The familiar, sweet notes of my lullaby drifted towards me. I smiled and left Reneesme sleeping in her bed, placing her hand back by her side. That was enough dream watching for a night.
Edward was waiting for me in the front room of our New Hampshire house. I crossed the room in the blink of an eye and sat next to him on the bench, resting my head on his shoulder. As the song wound down to its close, I closed my eyes and thought of the memories the lullaby carried. Lying on my bed in Forks, falling asleep in Edward's arms. Our honeymoon on Isle Esme. An infinite amount of kisses. I added another to their number.
"What are you thinking about, love?" he asked. The thoughts of any other person on the planet were easily heard and dissected by his advanced mind. Everyone but me. Even when I was human, any vampire's gift that affected the mind was rendered useless by my mind's "shield". Edward's inability to read my mind had been a constant source of irritation for him, until a few friends helped me figure out a way to lift the shield for a few minutes.
I pulled in the barrier with almost no effort. It was becoming a lot easier. I recalled the memories for him, smiling at the reaction in his melted gold eyes.
He pulled me to him and whispered, "Bella", into my hair. "Please tell me our beautiful daughter is sleeping."
"Like she hasn't slept in days", I laughed. "All the moving in is wearing her out."
His lips met mine in a thrilling, electric kiss. "Good," he sighed, and pulled me to him again.
"Good thing we don't need sleep?" I joked. The next kiss had a tension that couldn't wait. Edward scooped me up in his arms and whisked me into our bedroom.
* * * * *
The next time either of us noticed the time, it was six in the morning. I sighed and prepared to get up.
"What, you aren't excited for your first day at Dartmouth?" Edward chuckled. "Poor Alice. She's already on her way to play dress up."
"Alice will be Alice," I groaned. "How much time do we have?"
"Enough time to get Reneesme dressed before Alice tries to stick her in some ridiculous frilly thing again."
"Good to know." I kissed him and tore myself away to start Reneesme's day. Without sleep, mine had never ended.
"Mama!" Reneesme sang as I walked in. I lifted her feather light body and placed her on my hip. She pressed her hand against my cheek, showing me a picture of herself, alone with Carlisle and Esme. A question filled her thoughts.
I gave my daughter a squeeze. "Today Daddy and I are going to college. You know that's why we moved, sweetie. You're going to stay home with Grandpa Carlisle and Grandma Esme and they're going to home school you." Her thoughts took a negative turn. "No, Nessie. Daddy and I will be back before it's your dinner time." A picture of Jacob and Reneesme in the kitchen filled her mind. "Of course. Jacob will come over to make it with you."
Carlisle had decided it would be best to wean Reneesme off her diet of blood. The theory was that regular food would slow her growth slightly, and allow her a chance at a more human existence. Edward and I were all for it. The idea of a daughter who would reach maturity at age seven terrified us. However, Nessie was unhappy with the arrangement at first. That's when Jacob decided to make it a game. He would do anything for her. She was his imprint. So every day, Jacob would come over and they'd watch a cooking show and make dinner for themselves. They had everything they could possibly need: Alice could always foresee the ingredient list and Edward passed on their preferences to Esme.
The arrangements for later would have to wait, because I heard Alice's car snaking down our drive. I gave Reneesme a copy of her favorite book and went to greet my sister-in-law.
To my surprise, it was not a yellow Porsche parked outside. It was a red convertible, Rosalie's car. "Hi, Bella," she called. Her skin sparkled in the sun. I glanced down to see matching rainbows on my own. That was one part of vampire life it would be tough to adjust to. "Alice was having a tough time dressing the boys, and she didn't foresee too much difficulty, so here I am."
"Hey, Rose. Are our outfits really that bad?" I asked, thinking of the getups Alice had dreamed up before.
A mischievous grin appeared across her perfect face. "No, actually. Very conservative for Alice. Em and Jazz are just getting a little revenge for all past first-day-of-school outfits."
I heard Edward's laugh behind me. Rosalie glared at him. "And don't think I don't know that you're helping them. Poor girl's going to go insane."
Edward answered my unspoken question. "I'm seeing the outfits she picks out in her head, then I call Em when she's out of the room. Jasper and Emmett will change into the outfits exactly how Alice wants them-"
"And then Jasper makes Alice feel like there's something wrong with them." I finished. "Cruelly hilarious."
Rose laughed. "Anyway, lets get you dressed, Bella, before Alice hunts us all down." She followed me inside to the enormous closet.
I was still stunned by how much clothing Esme and Alice had been able to fit in the closet. It was almost as big as the rest of the house. After three days in New Hampshire, I was still awed.
"Here it is." Rosalie handed me what looked like a pretty inoffensive outfit. Grey turtleneck, jeans, belt and boots. She smiled at my relieved expression. "I told you it wasn't too bad."
I quickly dressed and then looked over myself in the mirror. My long brown hair was the same length it had been since my rebirth- vampires didn't change. My crimson eyes had faded, with a diet of animal blood, to liquid amber. The one feature that reminded me of my human days was my slightly uneven lips. Only when I looked at them could I see Isabella Swan, the average human, instead of the new Bella Cullen I was today.
I glimpsed Edward and Rosalie behind me in the mirror. "We'll never blend in," I whispered. Only a vampire could have heard it. "I remember seeing all of you together. It won't work." Seeing the five of them, Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, Alice, and Edward, for the first time, all unbearingly beautiful and completely alien, was a human experience I wasn't likely to forget. The panic of discovery had worried me for weeks.
"Bella." The sound of my name in his velvet voice never failed to calm me. "Bella, love, its going to be fine. We're going to the family house this morning to review what you need to do."
I bit my lip and tried to relax. I turned around and went into Edward's arms. All the tension disappeared.
"Thank God," Rosalie said. "I thought we were going to have to call Jasper."
Actually, I wouldn't have minded a minute with Jasper. His ability to control emotions would have been a great help to me on this stressful morning.
My new cell phone rang in the other room. I sped to it, answering before the first ring was over. "Hello?"
"Good morning, Bella. Are you and Edward ready?" Esme asked. Trust Esme to call and check on us. She wasn't actually Edward's mother. Technically, he had been a vampire longer than she had. But her warm, mothering instincts kept the Cullens a family. I had begun to see her as more of a mother than mother in law.
"We're almost ready to leave, Esme."
"Oh good. I don't want you to be late on your first day at Dartmouth! Did you feed Nessie yet?"
"No, not yet." Esme had been experimenting with making human food. She hadn't done so in decades.
"Alright, then I'll just have to make something up for her." I could hear her excitement through the phone.
"Esme, please don't go to too much trouble." I laughed, knowing that any protest was probably useless. Once Esme's mother hen side came out, there was no stopping her.
I heard her bell like laugh over the phone. "I'll see you in a few minutes."
"Bye, Esme!" I slipped the phone into the book bag Alice picked out for me. "Edward, time to go."
I met him, Rosalie, and Reneesme by the door. Nessie had her hand to Rosalie's cheek. Rosalie smiled. "I don't know, baby. Ask Daddy."
Her little hand found Edward's cheek he smiled uncertainly. He kissed her on the cheek. "Sure you can ride with Aunt Rose." Edward's overprotective side was equal parts adorable and irritating.
Reneesme gave me a brilliant smile, and then took off with Rosalie. "See you soon!" she yelled in her high, clear voice.
"Let's go, Mrs. Cullen." Edward took my hand, and we walked out to his new, silver Volvo. Old habits die hard.
As we pulled up to the Cullen family house, Edward's expression changed from content to almost nervous. I looked at him more carefully. "What-"
I heard Alice's graceful steps flying down the stairs. The front door slammed open. "EDWARD ANTHONY MASEN CULLEN!" Her face was terrifying.
"Alice! What are you doing!?" Jasper yelled from inside. Waves of calm surrounded us, and Alice turned towards her husband's voice.
"Jazz, I'm still mad at you. You can't keep me calm forever." She flew up the stairs.
Jasper kissed her on the cheek. "Try me."
I headed into the house, Edward following me warily. "Don't let her get too far away, Jasper," he murmured.
"Bella!" Alice gave me a hug. I smiled down at her tiny frame. I gave Jasper a thumbs up. He smiled, drawing attention to the thousands of scars on his face. It was hard to reconcile my sweet brother-in-law with his violent past.
Carlisle stood up. "Is everyone ready?" We all nodded and took our unnecessary seats around the room. "Good. Now, Bella, can you remember a few things we've taught you to do in class?"
I squirmed in my seat a bit. "Fidget." Carlisle smiled approvingly. "Make minor mistakes in my answers. Don't sit near a window. Stare off into space after a few minutes."
"Very good. Does anyone else have a few pointers?" Carlisle didn't need to ask. The Cullens had been through the high school and college charades dozens of times. "Edward?"
"Don't write too fast. Rember that, Rosalie?"
"That was decades ago, buffoon," she snapped. "Bella, just try not to catch too much attention."
Emmett started laughing. "I really wish you could still blush, lil' sis." Edward shot him a warning look. Emmett ignored him. "One thing Rose and I know from experience, uh," he laughed, "keep the PDA to a minimum."
Esme sighed. "It's true. I've gotten more than a few phone calls over the years."
"That doesn't sound too difficult," I said. "Will it be really obvious if I'm holding my breath?" As a newborn vampire, it was very difficult to be around humans and their delicious smelling blood. I had done better than most, but an hour or two in a crowded room would be a challenge.
"Just move your shoulders a bit," Alice spoke up. She got a far off look in her eyes for a second. "Don't worry, you'll be fine," she declared. I'd never bet against Alice and her visions of the future.
I took a deep breath. The smells of my vampire family and daughter calmed me. "Alright, lets go."
"Bye, Mama!" Nessie hurtled towards me and jumped into my arms.
I hugged her gently, my newborn strength was no joke. "I'll see you later, baby."
* * * * *
Edward, Alice, Japser and I pulled up into the student parking lot at Dartmouth. "Its beautiful," I said. I could feel my excitement starting to affect Jasper. "Sorry, Jazz. So this is degree number-"
"Fifteen." Edward answered.
"Ten!" Alice and Jasper chorused from the backseat.
"So why do you guys even bother with college?" If I could teach the courses I was taking, I wouldn't even bother going to school.
I could almost feel them thinking. "I don't know, really," Edward said thoughtfully. "Its amusing, for one. And theres not much to do during the day."
"And its an excuse for a new wardrobe!" Oh, Alice. "Come on, guys, lets go!"
The four of us stepped out of the car, and looked around for Emmett and Rosalie. The entire crowd of students gasped in amazement as they pulled up in Rose's BMW. "Drawing attention to us already," Edward hissed under his breath. They gracefully climbed out of the car and met us on the sidewalk. Edward glared at Rosalie. "I told you to take the Mercedes."
She rolled her eyes. "Who died and made you Carlisle?" Everyone but Edward giggled. "Ready everyone?" I grabbed Edward's hand for support. We all held our breath and headed for our classes.
It was impossible to miss the stares we attracted. The looks in the eyes of our peers were equally amazed and terrified. I remembered my first Cullen sighting through my dim human eyes. The shock of the five, inhumanely gorgeous teens in the Forks High cafeteria was an unforgettable sight. Even though I was caught off guard by their looks, I still had felt a slight feeling of fear. I saw my old emotions reflected in their eyes.
A pressure on my hand snapped me out of my thoughts. Edward had tightened his grip on my hand. There was no doubt he was overhearing our male classmate's thoughts. I gave him a kiss on the cheek, and he unclenched a bit. "I can't blame you darling, I would feel the same way." I thanked my lucky stars that I couldn't hear the girl's thoughts about Edward. Nobody wanted a newborn-jealousy attack on their first day at Dartmouth.
We kept walking towards our buildings, and I began picking up bits of the gossip surrounding us.
"Who are THEY?"
"God, each girl is hotter than the last."
"Which one is the cutest? The blond emo looking one, the big muscely one, or the bronze haired one?"
"I'd like a piece of that one."
I started laughing quietly. Edward was not as amused. He whispered, "that's just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine whats going on inside their heads." I shuddered and giggled at the same time.
Finally. We reached a shaded area between the two buildings our little family would scatter to. "Rosalie, what do you have first?" Alice asked. I could tell she was desperately trying to see what would happen today.
"Family Dynamics," Rosalie replied. "Esme suggested that Emmett and I take it and learn to mature and respect each other better."
"Aw, Rose. Don't worry, we'll have fun after class," Emmett boomed. He couldn't exactly help it, he was just a loud, obnoxious, crazy vampire.
She rolled her eyes. "Lets go, Em." She tugged him off to class.
Alice looked at her new designer watch. "Jasper! We're going to be late for our American History class!"
"I could teach the thing myself, Alice," Jasper sighed.
She poked him. "Okay, Mr. Confederate Soldier Sir. Kindly march into the building." He rolled his eyes at Edward and me. "See you two when you're done with Shakespeare and Love!"
"Remind me why I decided to come to college?" I teased.
Edward laughed. "Because we get to take all the fun, pointless classes. Come on, Mrs. Cullen, we've got to get good seats." I gave him a smile. He could definitely still dazzle me.