Author's Note: Stephenie Meyer created and owns these characters. I just like to amuse myself, and hopefully others, by writing about them.
Mmmmm. I sat in Edward's car outside Olympic Outfitters. I'd given up the job weeks earlier, but Mrs. Newton had called and asked if I could fill in for an afternoon. My shift was beginning, but I was wrapped in Edward's embrace.
I kissed his cold cheek, his eyelids and his delicious, smooth mouth while I wound my fingers through his hair. The car wasn't the most comfortable place for me to express my feelings for him, but that didn't mean I wanted to stop.
"You should go," he said, but he contradicted his words with a kiss.
"I have a few minutes." I pressed my lips to his neck. His amazing scent and cool skin gave me chills— in a good way.
"You'll be late," he murmured, as he stroked my hair and moved his lips along my jaw.
"I don't mind. I don't really work there anymore. I'm just helping out." I tilted my head back so he could kiss my throat. My heart was racing.
"Bella, you are too tempting," he whispered. "You win." I felt his mouth on mine. His sweet, cold breath made my head spin.
"I love you," I said dreamily. I was getting so caught up in sensation that I nearly forgot where we were parked or why we were in the car at all. But not quite. I sighed, causing Edward to stop caressing me. "I guess I'm supposed to be working."
"I don't want you to get in trouble," he agreed. "And I don't want to be in trouble." He straightened up and gently nudged me towards my door. "Go!" A crooked smile flashed across his face. "Have a good time! I'll be waiting when your shift is over."
I opened the door and stumbled out of the car and into the building. I didn't like moving from the intimacy of the car to the bright lights and bustle of the store, nor going from Edward's side to being surrounded by coworkers and shoppers. A good time? I thought dubiously.
"There you are, Bella," Mrs. Newton greeted me with a smile. The clock behind her showed a few minutes past the hour.
"Sorry I'm late," I said, stashing my bag behind the counter and pulling on a vest, but I couldn't help smiling as I thought of the reason for my tardiness. Several customers were waiting at the registers, and I turned to ring up their purchases.
"It's OK," she replied. "Can you just go back to the stockroom and bring out the new shipment of flashlights?"
I looked at her in confusion, not wanting to desert the customers, but she just nodded. I made my way to the back of the store, pushed through the double doors to the stockroom and entered…. a world of pink?
The familiar shelves had been pushed together to create some open space, and fabric was cleverly draped to create something like a small pink room, with a low round table surrounded by chairs. On the table were flowers, presents, a bowl of punch and platters of bite-sized treats. Standing before me were Rosalie, Esme, Jessica, Angela, Emily Young, and in front of them Alice, wearing an uncharacteristically uncertain expression.
"You aren't angry, are you?" she asked, gazing at me appealingly. That was interesting. If she didn't know, my reaction hadn't been determined yet. I could take this moment in any direction I chose.
In fact, I wasn't really put out. At least she'd kept the guest list small. But Alice was in suspense, and I had a rare opportunity to keep her there. I tried to look annoyed.
"Didn't I tell you I didn't want a party?" I asked her sternly.
"You have to have a bridal shower," she protested. "You're marrying Edward! The love of your life, remember? We have to celebrate!"
"Does he know about this?" I demanded. Is that what he meant by "trouble" and "a good time"?
"Um, yes," she confessed. "I couldn't keep it from him. But it was all my idea. If you're mad, be mad at me, not him."
I gazed at my friend, soon to be my sister forever. Her hands were clasped in front of her and she was quivering with gleeful anticipation. Only her eyes looked apprehensive. I gave in.
"I'm not mad. I guess I should have predicted this."
She giggled, and the others seemed to relax also.
"It's really sweet of you. All of you," I said, looking around. Alice, Rosalie, Jessica and Angela knew one another from school, of course, but it had been thoughtful of Alice to include Emily. "Thank you all for coming."
"Hurray!" Alice cried, clapping her hands. "Let's start with some punch and cake."
While Alice busied herself at the table, I sat down next to Emily. "Thank you so much for coming," I said again. I liked Sam's fiancée very much, and I guessed she might feel a bit awkward not knowing the other guests.
"I'm happy to be here," she said. "Leah was invited too, but she..." She paused for a moment, and then completed her thought, "couldn't come." I understood. Most werewolves were not at all comfortable socializing with vampires. Jacob was able to handle the proximity better than the other members of the pack, but he had taken off weeks ago. His departure was probably another reason for Leah to avoid me, and I didn't blame her.
"How are the guys?" I asked.
"They're good," she said. "Same as usual— hungry!" We both laughed.
Emily began talking with Angela about some of the beautiful picnic spots near La Push. Rosalie and Jessica were chatting about shades of nail polish. Esme asked me about the morning I'd spent hiking with Edward. In fact, as she knew full well, Edward had carried me on his back as he raced through the woods, but "hiking" was a good way to describe it in mixed company. "It was a lot of fun," I told her, grinning broadly.
Alice handed around cups of punch and plates of petit fours. She, Esme and Rosalie took plates, but of course, they didn't eat. I took a bite and found the pastry delicious. Glancing around, I saw that Jessica had put her plate aside untouched. Her gaze kept sliding over to Rosalie. I felt as if I could read her mind as easily as Edward could. If Rosalie, more beautiful than any model, was going to skip dessert, so would she. I looked over at Alice. She had also noticed that some of her guests weren't enjoying the treats she had served them. She picked up her plate and popped a petit four in her mouth.
"Yummy," she said. "You should try one of the white ones, Rosalie." She gave her sister a very pointed look.
Rosalie glared at her for an instant, so brief I wasn't even sure I'd seen it. As always, she proceeded to play her part flawlessly. She produced a dazzling smile, lifted one of the tiny cakes to her perfect mouth and delicately bit off a corner. "Delicious," she agreed sweetly.
I knew she couldn't be pleased at having to take the charade to that level. I caught her eye and mouthed "I'm sorry." Her expression didn't soften, but she didn't glare at me either. I wondered momentarily if Alice had bribed Rosalie to be such a gracious guest.
"Are you excited about the wedding?" Emily asked.
Was it acceptable to admit reluctance at my bridal shower? "I'm not nervous about marrying Edward," I replied. "But I am really nervous about the ceremony." Everyone laughed. They knew that being the focus of attention made me uncomfortable. "I just know I'm going to trip or spill something on my dress."
"Don't worry about it, Bella," said Angela.
"She's right," said Esme. "You'll be with friends and family. Whatever happens is okay. It's great."
I smiled at her. Edward's family, my future family, was so wonderful to me. My human presence had created problems more than once, but they were always so warm and welcoming. I knew that after my marriage, after my transformation, I'd have to be separated, physically and emotionally, from my own parents and all other humans. If Edward were on his own, if being with him meant it would be just the two of us forever, I'd still do it without hesitation. But it was easier knowing that it wouldn't always be just the two of us. We had a loving family to support us through all the joys and challenges ahead.
We all chatted about the wedding plans and speculated on the destination for our honeymoon, which Edward was keeping secret from me. Jessica and Angela agreed Hawaii would be perfect. Of course, sunny locations were out of the question, which ruled out the entire South Pacific, but I pretended to like the idea. Edward's mother and sisters knew where we were headed, but they were careful to reveal nothing.
"Bella should open her presents now," Alice announced.
"You didn't have to get me anything, really," I said earnestly, looking around.
"I didn't," Alice quickly assured me. "I'm doing your wedding— that's my gift."
"Well, we did," said Angela. "Here, this is from Jess and me." She passed me a flat box.
"You shouldn't have," I said again.
"We wanted to," Jessica responded.
I carefully removed the wrapping paper and opened the box. It was a gift certificate to La Bella Italia. I looked up to see my friends gazing eagerly at me.
"I love it!" I exclaimed sincerely.
"Really?" said Angela with a satisfied grin.
"We had a hard time figuring out what to get you," Jessica admitted. She glanced at the Cullens, and again, I could guess what she was thinking. The Cullens had everything. What could anyone give me now that I was joining their family? "Then we thought of this. Your first date…."
"It's perfect," I declared. "You know, that time wasn't really a date. This time, though, it will be."
Edward and I never went out to restaurants. He didn't eat, so what was the point? But it would be special and romantic to return to La Bella Italia as husband and wife.
"I'm going to save this and use it to go out to dinner the day we get back from our honeymoon," I decided. "We can have our first meal here as a married couple at the same place that we first ate together."
"Wasn't that the school cafeteria?" Jessica teased.
"You know what I mean! Seriously, this is a wonderful gift. You two are great friends."
I could tell that Emily's present was a book. I pulled the paper off— always taking care— and looked at the stylized picture of a wolf on the cover below the title, Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest.
"Thank you, Emily!" I exclaimed. "That is so cool."
"Jacob told me that you love to read," she said happily. "And I know that you'll be leaving for college in the fall. I thought you might like something connected to this place."
"I do like it, very much," I responded. "This is a wonderful gift."
"I checked the table of contents," she said. "There are some wild stories in there."
"That's my favorite kind." We smiled at each other.
Rosalie's gift was a blue silk nightgown. Soft and slinky, it was rather different from what I usually wore to bed, but not too revealing. I thought it was just right for my new life as a married woman, and I smiled gratefully at her. "It's so pretty," I said.
"He already thinks you're the most beautiful girl in the world," she commented. I noticed Jessica and Angela exchange a glance, and I had no doubt what they were thinking. Heck, I agreed with what they were thinking. Rosalie was the most beautiful girl in the world, and I was barely OK. "When he sees you in this, though, you'll raise his standards even higher."
"Thank you, Rosalie. It's really nice of you to say that, and this gift is great. I hope he likes it."
"There's one more thing," she sang gaily. "Emmett was with me at the boutique, and he insisted that I get you this one too." She handed me another elaborately wrapped box.
"Another gift?" I pulled the paper off, peeked in and abruptly slammed the lid down. I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks.
"No way!" I said. This was also lingerie, and it was also blue, but it was scandalous. They all laughed at my reaction.
"Come on, show us," Jessica encouraged.
Gingerly, I reached into the box and lifted up the flimsy garment. If you could use that word for a few scraps of fabric held together with filmy, transparent panels.
"Wow," said Angela. "It's really skimpy."
"That will make Edward happy," Alice said cheerfully. I looked at her in alarm. Could she actually see his reaction? Her vision could only happen if I chose to wear it, and at the moment I was determined not to.
"Does Edward know about this?" I asked Rosalie nervously.
"No," she said, with a musical laugh. "We bought some things for me at the same time. Edward doesn't realize we got something for you there." I knew what she meant. Edward had seen the trip to the boutique in Emmett's and Rosalie's minds, but their thoughts were full of the lace, satin, sheer outfits chosen for Rosalie. He hadn't suspected that there were other purchases.
I felt a little calmer. If Edward didn't know about this particular item, then he wouldn't be disappointed if I didn't wear it for a while. Or perhaps ever.
"I have something for you too," said Esme, and I appreciated the change of subject. This box was the biggest yet. I didn't think I had any particular expectations, but I was very surprised to discover a two-person tent. It was a state-of-the-art compact model, I knew from working at the Newtons' store, but I was puzzled. I would have thought my future mother-in-law would give me something… more domestic, more feminine. Esme chuckled at my expression.
"You're not going to let Edward spend all his weekends camping with his brothers, are you?" she said. "You'll be a Cullen soon. You know how much we love the outdoors."
I pictured the tent set up in a secluded clearing. Edward and I would be completely alone together. Husband and wife, away from parents who might possibly listen in, free of restrictions on how close we could get, with endless amounts of time to kiss, talk, touch and be in love. This tent, I realized, was going to be the most wonderful place on earth.
"This is a fantastic gift," I told her, jumping up to give her a hug. "I still can't believe that in just a few weeks Edward and I will be married. I know we're going to live with you until we leave for college, but this tent will be like having our own little home we can spend the night in sometimes."
"That's what I was thinking," said Esme, beaming.
I looked at each guest and felt tears prickling in my eyes. Each of them had been with me in stressful moments and joyful ones. My life since moving to Forks had been filled with unimaginable highs and terrifying lows, and for a terrible time I had felt abandoned and disconnected from everything. But I had never actually been alone. I had always been surrounded by love, even when I didn't realize it.
"Thank you all so much," I said. "You've each given me something that I didn't know I wanted, something I really need for this next big step in my life. How did I get so lucky?"
Author's Note: This is the first thing I've written from Bella's POV rather than Edward's. It was really fun to figure out what gift each person should give.
I love writing scenes between Bella and Edward, but this story didn't permit much of that. I had to limit myself to the little interaction at the beginning, which was inspired by Romeo and Juliet. Do you recognize what scene I borrowed from? You can PM me if you want to know the answer.
Please let me know if you liked my story!