All five of us froze in place, which maybe wasn't the best idea, given our positions, but we were too shocked to move. I was lying spread-eagle across Jacob, who was on his side on the ground. Emmett had his arms wrapped around my leg, had one leg under Jacob, and the other leg going up and over his head, where it was held by Edward's outstretched arms. I knew it was Edward because I knew him so well, and by process of elimination. Only his arms and feet were visible poking out from underneath the werewolf. Jasper was the only one actually standing, but it didn't look like a good thing, as his torso was caught in Jacob's teeth. He had his hands stretched toward Jake's ear, like he was about to rip it off.
We all tried to look innocent. From Esme's glare, it didn't work. Carlisle was standing behind her with just the barest hint of mirth in his eyes.
"Alice tried to call you," Esme growled. "She said that a few reports of unusual thunder had come in and that if the noise didn't stop, in about five minutes there would be a full investigation of the area to see if someone was using illegal explosives!"
Oh. We hadn't really been thinking about how loud we were.
One of Edward's hands disappeared, sliding under the wolf and returning with what probably used to be a cell phone.
"Hmm," Emmett mused, the only one of us in a position to get a good look at the shattered bits of plastic and metal. "I guess that's why we didn't hear it ring. Let's check to see if she left a voicemail."
We all burst out laughing, but it died in our throats when we caught the look of fire in Esme's eyes.
"All of you," she barked, "follow me."
We carefully extricated ourselves from our incriminating positions. We were all filthy, and Alice would be furious when she saw what we had done to our clothes. I grabbed Edward's hand as we trudged after Esme and Carlisle, smiling a bit at his torn jeans, missing shoe, and shirt that was hanging off one shoulder.
"She seems in a really bad mood," I whispered in his ear. "I've never seen her like this."
"I've only ever seen her this mad two other times. Once was when Emmett and I accidentally knocked down the Tudor home she was remodeling."
"And the other time?"
His face was sheepish. "I don't want to talk about it."
I definitely needed to ask Alice about that one.
I noticed that Emmett and Jasper were hanging their heads, and that Edward seemed to be concentrating on something as we all trudged through the trees. Jacob was walking behind us, on two legs now, and didn't appear as morose as the others. I wondered what he and I were missing.
"We're in trouble, aren't we?" I asked Edward.
"Yes, lots," he said.
"Why? We've made messes before-"
"And they've annoyed her. I suppose you could call this the straw that broke the camel's back. Plus, she wasn't happy about having her time with Carlisle interrupted."
"Ah." Well, I couldn't imagine what was really in store for us, but I guessed from the boys' expressions that it wouldn't be pleasant. "What happened when you and Emmett broke the house?"
"She made us rebuild it." He flinched at the memory.
"That doesn't sound too bad," I said, confused. A vampire could build a house in a couple weeks, I'd guess. It might even be fun.
But Edward was shaking his head at me. "She hired a couple contractors to watch us and give us directions. We had to use tools and move at human speed and not work at night. It took 18 months."
Ew. That did sound less than appealing. "What is she planning for us now?" I was afraid I didn't want to find out.
"She's either decided and doesn't want me to hear it, or she doesn't know herself yet."
The house came into view as we emerged from the trees. But today, the large house on the lake didn't calm me like it usually did. We all trooped into the living room where Esme stood with her arms folded. She pointed to the huge leather couch.
"Sit," she commanded.
Before we had taken two steps, I noticed her eyes zero in on Edward holding my hand, and she stopped us.
"Edward," she said, pointing. He sighed, released me, and sat on the far left. She continued down the line. "Jasper. Jacob. Emmett. Bella."
When we were all in place, she came to stand in front of the large TV, facing us. "Now children. I can see that you need a lesson on playing nicely with each other. And I think it's best you learn from one of the most famous happy families."
Edward gasped as he finally saw what she had in mind, but the rest of us couldn't see what she pulled out of the cupboard and loaded into our 6-disc DVD player. It wasn't until the theme music started that the rest of us caught on.
"You're making us watch Full House?!!"
The protests came from all sides until she glared at us again. If looks could kill...
"You will all sit there quietly. You will not speak. You will not touch each other."
"For how long?" Jacob asked. It was amazing how he thought of Esme as 'Mom' like the rest of us.
"Until I say so." Esme then marched across the hall to Carlisle's study, leaving the door open, and pulled out her latest set of blueprints.
This had to be pure torture. From the very first "the baby's sleeping like a baby" it was all I could do to resist gagging. Jacob actually did, and that earned us 'four more episodes' from Esme. The jokes were bad, the acting was nauseating, and the sappy 'aw' moments were worse. How long could she subject us to this?
Ten episodes into our "time out", Nessie and the others got home, laden with so many bags we could hardly see them. They didn't look surprised to see us all sulking on the couch, so Alice must have tipped them off. Rosalie asked if they were allowed to greet the prisoners, but at Esme's refusal, she shrugged and the three of them went upstairs. We could hear them admiring each other's new outfits in Rosalie's room.
After another three episodes I took a risk by calling out. "Esme, it's Nessie's bedtime."
She pursed her lips for a moment, and then called, "Nessie."
My daughter came streaming into the hallway wearing a white pea coat, hat, and long green skirt. "Yeah, Grandma?"
"How would like to have Grandpa tuck you in tonight?"
Nessie looked over to the rest of us, all sitting with our arms crossed and sour expressions on our faces, and seemed to understand. She gave us an amused look before agreeing. "Okay!"
We were permitted to kiss our daughter as she bid us all good night, and then resumed our torture under Esme's watchful eye.
Around midnight, the first season was over. We looked pleadingly at Esme, who looked a great deal calmer than before. She turned the TV off and stood facing us.
"Alright, everyone, what did you learn?"
I didn't need Alice's talent to tell me I shouldn't let Emmett answer that question, so I quickly said, "Families are supposed to help each other out. They lift each other up when someone is down. And always are kind and say nice things."
I held my breath, hoping that my delivered line would be taken well. Esme thought about it for a minute, looking each of us in the eyes. Finally, she nodded, and a sly smile spread across her face.
"Okay, you're free. But if I ever catch you being so reckless again, you'll seriously regret it."
We scattered before she could change her mind. Edward and I were racing through the trees towards the house we had four blocks over. No one would see us in this dark. I was aware of Jacob, in wolf form again, running beside us.
Our garage was Jacob's workshop, the intent being that he and Rosalie wouldn't kill each other. So much for them bonding over their favorite pastime; we were lucky the garage in Forks had remained intact after their first attempt to work at the same time. He had a loft in the two-car space, thanks to Esme, and we were all happy with the arrangement. It meant that he was never very far from Renesmee without actually having to sleep in the same house while Edward and I were...otherwise occupied.
Carlisle was waiting for us in the front room, a large book in his hands. He smiled at us when we came in. "Are you free or just on probation?"
"Ugh," I groaned. "Free, I hope. How was Nessie?"
"Just fine. We read another chapter of Les Mis and then she fell right to sleep."
"Thanks, Carlisle," Edward said. "Sorry we got in trouble and ruined your afternoon."
He chuckled once and stood. "Not at all. I find it highly entertaining when Esme gets strict with you."
"Because then she's not mad at you?" Edward guessed.
Carlisle's gave us a wicked smile. "Maybe. We'll see you in the morning."
When Carlisle was gone, Edward and I darted up to peek into Nessie's room, where she slept soundly, and then to our large master bedroom.
As was routine, I pushed on my shield to talk to Edward. He requested that we work on it every night.
Well, that could have been worse. I was picturing rebuilding houses or being forced to eat rabbits for a month.
"I suppose. It still didn't mean it was fun."
Oh, come on. And then I imagined Danny Tanner holding out his arms. Give me a hug.
Edward chuckled, moving to kiss my neck. "Oh, puh-leaze"
You're not even kissing my lips? How rude!
He eagerly obliged, and I had another line to quote, but completely forgot it as he and I tumbled onto our huge white bed. I was sure he was as determined as I was to enjoy the few short hours we had left before Nessie woke up.
What with huge fights, torturous television, and limited time with Edward, I was definitely never taking a bet with Emmett again.