Author's Note: Again, I am SOOO sorry it's taken so long to update. I will promise nothing as to when I will update again because I always seem to break those promises. That being said, a HUGE thank you to those who have reviewed and continue to read & review despite the long wait between updates. You guys are my inspiration. Whenever I try to write I come here and read your reviews first and that's what gets me pumped up to continue this story. I hope you like this new chapter! Read on & enjoy. :)
Alice and Jasper burst into the Cullen household almost before anyone heard them on the property. Esme's head snapped up just in time to watch them come to a screeching halt in the living room where she was sitting.
"Where are Edward & Bella?" Alice asked. She was completely composed though her body was heaving as if she were out of breath.
"They went away for the holidays." Esme responded with a frown, "Why do you look as if you've been running for days?"
"We have." Alice groaned, turning to Jasper, "All the way from Forks."
"Forks? Alice why would you go there? You know what kind of risk that is, for all of us." Esme very rarely got irritated but when she did it was serious, and at this second she was getting irritated, "You went looking for them didn't you? After you were expressly told not to."
"We found them." Alice ignored her mother's frustration and held out her hand, several pictures clutched in her grasp, "Esme, they're alive."
The annoyance left Esme's face and she slowly reached for the pictures in Alice's hand. She gasped when she saw the first image and her hand went to her heart, just like a regular human would, as if protecting herself from heart attack.
"Oh, I thought I heard you two come home." Carlisle entered the room from his study then, "Welcome back."
"They went to Forks." Esme whispered, not looking up as she went through the pictures in her hand.
"You did what?" Carlisle got the same look on his face that Esme had gotten just moments before, "You were specifically told,"
"We found them." Alice interrupted, motioning to the pictures in Esme's hand, "Carlisle, we found Renesmee and Jacob. They're alive and perfectly healthy and happy from what I can tell."
Carlisle's mouth fell open and he moved to Esme's side, looking over her shoulder at the pictures in her hand. He saw the picture of Jacob and Renesmee kissing on the beach and the ones of them goofing off in their formal wear.
There was utter silence in the room. No one took a breath. No one moved.
"She's going by Carlie Swan now." Jasper was the first to break the silence, "And she's going to Dartmouth."
"She just finished her first set of finals." Alice added.
"I have so many questions." Carlisle shook his head in disbelief, "I'm not sure where to start."
"I can probably guess." Alice guided her bewildered vampire parents to the couches in the living room and they all sat down, "I'd like to explain to the whole family at the same time though. Where did Edward and Bella go? Where are Rose and Emmett?"
"Rosalie and Emmett are out hunting. They should be back soon. Edward and Bella just said they were going away for the holidays. Paris maybe. They'll be back after Christmas." Esme explained.
"Well we need to call them and get them back here. We know that Renesmee and Jacob will be in Forks for Christmas. That's the only window we have to get them back; to reunite our family." Alice insisted.
"They didn't take phones. Said they needed to be alone for awhile with no contact. We have no way of contacting them." Carlisle shook his head, "So, you didn't talk to Renesmee and Jacob? Did you see them? Did anyone see you?"
Alice and Jasper both shook their heads no.
"We camped out in a tree and spied on Charlie and the woman who lives with him until I overheard a phone conversation that I was positive was Renesmee. They talked about her finals at Dartmouth and her having to spend Thanksgiving with her foster family but coming to Forks for Christmas."
"Foster family?" Esme frowned.
"We don't know the details." Alice shrugged, "That's what they said. Obviously we couldn't just go in and ask so we waited until the house was empty and then we went in and searched. That's how we found these pictures. Most of them came from a chest in the woman's room, her name is Marnie, and she seems to know the truth about them. The chest was inscribed to say "Jacob and Renesmee, my family - whenever & wherever they go." She made a joke on the phone with Renesmee too, about having forever to redo college if she doesn't get it right the first time."
Carlisle and Esme were quiet. They sat and digested all the information. Alice watched them, tapping her leg impatiently.
"So, what do we do?" She finally asked, "I can find Edward and Bella by looking for their futures. We'll go get them, tell them what we know, and all convene in Forks. Find a way to get Renesmee and Jacob alone so we can talk to them. Bring them back home."
Carlisle shook his head no this time.
"We need a plan. There's too many unknowns. We don't know why they're still alive when the Volturi very clearly told us they were not. I don't know how it's possible for them to have lied to us at all. Edward can read their thoughts. He would have known they were lying back then." Carlisle growled, "That's not the point though. We don't know anything about who they are now or if they even want to see us. I mean, why did they never come looking for us if they've been alive this whole time? Why couldn't we ever find them? Where have they been? Who's this Marnie woman? Is she human?"
"She's definitely human." Jasper assured Carlisle, "We watched her and Charlie for days. She has a heartbeat and she sleeps and she interacts with Charlie perfectly."
"Her room smells human too. She smells like lilac." Alice added.
"Smelling humans again are we?" Emmett strode into the room confidently, throwing himself into the nearest chair with Rosalie following close behind, "They do smell good don't they?"
"We're talking about Marnie. The woman who lives with Charlie in Forks and knows everything about Renesmee. The one who had these pictures in a box in her room." Alice retorted, throwing the stack of pictures towards her brother as she watched his expression turn to pure shock, "Yeah, Renesmee and Jacob are alive."
"That's impossible." Rosalie snatched the pictures from Emmett's hands and her eyes grew wider with every image, "Oh my God."
"Carlisle, we can't just sit here and wait until after Christmas when Edward and Bella come back. Don't you think they're gonna be upset with us for not sharing this information immediately? She's their daughter! Plus, we only know one place she'll be for sure and that's Forks for Christmas. It's our only window of opportunity." Alice argued, returning to the point of the conversation they had been at before Emmett and Rosalie interrupted.
"Not true. You said she goes to Dartmouth. She'll be back there after the holidays for the new semester. We can find her there."
"That will be a lot more difficult. We'll have to figure out where she lives and what classes she's taking. We'll have to stalk her." Alice growled, "We can just intervene in Forks. It's sooner and easier."
"We don't need easy Alice. Think this through." Carlisle sighed, "I want her back just as much as you do. I understand your impatience. But we need a plan. We can't let the Volturi know we know where she is, just in case she's still in danger. We need to figure out what Marnie does or doesn't know. Find out if she's in danger for knowing what she knows and if she's told Charlie. And most importantly of all, we need to find out if Renesmee even wants to be found. I think we all need to consider the very real possibility that she doesn't want to see us. It could be the reason why she hasn't come to find us. And if that's the case, it's better Edward and Bella never know what we all know."
"But Carlisle," Alice objected. He cut her off with a wave of his hand.
"We do research and we work together. We need to be very careful because it's going to require us going back to Forks, but without anyone seeing us and without anyone sensing us. Stay away from the reservation. Stay away from our old house. And most importantly, if Edward and Bella do contact us, do not tell them what we are doing."
"We're gonna get our niece back." Rosalie ran her fingers over an image of Renesmee, "She's really alive."
Emmett pulled her into his arms and kissed her temple. He nodded at Carlisle.
"Let's do what we need to. The sooner we get answers, the sooner we can get her back."
"Shouldn't someone stay here, just in case Edward and Bella do come home early? It's going to be awfully suspicious if they come home to an empty house." Esme was the voice of reason, "I can stay."
With a quick nod from Carlisle it was decided. They all packed small bags and headed out of the house. They decided traveling on foot would be much safer than flying. If they were still being monitored by the Volturi, 5 of the 8 of them boarding a plane to Washington would definitely throw up a red flag.
They arrived in Forks on Thanksgiving day. Everything was closed; restaurants, stores, even the police station looked deserted. Traveling together, they were very careful to stick to the woods, monitoring the town from the outskirts; watching, waiting and listening.
"I wish the kids could have come home for Thanksgiving. I miss them." Marnie sighed inside Charlie's house.
Alice, Jasper and Carlisle watched her through a window as she moved around the kitchen comfortably, swatting Charlie's hand as he tried to steal a bit of mashed potatoes.
"Dinner will be ready in 20 minutes Charlie. Have some patience." She scolded and he frowned, rubbing his hand as if she'd actually hurt him.
"Easy woman. That's my trigger hand." Charlie pretended to be seriously injured but Marnie just laughed loudly.
"As if you need to ever pull the trigger in Forks. Is there even crime here?"
Charlie laughed back at her, dropping his "injured" hand to his side.
"A few vandalisms, mostly kids pulling silly pranks. Nothing serious." He responded, "Doesn't mean I shouldn't be ready just in case."
Marnie rolled her eyes and shook her head, smiling.
"I'm sorry for hitting your trigger hand then. Keep it out of my mashed potatoes."
"Yes ma'am." Charlie fake saluted her and then grabbed a beer from the fridge and headed for the living room, "I'll be watching football. Yell if you need me."
"Sure thing." Marnie was still smiling as she watched him retreat and she went back to cooking, humming quietly as she flitted around the small kitchen.
"They're gonna be a great couple when they finally decide to tell each other how they feel." Alice sighed.
"Should you really be poking into their futures Alice?" Emmett teased as he and Rosalie joined them in the tree they were spying from.
Alice stuck her tongue out but Carlisle ignored their banter.
"You find anything?" He asked.
Emmett and Rosalie shook their heads, turning to the business at hand.
"The woods surrounding the house are clear. No trace of vampire or wolf except very faint but distinct patches of Jacob's scent. I'd know that scent anywhere." Rosalie shuddered, "Anyway, no one's monitoring Charlie personally that we can tell. Unless the Volturi are somehow monitoring him remotely, I don't think they're in any danger, even if they do know the truth about Jacob & Renesmee."
"We can't count out the remote monitoring yet, but it's good no one has been here recently to personally check on them." Carlisle went back to watching Charlie & Marnie in the house, "Even if someone was watching them, you can tell they're not a threat. They don't even use Renesmee & Jacob's names in conversation."
"They always refer to them as the kids." Alice agreed, "I noticed that the first time we were here. They're very careful, as if they know they might be being watched."
"That would mean they know the truth." Carlisle sighed, "Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing."
Before anyone could reply, a small black sports car pulled up and stopped outside the house. The Cullens sat frozen, surprised by this appearance. In all of their spying so far, they hadn't heard anything about Charlie & Marnie expecting company.
It seemed to happen in slow motion. The passenger side door swung open and a girl with long auburn curls stepped out of the car so gracefully that she made no sound. The driver side door released a tall, dark Quileute man who turned and grinned as the girl with auburn curls practically jumped into his arms. They laughed together, at an audible that only the superhuman could hear. She placed a finger against her lips to indicate they should both be quiet and together they walked quietly to the front door. They were both smiling wide, clearly amused with themselves in pulling off this surprise.
One knock. Two knocks. Three knocks. Charlie swung open the front door and gasped.
"Marnie!" He called out, "They're here!"
If vampires could feel complete & utter shock, the Cullens were feeling it as they watched Marnie rush from the kitchen and greet Jacob & Renesmee in the doorway. She was squealing happily as she hugged them both. Charlie was beaming, ushering them into the house while Marnie fussed over them.
"What are you doing here?" She finally asked as the front door closed behind them, "I thought you were spending Thanksgiving with your foster family."
"We lied." She said nonchalantly.
Rosalie sighed as the first sounds of Renesmee's voice hit her ears.
"It's really her." She whispered, clutching herself to Emmett's chest, "She's right there."
"Didn't anyone teach you that lying is bad?" Charlie fake scolded his granddaughter.
"Well Grandpa, since I grew up without parents…" Renesmee retorted quickly.
The mood shifted, in the house and in the trees. The Cullens stopped breathing, waiting for her to say something about her parents that might answer their questions. Did she know they were alive? Did she want to see them?
"Nessie, why do you have to bring that up?" Jacob sighed, pulling her into his arms and kissing the top of her head, "You're a smart ass to your own detriment sometimes."
"Detriment. That's a big word Jake." Renesmee pulled out of his embrace and winked at him, "I was joking. No need for everyone to get serious. Let's be happy. Come on. This is a good surprise, right?!"
The Cullens exhaled and their shoulders slumped. No answers to their questions yet.
"Yes, very good surprise." Marnie hugged Renesmee and kissed her cheek, "Now back to the kitchen for me before I burn the rest of the food. You come help me. Jake, you want a beer? You can watch the game with Charlie."
"That's right, women in the kitchen. Men in front of the TV." Jacob playfully slapped Renesmee's butt as she scurried into the kitchen.
Charlie glared at him.
"Watch those hands Jacob. My gun is just in the other room."
Jacob's face fell.
"I can't believe they're right there and we can't just go down there and say something to them." Emmett growled as they continued to observe, "I mean, obviously everyone in that house knows the truth. If we make sure no one else in Forks sees us, why can't we just go talk to them?"
"We still don't know enough Emmett." Carlise said calmly, "We need to surmise whether Renesmee & Jacob know we're alive. Whether they want to see us or not. We need more information. We can't just barge in there."
"We can't just sit up here and watch them interact like the perfect little family." Rosalie objected. "That should be us they're surprising for Thanksgiving. We're their family."
"So are Charlie & Marnie." Carlisle reasoned, "Patience Rose. Have a little bit of patience. Our time to reveal ourselves will come."
"I think our time just ran out." Jasper said suddenly and the entire group turned back towards the house.
Jacob & Renesmee were both standing on the porch, standing defensively, looking directly at where the Cullens were perched in the tree line.
"They heard us." Alice spoke softly, "They have sensitive hearing too. We were too loud."
"Stay here." Jacob commanded Renesmee as he took one step off the porch.
She followed right behind him.
"Ness, I'm serious. Go back in that house with Charlie & Marnie."
"Jake, you don't know what's out there. I'm not letting you go alone." Renesmee argued, "Whispering in the trees is not safe."
"They don't know it's us." Jasper's whisper was so quiet even his family sitting next to him barely heard him, "We can run."
"Renesmee, go inside. It's not safe which is why I need you to stay. Protect Marnie & Charlie. I will be right back."
Jacob took another step towards the Cullen's hiding spot.
"No running." Rosalie whispered just as softly, "We want them to find us."
"Carlisle just explained to you that it's not that easy Rose." Alice hissed.
"Jake." Renesmee called out from the porch. She didn't move but her voice was pleading, "Be careful."
He took one look back at her and then went bounding towards the tree line.
"Time's up for a decision." Carlisle said quietly and he dropped from the tree, landing on his feet on the forest floor in the dense woods just as Jacob burst through.
Jacob stopped cold as the rest of the Cullens dropped to Carlisle's side.
"Hello Dog." Rosalie crooned, a smirk crossing over her features, "I have to say. I've never been happier to see you."