Chapter 1 – Nightmares and Preparations
I woke with a start looking wildly around my bedroom. I found what I was looking for in my rocking chair in the corner, already moving towards me.
"Bella?" Edward said.
"I'm fine," I lied.
Edward wrapped his cool arms around me and breathed into my hair. "No you're not. I can hear your heart racing. Was it another nightmare?"
I wrapped my arms around his cool, hard body and pushed my head into his chest. I consciously tried to slow my heart rate down but the memories of the nightmare were still swirling in my head and I couldn't seem to relax.
Edward gently placed me back on my bed and sat next to me rubbing my back softly. I sat there with my head buried in his chest, my breath heaving against my desire to have him believe that I was okay. My heart rate had not slowed at all.
Edward pulled my chin up so he could see my face. I tried to rearrange my face so that I looked calm but knew that he could see right through all of this. Tears welled in my eyes as he stared into them. "Please Bella, tell me what is wrong. I can't fix it if I don't know what it is."
The tears rolled down my cheeks and I stared back into his honey eyes. "Really Edward, I'm fine, I just, I just, I need you to be with me, to hold me." I bit my lip. Should I go on?
Edward never stopped looking into my eyes with that frustrated look he always had when he really wanted to be able to read my thoughts but couldn't. "I'm here Bella, you know that. I am not going to leave you."
I studied his face. He was telling the truth. I took a deep breath and inhaled his scent. I wondered idly if he knew that his scent drove me nearly as mad as my scent drove him, and then I finally spoke the truth about my nightmares, hoping I wouldn't hurt him.
"Edward, the nightmares, they are always about me losing you, one way or another. Sometimes it is you leaving me again, sometimes you succeeded in Italy, sometimes it is the Volturi killing you later, but they always have the same theme, they have me losing you, and I can't stand it Edward, I can't take it!" My voice was getting ever shriller and I noted that Edward glanced at my bedroom door towards Charlie's room.
We both sat silently waiting for Charlie's snores so start again. If Charlie caught Edward spending every single night in my bedroom, I knew he would not be very understanding, nor would he allow either of us to explain.
Edward sighed and breathed his cool sweet-smelling breath into my face. He looked back into my eyes and let his lips briefly sweep across mine. Then he kissed both of my cheeks kissing the tears away. "I'm so sorry Bella. I'm so sorry that I put you through that. You are never going to get over it are you?"
I had hurt him. Why couldn't I just keep my mouth shut? I hugged him tightly. I didn't know what to say. I trusted him now that he would not ever leave me, but apparently my subconscious mind had not totally forgiven him for leaving me in the forest that way, for convincing me that he didn't love me and didn't want me. Even after everything we had been through, I could not totally trust him with all of my heart and mind. The wedding was only days away and I was still having these crazy nightmares. I sighed into Edward's chest.
He pulled my face up to meet his gaze again and kissed me softly again. "Bella, in a few days I am going to bind my existence to yours. I want nothing more than to be with you, forever. I wish you could let this go and trust me completely, but I know that it is difficult for you, after everything…" He trailed off and just stared into my eyes.
"I'm sorry Edward. I didn't mean to hurt you. I trust you, I love you. I know you are not going to leave me. Apparently, my subconscious just doesn't realize it yet. When you left it was….difficult." I was having a hard time finding the right words to describe it. We had been over this so many times in the last months.
If Edward could cry, he would now. I saw and felt his shoulders heave in what could only be a sob. He was crying a tearless cry and it was my fault. I reached for him, tried to comfort him, but he pulled away.
"Bella I don't know what I can ever do to help you to forgive me completely, but I will spend an eternity trying."
At this, I smiled. An eternity with Edward. It always made me smile. For this, I could not wait. My lips sought his and I took his face in my hands, pulling it to mine. This time he let me. I kissed him fervently and he kissed me back, always holding back, but still passionate.
Finally, my heart rate under control, Edward laid me back onto my bed and covered me up. He lay down next to me with his cool arms around me and started humming my lullaby. I fell asleep in record time, and for the first time in months, my dreams were sweet ones.
I awoke a few hours later to find Edward's arms still wrapped around me. I turned to look at him and he smiled my favorite crooked smile. "Charlie is gone already. I could not see that he was compelled to check on you, so I stayed."
I was so happy that Edward had been there when I awakened that I forgot what day it was. Suddenly I realized when I heard the knock at the door.
"Alice" we both said in unison.
I jumped out of bed and began running around the room. I was supposed to be finalizing wedding plans with Alice today and here I was lounging in my bed until 10 am, when we were supposed to be leaving.
Edward lay on my bed for a moment, watching me, smiling. Finally he got up and went downstairs as the knocking became more urgent. I heard Alice call, "Bella? Is everything all right?" Edward then opened the door and I could hear them speaking in hushed voices.
I tore into the bathroom and ran through the shower. I jumped out, combed my hair, and brushed my teeth. I pulled on the jeans and shirt I had brought with me and dashed out of the bathroom, running smack into Alice in the hallway. We both laughed. "I'm almost ready!" I shouted.
I charged back into my bedroom and found Edward sitting on the edge of my bed watching me. I ran to him and threw my arms around him surprising him. I knew he didn't like these kinds of surprises because it didn't give him time to prepare for my scent to wash over him, but right now I didn't care. I felt so much love for him I only wanted to be near him. Edward stiffened a little but then put his arms around me and pulled me into his lap kissing me. Alice laughing in the doorway stopped us both.
"I was not," Edward said. I knew he was answering Alice's thoughts. I hated being left out of these conversations but wasn't sure I wanted to know what Alice had seen.
Alice just smiled and said, "We are on a schedule Edward. You need to say your goodbyes and get lost so we can get done what we need to do today!"
Edward begrudgingly broke loose his hold on me and stood me up. He swiftly stood and leaned down for his lips to brush mine. "I'll see you tonight Bella, at my house." I had almost forgotten that I was to spend the night with Alice tonight. I gasped.
"What's wrong Bella?"
"Nothing Edward, I just remembered that I didn't pack for tonight yet."
Edward laughed and I turned to see what he was laughing at. Alice already had my overnight bag in her hand, obviously full. I should have known that Alice would pack for me, knowing that I had not done it yet.
I turned back to Edward and said, "I guess we should be going," I kissed him one more time and watched him glide gracefully out of my window. I turned back to Alice and said, "Okay Alice. Where are we going today?"
Alice laughed her musical laugh and said, "You'll see." I hated surprises.
We went downstairs and out the door to Carlisle's Mercedes. I climbed in the passenger door and saw Rosalie sitting in the back seat looking annoyed. "Morning Rosalie," I said.
She grumbled, "Morning Bella. Took you long enough."
Alice jumped in the car and tore out of the driveway. I pulled my seatbelt on and closed my eyes. More Cullen driving. Would I ever get used to this?
I silently wondered why Rosalie had agreed to join us. She had not been keen on the idea of me joining their family, for what I knew were selfish reasons, and it made me slightly uncomfortable with her presence.
Alice began to speak and I soon realized why Rosalie had come. We were going shopping for my gift for Edward today. Everyone knew that I was having difficulty finding a gift that suited my 108-year-old vampire fiancé who already had everything in the world that he wanted. I had asked every member of the family, even Rosalie, for ideas. Nobody had seemed to have any. Esme had told me not to get him a gift as my marriage to him would be gift enough, but I desperately wanted to give him something.
Alice said we were going to Seattle by way of the house. I thought maybe Rosalie was staying at the house but Alice quelled this thought by saying, "I need to drop your bag by the house. There won't be room for it when we get done today." Just as she said this, we turned into the tree and brush hidden driveway leading to the Cullen house. My heart quickened a beat hoping that I would get to see Edward again but again Alice spoke, "Edward won't be here Bella, he is hunting. He will be hunting every day until the wedding so that he will be … full." She laughed as she said this and Rosalie even cracked a smile. I knew what they were thinking and my cheeks flushed.
Alice parked the car, pulled my bag out of the trunk, and went in the house. I turned to Rosalie and said, "You can sit up front Rosalie. I would rather be in back anyway."
"Thanks Bella. Are you sure?"
I nodded. I was sure. Rosalie and I changed places quickly as Alice danced back to the car.
After climbing in, Alice took out of the driveway as if we were being pursued. Her cell phone rang. Alice giggled and answered it, "Yes Edward, what you want?" Apparently, he had been close enough to the house to know we were there. She smiled, "Yes Edward, we will take care of Bella! You should not even need to tell me that!" She snorted after that and laughed loudly. "Good bye big brother." She hung up.
I pouted that I didn't get to talk to him, but decided it was probably a moot point anyway.
Alice turned on the stereo and found some hard rock music. I gazed out the window at the trees flashing by like so many blurs. Alice and Rosalie were silent and so was I. Before I knew it, we were in Seattle. I must have fallen asleep for part of the trip, either that or it was so fast that time stood still. I decided not to ask.
Alice made several turns and then asked Rosalie, "Aren't we almost there?" Rosalie nodded and smiled.
"Where are we going?" I asked quietly, hoping one of them would tell me what the big mystery was. Nobody answered. Both of them just stared out the window with a knowing smile on their faces. Finally, the car came to a stop in front of two antique stores. I was curious.
Alice jumped out of the car and flung open my door. "Come on Bella, this is it."
Rosalie got out and looked around while placing her wide-brimmed hat firmly on her head. Alice was also wearing a wide-brimmed hat and I realized that the sun was out.
We walked up to the sidewalk and I stopped.
"What are we looking for Alice?"
"A gift for your groom, Bella. I think you will find, no, I know you will find something here."
I trusted Alice and said, "Which one?"
Alice ran to the door of the one on the left and opened it. "This one!" she sang. I glanced over at Rosalie and she swept her hand gracefully as if to tell me to go first.
I timidly walked inside and looked around. It smelled dusty and old. I glanced around at all the old furniture and books and odd items that were there and could not imagine what I might find for Edward in here. I looked at Alice and she urged me forward. I began walking through the store looking and then I saw it.
On my right was a long glass case and inside it was exactly what I was looking for. Of course, Alice had known this all along. She just wanted me to find it.
I walked over to the case and the elderly man who had been standing at the back of the store made his way towards us. I looked down into the case at the silver locket lying there. It was perfect. Once the elderly gentleman had made his way to us, he smiled and said, "Is there something I can show you ladies?"
"Yes," I breathed, "Can I please see that locket?"
He pulled it gingerly out of the case and handed it to me. I turned it over in my hand. It had a place for a chain but the chain was missing. I opened it and there were two pictures in it, a man's picture on the left side and a woman's picture on the right. They were very old. I looked up at the elderly gentleman and asked if he knew anything about the locket, how old it was, who the people were. He told me that the locket was from the early 1900's, around 1910 or so, and that he didn't know who the people were, but that the pictures could be removed. I turned it over and over in my hands wondering at how Alice could have seen me looking for this. I looked at her and at Rose. Both of them were smiling. They both nodded their heads at me and I told the man that I would take it.
He asked if we wanted to look around some more, but I told him that was all we needed for today. He only charged me $40 for the locket and I felt like I was ripping him off, but he assured me that was all he wanted for it. I felt like I was almost dancing as we walked out of the store and climbed back into the car.
"How did you know Alice?"
"I saw us come shopping today and saw us coming here for you to find Edward's gift. I didn't know for sure what it was until we got to the store, but I knew that you would find it here because I had seen us leaving after you purchased something" she said and shrugged.
Rosalie spoke up and said, "We need to find the jeweler and the photographer Alice. We have to get this done today. There is not much time."
I realized they intended for me to get a picture taken today and put in the locket. I looked down at the pictures of the two people in the locket and wondered idly who they were.
We went to a jewelry store next. I knew what I wanted to do with the locket. I wanted to put a chain on it and attach it to a pocket watch. When we stepped inside, I gasped at all the jewelry. I had not paid attention to what store we were at, but this was not a cheap jewelry store, this was more like Tiffany's. I looked at Alice but she prodded me on, "Don't worry about it," she whispered.
The jeweler met us at the counter. "May I help you?" he smiled. He was looking at Rosalie and I thought he was probably taken in by her beauty and her wonderful scent. She smiled and said, "My sister Bella," and gestured to me, "is in need of your services today, George." I didn't even flinch that Rosalie had referred to me as her sister. I was more shocked that she knew the jeweler by name.
He turned to me and said, "Well Bella, what can I do for you today?"
I held the locket out to him and said, "I am getting married in a few days and this is going to be my gift for Edward." He looked me over carefully and then said, "So you are the one?" and he glanced at Rosalie and Alice who both smiled and nodded. I was completely lost by all this so I blundered on, "Yes, I guess I am. I would like to have this locket chained to a pocket watch and the watch engraved. Is that possible?"
George smiled and nodded at me. "I suppose you will be needing this done today?"
I nodded and said, "That would be wonderful. I'm very sorry for the short notice." I looked at the floor embarrassed.
George did not miss a step. He pulled out a piece of paper and told me to write what I wanted engraved exactly how I wanted it engraved. He explained that the engraving would be in my handwriting.
"You have pictures you want in here?" George asked.
Alice pulled an envelope out of her purse and handed it to George. She looked at me and said, "Edward's mother. I thought you would like to put her in there too." I nodded my approval.
Alice turned back to George and said, "We will bring the other picture back later today George. Will that work?"
George agreed and headed for a case in the back of the store. He returned with three beautiful silver pocket watches. I chose one and handed it back to him. He smiled and returned the other two.
I stared at the blank piece of paper. What on earth was I thinking? I had no idea what to write. I looked to Rosalie and to Alice for help but they both shrank away from me and started looking at the jewelry counters ooh-ing and ah-ing at everything. I picked up the pen and then it came to me. I wrote down the short note I wanted engraved and read it. It was perfect.
When George returned he took the paper from me, read it, and smiled. Alice and Rosalie were back at my side.
"About three hours?" George said. I looked at Alice and she nodded. George smiled and said, "See you then ladies."
As we approached the door, I turned back and said, "George? Would you please keep the pictures that are already in the locket for me?" He nodded and we headed out to our next destination.
"Alice, you knew what it would be didn't you?"
"Well, yes, I knew. I saw Edward pulling it out of his pocket in a vision I had of the wedding. I thought it was a great idea and did some research"
I smiled at her and said, "You are the best, Alice." She smiled back at me in the rear view mirror. I was very happy with my choices. Now all I had to do was sit still for a quick picture and I would be done.
We drove up in front of a photographer's studio and got out of the car. Alice went to the trunk and pulled out two bags I had not noticed earlier. One was a garment bag, and the other looked like a huge makeup bag. I just shook my head. Stopping Alice was like stopping a freight train at full speed.
We entered the photographer's studio and I looked around at all the portraits that decorated the walls. Alice went to the desk and made the necessary arrangements. Alice, Rosalie, and I went to the back room and found a large dressing room. Alice immediately took over. "Rose, please start on her hair, you know what I was thinking," she said.
Rosalie started brushing and twirling my hair and Alice started putting makeup on me. I just closed my eyes and let them work. I knew that protesting would be pointless. I felt Alice's hands on my face smearing and smudging the way she always did when she was making me up. Rosalie was as gentle on my head as possible. When Alice was done with my face, I heard her unzip the garment bag. I opened my eyes and glanced over to see what she had. It was a beautiful sapphire blue dress, Edward's favorite color on me, and it looked vintage. Rose was done with my hair and they both proceeded to assist me out of my shirt and jeans and put the dress on me. Alice didn't bother with shoes stating, "You won't need shoes for this picture."
Once I was ready to Alice and Rosalie's satisfaction, we entered the studio. A very large man was there waiting for us. I saw that he had a beautiful English Garden background set up with lots of flowers and a big wooden swing on ropes in front of it hanging from a tree that looked very real. I knew immediately what Alice had been thinking and knew that it was the most perfect picture. I went over and sat in the swing.
The photography session didn't take long thankfully and we went to the computer to look at the results. We picked out two of the portraits, one for the locket, and one as a large portrait for Edward's room. I changed back into my jeans and went to the desk to pay for the portraits but found that Alice had already paid for them. "I wanted to be a part of giving the portrait to Edward if you don't mind Bella. It will be a gift to him from you, Rosalie, and me. Do you mind?" I looked to Rosalie who nodded and smiled. I shrugged at Alice and said, "If you both feel that strongly about it, it's fine with me." Alice laughed her beautiful tinkling laugh and said, "Let's get out of here. The portraits will be ready in two hours and we have errands to run!"
As the car took off, I noticed that I was starving, but didn't say anything. My stomach had other ideas however, and growled loudly. Alice said, "Oh Bella, I'm sorry. You have to remind me of these things!" We went through a drive-thru and picked up some food for me.
"What's next?" I asked.
"Well, we have to pick up Charlie's tuxedo and Rose needs to pick up her dress. We also need to pick up Esme's dress and I have just a few more items I need to pick up. We won't be long Bella. I know these trips make you uncomfortable, but we will be finished soon. By the time we get done with our errands, the portraits will be ready and we can pick them up, go to the jeweler, and then head home."
I was disappointed that we had to stop so many times, but relieved that Alice already had my dress at home. At least I would not have to change again. I thought about my wedding dress and knew that Alice had done a perfect job picking it out. It looked just like something that a bride would have worn in 1918 if Edward had married then. I knew that Edward was going to love it.
We stopped at the tuxedo rental place and picked up Charlie's tuxedo. Alice told me that Edward and Carlisle already had theirs. Next, we stopped at a bridal shop and Rose picked up her dress and Esme's dress. They were already safely in garment bags so I didn't get to see them. After that, we stopped at a party store and Alice walked out with what seemed like a thousand napkins, plates, cups, plastic silverware, streamers, ribbons, and other various decorative items. She also had about 25 boxes of strings of white lights. I tried not to look too upset at all the decorations she was buying and stayed silent on the way back to the photographer's shop.
The photos were ready and the large portrait had already been printed on canvas and stretched on a frame. I could hardly believe that the portrait was of me. It looked like a beautiful girl from the early 1900's sitting on her swing in her garden. The photo we had chosen was not one of me smiling at the camera. Instead, I was looking slightly away from it and looked thoughtful. I hugged Alice and Rosalie and thanked them for making the portrait such a perfect one for Edward. The small portrait was the perfect size for the locket and we made our way back to the jeweler.
George was smiling and waiting for our arrival. After he put the new picture in the locket, he proudly handed it to me. He had attached it to the watch with a nice removable clasp. I turned the watch over and read the engraving. It was perfect. I knew Edward was going to love it. I opened the locket and looked at the pictures. The picture of Edward's mother was on one side, and I was on the other. I smiled.
I thanked the jeweler and pulled out my billfold. Rosalie casually reached over me and pointed at the black credit card that looked glaringly like it did not belong in my wallet. I looked at her questioningly but she nodded. I handed the jeweler the credit card that Edward had given me. I didn't really think that making Edward pay for his own gift was fair, but when I saw the receipt, I decided that I would send all of my savings to that credit card and he would just have to pay for the rest.
As we left, Rosalie said, "Bella, you can't be afraid to use the credit card you know. It is yours. Edward got it for you. If I know Edward, he will never even look at the bill, just pay it and go on. He will probably even scold you if there isn't a bill, so you just need to use it. Just consider it your money, and then you won't have to worry about it so much." When she said this, she and Alice both laughed and Alice said, "Yeah, Bella, that's what we do!" I frowned and shook my head at them, but they probably knew much better than me what kind of financial position the Cullen's were all in so I promptly put it out of my head.
We got back in the car and Alice took off towards Forks at a great clip. I was happy for the day to be over and quickly fell asleep in the back seat with Edward's portrait next to me, wrapped neatly, and the jewelry box in my hand that held Edward's gift. I knew that I would have to give them to him tonight or Alice and Rosalie would be miserable trying to keep it from him. That was fine by me and I smiled as I drifted off anxious to be home.