Close Encounters of the Supermarket Kind
- LIFE LESSONS -
I watched as Mike pulled the tablecloth. I watched as Renesmee's silver sippy cup dropped down to the carpet. I watched it crash open. I watched it spill its red contents on my father's carpet.
And then, I could watch no more. All I could do was feel the hunger burning inside of me, twisting my insides. I could feel the fire in my throat and the burning desire to feed. I could feel that I was sitting in a room full of wonderful, warm blood.
I could feel nothing but myself, giving into the monster within.
Through the red haze that covered my eyes I could hear a faint voice calling my name.
"Bella! Bella!" Strong arms wrapped themselves around my waist. The predator in me wondered why, since the instinctual thing to do would've been to restrain me by the chest.
I turned to face my captor, my eyes burning with primeval hunger. The look in Edward's face froze me for a moment. He was paler than usual, his red lips pursed and his stare intense as if he were trying to convey the most important of messages to me with his eyes.
A moment was all I needed to regain myself. I remembered where I was, who I was with and in a moment of true terror I glanced down to look for my daughter. She was fine and safe just a few feet away from me.
I stopped breathing instantly. The hunger in my eyes transformed into panic as I locked them with Edward's.
"Bella, honey it's okay. We'll get the stain out. Why don't you go into the kitchen and get some cleaning supplies? I'll be right with you." He walked me all the way to the kitchen. Once we were far away enough for him to whisper he quickly said "Go outside, get some air. I'll take care of this I promise." He kissed me quickly and pushed me gently in the direction of the back door. Covering my mouth and nose with my hand I ran out.
I gratefully gulped down some fresh air. Outside all I could smell was wet grass and asphalt. I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes. It hadn't been the smell itself what had thrown me off. I'd been in the same room with my feeding daughter too many times for it to turn me into a beast like it had today. It was the suddenness of it, combined with the amount and the very edible smelling group surrounding me.
I listened hard while Edward walked back into the living room. Only a fraction of a second had elapsed since my escape. "Angela, would you mind taking Renesmee upstairs? Her crib is in Bella's old room."
"Erm sure but... is she okay?" Angela's concerned voice only made me feel worse. She had no idea of how close she'd come to becoming my late night snack.
"She's fine. It's just that this thing stains terribly and she loves this house so much. Her mom and dad lived here since before she was born and this is the original carpet. I'm sure we can clean it up though."
"Oh, well maybe some club soda will help. Come here Nessie, let me take you to bed."
Renesmee must've made some sort of face because the next thing I heard was Edward's low voice trying to comfort her. "It's okay sweetie. Go with Angela. I'll get you another cup in a second okay? Wait for me upstairs." Edward's whisper sounded so urgent. With a gasp I realized he wanted to get our baby away from the possible crime scene as soon as possible just in case I lost control. He probably would've taken her himself but I figured he was worried about leaving me alone so close to our guests even for a minute.
Even though I knew I had my thirst under control I was still grateful when I heard Angela's footsteps going up the stairs. Edward darted back into the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets until he found what he needed.
"What kind of stuff is that anyway? Cranberry juice?" Jess sounded a little shaken up. I knew the stain was way too thick for cranberry juice and so did Edward.
"No, it's milk and some cherry flavored soluble proteins. The pediatrician recommended them for us since we don't know what they were feeding Nessie while she was in foster care." Edward's lie sounded perfectly convincing. I was once again mesmerized at how quickly he managed to come up with believable stories.
I could hear him scrubbing the carpet furiously. "Hey man, want some help?" Mike offered. "No, it's fine really. I'm sure it'll come out soon." I sniffed again to identify what Edward was using to clean the carpet. It smelled like dish soap. I rolled my eyes and, taking a deep breath, walked back into the house.
I saw Edward glance up when I rushed over to the laundry room. I grabbed a large white bottle and strode back into the living room with a determined look on my face. I unscrewed the bottle, much to everyone's horror, and poured a healthy amount of bleach on the largest stain.
"Bella! The carpet is beige! You'll stain it white!" Jessica sounded horrified.
"Actually, the carpet was originally white. It just looks brown because it has twenty years worth of dirt on it. We'll have it properly cleaned tomorrow." I glanced at Edward and he nodded in relief. The burning smell of the bleach had washed away all traces of the blood. Inhaling tentatively I realized I could breathe again. Edward grinned at me and got up to wrap his arms around my waist.
Angela walked down the stairs then. "Nessie is in her crib. She looks a little scared though." She turned to me and gave me an encouraging smile "I'm sorry about the carpet Bella."
"No, I'm sorry. It's my fault really. That trick usually works." Mike seemed truly repentant. He stood up quickly and Jessica followed suit.
"It's getting late. I think we should let you get back to your baby." Jess gave me a small smile, which I returned gratefully. I wanted nothing more than to be alone with my little family.
Angela gave me a quick hug and wrote down her email on a piece of paper for me, making me promise to keep in touch, before saying goodbye to Edward. Mike and Jess waved at us from the driveway without coming too close and I realized their instincts were probably yelling at them to leave.
Once we were alone again I collapsed against Edward's chest. He ran his hands through my hair, rubbing my back in the process. "You should go up to Renesmee, she's really worried. I'll finish cleaning up here and then I'll bring her another cup. Can you handle me feeding her or would you like to wait downstairs?"
I shook my head "I'm perfectly fine now. I'm so sorry about my outburst. The whole thing just took me by surprise."
Edward let out a choked laugh "Bella, you're not even a year old! That was human blood there! Exposed human blood! I am so indescribably proud of you."
I shook my head against his chest. "That was so dangerous." "Yes it was, and I'm sorry. That was my fault entirely. I never should've fed Renesmee in front of your friends. I should account for things like this."
I looked up at him, trying to seem as exasperated as possible "You will not find a way to torture yourself over this one. It's my lack of control that put us all in danger. You resisted the blood without so much as a twitch."
"Oh well I'm an expert at resisting temptation. I had over a year of the best practice imaginable." He nuzzled my hair pointedly and I laughed. Renesmee's impatient sigh reminded me of Angela's warning and I quickly darted up the stairs. As I ran I could hear Edward calling Alice from the kitchen to let her know we'd all survived in one piece.
While I cradled my baby to my chest I played back the near catastrophe in my head and thanked my lucky star for the freaky self control I'd been given.
Edward joined me a few minutes later. Renesmee drank down her whole cup before going back to sleep. Reaching into the overnight bag I realized that Alice hadn't packed anything for me to "sleep" in. I found a pair of plaid flannel pajamas for Edward and a change of clothes for the next day but nothing else. We needed to change in case we ran into Charlie during the night.
Edward saw my frown and reached into the bag. I was about to look around for some leftover sweats when Edward produced a short sleeved white undershirt for himself. Smiling, he tossed me the shirt of his ensemble. "I think she meant for us to share these."
"Why?" I asked as I undressed quickly. I pulled the shirt on without bothering to unbutton it. The sleeves were way too long and it barely came down to the middle of my thighs. I heard Edward groan and I looked up to meet his eyes. The way they shone with need surprised me. He was already wearing the flannel pants and nothing else.
"To torture me apparently. When else would I ever get to see you in that?" He growled and pulled me down next to him on the bed. I laughed quietly while he ravished my neck with kisses. My laughing wound down and his attack slowed, rolling us to our sides so we could face each other in the small bed.
With our noses almost touching I ran my hands up and down his bare chest.
"So?" I asked him.
"So what?" He frowned.
"How did we do tonight?"
He understood what I was asking and he smiled. "The night had its ups and downs. I could've killed Newton for the images that flashed through his head."
I laughed again. "He couldn't stop staring at Renesmee though, what was that about?"
Edward's eyes became unbearably compassionate then. "Mike's mom had a miscarriage almost three years ago. She wasn't that far along so no one in town knows. It devastated his whole family. Things got pretty rough for them for a while. His sister would've been around Nessie's age if she had survived."
My mouth formed a small oh at the awfulness. Even though my pregnancy had been rocky at best I never for one second truly believed I'd lose my baby. I couldn't even conceive the idea of not having Renesmee, it hurt too much to even imagine.
"That's so sad." I whispered.
"It really is. His mother wanted that child very much."
I buried my face in Edward's chest and he embraced me tightly. "Jessica on the other hand was just about to burst with jealousy."
I groaned and rolled my eyes. "She can't possibly be that ill intentioned."
"It's not that. She has a rather boring and somewhat vindictive mind but her jealousy of you rests simply on her need to excel at something. She doesn't actually mean you any harm. She just wishes your life could be a little less perfect so she could feel better about her own." Edward kissed the top of my head but I frowned.
"I don't get it."
"It's quite simple. She's never been all that great at anything. Being a small town girl left her always wanting a big exciting life. She compares herself to other people too much. When you first came to Forks, she went from being just another girl to a shadow in your spotlight. Her happiest time in high school was last year when you were..." The pain in his voice alerted me of the memories he was trying to suppress.
"Not too social?" I offered. I felt Edward's smile against my hair. "You walked right out of the spotlight on your own accord, leaving it clear for her and Lauren who occupied it by talking behind your back." The venom in his voice made me pull back so I could look into his eyes. I touched his cheek to calm him down and he sighed with gratitude.
"Of course then we came home and you went back to being... well, you. The whole school went back to talking about us. In her book that made you the most popular girl in school once again, which is ridiculous because a lot of the rumors were pretty mean."
"They were?" I frowned. I'd never even noticed the whispers, probably because I was too preoccupied with noticing Edward.
He shook his head. Clearly those rumors were not something he wanted to talk about. He went on with his story instead. "She went back to being just Jessica. She really couldn't wait to get to college and start living an adventurous life. When she got accepted into college in California she figured that was that. We were going to Alaska then, she felt like she'd finally done better than you. And then you got accepted into Dartmouth"
"Something I had absolutely nothing to do with" I interrupted but he went on as if I hadn't spoken.
"And you surpassed her once again. To her it seemed like nothing se did could compete with your life. She got back together with her old boyfriend. You married yours. Mike gave her a pair of earrings after graduation. I gave you a car. She went camping during the summer, you got a honeymoon."
I shook my head. I couldn't believe she'd been comparing herself to me like that. The things she thought I had better were those I'd fought the most against.
"And then she finally got to college and nothing changed. She's less noticeable in a school with thousands of students than she ever was here in Forks. From what I could see she's doing pretty well in her classes and her roommate seems really nice but she doesn't see those things. Even so, she figured she'd come home on vacation to the tiny town of Forks and she'd be cooler, to use her words, because she is a college student. And then she ran into you."
I ran a hand through my hair and groaned. So many things about her were finally starting to make sense.
"And you're apparently not only going to college, but raising a beautiful daughter as well. She wanted to see us struggle, to feel like your life was finally going wrong so she could feel better about hers which she believes is merely going okay. She'd rather be an average college student than a nineteen year old divorced single mom."
I couldn't hold back the shudder at his words. I loved my daughter more than anything in the world but I couldn't imagine raising her without Edward.
"And then she saw us together and she realized that we're not only okay, but we're actually happier than we were when she last saw us."
I frowned "She thinks we look happier than on our wedding day?"
Edward let out a small chuckle. "Have you seen yourself lately Bella? You glow! You smile every second of every day. If our child so much as wiggles a finger you light up like a Christmas tree! And you know what? I do exactly the same thing." He framed my face with his strong hands and whispered, "I had never in my life felt happier, safer or more complete than I do right now. Jessica might not understand it but I always thought you did."
"Understand what?" I whispered back.
"Bella... you gave me a daughter. A daughter! A little person that we made together. Half of the woman that I love more than my own life and half of me. It's something I never even considered and now that we have her... I can't believe I ever lived without her. Much like I still can't believe I went through so many years without you."
I couldn't help myself then. I closed the distance between us and captured his lips with my own. He kissed me back passionately, pulling my body closer to his own and moaning gently against my lips. He broke the kiss with a gasp and I suddenly remembered where I was. I chuckled and he smiled back at me.
"Anyway, Renesmee is just too amazing to resist, even for Jessica. As much as she hated what Nessie represented that child is just unbearably adorable." I laughed quietly.
"She's won over harder crowds." I agreed with Edward.
"I think Jessica is finally starting to realize that her life is very different from yours. When she saw how worried you were over the spill she figured out that you have other things to stress over now, things she can't even see herself going through yet. Usually, raising a child is no picnic."
"It is for us." I pointed out.
"Yes, but Jess doesn't know that does she?" He winked at me and I laughed again.
"Angela was her old wonderful self. Her mind and Seth's are two I actually enjoy listening to. They're always so calm and honest."
I dropped my shield so he could hear my own mind. "Nothing like mine though, right?" I asked him without speaking. He laughed at me and shook his head. "No, nothing compares to yours. I place your mind in a whole different category." He ran his fingers from my temple to my collarbone seductively.
I laughed again and this time Renesmee turned around in her crib. She sat up and looked around sleepily.
"Nessie? Are you okay?" I asked her from the bed.
She nodded and raised her arms. "Can I sleep with you mommy?"
Edward gave me a smile "We will continue this later." He whispered before getting up to take Renesmee. Edward swaddled her in a blanket before placing her between our cold bodies. Our baby yawned and fell asleep almost instantly.
For the rest of the night Edward and I had whispered conversations while we rubbed Renesmee's back soothingly. Whenever our fingers touched I smiled, remembering a time when just the idea of touching Edward's hand had me hyperventilating. Less than a year ago in that very bed Edward had asked me to marry him for the first time. If someone had told me then that a few months later I'd be in the same bed with my husband and child I would've laughed myself silly.
And yet here I was, a married mother. And nothing could've made me happier.
When the clouds started to lighten I sat up with a sigh. Edward frowned "What's wrong?" He whispered.
"I want to do something nice for Charlie, he's been a real sport lately. I thought I'd cook him breakfast but I've never cooked without my human senses. I hope it tastes alright."
Edward's brilliant smile lit up the tiny room. "You'll do fine. Cook something you remember well like eggs or pancakes. Or I can do it if you want. I've had plenty of practice cooking for you."
"No, I'll get it. You can stay with Renesmee, wait for her to wake up." I got out of bed and listened. Charlie was still snoring loudly in his room. I smiled back at Edward and whispered. "I'll be back in a minute."
I flew down the stairs and into the kitchen, yanking the ingredients for pancakes and eggs from the cupboards and the fridge. I mixed the batter with my vampire speed and cracked a couple of eggs on a frying pan. The cooking process however couldn't be rushed and I leaned against the counter while the pancakes browned slowly.
While I waited I heard Charlie's snores quiet until they became slightly uneven breaths, proof that he was awake. I heard his heavy footsteps, so unlike those of my new family, while he got dressed for the day. In the other room Renesmee woke up.
Edward's gentle greeting melted my heart. "Good morning beautiful. Did you sleep well?"
Nessie did not answer out loud. She never did when she was alone with Edward.
"She's downstairs making breakfast for Grandpa." He answered her unspoken question. "You can join him you know. Maybe have a little breakfast yourself."
Charlie's bare feet pounded down the stairs, breaking my concentration. I flipped the pancake into a plate and added a side of eggs. He walked into the kitchen looking scruffy but fully dressed. The moment he saw me his jaw dropped. He turned beet red and dropped his eyes to the floor.
"Hey Bells, what are you doing?" He still wouldn't look at me and this confused me. It wasn't until I glanced down at myself that I remembered my outfit. Edward's shirt didn't look all that indecent on me, it was pretty long, but I was still wearing less clothes than Charlie had seen me in for a long time. The fact that the shirt was obviously my husband wasn't helping matters either.
I mentally cursed Alice. I wasn't self-conscious of my body anymore, after all half of my family had already seen me naked during my pregnancy, so I hadn't even thought to change. It would've looked weird if I'd suddenly dashed upstairs to put some pants on so I tried to ignore Charlie's reaction. I went on as if I hadn't even noticed it.
"I'm making you breakfast. Here, eat before it gets cold." I pointed at the full plate and he sat down immediately, grateful to have something that would distract him. Edward was walking down the stairs with Nessie. As he rounded the corner I was grateful to see that at least he had remembered his t-shirt.
"Good morning Nessie. Want some breakfast?" Charlie asked between bites.
"Yes." Renesmee nodded enthusiastically. I raised my eyebrows in surprise.
"What would you like baby?" I asked her quickly before she could change her mind.
"Eggs!" Her smile was so wide it confused me. She was never this excited when it came to human food.
"I'll make you some right away." I glanced at Edward and his glowing smile matched our daughters. The part of their conversation that I'd missed had obviously been very convincing.
While I scrambled the eggs on the pan Renesmee explained. "Daddy told me eggs were the only thing you could eat when you were pregnant with me."
I managed not to drop the serving spoon by sheer instinct. I froze instantly, waiting for my father's reaction.
Charlie coughed, his eyes wider than I'd ever seen them. He pounded his chest while he continued to cough. Edward rushed over to him and patted his back with a worried look on his face. I was frozen still, completely caught off guard.
Charlie knew, of course, that Renesmee was my daughter. She had my eyes and Edward's perfect features; there was no way around that. Whatever story he had created in his head to explain her existence, however, had obviously not included me being pregnant.
When the coughing stopped Edward went on as if nothing had happened. "So eggs seem like a good idea, don't they Nessie?"
Renesmee, worried and confused, managed to nod.
I turned back to the stove and served her food on a plate. She sniffed delicately and took an experimental bite. From her face I figured she was about to spit the food right back out so I rushed to find a napkin but she kept chewing and eventually swallowed. When she took another bite I realized it was probably the texture that had her flinching. The taste, however seemed not to bother her.
Charlie picked his fork back up after a few moments, obviously deciding to pretend as if he hadn't heard a thing. Edward covered his lips with his hand in an obvious attempt to hide his silent laughs. The entire situation was far from funny to me but he was obviously amused.
Nessie finished her breakfast in silence. As soon as she was done Edward lifted her up and took her upstairs to change. Once they were gone I started on the dishes, turning away from Charlie's now inquisitive stare.
I sighed, preparing myself for his unanswerable questions.
"Don't you think Renesmee is a little young to know about pregnancy?"
His question surprised me so much I wheeled around to stare at him. He immediately got defensive. "I mean far be it from me to question your parenting methods. You're an incredible mother honey but she just looks a little young to sound so technical."
For the longest time I couldn't even answer him. Eventually I manage to splutter out something that sounded like a yes. "She's just... Very inquisitive, dad. Edward and I don't like lying to her. We try to answer her questions as honestly as we can."
"Well she is very advanced for her age. I just hope you spared her the details." He went back to his breakfast and I barely contained a groan. How could I explain to Charlie that my child could remember being inside of me? She didn't need much in the explanation department.
Edward and Renesmee appeared at the doorway then, fully clothed. "Bella honey, you should probably get dressed. Alice is expecting us. There's a new cartoon playing in theaters in Port Angeles and she wanted to take Nessie to the matinee."
"She made me promise to go with her." Nessie rolled her eyes looking so much like Edward it made my heart swell.
"In that case we should really get going. We shouldn't make Alice wait." I rushed upstairs to change grateful for the quick escape. I loved my father to death but something about spending the night in the same house felt a little too intimate, too dangerous even.
I didn't know whether to smile or frown when I realized I could no longer think of Charlie's house as home. I had my own home now but even before we'd gotten our cottage, the large Cullen mansion had always felt more like home than my little house in Forks. From the moment I realized I loved Edward home became wherever he happened to be. I decided to smile as I walked down the stairs. Maybe I was finally ready to leave Forks.
I sat in one of the airport's hard plastic chairs with my head on Edward's shoulder and Renesmee sleeping peacefully on my lap. We had decided not to move just yet since we still had a lot of stuff to figure out like the Jacob situation and the future living arrangements.
The most important thing to figure out though was where we'd be moving to. Since it was my first time relocating my family decided to leave the location up to me. Edward had been impossible since then, insisting on giving me a tour of every possible city so I could make an informed decision. We were currently in our way to Juneau, Alaska. Carlisle and Esme never mentioned it but Edward knew they longed to be closer to our grieving cousins for a while.
Carlisle was grateful for my decision to move on, even though he'd never admit that either. He was going to have to quit his job soon, the age he was pretending to be was getting ridiculous for his appearance, and I knew how much he hated being away from the hospital. He had decided to open a private practice wherever we went until Renesmee reached her growth limit so he could spend as much time as possible at home.
I'd talked to my father about it and he had agreed to let us go without a fuss as long as we promised to visit often. He had Sue to keep him company now. He truly didn't need me anymore.
Those were the thoughts that ran through my head while we waited for our plane. Edward lifted my chin with his finger and stared deeply into my eyes.
"Are you sure you want to go, Bella?" He asked me for the thousandth time.
I just smiled and pulled his lips to mine, silencing his questions with a deep kiss. He held my face between his gentle hands and pulled me closer, careful not to wake the baby.
While we kissed someone sat on the chair in front of us. I heard the person sigh in contempt at our public display of affection.
Edward's lips froze and I opened my eyes instantly. His lips were still on mine, but his eyes were wide open.
"What?" I whispered against his lips. He just turned around. I turned with him and gasped. Sitting directly in front of us, looking as if she'd suddenly seen a ghost, sat Lauren. Her mouth contorted in a horrified grimace and she whispered with disgust in a surprisingly nasal voice. "Oh God."
I closed my eyes and groaned, instantly crossing Juneau from my list of possibilities. Even though the city seemed perfect for us I instantly realized I'd rather move to Florida and spend the rest of eternity indoors than move to a place where I could possibly run into Lauren. As I stared at her shocked face all I could mumble was "Here we go again."
Edward stood up and pulled me up with him. He took the baby from me and turned around on his heels with one arm around my shoulders.
"Where are we going?" I frowned.
"Home." He growled.
"But we have tickets." I complained.
"Forget them. I'll exchange them for another day, I'll exchange them for anything else."
"Our bags are already on the plane! They'll lose them!"
"I'll buy you new clothes."
"Edward." I yanked him to a stop. Renesmee, who was now wide awake, stared at him in confusion just like I did.
"Edward stop. I know Lauren's thoughts are probably terrible and believe me, it's no picnic traveling with her for me either but this is ridiculous!"
"It's not that." He ran a hand through his hair in exasperation.
I frowned "She's not thinking vile things about us?"
"Of course she is, but I'm used to vile. It's something else."
"Well what is it? What could possibly make you decide not to board a plane when we're supposed to leave in twenty minutes?"
He stared at me for the longest time and then growled. "She has the Small World song stuck in her head. If I have to listen to that for the entire plane ride I'll be humming it for weeks."
I was still laughing while he pulled out of the parking lot.
Thanks for reading guys! Sorry it took this long. In my defense I graduated College this month! Yay me! lol