary tears, and Alice rubbed her back soothingly, bouncing her up and down. "We're going to have lots of fun, Ness. You won't even know they're gone." I stepped forward awkwardly, and she buried her face into Alice's collarbone in fright. Alice kissed her head, looking at me meaningfully.
"Uh – um, Nessie? How about … er … some TV?" Even Sesame Street would be a welcome relief from this.
She shook her head silently. Alice widened her eyes. You can do better than that, Jasper.
"Well, what about some … board games?"
She pulled away from Alice to make a face. Then she put her hand on Alice's cheek. Alice closed her eyes to watch, and then opened them, laughing. "No, Jasper won't want to do that," she said. "We should do something else."
"What's your idea?" I asked in frustration.
Nessie and Alice both turned to me, the excited expression identical on their faces. I felt a pang of foreboding.
It was Nessie who spoke. "Dress up," she said simply.
Author's Note: Please review! There are more chapters coming soon - the craziness is just getting started! :)