Renesmee "Nessie" Cullen wandered slowly through the snow-covered woods just outside of Forks, Washington, her huge brown eyes gazing around excitedly.
Snowflakes caught to her golden-brown curls, and stuck to the fabric of her navy blue jacket. Barely a sound was made as she continued walking through the snowy leaves.
She came to a sudden halt, and a smile curved onto her lovely red lips. Her stunning features lit up instantly, as she turned...
... and pounced on the giant wolf behind her.
She wrestled the creature into the snow, her teeth barred furiously, showing small fangs. The massive wolf below her attempted to throw her off, but she held on with all her might, refusing to be pushed aside.
"Give it up!" she shrieked viciously at the wolf. "Admit it! You're finished!"
The wolf made one last feeble attempt to throw Nessie into the forest, but she reacted quickly, turning him over onto his back.
The wolf let out a struggled, wheezing sort of noise. A laugh.
Nessie too burst out laughing, the fangs quickly disappearing behind her lips, as her musical laugh filled the forest.
"All right, all right! You win."
The wolf had transformed instantly into Jacob Black, who was laughing heartily from his position along the forest floor.
"Second time this week," Nessie said proudly.
"Please. I totally let you win last time," Jacob snorted.
"Liar!" Nessie cried.
"You would know! Just look into my mind," Jacob challenged.
Nessie immediately reached for Jacob's face, her hand landing on his warm cheek. But instead of transferring her thoughts into his mind, she merely stopped, taking in the warmth of his skin.
Jacob instinctively reached up, placing his huge hand on top of hers and holding it to his face. Nessie was gazing at him now, her chocolate brown eyes examining his features carefully.
It suddenly occurred to Jacob that he was lying in the snow, completely naked. With Nessie lying on top of him.
He leapt up quickly, tossing Nessie to the ground almost violently. Nessie had been too entranced in her own thoughts to catch herself, and landed hard on her back.
Jacob immediately gasped, running to her side.
"Nessie, I'm so sorry!" he cried.
"It's no problem. I was just taken by surprise," Nessie insisted. She smiled at Jacob, her cheeks still beautifully flushed pink. "And besides, you are in dire need of some pants."
Jacob grinned, Nessie's nonchalant attitude easing his mind instantly about the whole situation.
"I'll go see what Alice has stashed out here today," he said. He began to stand up, then stopped.
"Close your eyes!" he scolded Nessie, as he caught her curious gaze eyeing his lower extremities.
"Nothing I haven't seen before," she teased. But she obediently closed her eyes.
Jacob quickly ran off into the trees, where Alice had strategically placed piles of clothing for just such circumstances.
Yeah, nothing you haven't seen before when you were a baby, he thought to himself. Jacob found himself both disturbed and slightly excited by Nessie's utter comfort with staring at him naked.
He came across a nice pair of pants, a grey sweater and a black jacket sitting by a nearby tree, and quickly changed, making sure he was out of Nessie's sight line... just in case.
Once he was done, he returned to the clearing where he had left Nessie. Sure enough, she was still sitting in the snow, eyes closed.
"Very nice," he remarked, at her clearly over-dramatic demonstration of obedience. Nessie's eyes shot open, her face lighting up as she gazed up at him.
"I'm a good girl," she joked. "Does this mean I get to be carried home?"
Jacob laughed, as Nessie mocked her own childish requests from her youth. Every time she had sufficiently obeyed one of Jacob's orders (which was frequently), he would carry her home on his back.
"Would you have it any other way?" he replied.
Nessie let out a pitch-perfect peal of laughter as she leapt up, running over to Jacob and leaping onto his back. He lifted her as easily as if she were a feather-pillow, grabbing her legs tightly.
"You ready?" he asked.
"Go, Jake!" Nessie continued to mimic her younger self.
Jacob laughed again as he went flying through the woods at top speed, Nessie shrieking with delighted laughter behind him.
It was the greatest feeling in the world.
Both their hearts began to sink as the giant silhouette of the Cullen mansion came into view ahead. Jacob slowed down, finally coming to a stop once they reached the backyard. Neither moved from their positions.
"Here we are," Jacob said.
"Yup," Nessie confirmed.
Slowly, Jacob set Nessie back onto the cold snowy ground. Nessie landed soundlessly, her tiny hand intertwining with Jacob's massive fingers instantly.
"Thanks Jake," she said, gazing up at him with her chocolate brown eyes, her pale cheeks flushed a beautiful pink. Her golden-brown curls were wind-swept and snow-covered.
Jacob had to catch his breath, as his heart pounded ridiculously fast.
"Any time, Nessa," he replied.
He instinctively reached out to pull a stray curl back behind Nessie's ear, letting his hand linger on her cheek just a little longer than usual...
Jacob and Nessie instantly leapt apart at the sound of a female voice calling out the back door.
"Here mom," Nessie called back, running towards Bella Cullen, who stood in the back door, a worried expression tainting her beautiful features.
"Nessie, for God's sake, come in. You're already forty-five minutes late, and you know we're having company tonight," Bella snapped.
"I was just messing around with Jake," Nessie defended.
"Well time's up. Get inside," Bella commanded.
Nessie sighed, slouching into the kitchen. Bella then turned her attention to Jacob, who stood awkwardly in the snowy backyard.
"Jake, seriously?" she snapped.
"What?" Jacob asked innocently.
"I asked you to have her back by 6:00," Bella said sternly.
"We got caught up," Jacob insisted.
"Yeah, I'm sure it just slipped your mind..." Bella muttered skeptically.
"Nessa wasn't in any hurry to get home either!" Jacob defended. Bella frowned.
"Since when do you call her Nessa?" she demanded.
Jacob hesitated. He had subconsciously adapted this new nickname for Nessie as she grew into her full maturity. The name Nessie seemed associated with the little girl he had loved as a younger sister for most of his life. Nessa was the gorgeous young woman who made his heart pound every time she entered a room.
"I don't know," he muttered, heading up the stairs towards the door. Bella eyed him cautiously, though said nothing as Jacob passed her and walked into the kitchen as well.
There at the kitchen table sat Dr. Carlisle Cullen, casually flipping through the newspaper. His wife, Esme, sang to herself as she danced around cleaning the counters.
"Evening, Jacob," Carlisle greeted, not looking up from the paper. "Were you and Nessie out hunting?"
"No, just running around a bit," Jacob replied.
Nessie had been hunting for blood less and less over the past several months, forcing herself to acquire an appetite for more human foods. However, this fact was known only to Jacob, and he did not want to risk ruining her secret.
"Are you hungry, Jacob?" Esme asked. "I'm in the mood to cook something, even though our guests won't be eating."
"You know me. If you're cooking, I'll eat," Jacob replied. Esme's entire face lit up.
"Wonderful!" she exclaimed. "Let's see. I haven't made pot roast in a while..."
"Alice and Nessie are upstairs getting dressed. I might as well put on something decent too," Bella sighed, as if even the idea of dressing up was painful to her.
Jacob whistled to himself as he followed Bella out of the kitchen, about to head up the stairs...
He jumped at the sound of the cold, stern voice that rang out from the living room behind him. He turned slowly to see Edward Cullen, sitting alone in an armchair, hands folded.
"Hey Edward... what's up?" Jacob greeted, in a pitiful attempt at innocence.
Edward's face remained completely unchanged as his golden eyes bore into Jacob's nervous brown ones with a frightening intensity.
"I believe you know what's up, Jacob," he returned in the same icy tone.
"Look, I'm sorry," Jacob blurted out automatically. "We were just messing around-"
"I know exactly what you were doing," Edward said, with a tone that implied that he was trying to burn the images from his mind. "You could be more careful about phasing in front of Nessie."
"That was a total accident," Jacob insisted, embarrassed by Edward's ability to see all of Nessie's memories. "And besides, Nessie wasn't even bothered by it."
"That's what disturbs me," Edward muttered, rubbing his head as if to erase the memories that were now replaying themselves inside Jacob's mind.
"Look, I know this must be weird for you... but you knew we were going to have to deal with it eventually," Jacob pointed out reasonably.
"Eventually came too soon," Edward replied.
At that moment, Alice came skipping happily down the stairs in what must have been at least a $500 silk blouse, and a stunning black mini-skirt.
"Alice, you've outdone yourself," Edward remarked.
"Oh, this? I just found it lying around in my closet," Alice shrugged, as if she did not look like a super model on the runway.
Jacob stared at Alice, trying to comprehend her intentions for dressing so over-the-top. Edward just grinned.
"Jasper will certainly appreciate it," he said.
"I know!" Alice squealed excitedly, as she pranced off into the kitchen.
Jacob sighed, bothered by the mental communication between the siblings which always left him out in the cold.
"Tonight is the anniversary of Alice and Jasper's first meeting," Edward answered Jacob's unspoken thoughts.
"Oh," Jacob said. "That's, uh... pretty cool."
"They certainly won't be celebrating in the usual manner either," Edward said. "I can only imagine what they have planned."
"Yeah, probably a solid hour of staring at each other in silence or something," Jacob teased, laughing at his own joke. Edward did not look amused, and Jacob's laughter quickly died.
There were more footsteps on the stairs, and this time Nessie appeared before the two men, wearing a beautiful red dress that had both Edward and Jacob's eyes popping... for completely different reasons.
"No. Absolutely not," Edward said instantly. He was across the room in a heartbeat, standing firmly before his daughter.
"What?" Nessie asked.
"That dress is far too inappropriate for anything outside of a brothel," Edward snapped.
"Dad!" Nessie cried.
"Go upstairs right now and take it off right now," Edward commanded.
"Aw, Nessie you're wearing the dress I got you!"
Alice had pranced back into the room, grinning widely when she saw her niece's ensemble.
"You're encouraging her to dress this way?" Edward snapped, rounding on Alice, who frowned.
"It's a fabulous dress!" she insisted. "It looks great on you, Ness."
"Yeah, it does..." Jacob agreed, nearly drooling.
Edward visibly shuddered as Jacob's thoughts poisoned his own mind. He whirled on Jacob, eyes flaming.
"Jacob, please leave the room," he commanded.
Jacob quickly leapt up, embarrassment shining bright in his cheeks as he scurried into the kitchen.
"Hmm... it could definitely use a belt," Alice muttered, eyeing the dress curiously. Edward was seething.
"Alice, your role here is aunt. Not fashion police," he growled. Alice sighed, as Nessie stared back at her with pleading eyes.
"As the fashion police, I give it two thumbs up," she insisted, "but as your aunt... I'd have to advise you to change."
Edward grinned smugly as Nessie let out a groan, storming back up the stairs. Alice scowled at Edward.
"How could you make me do that? I love being the cool aunt!" she grumbled.
"'Cool aunts' don't encourage their nieces to dress like cheap prostitutes," Edward retorted.
"Oh come on! It's not that bad," Alice snorted.
"You were not just inside Jacob Black's mind," Edward retorted.
Alice sighed, slumping back into the kitchen just as none other than Jacob poked his head back out.
"Is it safe?" he asked cautiously.
"I don't know, is it?" Edward replied, just as frightened.
Jacob grinned apologetically as he came back into the living room, placing himself carefully on the couch. Edward sighed as he returned to his armchair.
Emmett came walking down the stairs next, a confused expression on his face.
"Hey Edward, I just passed Nessie on the stairs. She seems kind of ticked off," he remarked.
"I'm aware," Edward assured him, picking up his book again.
Emmett shrugged, deciding the matter was obviously not one to be discussed at the moment.
"Hey Jake - what's shakin'?" he asked, marching into the living room.
"Huh?" Jacob, who had drifted back to thinking about Nessie, looked up quickly. Emmett just snorted.
"Never mind, man. Return to your thoughts," he teased.
"Please refrain," Edward called from the corner. Jacob looked over at Edward apologetically.
"I'm doing my best," he insisted.
"Try harder," Edward pleaded.
Rosalie came strutting into the room next, making sure to shoot a menacing glare in Jacob's direction before joining Emmett on the couch.
"What could I possibly have done to upset Your Highness?" Jacob demanded.
"You got fur on my good sweater," Rosalie growled.
"I haven't touched your stuff!" Jacob defended. "Leah probably borrowed it."
"Oh, even more disgusting!" Rosalie shrieked. Jacob rolled his eyes.
Bella came walking down the stairs last, dressed in a gorgeous navy-blue cocktail dress. Edward stood immediately, his entire face lighting up.
"Mrs. Cullen... you look stunning, as usual," he said, taking her hand and kissing it. Bella beamed.
"You don't even have to try and you beat me ten times over," she replied.
Emmett made a mock gagging sound, which earned a laugh from Jacob, and glares from Edward and Bella.
"Did you happen to catch the brunt of Nessie's tantrum?" Edward asked his wife. Bella frowned.
"I didn't see Nessie upstairs," she said.
"She stormed up a few minutes ago," Edward said. "She's probably in her room, getting changed."
"I thought she changed already," Bella remarked.
"We had a bit of a disagreement over her choice of clothing. Hence the tantrum," Edward explained. Bella let out a sigh.
"I'm sure I'll hear all about it later..."
Suddenly Alice came marching into the room, a concerned look on her face.
"I can't find Jasper," she said. "I can't see him at all... he's disappeared."
The others were all instantly on alert. Alice began pacing furiously back and forth, as Esme and Carlisle came into the room as well.
"What was the last you saw of him?" Carlisle asked.
"I don't remember. I can't remember his last decision!" Alice cried, frustrated. "This is impossible. My only blank spots around here are-"
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Alice looked up, eyes wide. She had not predicted who was there. She quickly ran to the door, opening it...
Alice let out a small shriek as Jasper stepped through the door with a bouquet of roses... and Seth Clearwater.
"Of course! The wolves," Alice sighed in relief.
"Jasper wanted to surprise you," Seth explained, "and I always love a good Cullen family gathering. So I agreed to come with him, to make him a blind spot."
"I'd kill you if I weren't so relieved!" Alice cried, smacking Jasper with the beautiful bouquet. Jasper grinned.
"I guess I'm glad relief got the better of your emotions," he said.
Alice flung her arms around Jasper, hugging him tightly. He carefully wrapped his arms around her small frame, whispering something in her ear that caused her to beam.
"Nicely done, bro," Emmett called to his brother, before returning his attention to the football game on the television.
"Pretty stupid, if you ask me," Rosalie muttered.
"Aw, you just got scared," Emmett teased. Rosalie merely scowled in reply.
Esme wrapped her arms around Alice and Jasper.
"Congratulations, you two," she said, kissing them each on the head.
"Is that pot roast I smell?" Seth asked suddenly, sniffing around the room. Esme grinned.
"Oh, Seth! I'm so glad you're here. Now I have someone else to eat dinner tonight," she said happily.
"I'm more than happy to help, Mrs. Cullen," Seth assured her, grinning widely as he followed her back into the kitchen.
Just then, Nessie came flying down the stairs, dressed in a new outfit of jeans and a beautiful creme colored blouse. She stopped at the top of the stairs, groaning.
"Aw, I missed it?" she sighed.
"You told Nessie?" Alice asked Jasper.
"I had to tell someone else, just in case you really started to freak out," Jasper insisted. "And since Nessie's a blind spot too, it wouldn't ruin the surprise." Alice grinned.
"How thoughtful," she teased.
"Now that's much better," Edward remarked as Nessie walked into the living room. She pouted.
"The dress was nicer..." she muttered.
"Hey, when are Zafrina and Nahuel supposed to show up anyways?" Emmett asked.
"In approximately five minutes," Alice replied. "They're going to accidentally drive by the pathway, then have to turn back."
"I still can't get used to that," Jacob muttered, trying to shake off the eerie effect of Alice's predictions.
"I can't believe it's been three years since Nahuel was last here," Nessie said. "I was seven years younger back then! Do you think he'll even recognize me?"
"I don't think he'll have any trouble with that," Bella sighed. She was now lounging on the arm of the chair in which Nessie was sitting, stroking her daughter's hair absently.
"You and Jacob were gone a pretty long time today, Ness," Emmett remarked suddenly, grinning as he turned to Nessie.
"Yeah, we were just playing around in the woods," Nessie replied.
"Playing around? Really?" Emmett asked with mock curiosity, the smile growing wider.
"Emmett..." Edward warned.
Nessie remained completely oblivious to Emmett's teasing, though Jacob was flushing bright red.
Suddenly Alice leapt up, quickly running to the door, saving everyone from the awkward atmosphere in which Emmett's comments had trapped them all.
"They're here!" she cried, quickly opening the door and running out onto the porch. She began waving frantically as a shiny black Jeep came gliding up the driveway.
"Hello Alice!" Zafrina's deep voice called over the sounds of car doors being slammed shut.
"Hi Zafrina! Come on in!" Alice called, stepping aside.
The giant, beautiful figure of the Amazonian vampire Zafrina appeared in the doorway, a wide grin on her face as she looked around at the Cullen family.
"Where's my little Renesmee?" she asked.
Nessie leapt up immediately, rushing over and wrapping her arms around Zafrina's huge figure.
"Zafrina, I've missed you so much!" she said.
"I have missed you too, child," Zafrina assured her. "As has Nahuel."
Zafrina stepped aside, allowing the handsome, dark figure of Nahuel to step through the doorway behind her.
"Hello Renesmee," he greeted, his voice deep and strikingly musical. He smiled, and it seemed to illuminate the entire room.
Nessie's eyes widened immediately, and for a moment she appeared as if the wind had been knocked out of her.
"Hey... Nahuel," she greeted, slightly dazed.
"It's been such a long time since I last saw you," Nahuel remarked. "You've blossomed into quite an exuberant young woman since then," he added, with a grin.
Nessie's human side shone clearly as the color in her cheeks rose frantically, her face beaming.
Across the room, Jacob felt a quiver run up his spine, as his fists clenched so tightly that they turned white. Rosalie noticed, and frowned.
"Jacob..." she said cautiously.
"I've got it."
Jasper suddenly appeared beside Jacob, sitting down next to him and allowing his calming aura to fill the air.
"Calm down, Jacob," he said in his cool, melodic voice. Jacob instantly relaxed, his fists unclenching as he let out a deep breath.
"Sorry," he said after a moment. "I owe you one, Jasper."
"Don't mention it," Jasper insisted, though he did not move from Jacob's side.
"It's so nice to have you here," Carlisle was saying to Zafrina, as he greeted his company at the door.
"We have been looking forward to a visit with your family for a long while," Zafrina assured him.
"It's nice to see you're doing well, Nahuel," Edward said, shaking Nahuel's hand.
"Thank you, Edward," Nahuel said. "I am glad to see that you and your family are also doing well." Edward grinned.
"We're very happy," he confirmed.
"Your daughter has grown into a radiant figure of beauty and grace," Nahuel said, taking Nessie's hand and kissing it as he said so. Jacob gripped the sides of his chair tightly.
"Jasper... you may need to stay nearby tonight," he said. Jasper grinned ever so slightly.
"I was counting on it."