Chapter Twenty-four: Smiley Face
Sincere thanks to goldengirl2707 for the absolutely stunning banner, which you may see on my Facebook fan page. Link's on my profile.
Thanks to ladylibre for pre-reading.
If you haven't done so, please check out my interview with my dear friend Lissa Bryan, in which we discuss my professional pen name, my writing, influences and the progress I've made on my book:
lissabryan dot blogspot ca/2013/01/a-conversation-with-author-j-molly-brown
Yep, that's my name, feel free to share it. LOL. There's a picture of me there, too. Guess I'm out of the Twi-closet now, peeps. My extended family knows, too. They're pretty excited.
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There's no corresponding chapter of LAF for this, but you might get one for Fade-to-Blacks. ;))
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental. Opinions expressed are those of the characters, and may not reflect those of the author. Ivo belongs to me. And to Leah. Hands off or she'll tear you a new orifice. Grr. And that also goes for Caleb Swan.
I'm appalled by Seth's behaviour right now, but Apple is adamant that this is how her story goes.
Music for this chapter can be found on the jmollytwilight2 Youtube beginning at #31 (sigh. Youtube's been cutting vids again so the numbers are all mixed up for previous chapters):
"Marry Me," by John Berry
"Alianai," by Naujamiut Band
"This song is about my family and my girlfriend for thanking them that they're there for me when I need them. Also to bring message to young people that nobody is never alone there will always be somebody to talk to when they are in stress." ~David Nanorak
Saturday, March 1st, 2014:
Leah and Ivo's room:
It's too warm in the bed. Blearily, I feel around for the cord to the electric blanket. I have to reach over Ivo to turn it off. When I lean back with a relieved sigh, his eyes are open: velvety black, relaxed, and a tad confused. Gently, I brush his blue-black hair off his face.
His eyes flicker, searching mine, and then he cups my cheek in his too-warm palm and gives me a kunik. "Ivo," he corrects me, snuggling up tight.
"Leech –Edward- said you would be confused as to what is real."
"You are Leah, I am Ivo. Nothing else matters." He kisses me until my toes curl, but there are things I want to know, so I pull back.
"Do you remember your human life?" I ask him gently.
He sighs and gives up on kissing me, which makes me kind of sorry I asked him. "More than before, I think." He snuggles up against me, shutting his eyes against my shoulder. From lying under the electric blanket, his body is like a rock heated under desert sun.
"What did your name mean, love?"
"Song-maker. 'The Archer' is better. I intend to keep it. It's as good as the name my mother gave me."
"Tiriaq: The Ermine."
"Where are you from, do you remember?"
"I don't know. I moved around." Ivo doesn't look grieved, just pensive. "My father was not Inuit; his people were tall. He met my mother when The People followed Caribou south onto the plains. His father was a chief; he taught me archery. I think… yes, my father died of a fever. My mother went back to The People and I chose to go with her."
Such painful events, recalled with scant emotion, but it was –after all- more than 240 years ago. "You remembered a lot." Ivo still looks thoughtful. He doesn't seem upset at all; it's a good time to ask him questions. "What are the names of your children?"
"Iyaroak –Apple of the Eye; Buniq –Sweet Daughter; and Chulyin -Raven."
He knows their names, now. "Do you remember anything about them?"
Ivo presses his face into my neck with a sigh. "It is like trying to name someone who is standing behind a paper screen. I know… I was proud of them. I worked hard to provide. I remember that Chulyin had little white boots with needlework on them. His hair… it stuck up all over."
"I'm sorry you lost them, love."
"Ajurnamat (It cannot be helped)."
I bite my lip, afraid to ask about his former wife, or how they came to be married if he disliked her. But I want to know if he remembers her. "Who is your wife?"
Ivo draws back and blinks at me, confused. "What do you mean, Beautiful Leah? You are."
I swallow, hard. "Akluitok."
He shakes his head, looking solemn. "No. She long since… passed. She was but a human mate, chosen for foolish reasons."
"How did you end up with her, if you disliked her?"
Ivo squints into the past, looking sad. "She was very beautiful, and she made eyes at me. I was flattered. Akluitok knew I would be a good provider so she … How is it said? She 'set her bonnet' for me."
"Set her cap."
"Yes. I see only flashes of the past, although I think it is better than seeing nothing at all. There is not much pleasant to remember of her. She was… contrary and spoiled. I think I have blocked her out." He traces my brow with a finger. "She was not my mate. Do you truly comprehend that I can never love anyone but you, from this time forward?"
I swallow, feeling my eyes tear up. "I do."
"Are you still going to be wed to me next week?" He wipes my eyes dry.
"I'll be there with bells on."
Ivo frowns. "You wear a dancing dress for weddings? Do you still want me to wear a tuxedo? If we wear native dress, is it going to upset The Pixie? The males are afraid of her. She must have strong medicine."
I giggle a little. "Oh, love. Being somewhere with bells on means you'll be prompt."
"Oh." He thinks for a minute. "That makes no sense whatsoever. So, no dancing dress?"
"No, I'm not wearing a jingle dress for my wedding," I say, trying not to laugh.
"If I am wearing Western attire, I would hope that you will be doing the same."
"Yes." I wonder about Ivo's past, but it's kind of sobering, knowing how the world has changed from when he was a boy. "Ivo?"
"What was your first wedding like?"
He snorts. "Not like a modern wedding."
"Will you tell me about it? Please?"
"I don't really remember, to be honest." He leans his head on his forearm. "I would have taken Akluitok a big chunk of meat and a nice hide to tan, asked her Umialik's permission and taken her to my tent or iglu. Times were much simpler." He frowns and then his face lights with humour. "I remember that her Umialik seemed rather happy to see her go."
Poor Ivo. "Was she a good mother?"
Again, he shakes his head. "Without her, my children would not have existed." His eyes are on the past. "Who knows what adventures they had? It is pleasing to think that perhaps, somewhere, I have descendants."
I have no idea what to say to that. Somehow, he has taken a past that was impossibly bleak, and found the grain of hope in it: a hope for others, not for himself. It says something beautiful about him.
"There are many children here," he says slowly.
"You want children." It's not a question.
"I love children." There's a lump in my throat.
"Did I dream it, or did your Umialik say something about a baby for us?"
I sit up so fast that I get a head rush. Throwing back the bedclothes, I hurl myself toward the door.
"Stop!" Ivo yelps.
"You are going downstairs like that?" my mate demands, eyes huge.
I look down, and feel myself blush. "I, um, I'll just go run us a tub."
A little over an hour later, the two of us tip-toe downstairs, fingers twined. Ivo is once again wearing Embry's track pants and hoodie, and I'm wearing jeans and my favourite pair of moccasins.
"They're up!" Emmett yells loud enough to summon the entire house. Dr. Fang pops up at my side like somebody conjured him out of air.
"Dr. Fang." I look around the room, ignoring the Kwali boys snickering in the corner. I am so going to get them for it when I phase! "Where's Leech?"
Carlisle avoids answering. "He and Bella should be back at any time."
"Okay," I say, leading Ivo over to the couch nearest to the fireplace. We sit, and he holds my hand on his knee. It's nice. I put my feet up on the seat and lean my head on his shoulder, basking in his presence. He puts his arm around me and rests his lips on my hair. Public displays of affection totally rock. Who knew?
"Would you care to do that test?" Dr. Fang asks me.
"Would you mind if I wait for Leech? I kind of want him to be my doctor, if this works out."
He looks happy. "Not at all. Edward will be delighted." Carlisle turns his attention to my mate. "How was your Nap?"
Ivo looks a little bemused. "I feel rested, but it was very strange."
"It's an odd experience."
The front door opens, and cold air surges through the room. Bella stomps her booted feet on the mat, and Leech shakes snow out of his hair. Looking exceedingly cheerful, they disappear into the cloak room to ditch their coats. A couple of bumping noises, some giggles and even a snort or two issue from their vicinity. Normally, I'd be turning up my nose, but today, it's just not gonna faze me.
"Well, well, the lovebirds are out of bed already," Leech teases, tugging Bella into the great room.
"Hmm," Emmett rumbles. "I thought they'd at least take as long as you."
Emmett facepalms his brother. "That was not a compliment."
"That's your department."
Leech's eyes shine. "Don't even go there."
"Ew." I glare at him.
"Sorry, Fluff. How are you both?"
I am impatient.
Leech puts out his hands. "Okay, okay. I'm sorry I kept you waiting. C'mon, kids."
I spring up, but then, I hesitate. What if I'm not pregnant? Suddenly, I'm very afraid to take that test.
"Come, Leah." Ivo rises smoothly and takes my hand. "Whatever the outcome, it will be fine."
"Ajurnamat," I rasp.
Ivo looks at me tenderly. "Ajurnamat."
My pack brothers watch warily from different locations in the room and I realize that they're worried about me. I can't say I blame them; I'm worried about myself, too.
Leech opens up the door to the clinic, ushers in Ivo and me, and shuts the door. He takes down some bloodletting equipment and bids us to sit on the simple wooden chairs.
"I thought you were going to make me pee on a stick," I say warily.
"Hah. All doctors are vampires. I want a look at your cells, honey." Leech takes out a butterfly needle and some alcohol swabs. He wipes my skin and ties a rubber tourniquet around my arm. I lean against my mate, suddenly nauseous. This seems to delight our Umialik. "You're just as bad as Bella. She used to be scared of needles, you know."
"I'm not scared of needles," I lie, feeling woozy. "I've only had one blood test before, that's all."
"Blow your breath out," Leech orders. When I do, he starts to laugh. "Look at this!"
Warily, I open an eye at him. "What's so funny?" He's actually managed to smile using both sides of his mouth. Hearing me think it, he smiles even wider. How annoying!
"Have a look at your arm," he urges. I do.
Leech takes a stab at me with the butterfly, and before my eyes, it crumples. My jaw drops. My skin is impenetrable.
"I'll never get tired of that," he laughs, taking a new butterfly out of the supply box.
"How are you going to-"
Before I can finish, he nicks the vein inside my elbow with his thumbnail, and blood wells. Leech pops the butterfly into the cut and the next thing I know, he's filling vials.
"Is that even sanitary?" I blurt out. He smiles brightly enough to light the entire lodge.
"I don't think you have to worry much about germs anymore, Stripe."
"B-bonus." I try not to pass out.
"While we're able, I think it might just be a good idea to set a bit of this aside. We might not get another opportunity to get human blood from you. Couple of months, it's going to be thoroughly stripey."
"Oh. Okay," I agree weakly as a sick sweat breaks out on my forehead. Ivo's now propping me up.
Leech lines up about ten vials of my blood on the tray. Then, he attaches an empty blood bag and starts to drain me dry. Ivo doesn't say 'boo', but his eyes follow Leech's every move as though he's going to kill him if he hurts me. Cute!
While Leech waits for the bag to fill, he opens up the clinic fridge, sticks a straw in a juice box and hands it to me. I slurp it down in about three seconds. Leech hands me another one. Then, he picks up one of the smaller vials of blood, sticks a needle in it, draws up a bit of blood and squirts it on a slide. Placing the slide on the white countertop, he leans over it, and starts to chuckle like a mad scientist.
"Oh, don't tell me you don't need a microscope," I huff.
Leech walks over and places a cotton ball over the nick in my arm, withdrawing the needle and tube. "Lick this," he tells Ivo. My mate swipes his tongue over the wound and it's like, totally gone, as though it never existed. Leech hands me another box of juice. "Here, Ivo," he says, motioning for my guy to come and have a look at the gory slide. "Tell me what you think of this."
Ivo leans over the slide and sniffs. "It smells different."
"She's definitely got Vamp."
"More pronounced than yesterday. Uh, two days ago."
"Yes, definitely. What do you see?" Leech asks, propping himself against the counter and looking like the bear who ate salmon.
"The…" Ivo bends closer to the slide. "I don't know what that is."
"Well, I do," our Umialik smirks. Approaching me, he holds up something with a flourish. "Just for fun?"
My hand trembles as I reach out and take the small blue box.
"Hurry up, Fluffy."
I practically leap for the clinic bathroom and lock myself in. My hands are shaking so badly I can barely unwrap the test.
Leech already knows; he's just giving me the Human Moment.
I sit on the john, and nothing happens. Holy crow, how hard can it be to pee on a stick!
Finally, I'm able to go. I watch as a blue line creeps across the window of the test, trying not to pass out, and surprisingly quickly, a smiley-face appears in the middle. It's… positive. Numbly, I pull up my track pants, throw out the box and wash my hands. I pick up the test, unlock the door, and walk back to Leech and Ivo in a daze. Leech stops scribbling notes in a file and puts his hand on Ivo's shoulder. Our Great Leader collects me and tucks me under his free arm. Wordlessly, I hold up the test.
"Congratulations, kids," he says softly, giving Ivo a squeeze and kissing me on the forehead. "You're going to be parents." Leech steers me closer to Ivo and then he excuses himself and leaves. The door clicks shut. Ivo and I just gape at each other. Silently, I hold up the stick for his inspection.
After a moment, he nods. "I'm very, very happy."
"Yes." His kisses prove that it is so.
Two hours later, we sheepishly exit the clinic. It's a good thing that there's a sink in there. When we come out, there are about a hundred people in the Great Room, and all of them are staring at us.
"What took you so long?" Claire asks, making me blush.
"They were playing doctor," Emmett says mildly. Rosalie slaps him upside the head.
"I say puppy," Brian declares with a sly look at me, and Major Sucker writes it down.
"Boy," Leech chips in.
"Twin girls," Emmett throws out.
"Twin boys," Leech counters.
"What's your decision, Edward? You can't have both." Major Sucker asks, scribbling away.
"Sticking to it," he answers. "Twin boys." He holds up a Canadian Loonie, that Major Sucker swoops over to take. "Seth's wife had twins, so…"
"Twin girls!" Embry yells, waving another one of the dollar coins.
"Nah, boys," Timothy says.
"Are you betting on my baby?" I demand, floored.
"It's a girl," Dr. Fang argues, holding up a shiny dollar of his own. "Just one."
"I can't believe you're betting on my baby!" I throw my hands out. "I've only been pregnant for about five seconds."
Leech calmly looks at his watch. "Bit longer than that, Smurfette."
Emmett laughs a very dirty laugh.
"Aargh!" I throw out my hands. "How am I supposed to handle you nut heads? You're all like teenage boys!"
Leech smiles sweetly.
The front door bangs open, admitting Esmom. "We're home," she calls. A lot of people flinch, and turn sheepish. Her mom-radar picks up on the charged atmosphere right away. "What in the name of Roosevelt is going on?"
"Um..." Leech begins, looking at the beaming humans who are following her inside the lodge. "Hi, Mom. We were just having a ... debate." Major Sucker surreptitiously hides the evidence. Leech reaches to embrace the couple behind Esmom, who are bearing suitcases. "Sue. Charlie. Hi, Caleb. How are you, kiddo?"
"Tired and bored. Do you know how long the plane ride was?" he yawns.
"Yep. Why don't you go straight up to your room? Somebody can bring your lunch up for you."
" 'Kay," my baby brother says. "Emmett? Will you take me? Pleeeease?"
Leech whisks my mother and stepfather's coats into the cloak room. I can't even think straight. My mother hasn't even met my fiancé yet, and I'm knocked up, and there are heaven-knows-how-many people coming to my wedding in –gasp- a week. Well, first things first.
"Mom, Charlie, I want you to meet the... love of my life. Ivo Iluak."
"Ivo," my mom beams. "I didn't think she'd ever bring you home. We've all been so impatient to meet you." She embraces him and then kisses me on the cheek, pressing her face against mine. Archly, she whispers, "Oh, he's so cute, Leah."
Charlie sticks out his hand. "Ivo." He looks down warily into Ivo's eyes, which are still the colour of rotten raw beef, and scowls. For a human, Charlie can be very intimidating. I used to laugh at Leech when he said that, but now, I totally get it.
Ivo blinks. "Charlie."
"Be good to my daughter, or I'll shoot you. Welcome to the family." Charlie slaps Ivo on the shoulder and simply walks away to greet Bella. Ivo looks like the universe no longer makes sense: a human just threatened a vampire. I just grin at him, my heart warming when his lips tip up shyly. Swoon! We follow my mother and Charlie into the great room, where they sit on one of the couches.
"I wonder what he's gonna say when-"
"Brian!" Leech snaps. "Steal her thunder and I will personally cram you into Bella's chipper-shredder."
"And I'll help," Bella glares.
"Now, now!" Camilla says, clapping, as she spins on her Manolo's. "We shall have no mayhem before the wedding. You must all set your best example for the Volturi."
Mom and Charlie are now staring at me expectantly. Nothing like jumping right in with both feet, thank you Brian! "Um," I clear my throat. "Are you hungry?"
"Starving," Mom says with a narrow look.
"There are sandwiches and some chicken soup in the kitchen," Leech supplies. "Leah's probably starving, too," he smirks. "She missed lunch."
"Wooooo…" My stupid wolf brothers leer, elbowing each other. A good-natured tussle begins.
"Quit it," Leech growls, like he didn't just encourage them to get silly. He arches a brow at me. "Not in the house, boys."
My mother's eyes look like big, black question marks.
"Not used to seeing you take charge, Kid," Charlie remarks.
Edward huffs a laugh. "Ten years you've known me."
"January 5th, 2004," Bella adds. It's the day she met Leech.
"I'm enjoying my time off," Carlisle grins, crossing his Adidas-clad feet.
"I bet," Charlie says, casting his eyes around at the Kwali, who are poking each other again.
Mumbling, I gesture for my mother and Charlie to follow me to the kitchen. There are two blessed minutes during which I don't have to talk, while I get bowls and ladle out the soup, and fetch plates for the sandwiches. Juggling my plate and bowl, I lead the way into the dining room. Ivo has put a selection of pop on the table. He's sitting there, looking like a naughty puppy that's waiting to get smacked on the nose. The three of us set down our food and join him. I reach for a can of Coke.
Ivo immediately whisks it from my hands, and substitutes a Fresca. I look at him, thoroughly shocked. He gives me a meaningful look that I can't decipher.
"I prefer Coke."
"Caffeine," he says, looking at me apologetically from under his lashes. Oh. I wonder how he knows caffeine is not good for pregnant women.
My eyes flicker to Mom, and return to Ivo. "Um, I don't like Fresca, Love. Maybe ginger ale?"
Bowing his head to me respectfully, Ivo gets up in search of ginger ale. I turn from him to find my mother watching me with the intensity of an FBI agent. Yeah, I've met Mulder. I know that look.
"Leah Suzanne Clearwater!"
"We just found out," I supply weakly, taking the test out of my hoodie pocket and holding it out tentatively.
My mother's face lights up like it's Christmas. First, she hugs me really, really hard and tries to kiss my face off. Then, she hurls herself across the room at Ivo, who promptly drops the can of ginger ale he's holding, eyeing her like a deer at lunchtime. The pop fizzes and sprays all over the floor.
"I'm going to be a grandmother!" she gabbles, "a grandma!" Ivo submits to her patting his cheeks over and over. She runs back out into the great room. "Esme! Esme!" There's a great deal of masculine laughter ringing out in there, with the occasional bell-like vampy giggle floating over the top. "I'm gonna be a grandma!" Mom speeds back into the dining room. "Charlie! We're going to be grandparents again!"
Charlie is giving Ivo the evil eye. The demented Pixie skips in and takes his picture. He transfers the lasers to her.
"Oh, stop worrying, Charlie! This is going to be great!" she tells him, camera flashing.
My mother runs back to me. "When?"
"'When', what?" Seth asks, lounging in the doorway. He has a chubby baby in his arms.
"Seth!" My mom pulls him down into a hug. There's a way to go: Seth's really gangly and he's 6'7" now.
"Don't pull me over, Mom, I'm gonna flatten you."
"Is she here?"
Seth's calm brown eyes rest on me. "Yeah, Apple's fine, now."
"And is it going okay?" Mom presses.
"Yeah, it's… We're happy." My brother walks over and wraps me up in a hug, which scares the baby more than a little. "Hi, Short Stuff."
"Hi, Runt." There's a lump in my throat. "Is this my nephew?"
"Yeah, this is Albie. Sorry, I was busy at my cabin when you and Ivo arrived."
I offer my finger to the little guy, and he hides his face shyly against Seth's neck, but peeks at me. I fall in love with him instantly, even if his existence is a scandal.
"Hi, Albie, I'm Auntie Leah." My nephew is six months old; he's had a lot of new people to meet of late, including his mother.
A tiny baby girl in white tights and a velvet dress comes crawling in and wraps herself around Seth's leg. Kwali babies develop at a fast rate. "Da!"
I squat down beside her. "You must be Leanne." Her blue eyes sparkle and she grins with eight perfect little white teeth. Except for the eyes, she looks exactly like me.
"Oh, she's the outgoing twin."
Seth nods. "Give Auntie Leah a kiss."
I'm presented with the sloppiest kiss I've ever had, but I'm not about to complain. "Thank you, darling."
"Is this your mate?" Seth asks.
Ivo offers me his hand; carefully, I pull myself up. "Yes. Seth? This is my mate, Ivo Iluak. Ivo? This is my brother, Seth Clearwater, and these are his kids."
Seth holds up his hand and Ivo clasps it. My brother turns it into some weird man-shake, which Ivo does his best to return. "Welcome to the family, man. You're brave taking this one on."
I'm about to open my mouth to respond when my mom yells, "Leah's pregnant!"
"Leah's?" Seth blinks, and then pouts. "Dudette? Why didn't you tell me?"
I roll my eyes. "How did you miss the memo? The males have been booking bets all afternoon."
"Oh, I'd better get in on that," he declares, striding toward the great room with his kid wrapped around his ankle. She squeals with glee; it's great to be tiny and have a dad the size of Sasquatch.
"Forget that! Where's Apple?" my mother demands, chasing after him.
"I just got back here with her, Kaure, Gustavo and the kids," Seth calls over his shoulder. He's anxious to spend every moment he's permitted with his Imprint. If I didn't understand where he was coming from, I'd call him a dork. Well, if I didn't understand where he was coming from, I'd have killed him for touching Apple.
We all hurry out to the great room. Edward and Bella are standing with their arms around one of the prettiest, youngest vampires I've ever seen. Kaure and Gustavo are with her; they seem so much older than the last time I saw them.
Shyly, Apple turns red-orange eyes to face me. Seth grabs Mom's arm to prevent her from hurrying forward.
"Slowly, Mom. She's still pretty new."
Mom approaches cautiously. "Apple. It's wonderful to have you home with us again."
"Hi, Mama Sue." There's a hint of Ticuna and a hint of Mississippi in her voice. Visibly swallowing, she gives my mother a gentle pat, getting nowhere near her with those venom-coated teeth. "I've missed you all so very much."
"How's it going with the children?" Esmom asks.
Apple looks with longing at her babies. "It's a lot better now. It was hard for them to understand, you know. They didn't know me at all when I left for the colony."
"It's going to be fine," Pixie Tick says firmly.
Ivo touches my arm and pulls me back through the doorway. "There are so many twins. They have twins?"
I haven't seen Apple since she was pregnant. We first met when she and her family took refuge in Forks after Hurricane Katrina. She was not quite four years old and her parents took her to live in Seattle not long after we evacuated them. Seth didn't meet her at that time, so he didn't imprint on a baby like Jacob, Quil and Jeremy did.
"Yes," I tell my mate. "That's why the males were all teasing me. Twins seem to run in Kwali families." I prepare myself to answer uncomfortable questions.
"But she has not been with her mate and children?" Ivo looks very confused.
"Seth and Apple bonded, fourteen months ago, when Leech sent Seth to Apple's home to deliver something. Apple jumped in with both feet and a very clear head. She lied about her age and plowed Seth's restraint. Not that it excused either of them for behaving inappropriately."
"The family did not approve?" Ivo breathes. I shake my head.
"Their romance went on undetected for some time, but when we found out Apple was pregnant -at thirteen- Leech and I were fit to be tied."
Seth and Leech had always been close. Edward said he wondered if he'd known him at all. I wondered the same thing.
"Thirteen is young for a woman to bear children, in this culture, is it not?" Ivo breathes in my ear.
"Yes. Charlie said Apple's parents could have charged him with sexual misconduct."
"How old is Seth?"
Now, I've seen Leech in battle, and I've seen him order the execution of a child-molester. I was there when he beat the devil out of Jacob for imprinting on Ren, but I had never seen him break down in public until Seth's thoughts betrayed him.
When Edward Cullen cries in front of people, you know that there's something fundamentally wrong with the world.
"I think Edward might have beaten Seth if Apple had not intervened. She calmly explained her belief that it was kismet: she already knew Seth was her vampire mate, and said if Leech really wanted to help her out, he'd let her live with us at the lodge after her parents kicked her out. Which they did. They didn't even try to blame Seth, they just said she was trash."
Ivo looks stunned. "Her parents did not protect her?"
I peer around surreptitiously. Nobody seemed to be paying attention to us. "They were never very nice. Apple's Grandma Burnett already knew about our world so she helped Apple get through it, but Apple's mother and father did not even ask after her.
"Her pregnancy was difficult. Leech and Bella took her in for the duration. They only let Seth see her under supervision, and taught my brother and Apple how to cope. Leech walked Apple down the aisle, and then served as Seth's best man, but it was a marriage on paper. Leech took Apple down to the colony, and four months after the wedding, he delivered the twins. They were premature.
"Apple is very young; she suffered pre-eclampsia delivering her babies and nearly died. The only thing to save her was venom. Edward's venom. And Apple has a talent: she can see people's guardian angels."
"Oh. You mean, she sees the dead?"
"Yes. When she woke up as a vampire, Hearing her Angel, she informed the Cullens that the only thing to do to protect her babies from her was to separate her until she could control her thirst. So, my brother went to live with Edward and Bella's friends, Kaure and Gustavo Pereira, there," I nodded at them, "as a single parent to twins and attend the university. That way, he could visit Apple at the colony and the babies were far enough away to be safe."
Ivo's eyes are soft. "And now, she is well-controlled enough that they can be a family?"
I shake my head."Seth is overjoyed just to have her close, but their time together is still supervised. It's kind of shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped, because they're together to stay, but Edward says she's too young to have an adult relationship. Seth is just glad Edward took charge. Apple wouldn't be alive without him."
Yeah. To Seth? Leech walks on water.
Well, yeah, I think Leech walks on water, too.
"Forever," Ivo murmurs, leaning in close. "I'll be glad to have you with me forever, Beautiful Leah."
I put my arm around his neck and pull him down for a kiss. "Me, too."
"Leah! Ivo! Get out here for pictures!" Pixie Tick calls. She sure knows how to spoil a mood.
"She really is a pain," I mutter.
"I can hear you!"
"Come on," she whines, "Your Auntie Rae and your cousins will be here in ten minutes. And pretty soon after that, your friends from Toronto will arrive. Save the making out for later."
"TMI, Titch!" Edward growls.
I pull Ivo out to the great room. "Which cousins?"
"Heather, Ashley, Maya and Thea."
"Really?" I squeal. I catch Emily's eye.
"Yep," she nods. "More Makah and Quileute wanted to come, but most of them couldn't because of work."
"That's okay," I beam. "I didn't think anyone would come at all." I am marrying the enemy, after all.
"Oh, it's going to be a big wedding, mia cara," Camilla tells me.
Apparently, people like me. Who knew?
If I don't have your name for the wedding, you'd better hurry up. You're running out of time. Thank you to all of you who have submitted a persona. I thought 80 people had actually RSVP'd, and then I found out that I'd received double and triple notifications. LOL Yeah, I won't forget you! Make sure your name is on the list if you want to appear in this story. Please pick a name, a species and tell me your diet. Xoox J
Auntie Rae Songz
L J Moore