Author's Note: Some of you asked me to do longer chapters, and I thought that was a good point, because I have a tendency to make some of them annoyingly short. But when I decided to make this one longer, but it ended up a LOT longer than I thought! So I hope this isn't too much of a novel for all of you!
Anyway, there's probably going to only be one or two more chapters after this. I'll update again soon. Please keep the reviews coming! Thanks!
"We went up through the mountains on that little trail …"
"Yes, there was quite a nice herd of elk by the river, and …"
Hearing the voices of my family outside, I went out to join Alice and Nessie in greeting them. I stepped onto the porch to see Nessie in Bella's arms, Emmett talking boisterously in his booming voice with Rose at his side, and Carlisle and Esme quietly telling Alice about their trip.
"Was she good, Jasper?"
I turned to see Edward behind me, unused camping equipment in his arms to bring to the garage.
He had caught me off guard, but I was ready. "Of course she was, Edward," I said smoothly, keeping my mind blank except for passing thoughts of a quiet evening and peaceful slumber. It was difficult, but it wasn't like we weren't practiced at that sort of thing. It would have been easier to translate something into Arabic, but then he would have known something was up. So instead I let harmless thoughts drift easily through my head.
He nodded, satisfied, and continued to the garage. Just in case, I kept my thoughts guarded until I was inside the house. The rest of the family followed me, still chattering. Then I heard Nessie's excited voice from her bedroom.
"Come in here, Uncle Emmett," she chirped, and I slipped quietly into her closet to watch. Through the crack I saw Nessie take Emmett's hand and lead him into her bedroom.
"I wanted to show you something," she said happily. Emmett looked bewildered, but he shrugged his shoulders.
"Okay, kid." He grinned and held out his hand.
Nessie looked at his hand, puzzled. Come on, Ness, I thought wildly. What are you waiting for?
"What are you doing, Uncle Emmett?" she asked quizzically, staring at him with her head cocked to the side.
"Uhh …" his grin faltered. "I thought you were going to show me something."
"I am." Nessie bounced happily in place, and then walked to her toy chest. Suddenly everything Alice had said about a misunderstanding became clear.
He wasn't going to see Edward. He was about to become the third victim.
"There's this really, really fun game called Barbie of Swan Lake," she said in a rush, rummaging around for the dreaded costume. "And I get to be the princess Barbie and I get to dance and be graceful and charming and beautiful and you get to be the prince!"
The words came out so fast that Emmett stood by her bed in shock. "W-wait," he said. "I'm confused … what exactly are we doing?"
Then Nessie pulled out the tutu and ran over to Emmett. "You wear it," she said cheerily, already tugging on her own princess outfit. "And I'll show you the dance I do with my daddy!"
Emmett's expression was a comical mix of horror, surprise, disgust, and humor. "Edward wore that?" he said, incredulous.
"What else would he wear to dance with me?" Nessie asked innocently.
"HA!" Emmett boomed suddenly, making her jump. "I can't BELIEVE it! This is the FUNNIEST thing I've ever HEARD! HAHAHAHA!" His laughter made the walls shake, and Nessie covered her ears.
"Uncle Emmett!" she cried, and with a great effort he reduced his laughter to chuckles. He looked down at her, his mouth twisting with humor and a wicked sparkle in his eyes. I could practically hear him plotting how to tease Edward.
"What are you waiting for?" Nessie said impatiently, breaking him out of his reverie. "I need to show you the dance!"
His grin vanished. "No way!" he cried, backing away hastily. "You get your daddy to do it!"
Instantly, Nessie's eyes welled up and she sniffled. Then there was a loud bang as Rosalie flung open the door.
"What's going on?" she said angrily. "Why is Ness crying?"
"Uncle Emmett won't play with me," Nessie blubbered, wiping her eyes.
Rosalie turned to look at Emmett forbiddingly, her eyes sparking with fury. "Emmett?"
He backed further into the corner, looking frightened. "Uhh … yes?"
Her eyes narrowed and she put her hands on her hips. "You are going into that tutu, or I'll …"
"Yes, ma'am," he said meekly. All tears forgotten, Nessie beamed at her patroness and handed Emmett the tutu. He quickly stepped into it, slight ripping sounds emanating from the leg holes, all the while casting nervous glances at Rosalie.
When I saw him waddle over to the bed, ruffles protruding from his hips, I couldn't contain it any longer, and burst out of the closet, laughing so hard I gasped for breath.
"You!" Emmett exclaimed, looking murderous despite the pink frills encasing him. "Why are you here?!"
Before I could speak, Alice danced into the room, followed by a bemused Bella and Edward.
"I figured something exciting was going on," Alice said gaily, dropping sinuously on the bed. She looked up at Emmett, grinning. "So, are we having a performance?"
Edward chuckled, and Bella smiled. Emmett's face twisted comically, and he turned to Rosalie. "Rose," he implored.
"Do it," Rosalie commanded, her voice steely. She sat down next to Alice, smiling smugly. Then her voice turned to sugar. "Go ahead, darling," she called sweetly to Nessie, and Nessie immediately took Emmett's hands.
She turned to her father. "Daddy," she said, "You didn't see, but it will be just like last evening when …"
"Stop!" I cried, but I knew it was too late. A huge grin spread over Edward's face, mocking me.
I'm warning you, Edward. Don't say anything. I have blackmail, too – Alice has some pretty good images of you in that tutu.
The grin slid off his face and he turned away, fuming. The room became awkwardly silent, with Edward clenching his hands, me looking anxiously at the ground, our wives sitting confusedly on the bed, and poor Emmett standing in the middle of the room holding hands with Nessie.
"Wait a second …" Bella said suddenly, breaking the silence. "Edward … you didn't …"
Rosalie's eyes lit up, and I knew all hope was lost. "Jasper …"
Alice only grinned at me, and I knew the secret was out.
"All right, all right!" I cried, slumping against the wall in defeat. "All three of us have become victims!"
Bella burst out laughing. "Edward … that's what you were doing that evening!" He looked embarrassed. "Nessie!" Bella said, chuckling. "There's definitely something you need to show me this evening!"
Edward growled, but Bella ignored him. "I got to see Jasper dance in person," Alice said smugly. I growled too, but she just grinned at me.
Then Emmett started to try to edge inconspicuously out of the room. "Hold it!" Rosalie cried. "I want to see my husband dance, too!"
Nessie pulled him back, and Alice turned on the same sprightly classical music before sitting back down on the bed, her face lit up excitedly.
"No …" Emmett moaned, but Nessie blithely grabbed his hands and started twirling him. We sat in fits of laughter as he awkwardly pranced around, each leap causing a large ripping sound to echo throughout the room. Pieces of ribbon and tulle lay scattered around the room, and I heard Alice groan softly at the tutu's destruction.
Finally Nessie broke away and curtsied, and Emmett bowed hastily before tearing off what was left of the tutu.
Alice and Rosalie lay on the bed, too consumed with laughter to say a word. Bella giggled, and Edward walked over to Emmett to shake his hand.
"Congratulations," he said solemnly, but his eyes twinkled. "You've been initiated to the Tutu Society."
"Meetings are whenever Nessie needs a babysitter …" broke in Bella, laughing.
"…Which will be never again," I finished firmly, looking down at the little demon with what I hoped was a stern gaze. Nessie only smiled up at me. I heard Alice laugh.
"Come on, Jazz. I think she's growing on you," she said.
She got up from the bed to wrap her arm around my waist. "I know you'd never admit it," she said, smiling. "But I know she has you wrapped around her little finger."
I sighed inwardly. My wife knew me so well.
But admit it? Never.