I giggled like a little girl again as I iced the cake. I knew it was a terrible waste, since no one was going to eat it, but I couldn't help going through the motions of today. Edward deserved it.
It had taken me four years to find out when his birthday was. He had never told anyone before, always more than content with not celebrating it. I refused to play along with this; we always celebrated my birthday.
Every day I pestered Alice, desperate for her to uncover some vision of his birthday. She reminded me, grouchily, that she couldn't see the date.
Carlisle was infinitely more helpful. He helped me access Edward's birth records and there it was. I was practically squealing like Alice when we found it. Carlisle looked on with amusement from behind his desk and told me how happy he was someone was finally going to make Edward acknowledge his birthday.
Sneakily, I approached each member of my family alone and told them what I was up to. I begged them to guard their thoughts, a talent they'd perfected over the years. Still, one second long slip and it would all be ruined. I wanted to surprise Edward for once and give him the kind of pleasure he always gave me. Everyone understood, of course, and was almost as excited as I was to pull this off.
Edward had been acting suspicious lately. He knew something was up, I guess, when everyone started reciting their favorite poems and novels around him. Alice told me she sang "Father Figure" by George Michael in her head every night. Even though he eyed us all warily and became more interested in everyone's lives, he never said anything to me. I suppose it was because he was overly cocky that no one would find out his birthday. The thought never crossed his mind that I'd insist. I would show him some cockiness if that's what he wanted.
I grinned evilly as I thought this and set down the icing package. Alice ran in and handed me the candles.
"He's going to be here in ten minutes! Everyone's reciting the lines from The Exorcist."
I laughed heartily at that one. She pranced off and hid somewhere like everyone else. With a big smile, I delicately placed each candle into the vanilla icing. I sighed with relief and unbelievable joy; we had really pulled it off. I couldn't wait to see his face.
"BELLA!" Alice hissed loudly from somewhere in the house. "You need to hide now!"
Deciding not to light the candles yet, I ran out and hid behind the couch. Not very creative, I know, but it didn't matter at this point.
I smelled him already, still in his car. My mouth watered at his delicious scent. I wasn't sure if I wasn't going to make it through the party without ravaging him first.
"Bella, please," Jasper moaned quietly from somewhere upstairs. "You're killing me."
"Sorry," I whispered.
A few seconds later, I heard Edward and Carlisle walk in. Immediately I was comforted by the more intense scent of Edward and the sound of his even and unnecessary breathing. I heard him sigh and imagined he was thinking the same thing about me.
"Bella," he said softly, knowing I'd hear from wherever I was.
I knew it was time for everyone to hop out of their hiding places. Alice had warned me that if we took too long, Edward would only have to sniff a few times and he'd find me.
I counted to three like Alice had told me and then jumped up. Everyone raced from wherever they'd been and instantly appeared beside me.
"SURPRISE!" everyone shouted.
Edward took a step back but his face betrayed nothing. It was blank and utterly emotionless. We stood there as Edward stared us, the seconds ticking by like hours. What was he thinking? He didn't look pleased.
I cast an agonized glance in Alice's direction but she wasn't looking at me. Her eyes were glazed over and she was very clearly immersed in a vision. Great.
Jasper sensed my inner turmoil and gently held my hand. Calm came over me but it wasn't enough to soothe me entirely.
Slowly, Edward's head turned completely towards me. His eyes held some emotion but I couldn't identify it. Suddenly I was terrified that I'd severely pissed him off. Maybe there was a reason he didn't like to celebrate his birthday… I hadn't even thought of that. Edward didn't talk much about his human life. Maybe it still hurt him to think of it.
I felt terrible. I realized how selfish I was being. I hadn't done all of this for Edward; I'd done it for me. I wanted to celebrate him. I wanted to have a big, silly, human party for him, not thinking about he wanted.
Jasper tightened his hold on my hand and shot me a reassuring glance. It didn't help.
Carlisle cleared his throat and placed his hand on Edward's shoulder. The touch immediately melted Edward and he loosened up his rigid stance, finally.
"Happy birthday, son," he said quietly. I could tell by the intensity of his eyes that he was having a silent conversation with Edward.
When they broke eye contact, they both looked in my direction. I suppressed a groan. They were very obviously talking about me. Carlisle probably told him I set the whole thing up and that he should be nice to me and pretend to like everything out of obligation. The thought sounded so right and so like Edward that I wondered briefly if I'd become a mind-reader, too.
Alice pounced in front of Edward and grinned at him. "Happy birthday!" She handed him a package and laughed at his scowl. "Open it later, if you want."
Next was Emmett. He appeared to be saying something to Edward through his mind, too. "How old are you now, Eddie?"
"Seventeen," Edward said softly, his first word since he'd walked in.
I exhaled, realizing I hadn't been breathing since I'd seen his face. His voice immediately relaxed me, though I was still utterly heartbroken that I'd upset him.
With a slight grin, Rosalie stepped up and uncharacteristically hugged Edward. "Happy birthday," she said sincerely. "Emmett and I got you a little something. It's in your room."
"Thank you," Edward murmured softly.
"Happy birthday," Jasper laughed, smacking Edward's shoulder. "I'm so happy to finally know the date. Here's your present."
Edward groaned. "You guys really didn't have to get me presents."
Emmett chuckled. "Now you sound like Bella."
At the mention of my name, Edward's eyes met mine. The intensity there made it impossible to look away. I could feel my legs shaking at whatever was behind his stare. I nearly swore that my heart, though it was long dead, was pounding violently in my chest.
"Yes," he whispered. "I sound just like Bella."
His words were like little flames against my flesh. I nearly collapsed with the emotions swirling in my head.
Jasper barked out a laugh and shook his head at me. I remembered, belatedly, that I was taking Jasper along for the ride. I gave him an apologetic look and he waved a hand at me in dismissal.
"Now for our present," Esme cooed, overly elated about the event. She'd nearly crushed me when I told her the news, and crushing another vampire certainly wouldn't have been easy. "Happy birthday, sweetheart."
She handed him an envelope which I already knew contained two tickets to the opera. After he opened it, his eyes sparkled with the first excitement I'd seen from him all night.
"Thank you," he said firmly. "Thank you all. This was highly unexpected."
He looked over at me but I was frozen to the spot. I didn't want to give him his gift yet and I wasn't entirely sure if I was ready to approach him. He still looked intense and frustrated, and almost angry. I wasn't positive he'd be too pleased to have me near him at the moment.
"Don't you have to take care of something in the kitchen, Bella?" Alice sang, plopping down on the sofa.
Oh, crap. I forgot. I looked away from my gorgeous husband and scurried into the kitchen. With shaking hands, I lit the candles and prayed that Edward wouldn't stay upset. I'd apologize to him tonight, when we were alone. I'd make it up to him. A lot.
I nearly smiled at the thought but instead picked up the cake and walked back out.
Everyone started singing immediately. Edward shifted uncomfortably and wouldn't meet any of our eyes. Had he been human, he would have had a blush that would have rivaled any of mine.
When we were done, I walked even closer to Edward so that the cake was practically on his chest.
"Make a wish," I whispered, sounding huskier than I intended.
With the most ardor in his eyes I'd ever seen, he lowered his head and blew the candles out, one by one. His eyes never left mine. My hands began to shake at the sight of his pursed lips and the feeling and scent that washed over me after every little one of his puffs of hair.
After he blew out the last one, he took the cake from me and placed it on the table.
"I wish I could eat it," he said seriously. "It almost looks delicious."
"There are plenty of other things you could eat, Edward," Emmett said, trying his best to sound innocent.
Edward growled but didn't say anything. I was pleased that he wasn't going to fight with him today.
With the same expression as before, Edward looked back to me. "What else do you have planned?"
I fought a grimace; he didn't exactly sound eager.
"Well…" I started, feeling utterly ridiculous, "I thought we could all go hunting together as a family. Then I thought you and I could take a little trip."
His lips turned up in my favorite sexy smirk. "I really don't think we need to hunt, Bella."
"I just thought it could be like the equivalent of when humans go out to dinner."
Everyone erupted in laughter around me and I tried my best to pout. I couldn't, however. I knew it really was funny.
"I think the two of you ought to go on your trip now," Carlisle suggested.
"I agree." Edward's gaze was fixed permanently on me now.
My needless breath caught. Maybe he wasn't angry with me. Oh, holy hell! Maybe he was aroused. The thought literally sent my thighs aflame. Had I been human, I would have melted into a puddle of joy on the floor.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I merely nodded and grabbed out car keys. Edward didn't wait for me to catch my bearings. He quickly strode out, leaving me standing behind confused.
Alice walked over and winked at me. "Have a good time."