First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed, favorited, and alerted my story. Every time one of you does it it makes me so happy. Thanks, everyone. Also, thanks to the one who gave me the idea for continuing Forgiven, you know who you are.
Also, I want you all to know that I won't be updating in at least a week, because we'll be taking a trip down south on Sunday and we won't take the laptop with us. I wrote this chapter extra quickly as compensation. So, I hope you guys like this one!
I drove the Volvo at over two-hundred miles an hour down the driveway of my home, and screeched to a stop an inch from the garage doors.
They were waiting for me.
Well, not the entire family. Carlisle wasn't – overjoyed as he was at what had just happened, he was compassionate enough to leave me alone. He was in his study, working on one thing or another concerning his job. When he heard me park, he sent just me a thought.
I am happy for you, son.
And that was it. Sensitive as he was, he left me alone.
Esme was like Carlisle –except, of course, that she showed much more joy, being my mother in all the ways that counted. Her thoughts were similar to Carlisle's, and she was thinking about Bella and me now. I knew she would want to talk with me later, and this particular talk I didn't mind. Just a short, pleasant conversation about how this would work out for the best, how joyous she was, how wonderful my choice was . . . I certainly didn't mind that.
Rosalie was surprisingly quiet. The depth, the love, and the feeling behind Bella's poem had, you could say, stunned her. She would probably puff up soon, but for now she was quiet.
Emmett was Emmett.
Did you two get all mushy together in your Volvo? Did you confess your love and your past and how you'd love each other for eternity and all that? I hope you didn't scare her away, that would seriously put a damper on your future relationship . . .
He had certainly been waiting. He'd probably been preparing himself the entire time. The moment he heard me, he began a rant of merciless teasing.
This was some of the kinder, more subtle of his thoughts. He – and the others, probably – were attempting to guess what exactly had gone on when I'd driven her home.
Well, we hadn't done quite that . . . I was taking this much slower than Emmett would have done. More courteous, more gentlemanly. We hadn't really talked about our feelings at all.
Jasper was utterly confused, I could tell, but he kept his thoughts to himself.
And Alice was waiting for me by the front door.
I climbed slowly out of the Volvo and went to her. She danced toward me, her entire face glowing.
See? she thought smugly. That was so sweet . . .
"It was," I agreed, ignoring the first part of what she had thought.
Now I finally get to be friends with Bella. We'll be the best.
"Hold on a second, Alice," I said sharply. "First, some rules, alright? Listen to me."
She rolled her eyes, but sat down on the steps nonetheless. Her mind was impatient. I know, Edward.
"Listen to me," I repeated, folding down beside her. "I know that you know to be in control when you're around her, to be careful about not scaring her away, don't flash your teeth too widely . . . you know that and you will follow it. But there are some other things as well."
Alice say what I was about to say, and opened her mouth before I could. Or in this case her mind. Excuse me? Why can't I tell her about vampire venom? Why can't I talk about the Volturi? Why can't I tell her about Jasper and Rosalie's past? Why –
"Listen to me," I repeated for the third time. "You can't tell her about vampire venom because she will not become a vampire, so there is no point in giving her extra information that will only frighten her."
She most certainly will become one of us. I can see it.
I closed my eyes. "She will not." I could see that Alice was about to argue, so I continued before she could. "You won't tell her about the Volturi because it will only frighten her, needlessly, because if they come here then we will find a way to get them away before Bella will even know of their presence."
Alice sighed, but didn't argue. In this topic, in the latter of what I'd said, at least, she agreed with me.
"And with everything else . . ." I exhaled, looking away before returning sharply to Alice. "You don't have to keep it directly from her. But don't go up to her and say, 'I want to tell you about how Rosalie was abused and Jasper got all those scars and everything else there is to know about us.' Don't. If she asks you directly, then answer . . . but don't elaborate, and try not talk about this subject in general. About vampires – and werewolves for that matter. Please, Alice, don't."
Alice gazed at me long and hard, and I could hear her thoughts. You can't keep this from her; shelter her from the truth, like this. You can't, Edward. She has a right to know, and there's a good chance she'll have to know. Don't argue, Edward, you know there is. I'll do as you ask, but know that I don't approve and I don't agree. I think it is best if you go up to her and do exactly as you said I shouldn't.
There was silence for a moment, and then Alice smiled brightly. "I'm going to go and call Bells now. Tell her I'm going to pick her up tomorrow," she said, the smugness at her triumph still laced into her tone.
"You'll do no such thing," I told her irritably. "It's late and she's probably in bed by now, and in any case, I will pick her up in the morning."
Aw, our little Edward is growing up, Emmett crowed from inside, having heard our conversation. Bring your jacket, Edward, it'll be cold and she'll be begging for it. . . .
I swallowed my disgust and ignored him.
Alice's silver laughter floated around me, and she shrugged. "If you're sure . . . just so you know, I'm planning on inviting her for a sleepover soon . . . I'm sure you'll enjoy that . . ." She darted away before I could muss her hair.
By now Emmett was in the clouds. What Alice had said had opened a fresh, perfect new batch of teasing specially related to sleepovers. And he couldn't wait till Bella actually came over. He was positive that she would be a perfect victim, being human and prone to blushing – a lot.
I had to swallow my disgust again.
There was one last thing . . . Esme.
I smiled and entered the house. My mother was waiting for me by the piano.
Edward, she thought happily when I came into view. I slid in next to her before the great, beautiful instrument.
"I'm so happy for you," she said, echoing Carlisle's thoughts. I chuckled, and she laughed along with me.
"She's the sweetest creature I ever met," Esme murmured, "So sweet, and gentle, and kinder than any girl I've ever met . . . and extremely perceptive, isn't she?"
I wholeheartedly agreed.
"But she observes only the truth," Esme continued, smiling, and reaching over to brush my hair out of my eyes. I was over a head taller than she was. "You are a hero, my son. And you deserve the best. She is perfect for you."
At that moment, Emmett sauntered in.
"Hey, Edward, Mom," he greeted us cheerfully. He winked at me, and I raised my own eyebrow at him in return. "It's getting late, your little human is probably asleep by now . . . aren't you going to go and watch her sleep like the stalker you are? You know, Rose –"
Rosalie entered, her expression stony. She had clearly gotten over the temporary shock, but now you could say that Bella's poem had only added fuel to the fire. Rosalie now felt slightly more protective of this forgiving human, and now she disliked the ugly future Alice had foreseen even more.
"– Rosalie," Emmett corrected himself hastily. I didn't bother smothering my snort of laughter, and he glared at me. It was well known that Rosalie only liked that nickname on occasion, and now she definitely wasn't in the mood. "Rosalie called you a peeping tom –"
"He is," Rosalie interrupted him, acid dripping from every syllable. "A repulsive, disgusting stalker who steals opportunities and trades them in for this cursed half-life."
It was difficult to decide who Rosalie resented more, Bella or me. Bella, for having the perhaps-future, the chance and the choice, that Rosalie never had and never will. Or me, for being the one who would, probably, persuade Bella to give up that chance at redemption.
I sighed. Though I felt bitter toward her for thinking of this, it was also one of the greatest problems in the relationship between Bella and me, and I respected Rosalie for recognizing this, for not wanting it to happen. Unlike Alice, who didn't seem to care at all about the entire issue.
Esme let out a breath, too. She looked at Rosalie wearily. "Rosalie, let your brother be," she admonished gently. "He knows very well of the dangers. You think he isn't against them, too?"
"If he doesn't Bella to be a vampire," Rosalie hissed, "If he knows this relationship is bad, then why doesn't he stay away?"
"He did," Alice snapped back, materializing behind her sister. Jasper followed at her heels, his expression impossible to read. "He did stay away until a couple hours ago. But like I've been telling you people for ages, Bella –"
"What makes you so sure of yourself, Alice?" Rosalie snarled.
Jasper stepped forward, his unfathomable expression turning cold and angry. "Don't speak to Alice like that, Rose," he said in a low, dangerous voice. "And I agree with her. Yes, this life is cursed – it isn't even a life – but Bella is special. And like Alice proved to me –" he shot her a loving look, "It's possible to make it through happily, if you have your mate at your side. We all know that, we've all experienced this love, and only Edward hasn't. You want to deny him this chance? He's been alone for so long. And we all were human once, Rosalie. If Emmett hadn't been changed, you wouldn't have him. If Alice hadn't been changed, I wouldn't have her."
"I would rather," whispered Rosalie, rising in storm-like fury, "Be human and alone, than cursed, alien, inhuman, and in love!" Her voice rose to a pain-filled shout.
Behind her, to the side, Emmett flinched. But he knew this. We all did. We all knew what Rosalie wanted most in the world. We all knew she'd give anything to have it.
Carlisle appeared during the terrible silence. I could hear his disappointed, pained thoughts.
"Enough," he said quietly, addressing his entire family. The incredible world he had built with his love and compassion. "Enough."
The argument withered under his disappointed, fatherly gaze.
"You all," he continued in the same quiet tone, "present a good point. All of you. This is a problem that cannot be solved so easily. But, again, you all forget one very good point." He looked around at the assembled members of his adopted family – a true family, really, in all the ways the counted.
"We are not talking about ourselves. We are talking about Bella. And even, we are talking about Bella and Edward, and them alone. None of you, not I or any of you, have any right to make their decisions for them. I don't remember," Carlisle raised his voice slightly, because Rosalie had opened her own mouth furiously, "I don't remember that Edward ever meddled in the love affairs between any of us. Therefore, we cannot meddle in his. You will leave him alone." He caught the eye of every single family member. "Including you, Alice."
He took a deep breath. "That is all. This subject is closed for now. Everyone, go back to what you were doing before." He took his wife's hand, and together they vanished into his study.
Alice and Jasper vanished somewhere, too, and Rosalie left in a huff, but Emmett stayed sitting next to me.
He poked my side. "Well? Are you going?" he teased, but I could see the lingering sadness in his eyes.
I stood, nodding. "I will. But you – go to Rose, Emmett." I pushed him in that direction.
My duty to my family was done. I didn't linger.
I was already outside, in the Volvo, heading back to my personal piece of heaven. To Bella.