Bella's Choice

In which all my favorite Twilight characters obtain their hearts' desire. I'd like to thank Stephenie Meyer for letting her characters come out and play with me. I had a lot of fun with them

Making Plans

Alice told me something bad is coming. Alice is my best girlfriend, and she always knows what she's talking about since she can see the future. That's a handy trick for a cute, graceful, pixie-sized vampire who could rip the head off a grizzly bear, if she wanted to. I love Alice.

Dr. Cullen had suggested that we hold a meeting with both his vampire family and the wolves of the Quileute tribe. My boyfriend, Jacob, is one of these wolves or, more accurately, a shape shifter who can phase into wolf form. In his human form, he's tall, dark and sort of beautiful. He also has a kind and generous heart which, by some miracle, belongs to me. He's my best friend and my true love.

You know how it is with your best friend. Jacob and I have been pals since we were four years old. He once told me it would be "easy as breathing" to love him. Turns out he was right.

The meeting was to be in the Cullens' yard. The wolves were really not comfortable in the vampires' house, and the truce was still a little uneasy on both sides. Jacob and I were the first to arrive, and the Cullens were standing around waiting. When they interact with humans, they sometimes adopt human idiosyncrasies like sitting and fidgeting, but left to their own devices they can stand still for days on end.

Emmet, true to form, perked up as he watched us approach. He's the most imposing vampire in the Cullen clan, or he can be downright terrifying. He has his moments. Mostly, he's the big brother I never had. "Hey, Jake, want to see Bella blush? Just take that shirt off!" Emmet cracks himself up. "Very funny, Emmet," was my clever rejoinder, and of course I could feel the blush creeping up my face. Jake shot back: "Hey, Emmet, know how to make Blondie's eyes twinkle? Shine a flashlight in her ear." Rosalie growled low in her throat and it was Jacob's turn to chuckle. Carlisle shot them all a look. If there's one thing everyone here has in common, no matter what their species, it's respect for Carlisle's quiet authority.

The rest of the pack arrived together, in wolf form. Even the newest members, the Clearwater kids, wanted to be involved in any action that might be in the planning stages. The wolves' whole reason for existing was to kill vampires, though they would never harm the Cullens. They're protected under the treaty, besides the fact that they're good people. It was hard to imagine anything fierce enough to do any serious damage to the Cullens, but I knew the wolves could give them a run for their money if it ever came to that. I fervently hoped it never would.

Edward explained that the Cullens had been tracking a 'situation' in Seattle for a while; the pack was aware of it too. There were mysterious disappearances that led them to believe a group of "newborn" vampires was out of control. Their concern was that their carelessness might attract too much attention to the vampires, and no one wanted that. The Cullens were repelled by the vampires' natural inclination to feed on human blood. Edward suggested sending a select group to Seattle to check it out. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that Emmet, Rosalie, Carlisle, Esme, and Edward would go, along with support from a few of the wolves: Sam, Jake, Paul, and Quil. They would leave the following morning, vampires by car and wolves on foot. There isn't much in this world that vampires and werewolves have to fear (except possibly each other).

After the meeting, Jake drove me home. The chief's car was in the yard, so we knew Charlie was home. Charlie totally expected that we would sit in the car for a while, and he didn't object as long as I was with Jacob (who could do no wrong in Charlie's mind). But that little boy my father remembered me playing with was nowhere to be seen.

I relaxed into his strong arms and sighed, surrendering to the sweetness of his kiss. I forgot all about Seattle, at least for a little while.

Seattle

The group headed out for Seattle at dawn. The Cullens peeled out of the driveway in Emmet's Jeep as the wolves took off through the forest. As the Cullens, with Emmet at the wheel, approached the outskirts of Seattle, Edward tuned into the thought waves of the pack. "They've found something; turn right here," he said tersely. They wound around, following Edward's directions, until they came to a warehouse that looked like it had been abandoned for some time.

Inside was a scene of unbelievable carnage. The wolves had surprised the coven of newborn vampires, who had been feasting on a group of homeless people living there in squalor. Their throats were torn out, and most of them had been emptied of blood. There was obviously no one left to save. There were three young women, apparently teens, and two boys, all dead. The wolves had dispatched the newborn vampires, and the Cullens knew that their remains had to be burned to be sure they could not regenerate.

Carlisle was the first to find his voice. "We'll have to torch this place and hope that masks some of what happened here. It had to be newborn vampires to be so obvious and leave such devastation behind." As they continued to search the place methodically to make sure it was deserted, Rosalie suddenly stopped in her tracks. Her enhanced hearing had picked up a slight sound, possibly some kind of animal. She picked up a toolbox and hurled it aside, then froze. A human baby – dirty and emaciated – was the source of the small sound. "Carlisle – over here. I think this little human is alive."

And Baby Makes Three

The baby was apparently too weak to cry. Rosalie wrapped it tenderly in her jacket, and they headed back to the car as Edward dropped a match in a box of oily rags. Carlisle decided that they would take the baby home where he could examine the child in his office if it survived the trip.

When they arrived at the Cullens', Bella was waiting with Jasper and Alice. They were dumfounded when Rosalie came up the steps with the tiny bundle in her arms. Everyone was talking at once. Carlisle took the baby up to his office and returned with the news that it was a girl and she seemed healthy other than being malnourished. He was trying to come up with a story to tell the authorities when Rosalie spoke.

"Why don't we keep an eye on her for a couple of days? It would be so much warmer than a hospital ward, and she's so tiny." Carlisle looked doubtful, and he was suspicious of Rosalie's intentions. She had always felt cheated of the opportunity to have a child of her own, though if Carlisle hadn't changed her she would certainly have died. "She's not a puppy, Rosalie, she's a human being. What if she has a family?"

"You saw how those people were living in that warehouse, Carlisle. One of those girls was probably her mother. We can watch the news and see if anyone mentions a baby. Do you remember when I found Emmet? He'd been attacked by a bear, and I carried him, unconscious and bleeding, over 100 miles back to you, Carlisle. You surely can't think I'd hurt her."

Emmet kissed her gently on the top of her head. "I woke up immortal, with an angel beside me," he smiled.

Jacob made a gagging sound, and Bella elbowed him lightly in the ribs – no sense risking a broken elbow.

"Rosalie," Carlisle said kindly, "you know once we make this decision we can't un-ring that bell. So we need to think it through. We have to make sure we're doing the right thing for the right reasons, and we need everyone's input and support. Bella and Jacob can see it from a human perspective."

Rosalie muttered something unintelligible about not needing a canine perspective, to which Jacob replied "Woof."

Jasper asked gently, "I've been thinking that when the baby turns 20 years old, you'll still be 19. Are you ready to face that?" Rosalie said resolutely, "I have 20 years to get ready for that. By then we'll have been a family for those twenty years, and we will hopefully seem normal in her eyes." She carefully avoided looking at Jacob, anticipating the guaranteed eye roll.

Alice asked if they would plan to send the child to school when the time came. Rosalie agreed that would require some thought, but again, they had time to think about it. It would probably be a good thing for her to spend time among humans of her own kind. And she repeated that if she had any fear for the child's safety she would have already sent her away. Jasper mentioned that he knew someone who could provide an authentic birth certificate when the need arose.

Jake admitted he had no problem with "vegetarian" vampires raising a child, but it might be a problem for a blonde. Then again, if Rosalie forgot her recipe for ice cubes or something Esme would always be around. He just couldn't resist. But Bella had noticed that there seemed to be true affection growing among the unlikely friends, and Jacob added his blessing.

Carlisle looked to Esme, who was taking in the scene in the living room. The baby was nestled, sleeping contentedly in Emmett's massive right arm, making her appear even smaller than she was. Rosalie was cuddled on his other side. Jacob thought they would have been a picture perfect family if they'd been breathing, but he uncharacteristically decided not to point that out. Esme smiled and nodded her approval.

And that is how Emmalie Hale Cullen came to have the prettiest mom and the baddest dad in Forks. She never noticed that they were colder and harder than other parents, only that they loved her and one another. Under their care and attention, she soon began to thrive. Emmalie turned out to be a cheerful, happy child. And the whole family grew to love her as if she'd been born a Cullen.

Wedding Plans

Jake and I have loved each other since we were about four years old. I think that's about when he started proposing marriage to me. Just recently, I decided to accept, since I can't imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else.

Now that we're making plans for our wedding, we have to tackle a couple of sticky questions. Of course we opted for a traditional Quileute wedding ceremony, since it has been observed by his family for hundreds of years. In fact, I'll be the first paleface in the family tree in recorded history. Jacob was explaining to me, for the tenth time, that there simply could not be a vampire in the small, intimate wedding party. And I explained to him, as if he were a little slow, that I only had one best friend, and that Alice couldn't help it that she was a vampire. Besides, it's 2010, time to put the old prejudices aside. Tempers were getting short, and we didn't seem to be coming any closer to a solution. You've heard about the irresistible force and the immovable object…

I scowled at him, completely out of patience. I was tired of the bickering and tired of the subject. Between clenched teeth, I muttered "Bite me, wolf man!"

Jake grinned, which of course only made me madder. How do you get under that guy's skin? (Come to think of it, with the wolf and all, I suppose that would probably not be such a good idea.) But he remains eternally patient, and maybe a little patronizing. "Now, Bella, are you a little cranky today? But okay, if you like, I'll start here – how's that? And maybe a nibble here?" Yeah, the discussion deteriorated quickly from there.

The Cullens decided themselves, out of respect, not to be in attendance at the traditional wedding ceremony, but they insisted on having a party for us when we returned from our honeymoon. They'd been living with this delicate truce for a very long time and understood it better than I.

Of course, Alice had her way with my bridal shower. It was a typical girl fest, if you could just ignore the presence of the vampires and Leah. Otherwise, all the guests were human, including Sue, Emily, Renee and me.

The Big Day

Sam's wife, Emily, and I had worked for weeks on my wedding dress. It was a traditional buckskin dress, covered in beading and hemmed with fringe. I was determined to make it myself in the tradition of the tribe, as a wedding day surprise for Jake. I bathed in the ocean the morning of the wedding in order to be blessed by the spirit of the earth. I hoped the spirit would overlook my pale complexion.

The evening was clear and cool, and a campfire crackled on the beach. As the guests arrived, they sat in a semicircle around the fire. The entire Quileute community was there, including all the pack members. As the bride and groom arrived, all eyes turned toward us. Jacob was dressed simply in deerskin breechcloths. His bronzed, muscled body took my breath away. I could no longer see the little boy who had been my friend for so long. Then he took my hand for the millionth time, and he was my Jacob again.

As we approached the fire, the holy man greeted us in the ancient language of the tribe. We exchanged symbolic gifts of corn for fertility, feathers for truth and loyalty, and stones to represent strength, solidarity and wisdom. Then we performed the beautiful and meaningful Rite of Seven Steps.

Jake took the first step, starting clockwise around the sacred fire. He recited "O my beloved, our love has become firm by your walking one with me. May the Creator bless noble children to share." As I took my first step to join him, I recited in a clear and steady voice, "This is my commitment to you, my husband. Together we will share the responsibility of the home, food and children." Step by step, we recited our vows as we took the seven steps around the fire. It was a beautiful ceremony, full of tradition and meaning.

Afterwards, we visited with our guests and everyone had their fill of food that Emily, Alice, and I had prepared for the occasion. As we headed out in Jake's old car, the pack members phased into wolf form and ran through the woods alongside us for the first few miles, dropping back one by one until we were alone on the road. We sped on through the darkness toward the rest of our lives.

A whole week alone with Jake in Hawaii was heaven. Alice had made sure that my trousseau was skimpy in size but sufficient in number. We swam, hiked, and napped away the carefree days, and we loved away the cool, fragrant nights. On one such night, lying in my husband's arms, I had a sudden, terrifying thought. "Jacob, please tell me the whole pack isn't reading your mind right now!" His reassuring smile lit up the darkness. "Not as long as I'm in human form, and I plan to stay that way all week," he promised.

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