Loving Uncle Edward

Chapter 1 Sticks and Stones

Emmett Swan was my favorite uncle. Grandpa Vincent and Grandma Elise called him their 'miracle child' because she'd given birth to him in her later years. Before Emmett, my father, Charlie, was an only child. Then, at 44, Grandma Elise found out that she was three months pregnant. Naturally, she was shocked. Grandma Elise thought her child-bearing years were over.

Charlie was 18 years-old at the time and had just moved out for his first year of college. Grandma didn't know how her older son would take the news of becoming an older brother in just a few short months. Then there were concerns about the survival rate of the little boy in her womb. She knew that, because of her age, there would be complications of whether she'd be able to carry the baby full term. Her obstetrician explained that the baby boy in her womb would be fine as long she took care of herself.

From what I've been told, Grandpa Vincent waited on hand and foot for Grandma Elise. He made sure that she ate healthy and took days off from work to make it to all of her doctor's appointments. During her seventh month of pregnancy, Grandma Elise was put on bed rest until the birth of the baby. As it turns out, Charlie was excited that he was going to have a little brother. He came home often to check up on his mother and called quite often to make sure that she was well.

It was in the middle of August, three weeks prior to his due date, that Emmett announced he was ready to enter the world. To be on the safe side, the doctor who delivered Emmett performed a C-section on Grandma Elise and at 11:28 a.m. on August 18th, Emmett Daniel Swan was born. Because he didn't come out crying, my grandmother worried something was wrong with her new baby boy. However, when the doctor handed him to his awaiting mother, little Emmett had a bright smile on his face.

Since then, he's been a naturally jubilant person. I should know; we'd practically grown up together. Emmett was a few weeks into his eighth birthday when my mother, Renee, gave birth to me. She named me Isabella Marie, after her own mother who'd passed away two months before I was born.

It's been said that when I was a baby, Emmett wouldn't go a full day without holding me in his arms. Sometimes he'd practically beg to hold me, especially when I cried for food. My mom was uneasy with the idea of the little boy holding me, as she was afraid he'd drop me. Nonetheless, when Emmett held me, he would have what my grandparents called a "bear grip" on me. There were times I'd cry so much that my mother would be in tears and my father would get frustrated. But they said only when Emmett picked me up and talked to me, I would stop whining almost immediately.

Uncle Emmett was always thoughtful and a big help to my parents at night time. My father was the one who told me how his little brother would sneak into my baby room with a warm bottle in hand and pull me out of the crib to feed me or come in to change my diaper. My mother thought it strange that a child as young as Emmett could be so attached to an infant. One day, when I was months old, my mother curiously asked young Emmett, "Why on earth does a little boy like you want to hang out with a baby all the time?"

Emmett responded assertively while rocking me to sleep, "She's my niece, the bestest in the world and I'm gonna be her bestest uncle! She loves me a lot, I can tell!"

And that I did. I loved my Uncle Emmett to infinity times three. He had always been there for me. He taught me how to walk, how to ride a bike, and he was the only one who could push me really high on the swings in our backyard. He took me out for ice cream whenever I wanted, bought me all the Disney movies, and gave me a world of piggyback rides.

That was why I took it pretty hard when he fell in love with Rosalie Cullen, a young woman he'd met while he was away at school. They were both nineteen and home from their second year of college. At the time I was eleven. The day he brought Rosalie over to our house to introduce us, I immediately took a disliking to her.

"Where's my favorite niece?" Uncle Emmett shouted as he came through the front door of my parents' house. He hadn't been coming over as much and I'd been dying to see him. Immediately, I ran out of my bedroom and down the stairs to greet him. As soon as I rounded the corner to jump into his big arms for a deathly squeezing, I slowed my pace. She was standing close by his side. Too close, if you asked me.

"What are you waiting on, Beauty? Come over here and give me a hug!" Uncle Emmett smiled while slightly crouched. With open arms, he waited for my impact. My eyes stayed glued to the beautiful girl next to him as I rather walked than ran into his big, strong arms. As always, he picked me up and swung me around but I couldn't find the strength to hold onto him tightly. It was the girl's presence that greatly disturbed me.

Once he set me down on my feet, my eyes were still on that girl when I asked my uncle in a curious, yet harsh voice, "Who is she?"

"Bella, this is Rosalie." I watched my uncle as his eyes fixated on the girl. He flashed her a bright smile and ran the back of his fingers down her cheek. It was a sweet gesture that, until then, was only reserved for me. Her eyes found his and she gave him the same adorable look. At that young age I didn't understand what any of that meant, so when Uncle Emmett caught my puzzled look, he kindly said, "Rosalie is my girlfriend."

Rosalie said hello to me and stuck out her hand for a shaking gesture. I refused to touch her.

Girlfriends didn't have a good definition in my book. They were the ones who trailed after boys they fancied. They were the ones that took up all those boys' times with silly touches, goofy smiles, and sloppy kisses. They were the ones that broke into homes unexpectedly and stole people that didn't belong to them—good people like my Uncle Emmett.

Simply put, girlfriends were thieves and that's who Rosalie Cullen was to me.

She came out of nowhere and tricked my uncle into being her boyfriend. How could I not hate her? She was too beautiful with her straight blond hair and pretty face. I didn't care that her eyes were as blue as the sky at five o' clock or that she had the whitest teeth I'd ever seen in my life. I flat-out disliked Rosalie Cullen. She was the reason I didn't see my Uncle Emmett as much and the sooner he got rid of her, the better.

I simply ignored the insanely beautiful girl and took my uncle's hand. I turned away from her but before I could drag Uncle Emmett away for myself, he stalled our movements.

"What's wrong?" I kindly asked.

"Beauty, aren't you going to say hello to my friend?" he cocked his head to the side as he waited for my response.

I glared at the girl for a short moment before I replied, "No."

Uncle Emmett and his "girlfriend" stayed over the house for dinner. We were having my mom's spaghetti and meatballs, my favorite dish, but that night I couldn't find my appetite. I'd had one before, but then I came to the dinner table to find my uncle's "girlfriend" seated next to him—in my beloved seat.

My mom and dad talked back and forth with Uncle Emmett and the thief but I couldn't grasp a word they were saying. I'd pretty much tuned out the conversation when Uncle Emmett kept talking about her. Rosalie this and Rosalie that, he chattered. Blah, blah, blah… To me, it reminded me of him talking about football; the topic wasn't interesting. It certainly didn't help when she sat across from me holding his hand and batting her girly eyelashes at him.

When I heard him say, "Charlie, this is the girl I'm going to marry," I had had enough.

Without so much as an excuse me, I rudely scraped my chair against the tiled kitchen floor and scurried to the set of swings right by the big oak tree in our backyard. With my back against the glass patio doors, I plopped down on one of the swings and pushed myself with hardly any effort. It wasn't long before I heard the patio door behind me slide open and close. Seconds later, two large hands took hold of the swing chains just inches above mine and then easily pulled me back.

"You wanna tell me what's going on here?" Uncle Emmett asked as he pushed me on the swing.

When I didn't reply right away, he said, "Come on, baby girl. I'm your uncle. Talk to me."

After a minute of silence I whined, "You don't love me anymore!"

Suddenly, Uncle Emmett gripped the chains and stilled the swing. He came from behind and faced me in a squatting position, his hands cupping the knots of my knees.

"Bella, look at me," he said, and I lifted my lids so my eyes could meet his. There was no doubt he saw the tears strolling down my cheeks. His thumbs brushed along the streaks cascading down my face to wipe them away and then asked, "Do you really believe that?"

I sniffled and responded, "Yes. You let her take my seat at the dinner table and you held her hand. She's going to be your favorite girl now and you're going to forget all about me!"

"How can you say that? Beauty, you're still my favorite girl and I will always love you."

"That's not true!" I scolded. "How can you love me and love her, too?"

"There are different ways to love, honey," Uncle Emmett said. "I love you the same way I love your parents and my parents, your grandparents. But the way I love Rosalie is the way your dad loves your mom and the way your grandpa loves your grandma. That kind of love is sacred and only happens when you find someone special and unique enough to give your heart to. Rosalie is that person for me."

I didn't care for hearing the comparison and it disturbed me that he could let some random girl steal the heart I adored so much. "She's going to take you away from me and I'll have nobody."

He then took my small hands into his big ones and, with his thumbs, gently stroked the back of them. "Oh, honey, don't believe that. You still have me now. Rosie and I aren't rushing into anything. We're not getting married right this second. Both of us are going to wait until after we graduate from college. That'll give our families plenty of time to know and like one another—"

"I don't want to know and like her," I pouted aloud.

"You haven't even given her a chance. Do you think that's fair?"

"I don't care if it's fair!"

Uncle Emmett let out an exasperated sigh and hung his head low. I hated that he looked so defeated but I was used to getting what I wanted from him. To me, he'd brought an outsider in to take my place because I couldn't make him happy anymore. That, in my book, was pretty unfair.

Uncle Emmett, his focus still on the ground, began to talk to me. "Last year, when you begged me to teach you how to pitch a ball and swing a bat because you wanted to join the girls' softball team, I was in the middle of midterms and up to my elbows in books studying. I couldn't think straight, I rarely ate. I lost sleep and let me tell you, I was extremely exhausted. But I saw how bad you wanted it and I didn't want to let you down, so I taught you how to play. Then you moved from last year's softball to this year's soccer team and you demanded I not miss a game. Remember that?"

I nodded. "Yeah."

"I drove back and forth two hours for your practices and games. Even when I couldn't make a game because of class or football, I bought the DVDs to take back to school with me just to watch you play. And you know what? Rosalie sat and watched them with me, too. You didn't know that, did you?"

I shook my head. It was hard to believe a girl like that had any interests in sports. She surely didn't look the type.

Uncle Emmett then raised his head and stared hard at me. "If I can find any little way to be there for you, I am. You know that. I do a lot for you, Beauty, and not all of it is because I want to, however. I do it because I love you. And though it bugs me to say this, you've really let me down just now."

When Uncle Emmett rose to his feet and began to walk away from me, my chest ached something bad. Uncle Emmett never walked away from me. Before, he never told me that I let him down. Until then, I didn't know I could ever hurt him.

Then I thought of the things he'd done for me in the past. Like how he used to sneak cookies to me when my parents said I couldn't have any more. Or how he used to take me trick or treating and scare the people at the door into giving me more candy. When I was six and lost both my front teeth, he promised me the tooth fairy would give me twice more money because of it and when I looked under my pillow the next morning, there was a whole five dollar bill under it.

It was at that moment that I realized how right he was. He had always been there for me, even when he couldn't be physically.

My uncle truly did love me.

Now it was my turn to show him that I could love him by being there for him the exact same way, even when I didn't fully comprehend how to do that.

When I heard the patio door slide open behind me, I jumped up from the swing and called out to him. "Uncle Emmett! Wait!"

He stalled and turned toward me, his face sullen and gloomy.

"The Rosalie girl. . .does she make you happy, like how my momma makes my daddy?" I asked, finally saying her name aloud.

"Very." He'd said, giving me a look so serious it could only be true.

I treaded lightly to the door and stood just in front of him. When I could bring my eyes to meet his, I had to ask him something I thought was very important.

"Do you think. . . do you think that if I make her my blueberry pancakes someday, she would like em' just as much as you do?"

He gave me a smile before pulling me into a tight hug. "Beauty, if you make her your blueberry pancakes, she'll love em."

When we came back to the dinner table, I took my seat in silence and the conversation at the table began as if nothing had happened. My spaghetti was still warm so I filled my mouth with the noodles and sauce. My appetite had only picked up a fraction but I used the food as an excuse to prolong saying anything to Rosalie, whom I still had not spoken to. I didn't want to disappoint Uncle Emmett, but I didn't know what to say to his girlfriend or how to approach a conversation with her.

I'd never seen someone that pretty before and the thought of even speaking to her like a normal person made me nervous.

But I promised my uncle I would try.

After dinner, my dad and uncle rode to the store for beer while my mom walked around the corner to take my grandparents some of our dinner. That left me at home with Rosalie, who opted to stay behind instead of going to the store with the men.

We were in the family room sitting on opposite sides of the couch watching television. Well, she watched. I was busy fidgeting with my hands and wondering what I could possibly say to the woman across from me. Several times I peeked at her through my hair to see if she was looking at me but her eyes were glued to the television.

Then she let out this giggle and I swear it was the most euphoric sound I had ever heard in my life. I couldn't help but stare directly at her just to see if it appeared as captivating as it sounded. Her cheeks flushed a light pink color and I'd noticed she had dimples, too, but not as deep as Uncle Emmett's. I couldn't believe how radiant she appeared at that moment and I questioned if my uncle ever saw her like that, also.

My mind continued thinking it but it was my lips that conveyed, "You have a fun laugh."

When her full face met mine, I remembered thinking how lively she beamed and speculated if that was one of the things my uncle had liked about her. Her lively blue eyes held a hint of green right around the edges that made them seem very kind. Right then she looked abundantly happy. I marveled over if my Uncle Emmett ever made her look that way or made her feel that way.

Then I thought he must have—because he loved her.

And anyone who had Uncle Emmett's love would automatically be. . .

Happy.

"Thank you." She said. "I don't think I have ever had anyone call my laugh fun before." There was a short pause and then she added, "Bella, if you have anything you want to say to me. . .or anything you'd like to ask me, you can. Okay?"

I nodded and gave her a small tuck-lipped smile before turning back to the television. She did the same. For minutes we were surrounded by nothing but televised audio commentary. Soon it became very clear that she wasn't going to say anything to me unless I said something to her. Then I found myself wanting to say something to her just to see if she would say something to me.

"Do you live far from here?" I asked.

Once again she turned her head in my direction, replying, "I'm pretty close, almost half an hour outside of town. When I'm not away at school, I go back home to live with my family."

"Oh." I said. "You live with your mom and dad?"

"Yes, along with my older sister and younger brother."

At that answer I was shocked. "You've got a brother and sister?"

"Actually, I have two brothers and a sister. My sister married six months ago and her husband is my brother-in-law. Though, he's more like a blood brother because my family and his family have known each other for years."

"Do you like having them, brothers and sisters?" I asked, interested. Being an only child made me that way.

"Yes, I do," she replied. "My younger brother is more trouble than he's worth but I love him just as much as the other two. I just wish he would get himself together."

"How old is he, your younger brother?" I asked.

"Edward—that's his name—is 17. He's the baby of the family. My sister, Alice, just turned 21 and her husband, Jasper, is 24. Out of the three, Edward drives me crazy the most." Her demeanor slightly altered when she spoke of her younger brother.

I was curious to know why and asked her, "How come?"

She slightly shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Only God knows the answer to that."

"What does he do to drive you crazy?"

In a tight voice, she answered, "Everything. Natural troublemaker. Whenever you meet him, you'll know what I mean."

"Why would I meet him?" I asked, and Rosalie looked at me a bit forlorn.

Then I had realized what I said and quickly stiffened. Slowly, I focused back on the television as my face grew warmer by the second.

"Bella," she called, and I found myself staring at my legs when she said my name. She continued, "I have an idea why you're so upset with me and I just want you to know something."

I could hear in the tone of her voice that she was requesting my undivided attention. When I looked in her direction, her expression was sincere.

Then she said, "Your uncle loves you very much and, after today, I can clearly see how much he means to you. He's talked about you nonstop since I met him. For over a year I've been waiting to meet you and I'm finally glad that I have. But I need you to understand one thing: I will never come between you and Emmett. The bond you two have is strong and I wouldn't dream of destroying it. If you give me a chance, I'd really like to get to know you. Would you be willing to try and get to know me?"

At that moment, I heard Uncle Emmett's voice in my head saying to me that I haven't given her a chance. Then I saw how I made him feel when I told him I didn't want to, and how it made me feel to make him feel like that.

And there was one thing I needed to know before I could give any answer that would be fair to my Uncle Emmett, Rosalie, and me.

"Do you love my uncle?" I asked, and when those words left my mouth I could hear the accusation in them.

Rosalie confidently countered, "I do. More than my own life. "

Her voice was strong, full of pride, and I honestly couldn't grasp the intensity of that conviction. She knew that, too, which was probably why my next question didn't shock her.

"How can you love someone more than yourself?"

She then scooted closer to me on the couch, cautiously extending her hand to me, palm up. This time I placed my hand in hers and she gripped it firmly without hurting me. She smelled of cinnamon and sweet chocolate as she leaned toward me and stated, "One day, when you're older, you're going to meet that one person like no one you've ever known. You will see things in that person nobody in the world will see. You'll say things to him you never thought you'd say; you'll do things for him you never thought you'd do. You'll feel emotions for that person you won't feel for anyone else. Then you'll begin to question a lot of things about him and everything about yourself.

"But the hows and the whys won't matter—because that's what falling in love is all about. The day will come when you're aware that you've fallen in love. When it does, you remember the question you've just asked me and then you'll know the answer. You'll understand that when you fall in love, you won't have a choice."

My young mind pondered over that conversation I had with Rosalie for months and months. During that time, I had gotten to know Rosalie more, which was exactly what I promised her after our first awkward meeting. Then we had the second awkward meeting, followed by a third and a fourth, all starting with me stiffening whenever Uncle Emmett brought Rosalie to the house.

It made Uncle Emmett a bit uneasy with me at first but Rosalie explained something about it being a natural instinct within me that would lessen over time, which Uncle Emmett didn't quite get, since he brought Rosalie over the house all the time.

But with time came familiarity. The more I saw her, the better I got at speaking to Rosalie, who would always wait for me to initiate a conversation with her before ever speaking to me. Of course I wouldn't have known it then but she was letting me make all the first moves so I'd become more composed in her presence. Had it been the other way around, with her always making the first move, I would have thought her pushy and overbearing and it probably wouldn't have worked out.

There were times in the beginning where I had actually lashed out at both of them. Case in point: Rosalie was tapping into the time I was used to spending with Uncle Emmett and it had begun to drive me up the wall! Little did I know then that I was creating a hormonal imbalance in their sex schedule which was caused by my newly developed hormones.

I'm not saying I had a thing for Uncle Emmett at all. I'm simply explaining that adjusting to my hormones at that age made me very difficult and tremendously territorial when it came to my personal claim on him.

Eventually Rosalie and I came to a mutual agreement. We had a schedule which separated the days she got to spend with Uncle Emmett from the days I got to spend with him. Her days were Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. My days were Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Saturdays were family days. On any occasion where an event conflicted with the schedule, i.e. if my soccer game fell on one of Rosalie's days, we'd switch. Sometimes she got more days with Uncle Emmett when they wanted to be involved (even though I had higher seniority in that area). Sometimes I got more days by faking soccer practices/games that got canceled at the last moment (if Rose could steal days so could I, though I did get caught a few times when Emmett would bring Rose with him to one of my soccer practices). The system was flawed but overall, it worked.

A full year later I was still Uncle Emmett's favorite girl with one exception: now included was his favorite woman.

For the most part, I could live with that.

And Uncle Emmett was right: Rosalie loved my blueberry pancakes.

The world as I'd known it seemed right once again. . .until I met Edward Cullen.