Didn't own 'em last chapter, don't own 'em this chapter. A thousand thanks to Cheddah for being an amazing beta for me while LucyLu was unavailable.
BPOV. One year later.
Soggy wisps of golden hair that had slipped out from under Rosalie's hat waved in the wind as she started for first base. The wooden bat dropped from her hand and rolled until it bumped against my feet. She was a blur of white skin and pink t-shirt as her foot tagged second base and headed for third. The hit would be a home run. The ball had disappeared in to the trees beyond the field and Emmett would never catch it in time.
"Damn it, Emmett! Run, you big bastard!" Esme's glove clipped Jasper on the side of his head.
"Language," she lectured sternly.
He had the grace to look apologetic as Emmett burst from the woods holding the dingy, slick ball above his head. Greenery and mud plastered his clothes and arms, but his smile was made of victory.
"OUT!" His boisterous laughter filled the field, causing Rosalie to pause at third base. Her pretty features twisted into something malevolent and dangerous.
"You're a liar and a despicable cheat, Emmett Cullen!" Her voice was low and icy.
"'Fraid not, babe." His smile only grew at her growl. Baiting her on purpose was Emmett's favorite game. If you called teasing an angry bear with super strength a game. "It's our turn to bat, so get your pretty ass out on the field." He smacked her hip as he jogged past.
"Wait," Rosalie called out. She smirked at her husband before squatting next to where Alice and I huddled together on the ground, a few feet from the field. She had to tilt Alice's head up to get her attention. "Did you see if Emmett caught the ball?"
Emmett looked at Jasper, nervously shifting from foot to foot in a silly, human-like motion.
Alice stared at our sister, puzzled, before shaking her head, "I'm concentrating on Bella." She cut her murky gray eyes to me and then quickly back down at the ground, drawing patterns blindly against the grass.
Realizing the resident psychic would be no help, Rosalie huffed and picked up the bat. She threw it to Emmett with more force than was necessary.
Since the teams couldn't be even with five people, Esme remained on the pitcher's mound while Rosalie and Carlisle took the outfield. Thunder clapped and lightening tore through the sky, illuminating the dark clouds and thick tree tops. On this mountainous hill, so close to the sky, the stars were bright and clear behind the water filled clouds. According to Alice, the drizzle would pass soon and I would be able to see the constellations .
Alice began to hum softly, her dark hair limp and slightly wavy from the rain. She was the first thing I knew after the pain, the burning that had lasted forever. Time had meant nothing to me then. I couldn't tell night from day or an hour from seconds. Divine coolness would interrupt the fire from time to time, and I only lived to feel it again. When my eyes had finally opened, there was no beating heart in my body, no pulsing organs churning and working. Only a small girl, about fifteen with old eyes, a halo of unruly hair and a smile; in that moment Alice became both mother and Maker to me.
I had been alone in the world, sad and bereft when Alice found me. An orphan, slowly dying of an incurable disease. In a vision, Alice had been called to me as I lay, lonely and painfully slipping away from the world. When I first awoke, I had been startled by the the shiny, white fangs visible between her pink painted lips. She took me and changed me, saved me. She gave me life again and took away the horrible pain that I could now only faintly remember.
My mind can recall waking in Alice's slender arms and every other thing about this life. Anything that came before the fire that burned through my veins was completely lost to me.
Carlisle had worried so much about me in those first few months, fearing as the others had that I would hate the vampiric life. Esme's eyes still teared pink sometimes when she gazed me, no doubt picturing disgust and resentment for them, for her, spreading across my face. It was a completely ridiculous thought.
The best thing in the world that could have happened to anyone, happened to me. I was whisked away from a short life of pain, decay and loneliness, and given eternal life, a family and love. Certainly, as with all good things, there were drawbacks, especially considering our lifestyle.
Unlike the other, more roguish of our kind, my family and I only consumed animal blood. It never fully quenched the thirst, but it worked and it was much simpler than hunting humans. We ate not for pleasure, but for sustenance. Carlisle said it kept us connected to our humanity. I supposed he would know. As the esteemed Dr. Carlisle Cullen, he spent the most time around humans.
Others of my family, especially Jasper, pined at times to feel the sun's rays once more, but I couldn't remember what basking in sunlight had felt like. For me, the sun was nothing to grieve over; it was only a very large, hot star that would burn me to a crisp if I ever encountered it.
I watched my family playing the very human, very American past time and smiled. They were everything to me now.
Esme, a barren mother of five eternal children. She doted on all of us, but me especially. As the youngest and newest vampire, she was constantly watching how often I ate, how much I rested, how well I was developing. There was no one kinder or better than Esme; she was our heart. She kept us together and loving each other, even when we wanted to rip each other apart.
Carlisle, our leader and father. Esme's rock. He was the night shift ER doctor at Forks General. He was the oldest vampire I knew. Calm and deliberate, he carried the burden of protecting our coven and we all respected him deeply. Esme may have been our heart, our mediator, our reason for sticking together, but Carlisle made all that possible. He was our soul. He kept us grounded, human. He reminded us that even the life of a vampire is all about choices.
Emmett and Rosalie, husband and wife, my brother and sister, immortal prankster and eternal pessimist. It was easy to see why Emmett and Rose were drawn to one another. They lived to one-up, to win, to be the very best. Emmett was the most blunt, honest person I had ever encountered. Rosalie was vain and moody, but her heart was good and her love for her family beyond comparison. Emmett was our humor and Rosalie was our realist. She kept us strong and he kept us laughing.
Jasper, Alice's husband and my quiet confidant. Lean and scarred from the Southern Wars, he had been frightening to me at first. He supported his wife unconditionally, devoted to her every whim or thought. He taught me to track and hunt, to feed quickly and cleanly. Ever the strategist, he was my chess partner and the one who always covered our tracks with falsified documents and computer records.
They were everything I had ever known and all I could ever ask for.
Still though, there was an achy hole deep inside my belly. It was constant and it was distracting at times. It made me restless and compelled me to search for something unseen. I could never place my finger on what I needed to be looking for. Blood couldn't quell it, knowledge couldn't soothe it. Sometimes Alice looked at me like she could see right through me, right to the hole and knew what could make it right, but we never, ever spoke of it. I could never let my family know what a viciously ungrateful girl I was, to have the whole world at my fingertips and still not be satisfied.
Rose cheered and Emmett groaned as Jasper struck out. He never could resist Esme's curve balls, but he never hit them either. Can't teach an old vampire new tricks, I thought. As they changed positions again, I looked over to Alice, still lost in her own mind, and thought back to the night I met her.
"I'm Bella." I meant it as a statement, but looked to the girl beside me for confirmation. She nodded.
"And a vampire," she said. Leaning in close, she took one of my hands in her own and forced one of my fingers to extend. Gently, she pushed the pad of my finger to one of the fangs protruding from my own mouth. Though I wasn't sure why, the news and the teeth were surprising to me. A part of me knew I had not always been this way, but I couldn't remember not being this way. I couldn't remember anything...
"Did you do this to me?" I was freely touching my new, elongated teeth on my own. Despite my own uncertainty about myself, my mind readily accepted what she was telling me.
She hesitated with a tilt of her head, but shrugged.
My stomach jerked and I recalled green eyes and pain. I wanted to ask her about this, but the girl was no longer looking at me, her eyes trained on the far wall, squinting a bit.
"Where am I?"
She sighed and refocused on me. "Apologies. I get ahead of myself. My name is Alice Cullen and I'm going to help you. You are in Washington. A place called Forks."
"Help me with what?"
She didn't make much sense to me, but then again, a lot didn't make sense to me at the moment.
"So, I drink blood?" I frowned down at the mug of warm red liquid she had forced in to my hands.
"You will. The Cullens drink animal blood. That is bear, from Emmett." She refilled the mug with more lukewarm blood from a thermos. "We will teach you later how to eat properly."
"The Cullens?" My brain whirred with all this new information. It was overwhelming yes, but I could easily compute it all in fractions of seconds.
I had a family? Were they my family before Alice did whatever she did to make me like this? I opened my mouth to ask, but she cut me off.
"No, we only met you a few days ago."
I stared. "Can you read minds?"
A shake of nearly black hair and her fingers trailed along the seams in the bedspread crumpled by my feet. "I can see past today, into tomorrow."
"You're a psychic?"
"Are all vampires psychic?"
"No. And not all vampires are as calm as you upon waking."
Calm? I didn't feel calm. I felt like I would burst from my skin. So many different urges were bombarding me. There was someone pacing outside the door and I wanted to fling open the door and tear his legs off. I wanted my mug to be filled again, but with something else. Something strong and more pleasing. There was a nagging presence in the back of my mind that I was missing something, something that should always be with me. My eyes kept falling on different things in the room, and becoming entirely distracted in how interesting they were. I could see all the threads woven in to the sheets of the bed I was sitting on. I could see in to the seams where the handle fused to my mug. I wanted to run and jump and pull things apart with my hands. I wanted to find the others in the house that I could smell, the others that were like Alice and I, and know them. I wanted everything all at once.
"What else?" My smooth fingernails traced each imperfection in my cup.
"No sun, no sleep, no fire, poison runs through your veins. Your heart is your only true weakness. I can pull your arm off and it will reattach. Age will grant you strength." She smiled. "There is a lot more that you will learn in time."
"What will the sun do?"
"Dust to dust. It's very painful. Fire, too."
It felt like learning everything for the first time, but not really. Not learning, so much as perhaps... understanding? My body knew what she was saying but my conscious was just catching up.
"Come, meet your family." Alice led me by my hand out the doorway into a hallway painted a warm, off-white shade. Paintings and gray scale photography lined the walls. A beautiful dark wood staircase reached from the the floor we were on down to a second level, another hallway with more art. More steps down to the ground level where five other vampires waited. The living room was large and very airy. The ceilings were high with wood beams criss-crossing over it. One wall was made up almost entirely of windows and the world outside was an inky darkness, lit only by moonlight. Couches and chairs of a soft, brown fabric were arranged in a kind of semi-circle around the large fire place with its pale stone chimney.
A tall, blue eyed man and a brunette woman stood to face me from the couch they were sitting in. Her hazel eyes were a sharp contrast against her pale face. The man's fingers were lean and graceful and I found myself entranced by them. The way they curled lightly on the hand that hung at his side, the way they twined with the lady's. The nails were shiny and reflected off the light from the harsh, glaring lights from the ceiling.
"Carlisle and Esme," Alice gestured towards the beautiful couple. "They are the head of our family."
Unsure of what to do, I nodded.
Esme beamed back at me, whispering, "Another daughter, Carlisle." Her eyes were rimmed with pinkish tears.
Carlisle extended a hand full of beautiful fingers to me. "Come sit down, Bella." His smile was genuine and warm. I couldn't say no to him, so I went to his side and sat down on the far end of the couch. To my great relief, Alice sat at my feet, her back pressed against my legs.
Across from us was another blonde man who didn't look half as friendly as the first. His face was drawn and tight, covered in small, white scars. He wasn't exactly glaring at me, but he didn't look happy to see me.
"Jasper." Alice pointed to him. "My husband." She smiled and he smiled back faintly. Even that was frightening.
There were two others. A voluptuous blonde girl with a face like an angel and the body of a succubus. She, too, looked unhappy. I shied my eyes from her quickly. Next to her was what had to be the largest man ever. Dark curls crowned his brow and his blue eyes stood out starkly against his pale, dimpled face.
"Rose, be nice. You're scaring her." He elbowed the angel girl and she scowled at him before throwing me a half smile.
"I'm Emmett," he told me with a big grin. "I caught a bear for you. They're probably the best."
"Hi," I waved weakly at all of them, snaking my legs around Alice's waist to rest my feet on her thighs. Her finger tips traced the bones in my foot and ankle. It didn't tickle. Why was it surprising to me that it didn't tickle?
"Bella," Carlisle patiently called my attention. "I know Alice can be a bit... difficult to understand. Did you have any questions for us?"
We must have sat in that room for a very long time because I soon felt a tug in my chest and looked to Alice. She easily read the fear in my eyes and smiled. "It's just the coming sun. Emmett and Jasper will go fix the windows now."
And sure as she spoke, the two rose and began lowering large, metal shutters on all the windows.
Carlisle had just finished explaining our venom, the substance in our blood that made us vampires, to me. How toxic it was to humans, how healing it was for vampires. It came from our mouths, our eyes, from everywhere.
"Is... is it normal that I can't remember anything?" My teeth worried my lower lip.
"Some never remember," Alice said while Esme smiled and stroked my hair.
Beside me, Alice gasped and stared at Carlisle. Or through Carlisle. One could never really tell. I chose not comment. She would speak when she was ready.
I had only given up recovering my memory a few months ago. Jasper refused to look me up in the computer and everyone, even calm, ever-patient Esme, had grown sick of my desire to know.
"It's just one of those things, dear. Leave it be," she had said.
"I once knew another vampire who couldn't remember," Carlisle had told me. "He eventually regained bits and pieces, but not much. You know... your change was very similar to his..." And with that, he had wandered away in to his study.
It was Emmett who finally put a stop to my pestering. "Isabella," he had said, which immediately caught my attention. No one ever called me that. "Eternity is entirely too long for you to ask me the same question over and over again. It kind of makes me want to pull your tongue out."
He'd said it with a smile, which made me pretty sure he was kidding; I stopped asking just in case.
And he was right, our lives were much too long for me to worry over something so trite. So, I buried the questions deep inside and as Esme instructed, let it be.
Sometimes though, I still thought about it. As I lay alone in my room during the day I couldn't help but thinking of the emptiness inside me. The part that constantly longed and called for me to search high and low until I found the thing that could make me whole once more. I wondered if my missing memory could be the thing that would ease this feeling.
Four innings later, with Emmett and Jasper's team in the lead, Esme called the game to an end.
"The sun will be up soon and Bella should eat before we retire."
One moment the clearing was filled with movement and noise, the next it was silent and still and we were rushing through the pines. Emmett dodged to the right almost as soon as we entered the forest and found a herd of deer. He, Rosalie and Jasper brought it down quickly. Alice motioned just ahead of me and I found a mountain lion that had been stalking the deer.
The cat put up a great struggle, but in the end was no match for my strength. I broke its neck and drank quickly. My thirst had been stronger than I thought and Alice must have known that because when I looked up from my lion, she was dropping a large elk next to me with a bloody smile.
After finishing off the elk, I felt sated and lazy. Alice pulled me up and we started hand in hand back to the house. The others had long gone, needing much less blood than me.
"What's in my future, Alice," I finally asked. At times, I felt like a customer at a carnival fortune teller's tent. Madame Alice, the thought made me giggle and feel guilty at the same time. Alice had been far too good to me for me to make fun of something she couldn't change, and probably wouldn't change given the choice. We all owed small bits of happiness, like today's baseball game, and avoiding huge life altering mistakes to Alice's foresight. Usually my Maker's premonitions were a complete surprise to me, but this time felt different. The hole inside of me that normally ached with need was tugging but in a new and different way. It was willing me to move faster, to run towards something. Something good was coming, it said.
She was still frowning, not lifting her eyes from the ground. "The future keeps changing. Someone is traveling to us, but the 'who' keeps changing." Finally she looked up, her old eyes betraying her youth and clouded over with what was to come. "It makes it hard to plan."
I laughed and shook my head. Only Alice would be worried she couldn't plan for unannounced guests. I tugged on her hand and broke out into a run.
"Race me to the field?"
I was probably the fastest in our family, with Esme and Jasper as close seconds, and I loved to run. It made me feel loose and alive to have the verdant greenery rushing past me, the wind filling my ears. It was freeing and wild to run with no inhibitions, no worries.
At her nod, I was off like a shot.
We caught up with the others on the patio behind the house. Rosalie and Emmett had already showered in the outside cubicle and changed in to fresh clothes. The roomy wooden stall that rinsed the blood from us before Esme allowed us in the house reeked of my brother and sister and sex.
"Gross, you guys. You do have a bedroom."
Jasper snickered behind me, scooping Alice in to his arms and letting her climb around to his back.
"And you'd complain more if you had to hear us in our bedroom." Rosalie winked at me. I made gagging noises back at her, drawing a laugh from Emmett.
"We need to find Bella a man. Maybe she'll butt out of everyone's sex lives if she's getting some," he said, waggling his eyebrows in my direction.
Alice growled over Jasper's thick, blonde curls. "That is already set, Emmett. Stop meddling."
I looked questioningly to Alice and she shook her head, motioning for her husband to put her down. "Esme," she took our mother by the hand and moved away from us to speak in whispers as only vampires can. Esme looked ecstatic, Alice looked unhappy. Carlisle joined them after a moment, his face unreadable. My ears strained towards them.
"Stop eavesdropping, Isabella." Esme thrust a warning finger at me without taking her eyes off Alice. Apparently, even death can't stop magic mom knowledge.
I looked at Jasper and he only shrugged. "We'll find out when Alice is ready for us to, I suppose."
He laughed as I began to pout and started pushing me towards the shower stall. I screeched and dug my feet in, trying to push back at him. There was no chance he was going to make me shower in there.
Never one to miss out on the fun, Emmett grabbed me about the waist and tossed me from the patio to the back yard. Dirt and blood was smeared all over his fresh clothes, much to Rose's loud disgust, but he, being Emmett, ignored her and moved down in front of me, slightly crouched.
Ah, it was time for wrestling, was it? Jasper watched from the sidelines of the patio, grinning. He and I had been working on different plans of approach for me to beat Emmett. As the older one, he was already much stronger than I, but Emmett was probably one of the strongest vampires there was. Carlisle theorized it was an extra power bestowed upon him by the change, like Alice's sight. But, as Jasper so lovingly pointed out, strength wasn't everything. I would have to out smart Emmett.
He lunged and I jumped, dancing nimbly out of his path. I watched for every little twitch of his person, anything that would tell me he was about to move again. Once more, Emmett lunged for me but instead of getting out of his way, I stood my ground. Just as his hands reached my shoulders, I grabbed his shirt and fell back, flipping both of us. I landed on top of him and quickly worked to turn him around on his stomach. In that position, I could pull his arms up and back while pressing my knee deeply between his shoulder blades.
Emmett bucked me off and rounded on me again, laughing.
"Go take a shower in my bathroom, Bella." Alice was suddenly in front of me, surprising us both and running her fingers through my tangled hair.
"But," I pointed at the Emmett who looked just as put out as I did. Alice shook her head.
"What about..." This time I directed my finger to the outside shower. Esme never let us inside without at least rinsing off. We had white carpets, after all.
"Go." Alice pointed to the door, her attention focused solely on Jasper now with frown lines creasing her brow.
Grumbling and uncertain, I slipped my shoes off at the door and went upstairs to Alice and Jasper's en-suite bathroom. It was hardly surprising to find fresh clothes for me laid out on their bed. I shed my ruined ones and stepped into the white marble shower stall. Warm water began to fall from the overhead spout at the press of a button. It streaked down my body, catching dirt and blood to run colorful rivers to the drain.
Alice quietly entered the bathroom and sat on the bathmat. I could hear the fibers of the rug rustling as she ran her hands through them. Alice's obsession with touching things was normal to me now. She was constantly stroking fabrics and people, tapping against counters and utensils, or leaning against walls. As if the physical contact was the only thing keeping her from floating away into the recesses of her mind and wandering through visions without ever seeing reality.
I tilted my head to wet my hair and washed while I talked to Alice. "What's going on?"
"Edward is coming home."
"Who?" Edward was a name I'd never heard before, but it caused an odd warmth to rise in my stomach.
"He is Carlisle's first Child." Alice's fingers ghosted over the frosted glass as I tried to shrug off my strange reaction.
"I thought Esme was?"
"Edward, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett."
"Carlisle has a thing for 'E' names, doesn't he?" My attempt at humor fell flat and Alice hummed at me from behind the glass. "How come I've never heard of him?"
"We didn't want to upset you." Her words sent a chill through me, even as the warmth grew.
"Why would Carlisle having another Child upset me?" Honestly, I was a little shaken. It felt like they had been lying to me instead of just neglecting to tell me.
A sob broke from Alice, startling me.
"Get dressed and ask Carlisle."
I heard her getting up to leave.
"Alice, wait! Wait!" Panic doused my veins and I scrambled out of the shower. I caught her arm just at the bedroom door, a towel precariously wrapped around me. "Please, tell me what's going on." My earlier feeling had been wrong. Nothing good was going to happen today. This was all very, very bad.
Alice cupped my face and kissed my cheeks, wetness staining hers. "I can't." She pressed her lips in to a hard line and stroked my face. "Please ask Carlisle."
And she left me standing there, confused and a little frightened.
I dressed in the heather gray wrap dress my Maker had laid out for me; it had navy trim and heels that matched. Esme came in and pulled my hair back into a pretty chignon. She loaned me her sapphire necklace and kissed my cheek.
The rest of the family had changed as well, all adopting a rather casual sophisticated look a lot like mine.
Jasper and Emmett were already getting the windows ready for the day, even though we still had a few hours. I went to help them.
"Thanks. Alice says Edward will be gettin' here just before dawn, so it'll be easier to go ahead get this out of the way." Jasper's arm slipped around my shoulders, his lips at my temple. "And don't worry. We'll all be here with you. You're a Cullen, too."
I buried my face in his shoulder. "Everyone is acting so strangely about this. I really just don't get it."
"Bella?" Carlisle gently pulled me from my brother and asked me to sit with him on the couch. I could tell Alice had left the house. Her scent was here, but not as strongly as it should be. She had left me and it made me even more nervous. My fingers twisted in my lap and I chewed my lip viciously.
"Alice said she told you Edward is coming home."
"This is a very delicate situation. We haven't seen Edward in many, many years. He left us in 1968 and we rarely hear from him."
"What does it have to do with me," I asked as Esme sat down behind me, forcing my lip from between my teeth before stroking my arms in a calming up and down motion. Rosalie sat down on the back of the couch and, in a very un-Rose like gesture, pressed a sad kiss to the top of my head.
"Bella, Edward..." Carlisle faltered for a moment. "Edward is your Maker."
Shock was not the proper word. Neither was surprise or dismay or perplex. Some combination of those with confusion sprinkled on top was what I felt. The warmth, though, grew a little more. It now encompassed my entire torso.
But, Alice said-"
"Alice told you what was best at the time. We didn't know if Edward ever would come home." Carlisle's eyes were weary, the weight of his years showing on his lovely face.
"No. That's not -no! Alice told me. She told me! I was dying! She saved me. She made me!" I stood and looked to Jasper for support. His blue eyes were hard and sad as he silently gazed back at me. My eyes moved to Emmett, who refused to meet my eyes.
"Bella, we didn't know how to tell you..." Esme reached out for me and I backed away.
"She lied? Alice lied? What.. I don't..." I turned in every direction to look at each member of my family, waiting, praying for them to tell me this was all a very mean joke.
It was Jasper who stepped forward. "Alice saw you in a vision. Edward had already changed you, but..." he sighed and ran a hand through his hair, glaring at the wall behind me. "He left. He... I don't know. He left. So, we came and got you. So, yes. You were dying and yes, Alice did save you. Just not in the same way you thought." He looked down at the rug. "We didn't know if he would ever come back. It just seemed like the best thing to do."
"But, then, why? Why am I not with him? Why did he leave?" I began pacing furiously in front of the fire. "She lied. She just... lied to me. You all did." My arms wrapped themselves around my middle.
Emmett and Jasper moved behind the couch with Rosalie and watched me. The silence in the room was choking. My questions needed to be answered. Was I only some orphan ward they took in? What was wrong with me that this Edward didn't want me?
Somehow, though, it felt right. Edward was my Maker. I could faintly recall bright green eyes above me, a dulcet moan in my ear.
"Edward couldn't stay with you. Alice saw-"
"Oh, fuck what Alice saw," I interrupted Jasper. "She's a liar. You're all liars." My movements became jerky and uncoordinated.
"Language," Esme gently reminded me.
Frustration filled me at being unable to even express my anger verbally. This was bullshit. How dare this Edward make me and dump me off on the Cullens! How dare they accept me like a lost puppy, a little pet! No, he couldn't be allowed to come back and ruin this for me. I had a place, a Maker, a family. I was happy, damn it!
"Bella, please calm down." Emmett came around and held his arms out to me for hug. Against my will, I fell against him and cried.
"Please, please don't make me leave with him." My fingers clutched at his shirt, staining it with blood from my eyes.
"Shh, kiddo. No one's going anywhere." He rocked me a bit. "You belong with us."
"We only wanted what was best for you. We never wanted you to hurt." Jasper's normally strong voice was choked and Emmett handed me over to him so he could go change his shirt.
Jasper held me and sat by the fireplace, the flames warming our skin while Carlisle readied himself to go the airport and get Edward. I barely grunted when he asked to take my Aston Martin. Alice returned just as Carlisle left. She sat by Jasper and I, just staring and sniffling quietly. I couldn't even look at her to speak to her.
"It'll be okay, Bella." Jasper's lips moved against my temple in his quite mantra.
In the background I could hear Rosalie complaining to Esme about my being coddled. Esme quickly, but politely told her to shut up. "I can't imagine how hard this must be for her, Rosalie," she said before pulling my sister in to a hug. That was Esme, kind to a fault. Our pain was her pain.
I buried my face in Jasper's chest and felt Alice's hand slip in to mine. Despite the lies and the pain I felt, I knew what Jasper had said was true. Alice would never do anything to hurt me. No matter what else changed tonight, she would always be the one who was there when my eyes first opened, the one who nurtured and took care of me.
Settled by those thoughts, I squeezed her hand and waited to see what Edward's arrival would bring.