A/N: This is the first time out of the gate for me in writing a fanfic. I need your input!
**All characters are owned by Stephenie Meyer! I am in no way worthy to even dot an "I" she may have left undotted!
The story picks up after the Cullens' encounter with the Volturi in Breaking Dawn. All of the visiting vampires have long gone, and the Cullens have settled back into a life of normalcy…or what for them is normal, in Forks, Washington.
"Back to School Blues"
Bella watched, amazed, as Renesmee gleefully rode upon Jacob's shoulders. The events of the past few months had apparently taken no toll upon her happy-go-lucky personality. She loved and was loved with totality. But, Bella couldn't help but wonder what the future would hold for her stunningly beautiful half-human, half-vampire daughter. By all accounts, Renesmee would reach full adulthood in seven years.
"Faster, Jacob!" Renesmee squealed as Jacob began to spin around in circles making airplane noises. Bella chuckled to herself and shook the worry from her mind. Nahuel, the boy who had come to their rescue in the fight to save Renesmee's life with the Volturi, was fine. Around 150 years fine, in fact. Nessie-- yes, even Bella had taken to calling her by the nickname that Jacob had pinned for her after complaining that "Renesmee was a mouthful" – would be fine, too.
For now, she was an active healthy toddler who loved to play dress-up with Aunt Alice and take airplane rides on the back of a werewolf.
"Hold on tight, Nessie!" Jacob warned as he took off running into the woods at full speed. Renesmee giggled with delight.
"He is spoiling her absolutely rotten." Bella whirled around with a start. She had been so distracted by her momentary worry wallowing that she had not heard Edward sidle up behind her. Edward's eyes widened with surprise as he asked, "Did I startle you, Love? What were you so deep in thought about that you didn't hear me approaching?" Bella threw her arms around Edward's neck with the reckless abandon that never would have been allowed while she was human. She kissed him deeply, and pulled away with chagrin when he chuckled under his breath. "Trying to distract me, are you?" Edward slowly traced the line of her jaw with his finger tip and moved tantalizingly across her upper lip. With a guttural moan, he pulled her to his chest and crushed his lips to hers. With his lips still on hers, Edward murmured, "its working." Bella laughed as she slid her hand into his and began walking toward the Cullen family home.
"So, are you going to tell me what you were thinking, or do I even have to ask?" Edward stopped at the bottom of the steps leading into the front door, and took Bella's face in both his hands. "She's going to grow into a breathtakingly beautiful young woman full of poise and grace. She is your daughter after all. So, how could she not?"
Bella rolled her eyes and sighed with pretend exasperation. "She is your daughter, after all. So I know she'll be all of those things and more. It's the getting there part that worries me." Bella's nose wrinkled as she bit her bottom lip. "I mean, how long do you think it will be before we have to leave Forks to protect her?"
Edward and Bella had long since come to terms with the fact that Renesmee would never go to preschool, let alone elementary school. The changes taking place in her body would be too hard to explain to teachers who expected their students to grow minimally during the course of a school year. So, they had decided to "home school" Renesmee until she reached maturity when she would attend high school right along side her parents.
"Bella, honey, don't worry. Renesmee will never be exposed to the people of Forks. Charlie, Billy, and Sue are the only normal people who even know she exists. Technically, we could keep her right here in this house until she is fully grown." As always, Edward spoke with unwavering confidence. Bella, on the other hand, was a skeptic where this issue was concerned.
As they entered the living area of the Cullen house, Bella heard the clanging of pots and pans coming from the kitchen. Esme was at it again. Although Nessie much preferred to hunt and eat with the rest of the family, she had discovered one particularly favorite human food. Macaroni and Cheese.
One night not long after the Volturi encounter had ended, Sue Clearwater had made dinner for everyone as a celebration. One of the courses on the menu had been macaroni and cheese. Renesmee, being skeptical at first, had nervously taken a small bite and instantly been taken aback.
"Mama," she had gasped. "This is almost as good as…" Jacob had faked a coughing fit at that very moment because he was as sure as Bella that Nessie was going to say elk. But instead, she looked straight at Sue, turning on her most winning-you-over smile, and said, "The chocolate cake you made for Grandpa's birthday!" Jacob had breathed such a huge sigh of relief he didn't have to fake the next coughing fit.
"Esme, do you need any help in there?" Bella knew the answer before she even asked. Esme, wearing an apron that said "World's Best Grandma", stood in the doorway of the kitchen with a saucepan in one hand and a casserole dish in the other. "No thank you, Bella, dear. I just found this new recipe for mac and cheese on Food Network dot com, and I thought I'd try it out." Esme peeked around the door frame, her gaze searching for something, or someone in particular. "Where is that little granddaughter of mine, anyway?"
"She's out playing with Jacob." Edward gave Esme a quick little peck on the cheek. "She'll be back in a bit." He then strolled off into the piano room to entertain the chef while she cooked.
Bella took advantage of the moment alone and steeled quietly upstairs to the study. She had secretly enrolled in Kaplan University's on line school of law and would be working towards a degree in criminal justice. Subconsciously, she had always taken an interest in Charlie's work as a police officer, but had never really considered it as an option for herself taking into account her embarrassing aversion to blood. How could she possibly work a crime scene while lying on the floor passed out cold from the sight of the victim's blood? But, now that she had no such aversion…except the occasional desire to create a victim of her own and drink its blood, she had decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.
"Who are you kidding, Bella Cullen? A career?" Bella chided herself for the idea. But, why not? Carlisle had a career. After all, she did have plenty of time to devote to her studies, and thanks to becoming a vampire she now had the abilities it would take to pass all the necessary physical tests.
As Bella moved around the huge mahogany desk to boot up the computer, she noticed a small pink sticky note with a purple smiley attached to the monitor.
I need to see you, ASAP. I'll be in my room.
The handwriting was Alice's, although the pink sticky note alone would have been enough to give her away. With a sickening thud, Bella's heart fell into her stomach. At that moment, she realized two things. Alice had been conspicuously absent all day, and she knew her secret.
Jacob held Nessie's hand as they walked back into the Cullen's yard from the woods where they had been playing all afternoon. In the other hand, she held a bouquet of brilliant purple wild flowers that she had picked for Esme. "Grandma will love these," she had said with pride as she plucked first one, then another from its bush. Finally, after about the twentieth mutilated vine, Jacob had said, "Uh, Nessie, don't you want to save a few stems for new buds to grow on next year?" She had stopped and looked at him with the strangest expression on her face before asking incredulously, "Do you mean they'll come back? They won't stay dead?"
"That's right, Nessie. These vines will bloom again next year, and new flowers will grow in the place of those you picked today." Jacob had then hoisted her onto his back to give her a piggy back ride out of the forest.
Now, as they strolled across the lawn hand in hand, Jacob knew he could not put off the inevitable any longer. He had to tell Nessie that he would be spending a lot less time with her soon, and why. He stopped by the tire swing that Emmett had hung in an old Cyprus for Nessie to swing from when she had begged him to take her rock climbing with him one weekend. Bella had nearly had a stroke as she watched how high Emmett had pushed Nessie that first time in the swing. But Nessie had merely squealed with delight and pleaded, "Higher, Uncle Emmett! Higher! I want to touch the sky!" Renesmee, it seemed, was a bit of an adrenaline junky.
"Hey, Nessie. You wanna swing?" Jacob knew she would never pass up a chance to touch the sky. As Nessie laid the bouquet carefully on the ground and climbed into the tire, Jacob began to push her gently back and forth. He then reluctantly began the conversation he knew would break her young tender heart.
"Renesmee, you know I love you with all my heart, don't you?"
"Uh huh. You play with me everyday, all day." Renesmee kicked her feet and pulled the rope on the swing, straining with the effort to push herself higher. Absently, Jacob shoved a little harder on the tire, making it go higher, much to her delight.
"That's the thing, Nessie. Starting tomorrow, I won't be able to play with you all day, every day." Nessie's little nose wrinkled as she bit her bottom lip. Jacob grinned as he realized how much like Bella she looked when she did that.
"What do you mean, you won't be able to play with me tomorrow, Jacob Black? We always go hunting on Mondays." Nessie was eyeing him with a suspicious caution, her chocolate brown eyes narrowing around her wrinkled nose and pouting little mouth. Jacob stopped the swing and tweaked Nessie's nose playfully. Man, how he dreaded disappointing her - the center of his universe.
In reality, Jacob had not been with Renesmee every waking hour of every day for the past year. He had carried on his duties as Alpha of his pack, making sure that Leah didn't drive Seth, Quil, and Embry utterly insane with her "female beta, hear me growl" crap. At night, while Renessmee slept, he and the pack would run their patrols and meet up with Sam's pack to discuss any goings on that might need the Quileute's immediate attention. By morning, Jacob would be back at the cottage to greet Renesmee as she finished her breakfast. Even then, they didn't spend every minute together because there were eight vampires in the Cullen house competing for time with her as well.
Every member of the family had their own special activity they shared with Renesmee. Edward taught her music lessons, Bella read her poetry and great American novels, Alice took her shopping and played dress-up…much to the frustration of her parents who were trying very hard to keep the diva level down to a minimum. Rosalie was certainly no help in that department as Nessie had morphed into her own personal little super model since photography had become her latest newly discovered hobby. Rose had even made Emmett build Renesmee a makeshift runway in the family room! Attendance was mandatory at the weekly fashion shows.
"And what about the fashion show tomorrow night? Aunt Alice bought me a new dress, and Aunt Rose wants to take some pictures of me wearing it." Nessie's bottom lip poked out, and Jacob chuckled as he pinched it gently between his fingers.
"Careful, Nessie. You'll trip over it." She stuck her tongue out at him, and climbed down from the swing, holding her arms up in the air for him to pick her up and hold her. Instead, Jacob dropped to the ground, sitting cross-legged on the grass, and pulled her onto his lap. "Do you remember after Christmas when all the stuff went down with the Volturi?" Jacob asked.
"Uh huh. We had lots of company and I made lots of new friends." Nessie smiled as she laid her hand on Jacob's cheek and many familiar faces popped into his mind. Zafrina, Siobhan, Benjamin, and Tia were just a few. He took her hand in his and hugged her close. "Well, I missed a lot of school during that time. A whole semester, actually. Now, I have to go back to school so I can graduate next June with the rest of my class."
Jacob had not returned to school after the visit from the Volturi because he had accompanied Bella, Edward, and Nessie to the Amazon to visit Zafrina for a couple of months. Then, before returning to Forks, they had met back up with the rest of the Cullen family in Alaska to visit the Denali clan and attend Kate's wedding. She and Garrett, the charismatic nomad, had fallen in love while visiting the Cullens during the month of preparation for the Volturi confrontation, and he had followed her back to Alaska to live with her family after it was all over. They were married in the spring on what would have been her sister Irina's birthday. Irina had been the only casualty during the Volturi's march on Forks. Caius had killed her in an attempt to provoke a physical fight between the two sides. By the time Jacob and the Cullens had returned to Forks, summer was fast approaching, and the school year was all but over. So, Jacob had spent a lot of time during the summer making up for the lost semester by taking correspondence courses on line. He was now caught up and ready to begin his senior year at the Quileute School on the reservation.
Renesmee nudged her face into the curve of Jacob's neck, and hugged him tightly.
"Do you have to go to school tomorrow, Jacob? Is that why you won't be able to play with me?" Jacob sighed and stood up, cradling her in his arms. "Yep. 'Fraid so. Sorry, Nessie. I'd rather be here with you any day than stuck at school all day." Renesmee once again bit down on her bottom lip and crinkled her face, contemplating. She clamored down from Jake's arms and took his big gruff hand into her tiny delicate one and said, "Its okay. You'll come see me after school. We can play then. You can even watch my fashion show tomorrow night!" And, off she went... swiftly picking up Esme's bouquet of purple flowers and running gracefully into the house with a couple of perfectly performed somersaults thrown in for good measure.
Bella stood outside Alice's bedroom door and took one huge gulp of air to still her nerves. Just as she was about to curve her hand around the door knob, the door flew open and there stood Alice with an exasperated expression on her face. Alice yanked Bella into the room and practically threw her into the oversized arm chair in the corner. "What ever took you so long? I've been going absolutely stir-crazy in here all day!"
Bella looked at Alice with what she hoped was a believable expression of ignorance and said, "Why have you been hiding in here all day, any way?" Alice stamped her foot and slammed her tiny hands on her hips, her eyes flashing a golden bronze. "Don't you play dumb with me, missy! I have been hiding from Edward because I know you haven't told him about your little plan to become the next police chief of Forks!"
Bella rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. "I do not intend to be the police chief. I will be perfectly happy as a detective."
"Ugh!" Alice threw herself dramatically across the bed and covered her face with a throw pillow. "Edward is going to have a coronary. Which, incidentally, will be quite astonishing since he Has. No. Heart. Beat!" Bella caught the pillow with one hand as it sailed across the room at breakneck speed.
"Don't be such a drama queen, Alice. Edward wants me to be happy. He'll be just fine with my going back to school."
Alice stared her down with a "yeah right, what planet are you living on" expression until Bella shrugged helplessly and squeaked pitifully, "At least I hope he'll be fine with it."
"Well, not to sound like it's all about me or anything, but when exactly do you plan on discussing this matter with my brother? I would like to be able to leave my room sometime this century."
Bella twisted her face into a nervously apprehensive scowl and whispered, "Tonight. I'll tell him tonight. As soon as Renesmee is asleep."