The praise that comes of love does not make us vain, but humble rather. Knowing what we are, the pride that shines in our mother's eyes as she looks at us is about the most pathetic thing a man has to face, but he would be a devil altogether if it did not burn some sin out of him. – Little Minister, J.M Barrie
I ran my fingertips thoughtlessly over the leather bound books, pacing at human speed around Carlisle's library. My father's office was dark and dreary as if my mood affected the atmosphere.
Son. Carlisle sighed in his mind to me. I looked over at my father, for all intensive purposes, as he leaned against the ledge of his office windows. His kind golden eyes were patient and tolerant of me. I looked away unable to focus on his look, I turned to the books again. I started to stare at the titles.
My eyes lingered on the ancient copy of Romeo and Juliet. Star-crossed lovers destined to died. There never was a story of more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo. I scoffed. Did Romeo kill Juliet, take her soul, by having her give birth to a baby that might one day be a monster. A baby that might be a monster, the thought lingered in my mind. The beautiful baby with her perfect face, her golden hair and her mother's eyes how could she be a monster? My baby, my daughter, a creature of so much perfection that with one smile I had loved her more than I knew I could love anything. Yet, was she a monster? Had she been born with a soul? How had I allowed her to lose a soul, me that would protect her from the fires of dooms day.
"Edward." Carlisle was stern and my attention was back on him. I defiantly stared back at Carlisle. I was aware that I was being difficult, brooding.
"This is not your fault." He sighed. Not my fault? I wanted to scream, if I hadn't left with Bella. If I had paid attention to Jasper whenever he warned me that this might happen. If I hadn't given in to Bella those beautiful first nights on Esme's island so long ago it seemed a different lifetime. But then I wouldn't have Renesmee and no matter her current state I wanted her, I hadn't known until she existed but I had always wanted her. Renesmee was like Bella, I didn't know what I was missing until they appeared and now the very thought of living without them was unbearable. I would protect her and keep her as long as I could, but what was I suppose to do about this. What about her soul, what about her sense of morality?
"Where did I go wrong?" I whispered, throwing myself onto one of the leather chairs near me. Carlisle moved towards me and sat across from my limp body in his own chair.
Always blaming yourself. He shook his head.
"It's my fault." I responded dully.
"Edward speak your mind to me." Carlisle was patient but I could tell in his tone he would not support my sulking much longer. I looked at his face his perfectly formed calm young face with the old aura.
"I've always respected you Carlisle, as my father." I started hesitating.
"Mostly." Carlisle chuckled. "Like any seventeen year old you can be prone to melodramatic bouts of rebellion and disrespect."
Don't look so pained about it Edward, it's to be expected. He amended in his mind, as I saw my horror reflected in his mind. Like any seventeen year old, was this normal then? Should I not pay any attention to the fact that Nessie had just run away from my entire family, to a different country and lost her soul? Was that all part of her rebellion. But then again she wasn't really seventeen she was physically and mentally suppose to be older than seventeen.
"I'm so lost." I threw my head back onto the couch.
I feel we missed some more conversation before you reached that point. Carlisle mused in his mind. Is this about you or about Nessie, or about Bella?
"All of us." I responded.
Which one more? Carlisle pressed. Are you upset because Nessie is being disrespectfully? Because honestly Edward she is a just a six year old at heart with the emotions of a raging teenager and the possible reactions of a newborn vampire. What do you expect? And if it's about Bella she seems to be taking this better than you are. And my son, if you are blaming yourself for this entire situation we've been over this a million times. I have half a mind to tell Bella that you are beating yourself about loving her again and let her deal with you.
"It would upset her." I mumbled. Right, it would more than upset her. Bella was against my moody disposition when it came to moments of questioning if I had done right by her, if my selfish decisions had truly been the best choices. I doubt that I would have made any of those decisions different, with the exception of one, but even that one had brought Renesmee love and Jacob might be the key to saving her soul. But there was no doubt in my mind that I had been utterly selfish, a callous fool. Bella had saved my soul and I was convinced she had made me whole again so even if my leaving Bella was the only regrettable thing I did maybe it had its purpose.
"Edward. What is bothering you son?" Carlisle tried again.
"You've never told us what to do Carlisle, not really anyway. You have never forbid me from doing anything." I still wasn't looking at him.
Where is he taking this. Carlisle thought before responding to me.
"No, I have not. You are my son, but you are also an adult you can make your own choices. I support your good judgment." Carlisle said the words slowly; still trying in his mind to decipher what direction I would take the conversation.
"But I've had poor judgment several times." I pressed. I wanted to know how Carlisle dealt with my making poor decisions, how could he stand by and let me make decisions he didn't believe in.
"Yes, and I have supported you to a point every time. I know you will bring yourself back. When you decided against our diet, you found yourself coming back to us. I let you make that decision, even though it pained me. I was confident that someone as good as yourself would find yourself back in our home." Carlisle was demanding I look at him now, not out loud but in his mind. He hated having conversations without eye contact with me. I was harder to read without my eyes.
"But what if you didn't think I would come back, would you have stopped me?" I stared at him.
What was I going to do to stop you? Carlisle questioned in his mind. I shrugged, like I had the faintest idea what he would have done. I didn't know what I was doing and I was trying to stop my own child from doing something.
You look so troubled. Carlisle was studying my face and I saw my forehead rippled into worry and my eyes looking stormy in his mind.
"Renesmee is my daughter." I stated.
Yes, no doubt. That temper of hers is undeniably yours. Carlisle joked quietly.
"She is making the wrong decisions." I said the words out loud but immediately I wasn't sure I had spoken correctly. "Making decisions, I'm not sure I agree with." I amended.
Ah. Parenting. Carlisle looked annoyingly amused with me now. He placed his hand on my shoulder.
"You are my son. Everything I would have ever wanted in a son. Your Strength, your Goodness, the light that radiates from you. You have been my son for a very long time, but it is different for us Edward." Carlisle said the words slowly, thinking them over in his mind.
You are those things. He repeated. Different because I did not actually raise you, you were already raised when I found you.
"Your mother and your actual father raised you, they dealt with your rebellious bouts. I never came home to the window you broke, well not one that you broke on your own." Carlisle chuckled to himself, remembering a series of not just windows but a few couches and some tables that Emmett, Jasper and I might have tumbled into while playful fighting.
"But I didn't have to teach you right from wrong, when you've broken my windows you have known it was wrong. You have apologized and paid your dues. But I didn't watch you go to your first day of school. I didn't have to sternly lecture you or forbid you from doing things that you were too young to understand might do you harm." Carlisle smiled softly at me.
"But…" I started but he shook his head and held up his hand.
"I still lead you and guide you, because you were young when you joined me. Still so very young, but you have always been free to make your own choices because you know how." Carlisle finished.
"And with Renesmee? What should I do?" I groaned, letting my head fall to rest in my hands.
"Confine her to the grounds?" I could sense his mockery.
"Charlie grounded Bella for almost a year when she ran off to Italy to save me." I shrugged. That was where my idea originated from in the moment of anger the only parental rage I had connected in my mind had been Charlie and Bella.
"I think most of that had something to do with the motorcycle that Jacob had brought back." Carlisle laughed.
"But many of the humans, so many of them in the schools. I hear their thoughts, grounded for sneaking out. Grounded for breaking curfew, for pushing their siblings, for borrowing the car without permission. For failing a class." I mimicked the reasons I had heard for the last few decades in high school.
You, Jasper, and Emmett would be grounded all the time for fighting with each other, if I had the mind of today's parents. Carlisle smiled. I rolled my eyes.
"What would you suggest I do?" I asked desperate, because when I thought about it. What purpose did grounding Nessie have, she spent most of her time in the house anyway. I couldn't deny her Jacob, I didn't have the strength to do that to either of them.
"In my time, when a child disobeyed they were whipped." Carlisle stared at his wall of paintings, thinking back to centuries past. I saw flickering images of his own childhood, fragments of memories of his father beating him.
Not that I think you would whip anyone, so very unlike you. Not to mention what good would it do, I'm not sure she would even feel it.
"But that was very long ago. The concept of being grounded, is being denied what you like to do is it not?" Carlisle asked me.
I thought back to all the thoughts I had heard. What had grounded meant, with Bella she had not been allowed to leave the house. But she was still granted the use of most of the things in the house, but that wasn't normal. Grounded teenagers, children, they were not allowed phone use. They were not allowed to drive their cars, or watch television or do anything remotely entertaining.
"Yes. Something like that yes." I nodded.
"So maybe that is more the purpose, but we should discuss why you decided on this course of action." Carlisle suggested.
What were you mad at, because you cannot punish her nature Edward. You of all of us should understand, that is more choice than something that can be forced.
I shook my head. Was I mad that she had succumbed to the temptation? No, that was not what had made me ground her in the living room. It was her flagrant disrespect to me, to her family. I had been angry by her reaction to me, by her lack of understanding that stealing away was wrong.
"We can't trust her anymore." I suggested.
"You have never left us without telling us. You understand your actions have an impact on the rest of us." Carlisle nodded. Yes, that was it! How could he understand that was the problem?
"Should I be angry?" I asked, unsure of myself. Parenting was a first time for most of us, ground we had yet to understand much like it had been for me when I had finally figured out I was in love with Bella. Unknown emotions, unseen path, and I never knew how to react.
Carlisle laughed again and seemed to nod.
"You must understand something my son. Renesmee is actually still a child. You still have to raise her. All children need discipline in their life. You and Bella have been rather fortunate that the child has never truly done anything wrong, but this is that moment. You must ensure that she realize what she did wrong, how her actions affect us, and why she must think of others." Carlisle was looking me straight in the eye, ensuring I understood. I nodded slowly.
"Rosalie would do with that lesson." I laughed. Carlisle shook his head but was smiling too.
Yes, as one of my sons would do with learning not to be so temperamental. Carlisle looked pointedly at me, as I heard something crash and break underneath us, probably the companion chair to the couch I had broken with Jacob earlier.
And if Emmett could learn to not be so reckless, and Jasper not so violent. Yes my children are not perfect. Carlisle winked at me. I heard Esme screech at Jasper that he had fallen onto her favorite chair, then Emmett joke that I was the blame because I had broken the couch. Esme was not pleased, with either of them. By the sounds of it Jasper, Emmett and I would have to go hunting for antique furniture tomorrow.
Can I see her yet! Jacob was practically screaming at me. I stood quickly and went to leave the room.
"Thanks Carlisle." I mumbled.
"Edward." Carlisle had moved back to his desk, to do work but he added the thought before I walked out. She is going to have to make a choice.
I found Jacob, his massive dark body curled up near the doorway of the stairs leading up to Nessie's room. He must have been sitting there for a while because he was starting to fall asleep, the boy couldn't sit still for too long before he started snoring.
"Jake." I frowned.
"Come on, let me see her." He whined, half awake yawning. After our fight earlier, Jacob had eaten everything Esme had prepared. Then he had played with Emmett a few games of whatever fighting epic my brother was currently attached to before I had insisted that Carlisle examine him. When I had entered Carlisle's study, Jacob had been declared in perfect health and he had walked out with every intention to see Nessie but I had told him to wait. I leaned against the wall carefully, not wanting to break anything else today, sure that Esme could only take so many things breaking before she had our heads.
I waited, I did as you said. Come on let me see her. Jacob was saying to me, silently.
"Has she woken up?" I asked. He shrugged.
"Rosalie came down a little bit ago, went looking for food for her. Brought back a sandwich, apparently Bella is demanding she not be given anymore blood." Jacob looked up at me with his eyes pleading.
"She might be dangerous Jacob." I sighed, crossing my arms.
"She's always dangerous. Since when do you protect me bloodsucker?" He demanded of me. I smiled. He was frustrated with me indeed to be calling me bloodsucker.
"Do you think she's dangerous?" I asked him, changing directions of our conversations. He frowned, lifting his massive paw like hand to push back his long black hair from his face.
"Not to me." He responded the words careful, reserved.
Maybe to others. He added in his mind. And then I saw the images again, the ones from the depths of the Amazon that were like my own painful memories. Nessie danced to her victims with a passion that burned in her eyes, she skipped over them wrapping her legs around their waists. Very unladylike really, as she slipped her arms around their torso and then sank her teeth into the perfect indent of their necks. Jacob's memory focused on the unusually happy faces of her victims, on his jealously of her body wrapping herself around theirs. Each of those boys that she had drank from had a serene smile of joy on their faces as their bodies had lost all color and ability to live.
Then an altogether different memory flickered in Jacob's thoughts, a different vampire came into his mind. My Bella with her eyes the same passion burning as had in Nessie's eyes, she was attacking but mid-attack she stopped. She stopped, she stood back up from her crouch and she smiled that sheepish grin she had when caught in trouble. Jacob was making the connection of the differences in his mind, how Bella had resisted but Nessie had not.
Why? He asked me. I shrugged, sadly I did not know why.
"I don't know why. Bella had been prepared for her transformation." I stated for lack of a better word, Jacob still cringed at the idea but smiled up at me nodding for me to keep going.
"She had known. She had been human. She had understood our lifestyle. It had been her choice to join us, as we were. Bella never desired to take human life, actually she feared ever becoming that monster." I looked towards the stairs where Bella and Nessie lie, why couldn't Nessie have been passed her mother's compassion and not my monstrous desire for blood.
"So you will teach Nessie." Jacob stated. I looked down at him surprised.
"Teach?" I questioned.
"You prepared Bella, you made her understand. You taught Bells how to be a good vampire." Jacob nodded.
Now teach your daughter. Jacob repeated.
"Edward?" He questioned me.
"Yes?" I replied calmly. It's a choice? Jacob scanned through images, memories of not just Bella and Nessie but all of us. He had heard our stories and he knew our past. I nodded to his question.
She will make her choice then. A choice. He nodded more to himself before speaking aloud again.
"Don't you have class?" He added to me, looking down at his phone that flashed Seth's name across it.
"Don't you?" I raised my eyebrow at him. He grinned carelessly at me.
"Seth is going to take notes, no worries. Can I stay with her while you and Bella go to class?" He pleaded again.
I haven't been able to hold her since before, in the rainforest. I want to make sure she knows I still love her. Jacob relayed his thoughts, his fear that she didn't understand. I in took a large gulp of air and nodded.
"Send Bella down." I held out my hand to help Jacob up. His lips curled over his white teeth, into a goofy smile as he took my hand and I pulled him to his feet. He turned to the window, using the reflection of himself in the pane to pull back a few hairs that were out of place and admire himself.
"You aren't that good looking Jake." I teased.
"You're just jealous." He shot back at me, turning on his heel to go up the stairs.
"Take care of her?" I requested.
Always Edward. Always. His long legs disappeared from my view and at that moment Bella came floating down the stairs and comfortably into my arms. Her scent was around me like a blanket, I inhaled every bit of her as I wrapped my arms around her tightly. I could forget everything with her just in my arms, I had often forgotten everything because Bella was my life. She rolled up on her toes, searching for my lips and I conceded to her desire and kissed her.
Get a room. Alice stated to me, and I growled through my lips but pulled out of my kiss. Bella grasped my hand, as we both turned to face Alice.
"Are we going to class, I saw that we were. I also saw that Edward would let me drive today!" She chirped.
"Did you see when you would stop being so annoying?" I asked smiling at her. She made a face of thinking and then stuck her tongue out at me.
"No, nothing on that. But that is a lovely gift Bella is thinking about getting you for your birthday." Alice winked at me and started skipping away from us.
"Also Edward, I told Jasper already but just in case. You might want to try Hank's Antiques in Wentworth at least I think it's that one. Definitely in Wentworth, you will find something suitable to bring back to replace what you broke." Alice sang to me. Antique shopping was definitely what I loved to do with Emmett and Jasper on a Saturday morning. Walking past the through the living room to the garage, I caught my siblings in the middle of a fight.
"She seems fine." Rosalie broke the silence.
"She isn't fine Rosalie." Jasper sighed.
"I don't understand what is wrong with her." Rosalie spat back to Jasper. Jasper was leaning over some books, studying tactics used during the second French Revolution. It amazed me sometimes that Jasper still found wars to study, after over 100 years you would think he might run out or at least grow bored.
"She's a newborn." Jasper rolled his eyes exasperated of the explanation. It seemed he had been explaining the same thing for the entire time we had been upstairs. Emmett was mockingly repeating the fight that was unfolding in front of me in his head.
"We were all newborns Jasper." Rosalie fought back. " Nothing happened."
"Rosalie! We don't understand her as we understood us. Besides from what I understand you were rather preoccupied with yourself after your only kill, which you didn't drink from, to have been a threat to anything besides a mirror." Jasper mumbled his insult. I cracked a smile, so unlike Jasper to be unkind in his words to a woman. Rosalie brought up the worse in us sometimes.
"Jasper." Esme chastised quietly, it was a wonder he managed to look contrite at all before Rosalie screeched.
"What would you know, as if you have ever even looked in a mirror!"
He's handsome enough to never have to look at a mirror. Alice winked to Jasper, who was smiling brightly at her. They were creepy sometimes, how well they knew each other.
"Rosalie. Jasper. That is enough." Esme clapped her hands at them, like a mother with her unruly toddlers. Rosalie and Jasper really did look like twins as they both momentarily scowled at her, murderous thoughts of being treated like naughty children. I found their thoughts to be remarkably similar to my own daughter, except in theirs it was only a fraction of a second before they forgot to be angry and understood Esme's reason for chastising them.
Just because understanding ran in the thoughts of my overtly beautiful sister didn't mean she calmed herself well. Rosalie clenched her fists. She hated being told what to do. Emmett slipped his hand into hers, well that is what it appeared he did but I knew his hand had pried her fingers forcefully from her palm.
Awesome Jasper and Rosalie fighting. Jasper would win. Rosalie will be unbearable for the next three days. Jasper could take pity on me. Emmett sent a goofy smile to Jasper, who rolled his eyes.
If only she could control her own moods, overbearing beauty queen. You would think she was some sort of Southern Belle, and for a Yankee that's an accomplishment. Jasper sent a wave of calmness into the room, a particular favorite mood of his lately.
So unlike Jasper to be rude, even with Rosalie pushing his buttons. He must have been stressed by his days away from Alice. Esme was fretting over us, as usual. Bella pulled me away from the scene of domestic tranquility and I frowned at not being able to drive.
"What if…" I started.
"We play for it." Alice pulled out her keys.
"And you win?" I questioned, sometimes I thought Alice saw things the way she wanted them to be. She nodded at me and hopped into her little green mini coop. The ride to was quick and uneventful; Alice spent the whole time thinking about antique shops showing me visions of furniture she liked. Relief could not even begin to cover what I felt about Alice not being able to go with us on our shopping trip. Shopping with Alice was a once every decade event, poor Jasper was dragged around with her more often than that. Bella was silent to me at least her mind was, but her face showed me her thoughts as easily as others minds shouted to me. My fingers itched to smooth out the frown lines around her eyes, the deep V that had reformed between her eyes. I focused on how her eyes seem to be searching for something but she was looking at nothing in particular, I wondered what she might be thinking. Suddenly her eyes locked on mine.
What are we going to do? She asked me. I smiled. Yes, I had guessed that might be what she was struggling with. The way she was biting at her lip, she was indecisive and worried about asking my opinion. I smiled, the way that use to make her heart pace uncontrollably fast. She eased in my arms and smiled back at me.
That's not an answer. She sighed at me. I laughed weaving my fingers into her hair. So much of the last seven years, so much of our relationship had been consumed with what our next step was going to be I couldn't help feeling like our adventure was never ending.
"We'll come up with something." I whispered to her as I helped her out of the car, Alice was rolling her eyes at us. I winked at her.
"Not like you are any different with Jasper." Bella commented as she slipped her arm around Alice. The three of us were in the same class together tonight, so I took my place walking behind Alice and Bella as they whispered and giggled to each other. Clear as glass, a picture of Bella and Alice always friends. Alice was always right. I fell to listening to the thoughts around me, maybe something of these young adults experiences would help me with my parental dilemma.
A crowd of young men, mostly thinking about sex played football on a patch of grass. I scowled a bit there was no virtue in today's youth. I might be old fashioned but bedding a young college undergraduate hardly seemed the only way to be seen as successful.
Gossip. Names and faces that I didn't recognize from the gaggle of girls sitting by watching the football players. Thank goodness this university was not as small as Forks High School had been, I could pay less attention to the gossip.
My father is going to kill me when he gets the credit card statement. But those shoes were so cute. Well there went my spending money for next month. A flustered looking girl dressed rather sharply, an outfit Alice might even envy, walked past me. I snuck a look down to her shoes, designer brand and very pretty. I could smell the leather or as Bella would put it the expense in them. The shoes she was wearing currently were expensive enough to be out of the usual range of pocket money for a regular college student. It might be safe to assume that the young girl had a strong shopping overspending problem.
No spending money for the next month. The idea rang in my head as a novel concept was surfacing in my mind about appropriate reactions to actions. The girl that had walked past me had spent too much money so now she would not have money to spend this month. Her father would do this because it would teach her the value of the money. Yes it made perfect sense. Bella had run away without permission to Italy, she had gone after me to save me the cause of her almost destruction. She had been restricted to the house, restricted from seeing me as much as Charlie had been able to manage. It had made sense, but he had put her under house arrest because of the motorcycle that wasn't as correlated at the escape to Italy. But I remembered Charlie had not put that much thought into the punishment. Honestly it had been what was expected it was what was done to unruly teenagers, they were grounded. Their cars were taken away, their allowances were suspended, their phones were taken away and their lives outside of their immediate homes was cancelled for a few days or weeks as the case may be. It was the "popular" punishment, the norm, a restriction to modify behavior. But did it achieve anything? It made the young person think about their actions, yes that had been proven over the years of my listening to their thoughts. They were remorseful about their actions and often avoided landing themselves into trouble again quickly.
My thoughts had overtaken me momentarily as we had walked into our classroom. Class had started as I had harped on the proper responses to behavior. I noticed that we were discussing a new book in the children literature class today. Majoring in Literature was something I had done to please Bella but it had proven a vastly interesting subject material, something new and different from my usual college major.
"The key to understanding children's literature is understanding how the concepts of children have changed throughout the ages. When we studied Peter Pan by J.M Barrie we realized that Peter was the main child character. Pan was not older than a 10. While today's popularized child literature stars Harry Potter a child that ends his journey at 17. Today we recognize Potter as a child still, but when Pan existed a 17 year old was no longer a child. The importance in the idea is how their experiences vary, there is still growth and development and understanding of the world around them. It is still a snapshot of growing up, no matter that Pan was fairly young in our eyes and Potter is on the edge of adulthood." The professor babbled on about the age differences of the different eras, the difference in the journey and the ideals that were being conveyed to youth through the stories themselves. As I carelessly wrote notes on the lecture, I let my mind wandered again on not only my own thoughts but others as well.
Childhood was youth.
What did childhood mean? Not taking into account actual ages, what was the meaning and purpose of childhood?
I noticed my mind was echoing the questions that the professor was posing to the class, the mental voices around me also echoing the words. Repeating the question to themselves searching for the answers.
"The lost of innocence?" A girl dressed in Victoria Secret sweats sounded doubtful shouted.
"Possibly." The professor nodded but his thoughts revealed he was less than impressed by the canned answer.
"To learn and experience in a safe environment, to develop as an individual that can live in society properly." Bella's voice was near me and had spoke out loud.
Always right on the nose that Bella Cullen is, pity she married so young. The professor nodded slowly. Who was he to judge what a pity it was that Bella married young, why was it a pity? I noticed I was angered by his thoughts, I silently snarled and Bella looked at me reproachful.
Not mad at you. I wrote on her notes, she frowned but ignored me. To learn and to experience was the key that would lead a young person to be able to make decisions for themselves. I flickered to images of cubs, mountain lion cubs. The cubs' mother nurtured them until they were matured to a physical point. More importantly she taught them how to hunt, when they could hunt on their own was the moment that most cubs wandered away from their mothers protective shelter.
Was Renesmee grown? Was she ready to leave our shelter? Was six years under the protective wing of her vampire family truly enough to teach her enough for her to be a good individual for the rest of her existence? As memories surfaced of her killing the warriors, of her foot stamping, of her lack of argumentative skills during our fight earlier led me to believe that she wasn't. How could six years be enough to prepare someone to make the right decisions for an eternity? If humans needed 18 years to learn to live on their own, surely a vampire that lives until the end of time needed more time for childhood. I was not sure how much more time, and I could be wrong about more than 18 years but I felt there would be a moment to re-evaluate that situation later.
"We are going to have to take away her independence." I began to murmur to Bella about my plans and thoughts. Softly and quickly knowing not one human around us would even notice that I was speaking, Alice would but she was busy. It seemed as if she was focusing on the outcomes of a few particular sports events that Jasper and Emmett wanted to gamble on, I shook my head. Making a mental note to scold her for encouraging them part of me thinking I should tell Carlisle about it.
It's the same as when I watch the stock market. Alice thought to me but kept concentrating. She had noticed the scowl on my face and I winked at her. Maybe it was sort of the same, but I would like to make sure they didn't over do it. It was still cheating after all. I kept talking to Bella, sharing my ideas of restricting Nessie's access to cash maybe implementing some type of allowance based on merit. It would do the girl some good to understand earning things instead of just having things. Bella was nodding agreeing with me, making additions or overruling my strictness as she deemed it necessary while still paying a great deal of attention to the lecture. It was good that one of us was paying enough attention. I would read over her notes later. Or Bella would just repeat the lecture for me.
The professor assigned a four-page paper comparing and contrasting a story from the McGuffy's Reader edition 1953 to something on the contemporary grade school reading list. I rolled my eyes at the tedious nature of the assignment as we walked out of class together, Bella and Alice at either side of me.
"Did you use the McGuffy reader's in school when you were little?" Bella asked me. I frowned down at her.
"I don't remember Bella, I am sure we could look it up. I was in grade school during the first decade of 20th century in Chicago so more than likely." I shrugged. Alice laughed.
"Don't ask me, I can't remember anything about being human either. I am sure that Esme used them, she grew up in Ohio." Alice commented.
"But none of you remember." Bella nodded.
"Do you remember anything?" Alice asked.
"It's hard for me to forget, remember I have many reminders still. But sooner or later I am sure that when those people who can remind me don't exist." I shrugged. I squeezed Bella's hand, it was hard for her to think of that her parents or friends like Mike and Angela might no longer be around. I sat in the passenger seat of the car on the way back to the house this time, and Bella leaned her head onto the shoulder of my seat.
"Do you see our plan working Alice?" Bella asked as I played with the radio, trying to find a station that wasn't playing some absurd collection of noises while talking about some crude subject matter. I watched Alice search her mind, try to see anything but murky darkness and she saw nothing. Then she seemed to change her focus onto Bella and I, catching glimpses of us but nothing in particular.
"I don't know." Alice shook her head exasperated by her lack of second sight.
"There is something I am wondering though." Alice added.
Choice. Was the only thing she was thinking, I frowned not understanding.
"Isn't it her choice in the end, Nessie's I mean about what way she decides to hunt?" Alice was saying her words slowly and not looking at either of us, worried of our reactions.
"Yes." Bella responded before I had time to even think of the question.
"It's her choice to give up her soul?" My voice had a slight edge to it and I narrowed my eyes at Bella.
"Of course it is Edward." She smiled patiently at me. "Just not right now. Right now is like asking a two year old if they want to eat a whole bag of candy."
Alice's bell like laughter filled the car. There was no more time to think about any of it as we reached the house and I was anxious to check in on Renesmee. The house was basically silent as we wandered in. Alice disappeared to find Jasper, tinkering away with some scale models in his study. Emmett and Rosalie were nowhere in the house, and Esme was sitting with Nessie and Jacob.
"She's doing homework hoping to please us." I whispered to Bella, chuckling at the child. I held open the door to Nessie's tower room for Bella and followed her in.
Oh you're home. Do be calm, no more fighting Edward. It's rather unbecoming, and I don't think she is very responsive to it. Esme smiled at me. I stared at her round face and smiling eyes and curtly nodded.
Maybe come down and play the piano for a while, bring the baby. She should spend sometime outside of her room with her family. Esme picked up her book that she had been reading, a romance novel and glided out of the room.
"Jacob maybe you should go home for a little while? Shower?" Bella teased Jacob. Renesmee didn't even look up from her homework. Faking concentration was not going to get her far. Jacob's eyes traveled to survey Nessie and then he focused on my face for a few minutes. I sighed and smiled for him, a sign of peace.
"You're welcome to come back tonight." I offered. He was apprehensive of the peace offering. "But you should check in with Seth and Leah. Leah must be worried and Seth is a bit of a slacker when you aren't around." I reminded him of his responsibility, his pack.
"Be good." I heard Jacob whisper to Nessie before he jumped out and shuffled out of the room.
Be Nice. He thought to me before leaving. Bella sat on the bed, petting Nessie who was still pretending to be scholarly. I stood my gaze fixed on Nessie, my arms over my chest, she would break her concentration before I would.
Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
Woodrow's fourteen points? I frowned and paid more attention to make sure I was correct.
Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for enforcement of international covenants.
Yes. Woodrow Wilson's famous fourteen points, was she just reading her textbook? She was avoiding thoughts to not anger me or to distract herself.
"Renesmee, we have decided a few things." I spoke finally. She looked up innocently or as innocent as she could manage with the red flickering in her otherwise beautiful brown eyes.
"Yes daddy?" Her voice dripped with sweetness and I just shook my head.
"Princess we understand you are still a child, you still have things to learn." Bella started as she rubbed Nessie's back, much like she had done when she had been a sleeping babe on her chest.
"But I'm…" I held my finger up to my lips to silence her, though she finished the thought in her head for me.
"You are." I said forcefully. Before she could start arguing again I kept going. "The point is darling, as a child you have to learn the consequences to your actions."
"I'm still grounded?" Nessie sounded shock. I noticed in her thoughts that she had been under the impression that I had been acting under anger and would change my mind.
"You are." Bella responded for me. "There are a few restrictions to that, first off we would like all your credit cards." Bella removed her hand from petting Nessie and held it out expectantly.
"You can't be seriously?" Nessie looked at her mother's hand and then at my face.
You are being serious. But what if I need money?
"You will be getting a weekly allowance of forty dollars a week, after of course accomplishing a few chores around the house." Bella said as her fingers twitched impatiently.
"Chores?" Nessie almost snorted. We were doing the right thing there was no doubt in my mind now.
"Things like cleaning, weeding the garden, such things. You've seen all of us do them, its time you help with the upkeep of the house." I smiled at her discontent. She had pulled out all her credit cards from her wallet and I watched her take out one after another. She stopped at the Black American Express, lovingly stroking it.
Surely they don't want this one as well, how am I going to buy things on forty dollars a week? She thought to herself.
"Even that one." I sighed. Her eyes pleaded with me, but I was firm in my decision and shook my head. Bella took the card without waiting for her to pull it out.
"We also decided you are going to have to wait until after your next birthday to learn to drive." I said. She gasped this time.
"But Rosalie got me a mustang! And Jacob finally finished building me a motorcycle!" She cried.
"And they will both still be there after your next birthday." I growled at her thoughts.
You can't keep me from driving. I will. You won't. Rosalie won't let you.
"Renesmee." Bella whispered to her.
"Nessie, I am in no mood to be argued with, you will take your punishment as you deserve." I stated.
"For what! For going against your precious diet?" She screamed at me. My daughter was so impertinent.
"Renesmee Carlie. You listen here, our choice not to drink human blood is a decision based on respecting the life around us. The life we came from, the life that is half of what you are. All of what Jacob is, you of all of us should want to protect that more than we do." Bella was growling, a low deep noise.
I looked at my wife, my Bella with surprised eyes. That was one of the first times I had heard her use our daughter's full name.
Nessie had no back talk, no sarcastic retort, instead she seemed deep in thought. Thoughts of Jacob, of our family, of us were vibrant in her mind, passing like movie stills.
"Yes ma'am." She whispered. Strange. That was unlike her. Maybe we were getting through to her. She curled her knees up to her chest and she seemed scared for a bit. We were silent, the three of us together in her room for some time just existing. I noticed that Nessie was crying all of a sudden and I rushed to her side. My arms protectively wrapped around her body and I picked her up. I cradled her crying body but instead of her arms staying curled protectively close to her chest they moved with purpose. Her delicate fingers found my shirt and clutched at the fabric, it was as if the child was holding on for dear life. I was surprised by her sudden attachment. As I held Nessie close to me a specific memory resurfaced.
I saw myself looking up at Bella, the perfection of immortality freshly upon her then I saw myself sitting beside her. I looked strained, worried much like I felt now. I was instructing Nessie to be good, pressing my fingers to her lips and warning her not to bite her grandfather. She had sent the memory as I knew from the abruptness in which the memory ceased. I looked down at her confused, why had she shown me that moment.
I disobeyed you. She thought as she buried her face into my chest. Bella had wandered towards us, one of her hands was now sitting comfortably around my waist and the other was curled around Nessie.
Do you still love me? She thought to me and I laughed.
"Of course princess. Always." I winked at Bella, knowing she understood what was happening in the moment. I cradled Nessie in my arms until she fell asleep, once her eyes closed I could hear Esme calling to me to play from downstairs. We walked down, my sleeping baby and the love of my existence, in perfect harmony for the first time in a few months. Entering into the large living room, Rosalie held out her arms to me to accept the sleeping Nessie.
"Bella?" I asked.
"Yes that's fine, I want to watch you play." She smiled at me. I placed the sleeping child carefully into Rosalie's arms and I strolled across the room. Emmett and Jasper were bent over the computer having a silent fight by clicking furiously on which car was better. They were trying to decide what car Emmett would purchase, a fight I was thinking about joining but Bella pulled me towards my piano again. Alice was perched on the windowsill sketching a new pair of shoes she was designing. Carlisle sat reading the latest medical journal with Esme by his side, embroidering a handkerchief for Rosalie.
I sat at my piano, Bella next to me, and just let my fingers decide what to play. Running the tips of my fingers along the ivory keys, closing my eyes to let whatever music came to me first. I started with Bella's lullaby, the ending being where I wanted to be. The inescapable sad ending of the musical notes that always came with it. Before I could dwell on the sad ending for too long, Bella led my fingers along their usual path into a different melody the one for Jacob and Renesmee. The tune was lighter, happier, it almost conveyed the warmth of Jacob into the room.
She loves this melody. It's her favorite thing in the whole world. I might have to learn how to play it one day. Jacob was commenting to me, I looked up to see him join the fight that Jasper and Emmett were still having. This was my family and this moment of familial tranquility was well earned after our days of turmoil. These were the moments that made forever worth facing, even with all its troubles.
"Nessie is dreaming about you." I murmured into Bella's ears as my fingers played without my help. Her hair caressed my chin and I smiled kissing her neck.
"She dreams about me the most." Bella smiled at me.
"Maybe Jacob." I murmured. She huffed a bit and I laughed.
"Jealous?" I asked still kissing her neck. She turned to catch my lips and I honored her request. My playing stopped momentarily.
Oh don't stop. Esme sighed.
Get a room. Or maybe a cottage, we all know it will still be standing in the morning. Emmett thought to me. I made a note to make sure Emmett knew his bit about the cottage was getting old.
Play my song again. Nessie commanded as I saw her lashes flutter awake. I started playing her song again. She was going to be unhappy enough for the few weeks I felt I might as well give her some happiness. Bella laced her fingers into mine, playing along with me. Bella leaned her head against my shoulder as she played with me.
"Let's do this forever." She sighed to me.
"I love you." I whispered.
"I think we all know how I feel." Bella laughed.
We were going to do this forever. Though this moment of calm might be short lived, as my rebellious daughter stirred in her sleep. But she would outgrow rebellion enough one day until then we would take advantage of the calm before each storm.