It was a relief to me that Bella had changed. I wouldn't have to worry about losing control anymore. I wouldn't have to keep my distance, wouldn't have someone watching my every move around her, just in case. I wouldn't have to smell her.
That aside, it was what she wanted. What she had wanted for some time now. What Alice had foreseen. So even if it didn't make things easier for me, I would have been happy for her. The fact that it did was just a bonus.
Nessie, on the other hand, was another story entirely. Though only half human, it was enough to make everyone worry. Especially Edward, who was spectacularly good at worrying. Rosalie had been quick to jump over this too. Bella hadn't given it much thought, but I had.
She smelled good, even if she were half vampire. I could hear her heart beat, could smell her blood. It didn't smell as good as that of a human, but it did smell amazingly sweet. So I kept my distance from the baby. I stayed clear of my niece, worried all over again that I wouldn't be able to control myself.
Nobody seemed to take much notice of it all, to tell you the truth, except Alice, who rolled her eyes at their lack of trust in me. But she was like that.
She was holding Nessie now, rocking her and bouncing her about and making her smile and laugh and giggle. She fawned over our niece just like everyone else did. It was amazing how quickly opinions had changed over the child, how wrong we had been.
Alice stiffened, suddenly, and let out a small gasp. "What is it?" I asked quickly, stepping nearer, but not by much, aware that she still held the child in her arms.
"I saw something." Alice said. "Nothing major. Here." I stopped breathing as she stepped up to stand before me and deposited Nessie in my arms. "I need to go talk to Carlisle." She said, and was gone.
Nessie looked up at me, and I swallowed nervously. "Well." I managed. What on earth was I supposed to do now? I tried to remember what sorts of things one did with a young child.
I knew she liked being talked to, but I had no idea what to say. She was waiting for me to do something with her, however. I tried to think of something, anything, to distract her.
I walked her gently around the room, and my eye fell on a book I had been reading earlier. Why not? I could vaguely remember being read to as a child. Rather, I remembered that someone had read to me when I was a child.
But this was hardly suitable for her. I slipped upstairs into my room, trying to think which of the books I owned she might enjoy. I finally found something, Watership Down. That would suffice. I pulled it out and headed back downstairs.
I settled down on the couch with her in my arms, and flipped to the first page. This brought on an entirely new dilemma. I would have to breathe to read to her.
Slowly, tentatively, I took a breath. I tensed. She smelled so sweet. I closed my eyes and shook my head fiercely. I would not harm her.
I felt a small hand on my face, and saw an image of me now, tense and upset. She wondered if I was alright.
"I'm fine, Nessie." I assured her with a smile. I took another painful breath, and began reading.
Each breath left my throat aching. I had to remind myself each time of who I was, and who she was. She was comfortable, though, in spite of my own discomfort.
And she enjoyed being read to. She let her hand rest on my cheek, showing me that she liked me reading to her, showing me that she liked hearing my voice. Showing that she liked having me in her family.
She was very intelligent, I marveled. She knew her family, had known each of them, and had been waiting patiently for her turn to know me. She hadn't understood the reluctance to let her know me, but was glad that she had finally met me.
Gradually she began to drift off to sleep, her eyelids drooping, her heartbeat slowing. When I paused in my reading, however, she was immediately awake again, wanting to hear more. Eventually I resigned myself to continuing to read as she dreamed about rabbits, her hand still on my cheek.
I was enjoying myself, in spite of having to be careful. I liked that I was capable of spending time with my niece without hurting her. I rocked her ever so slightly as I read, and began to eventually relax a bit, though the temptation was certainly still there.
Eventually Edward went to ask Carlisle a question. I felt him tense as he entered, felt him start to worry. "Where's Nessie?" I heard him ask sharply.
"Downstairs. With Jasper." Came Alice's reply, and felt Edward panic and even Carlisle worry. Edward was out of the room and down the stairs in a flash, an annoyed Alice and a concerned Carlisle close behind him.
He was across the room and had snatched her from my arms in less than a second, and it was all I could do to remind myself to be reasonable.
He was her father, he did run on the overprotective side, it was possible that I wouldn't be able to control myself, at least, in his mind, though I had realized that as hard as it was for me, I would never do anything to hurt her.
As it was, I focused on the open page of my book while Alice glared at him. "Really!" She huffed.
At least he felt a little guilty over his reaction, now that she was safe in his arms. She stirred, and looked up at him. "Daddy?" She mumbled. She was confused. She blinked at him, frowning. "Where's Jazzy?" She demanded.
Edward stared at her, and she put a hand to his cheek. He stiffened, and stared at me in wonder when she was done. "You were reading to her." He whispered. I nodded, letting the event play through my mind for him.
"What happened to the rabbits?" She demanded of me. "Do they find somewhere safe?"
Edward chuckled. "Perhaps you should wait till tomorrow to read more." He suggested. "It's late, and you're tired."
She looked at me. "More tomorrow?" She asked. I smiled, and relaxed her to the point where she was again nearly asleep.
"Tomorrow." I promised. "If it's okay with your Dad." I added as I picked up on discomfort from Edward.
"Okay. Goodnight Jazzy. Goodnight Alice. Goodnight Grandpa." She said as Edward left with her. Alice smiled at me reassuringly as they went.
"He wants to talk to you." She said. "I'll meet you upstairs later." She slipped off to give us some privacy.
Carlisle too excused himself, relieved that I had been able to control myself around Nessie, and proud for the same reason. A bit guilty, too, that he had doubted me.
Edward returned shortly. "Sorry." He said awkwardly.
I shook my head. "Don't be." I said. "She's your daughter, you're supposed to worry about her. I didn't know how I'd react to her until now either."
"Alice knew." Edward said. "She must have seen-"
I cut him off. "You know it doesn't work that way." I told him. "Alice trusted that I would be strong enough."
"I should have trusted you too." Edward apologized.
"I didn't trust myself either in the matter." I informed him. "And it terrified me. I mean, her scent-" I broke off as he stiffened. "I wouldn't hurt her, Edward. I won't." I said forcefully.
"You're determined." Edward said with a smile, relaxing. "She likes you. Are you going to read more to her tomorrow?"
"If it's alright with you." I reminded him.
"Please do." He said. "She likes it."
"So do I." I admitted.
He turned to leave, but stopped at the door. "Just make sure they're appropriate books, okay, Jasper?"
I chuckled. "I thought we'd do Dracula next, then some Orson Scott Card, and after that maybe Stephen King," he let out a growl, and I trailed off. "Of course." I assured him.