**Disclaimer: I'm not SM, don't own nothing.**
**Author's note: Sorry this is moving so slowly. I'm getting there, kind of debating on a couple of plot ideas. Thanks for your reviews though! They serve as wonderful incentive.**
Chapter 3: Dreams and Dramatics
That night, I had a nightmare. I was in my house at night, with a storm brewing outside. I walked from room to room, trying light switches -- the electricity was out. I called for Charlie, but he didn't answer, and my heart rate increased; suddenly, I was certain that he was in danger. I walked into the kitchen, continuing my search of the house, and my panic increased: on the living room floor lay Charlie, his head at an unnatural angle from his body and his glassy eyes staring straight ahead. A terrified sob escaped my throat, and Edward appeared in front of me, wrapping his hands around my upper arms in an iron grip. "Bella," he said quietly, and I stared in disbelief at the mocking grin on his lips, "Didn't I tell you not to believe everything you see?" Then, the grin on his face widened; his brow lowered, and his features contorted into an unrecognizable face. I watched in horror as his eyes shrank and his skin stretched across wider cheekbones, sunken cheeks.
My own scream ripped me from sleep.
I looked around for Edward, but he wasn't there, so I scampered quickly to my light switch, half expecting it to be useless. Luckily, light flooded the darker corners of my room, and I stood shaking as I waited for reality to wash over me. Just a dream, I reminded myself. Probably from the movie earlier.
I considered trying to sleep again -- it was only 4:20 in the morning -- but something told me I was done with that activity for a little while, so I grabbed my bag of toiletries and some random clothes and walked quietly to the bathroom. I took a scalding hot shower and scrubbed harder than was probably necessary.
When I got back to my bedroom, Edward was sitting in his usual chair. "You're up early," he said, then stood up and wrapped his arms around me, putting his nose in my hair. "Couldn't sleep?" His voice was low and soothing.
"No, I had bad dreams," I said, deciding instantly that I would not be sharing this particular nightmare with him, "But it's better now." I smiled up at him.
"Well, I do hope you got enough rest, because we've a big day ahead of us."
I groaned. Today was the day we'd decided to announce our engagement -- graduation was in three weeks, and our wedding would be in August. That way, we could excuse our necessary year of isolation (as I, as a newborn vampire, would need time to adapt to my new way of life) by saying we had gone to college. "Everyone's going to think I'm pregnant."
Edward laughed. "Oh, Bella, everyone knows how we feel about each other. They won't jump to such base conclusions."
I grimaced. "For a mind reader, you're extraordinarily naïve about human nature."
Edward laughed, lowering his face to mine, and said quietly, "Well I still know a thing or two." He put his fingers lightly to my face, and my pulse quickened under his touch. He chuckled before kissing me, effectively erasing my worries.
But only temporarily.
"You're what?!" Jessica said, her eyes jumping again to the ring on my left hand. "I can't believe you didn't tell me it was that serious!"
"I thought it was obvious," I said lamely.
"You have to tell me everything. Did he get down on his knee? How soon is the wedding? Where are you going on your honeymoon?!" She paused, considering something. I braced myself. "Are you going to have a baby?"
There it was. "No, no. It's a little early for that." I sighed as I watched her mouth lower in mild disappointment. No gossiping about that. Then I filled her in briefly on the rest of the details.
Most people's reactions were much the same. Angela was the only one who didn't ask or insinuate something about my reproductive condition. "That's great, Bella," she said sincerely, "I know how happy he makes you."
The announcement at school, however, was a breeze compared to my biggest worry: that night, I had to tell Charlie.
I was sure he had already guessed, or at least considered the possibility, but I predicted that the actual information might be worse to him. Edward silently watched me prepare dinner, his eyes following me as I moved nervously about the kitchen. "Okay," I said, somewhat breathlessly, "Thirty minutes." I picked up the egg timer to set it, but it slipped out of my shaky hands.
Edward caught it before it hit the floor, setting it for me and placing it on the counter. "You," he said, and put his hands on my shoulders, "Need to calm down."
Easy for him to say. "Just don't say anything until he's put down his gun."
"So you mentioned," he said, and sat back down, pulling me into his lap. "But you forget, guns aren't much of a threat to me." He smiled. "In fact -- do you think that would lighten the mood? I could let him get some target practice. Gift to the father of the bride."
I scowled at his terrible joke. "Human here. Bullets do bad things to me."
"I'd catch them before they reached you."
"Right, and that wouldn't give Charlie any reservations about our union."
Edward laughed and hugged me. "There, there, little frightened rabbit. Your father trusts your judgment, and he only wants you to be happy. He won't begrudge you this."
I didn't argue, but put my head on his shoulder and sighed. I hoped he was right.
Then, I heard Charlie's car in the driveway.
I jumped up. "He's home early! Edward, don't say anything until he's put his gun away."
Edward rolled his eyes and stood up beside me. "Calm down, Bella."
The front door opened. I listened as he set his things down in the entry hall. Dodged that bullet, I thought, then stifled a nervous giggle.
"Uh-oh," said Edward quietly, and a wave of terror swept through me. It's not good news when immortals say uh-oh. "Our secret's out," he whispered.
My jaw dropped as Charlie entered the kitchen, stopping at the doorway and crossing his arms. "Isabella," he said, and his eyes narrowed at Edward. "You," he said hostilely, "Get out."
"Charlie," Edward said calmly, clearly deciding I was too incoherent to speak yet, "Please, give me a moment. We have something to tell you."
"I've already heard it, and it's not happening."
My nervousness turned to disbelief. It was unlike Charlie to be so rude, even to Edward. I had expected him not to like the news, but I thought he would eventually give in to silent resignation. He had never behaved this way. "Dad," I said, "Just listen, okay? Edward and I --"
"I said no, Bella!"
My disbelief turned to anger. "What do you mean, no? You haven't even heard what we have to say!" Then I remembered my more convincing argument. "I'm 18, Charlie. This isn't your decision."
"Eighteen! Exactly!" He said, and his arms flew up as he walked toward me, "Eighteen, Bella! What do you know about life? Eighteen year-olds don't even know themselves yet, let alone someone else! Certainly not well enough to get married!"
"With all due respect, sir," said Edward, and I saw Charlie begin to interrupt, but the calm authority in Edward's voice must have stopped him, "I know that Bella and I are young, but you're wrong to think we don't know each other. This wasn't a decision we entered into lightly, and I know it would mean a lot to Bella to have your support, even if you disagree."
Charlie sputtered, then took a deep breath, undoubtedly to begin bellowing again.
"Dad," I interrupted him quickly, suddenly recognizing my best tactic, "Don't ruin this for me, please? I'm happy with Edward. And it would upset me to think I didn't have your blessing."
Charlie deliberated, and I watched as emotions ran across his face: anger, resignation, concern, hurt.
Thank God for telepathic vampires. Edward spoke. "We're sorry we didn't tell you first. We should have. You deserved to hear it from us."
Charlie didn't say anything for what felt like an eternity. I opened my mouth to speak, but Edward nudged me, so I snapped it shut.
Finally, Charlie sighed. "What's for dinner?"
I almost laughed. "Steak and potatoes."
"Good. Um," Charlie walked over and hugged me, then hesitated, and pat Edward on the back. "Congratulations, I guess," he said sheepishly, then muttered something about a game and left the kitchen.
The timer went off, and I jumped.