"Bella, Bella, you have to breathe."
Bella pulled her eyes from the Cullen house to stare into Alice's opaque orbs. Alice appeared calm, but Bella could tell by now when her lover was nervous; the tension in her upper lip, the quick twitches of her fingers. Bella reached into Alice's lap and entwined her sweaty palms into ice cold grips. "Hasn't Edward read your mind yet?" Bella asked quietly. She glanced through the windshield of her truck again at the big white house, the glass windows looking out at them like big, unblinking eyes.
"I'm sure he knows I'm here," she replied, rubbing the backs of Bella's hands with her thumbs. "I'm sure he knows you're with me. But I've been with Edward long enough to know how to keep up a wall. Otherwise, we wouldn't have lasted this long without him knowing."
"Why hasn't he come out here yet?" Her stomach rolled, her throat tightening. Even though she had spent the day with Alice talking about this, this - confession, she supposed - it still didn't make it any easier now that they were here.
Alice shrugged, a gesture that seemed clumsy when a human did but was more like a ballet move when performed by Alice. Alice's throat was dry as she watched the house, wondering why no one had come out here yet to question her. They all had to be aware of her prescence - Alice could smell all of them from here which meant they could smell her, and they could smell Bella from miles away. Jasper had to feel Alice's feelings by now - the anxiousness, the sick feeling that settled in her stomach. She wondered if maybe she hadn't put up such a great wall, maybe Edward and Jasper already knew and had already told the family. Alice's throat closed. She sat up straighter, tightening her hands around Bella's. It wasn't going to be easy. She had known that. This was the only family she had ever known. Alice turned to face Bella and studied her face from the side - the soft angles, the flush of her skin, the long tangles of her brown hair - and she knew that she was worth it. Alice would do anything for her Bella.
Bella's breathing picked up again when she saw the door open and nearly stopped when she saw it was Edward. She whimpered, her stomach threatening to empty.
"Bella," Alice said, trying to sound confident, though it didn't come out that way. "It's going to be alright."
"No," Bella said, glancing up as Edward walked very slowly toward the truck, his head cocked as if he were listening. He probably was. "It's not. I don't want to hurt him." She turned to Alice, her eyes flooding with tears.
"You knew it had to be this way, Bells." Alice squeezed her hands once more and then released them, stepping gracefully out of the driver's side of the truck. Edward stopped, his golden eyes shifting quickly between Alice, who now was standing in front of him, and Bella, who was still hiding in the truck. His bronze hair lifted in the wind.
"What's going on?" He asked. Alice was surprised he wasn't rushing to Bella's side and asking her instead.
"We have to tell you something." Alice's eyes flickered to the window where she saw Jasper and her heart sank again.
Edward's eyebrows pulled down, his eyes continuing to flick between the two of them. Pressure started to build up around Alice's forehead.
"Stop it," she said. "Stop trying to read my mind."
"Is something wrong with Bella?" He took a step toward her and Alice quickly put her hand up to stop him.
"She doesn't appear to be fine."
"She's upset, but fine."
"Why is she upset?" Edward still looked confused.
Alice looked away, feeling her lips trembling. She thought she would be able to do this but now she realized just how hard this was. Looking into Edward's eyes. Feeling Jasper watching her. It was so much worse than she had imagined.
"Alice - "
"Jasper, would you come here, please," Alice whispered, and before they could blink Jasper was there at Edward's side. He looked just as confused.
"I," Alice started, but was interrupted by Bella's hand filling hers. Alice blinked, startled, because she hadn't heard the truck door open or felt Bella come up from behind her. Alice's fingers curled around Bella's and she looked over at the human girl. Bella's eyes were wide and puffy from crying but she looked strong, much stronger than Alice felt.
Bella turned her attention to the two vampires who were both staring at their joined hands, confused. Bella searched for Edward's eyes until they met.
And no words had to be spoken.
"Oh," Edward said.
"I see," Jasper said.
They stood there in awkward silence for quite some time, just watching each other. To Bella and Alice's surprise, neither of them seemed angry, or hurt. Just ... flabbergasted. In awe.
"I'm so sorry, Edward," Bella whispered.
And then Edward laughed.
And then Jasper laughed.
Gaffaws, rather. Doubled over. Laughing. Holding their guts and tearing up and looking at each other and laughing.
Bella glanced at Alice, her mouth open. Alice looked just as surprised, watching as the two boys nearly fell on their butts in their laughter.
"Emmett" gasp "was" gasp "right!" Jasper breathed, and then they laughed again.
"Um, what's so funny?" Alice inquired, but their laughter was beginning to be contagious and soon she was chuckling a bit too, even if she didn't get the joke.
"We had a bet," Edward attempted, but then he was lost again in his laughter.
The Cullen door opened behind them and Emmett's head poked through the crack. "Was I right?" he called.
"Yes," Jasper gasped and held up his hands. "You called it, bro. I owe you a hundred dollars."
"Uh, helllllo?" Bella waved her hand. "What's going on?"
"Emmett made a bet with us," Edward said, wiping at his eyes. "He said you two would hook up eventually. We said you wouldn't. And, and," he exploded into laughter and this time Bella couldn't help but giggle as they struggled to stay standing.
"Oh man," Jasper said, regaining himself. "Oh, man."
"You guys aren't mad?" Alice asked, still a little taken-aback from this reaction.
"What? No!" Edward said and surprised all of them by hugging Bella. Bella's eyes grew as they flickered over to Alice. Alice just shrugged. "Bella, I just wish you would have told me this sooner." He stepped back and smiled at her.
"But, I thought you loved me?" Bella's eyebrows rose.
"Well, of course I do." Edward's eyes sparkled. "But, I want you to be happy above all else. Jasper and I have been talking about this for months."
"You guys were pretty obvious about your little affair," Jasper chimed in, grinning at Alice.
"But, I, I, don't, we thought,-" Alice stuttered, not sure how to feel. Relieved or pissed.
"Don't worry about it, guys." Edward then embraced his sister, kissing her on the head. "It's fine. We all knew this would happen."
Alice and Bella shared a shocked look.
"ALICE AND BELLA SITTING IN A TREE," Emmett hollered from the door, doing a little jig. "TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS, GUYS!"
"Come on inside, we can share the news," Edward said. He looked at Jasper and they laughed again, turning and leaving the shocked lovers standing by Bella's truck.
Alice cleared her throat, letting out a nervous giggle. "Well."
"That went ... strangely." Bella tilted her head, still unsure how to feel.
"I love you, Bella."
Bella smiled and faced Alice, who opened her arms. Bella melted into them. "I love you too, Alice."
"KISS!" Emmett screamed. "KISSSSSS!"
Alice smirked, grabbed Bella's face, and kissed her until her knees nearly gave out.
"That's hot," Jasper said.
"Indeed," Edward laughed before the three of them disappeared into the house.