Okaaay, this is the last chapter. I'm not the first authority on vampire pregnancies, and the medical intricacies involved, so I decided to end here, before it got messy. This was my original intention- just to show how Rosalie would have, in my opinion, reacted to the call. Enjoy!
Tap, tap, tap. My latest mail-ordered Christian Louboutin shoes(Yolanda, brown lamé leather) are making very loud, insistent sounds at each tap of my foot. Just the taps echoing in the half-empty terminal seem to suggest their exclusivity. I am aware, as ever, of various glances at me, some at my shoe, others at my perfectly-fitted silk pencil skirt. I know that I bask in such attention every time it happens, but I'm glad the attention doesn't exceed its limits. Because every time, the glances then shift to Emmett hunched protectively behind me, his arms around my slim waist. I have often openly heard the sad, pathetic men whisper to themselves, "Forget it." Of course they should forget it. Emmett isn't the only dangerous thing around. I am, too.
We are waiting in the arrivals terminal of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and waiting impatiently. The flight has been delayed, because of some crackpot incident in another flight, which then affected the entire schedule of incoming planes. Sometimes these humans just plain irritate me with their pettiness, and the silliest things they dedicate themselves to do.
It's just four of us in the airport- Alice and Jasper have voted to stay back. I can't imagine why- Alice is devoted to Bella. And Bella would like it very much if Alice were here, waiting for her. But then, Alice is more devoted to Jasper. He told us, plainly enough, that he didn't think he was ready to face so many humans without hunting first- which there was no time for.
"Rosalie, please!" Esme snaps, suddenly. I realize I'm not the only one on edge. I stop tapping my foot immediately, but Esme still glances at me, apology written on her face. "It's alright, Esme," I murmur. "We're all a little... unsettled at the moment." Carlisle sighs. "It's alright, m'dear," he whispers to his wife. Emmett squeezes my waist a little- for the fourth time in the past twenty minutes. Reassuring me, I'm sure.
Emmett was wonderful. When I told him everything, he hesitated for a moment- but just a moment! Of course he would. He had to think in his own "man-sense" (as I liked to call it), but then, of course, he'd see common sense.
"Rose is right," he'd said firmly. "I'm with you, mum." And Esme had hugged him with joy, and would have cried, if she could have.
I feel the contentment well up inside my chest. I twist around, and lean up to Emmett's face and deposit a quick peck on his lips. Emmett smiles grimly- grimly because I've never given Emmett just a peck in our decades together. So I add a soft whisper, "I love you."
The tension melts out of his face. For the millionth time, his face reminds me of a sweet, innocent little baby.
"I know, babe," he mutters, smiling. "I know."
At that moment the announcement sounds. The flight from Seattle is finally, finally next.
"Five more minutes," Carlisle says softly, just soft enough for us immortals to hear. "Finally!"- Esme breathes.
We wait, even more impatient. I should have thought that by now, in the face of endless immortality, us vampires would have learnt to be patient. I was so wrong. Even Carlisle, with his centuries of experience, is visibly tensed. I wonder momentarily, what we look like to the casual passer-by. Four statuesque figures, carved out of stone, white as marble, ethereally beautiful. Me and Emmett, closely intertwined, obscenely so. Carlisle and Esme, standing close together, holding hands, their bond just oozing love and companionship. But our faces- set in grim, worried, expectant lines… If we hadn't been careful, we would have scared several people away! A tensed vampire is instinctively viewed as dangerous by a normal human. Except, of course, my newest sister-in-law…
"They have landed," Carlisle says. We hear it, too. The roar of the plane's engines as they shut down, coasting down the runway towards our general direction. "Finally," Emmett says, too.
We are barely making any effort to breathe. I hope none of the humans are watching us particularly.
In exactly 346 seconds, the first passengers file out, and are greeted enthusiastically. I see a family holding a "Congratulations!" banner welcome a red-headed young woman carrying a bundle of blankets. My nostrils flare, my jaw sets harder and I turn away.
My mind switches to planning strategies. What if he's too close to her? He would be, of course. Over-protective ass that he is. I'd have to drag her away from him. Delicately- we wouldn't want to harm the baby. But what if he's holding her? Even if it was just her wrist, Edward would never let her go. Not easily, anyway. Would I have to fight him? Here? In front of the humans? I wouldn't mind… but should I? What if the Volturi… they were mad enough at my family, anyway. I'd just give them a reason… Should I ask Carlisle to distract him? No. He wouldn't. He's not whole-heartedly into this. Esme? Better. But she's so soft and mild… Emmett? Yes. He's the strongest. But still… he's fond of Edward. As much as he supports me, he doesn't like it. He doesn't like going against his brother. It's a hard choice for him, too. I realize the sacrifice he is making for me, and I squeeze the bulky arm around me, reminding him again that I adore him. He crushes me into him for a nanosecond, then lets me go.
Back to practical matters, what should I do? Should I wait till we go back home, where we can make a scene without having to keep up appearances? But what if it's too late? What if he never lets her out of his sight? Considering him, I'm pretty sure he really wouldn't. He'd probably follow her into the bathroom if he had to. I wrinkle my nose at this errant, silly thought. Focus, Rosalie. This is important.
Unconsciously, I have pulled away from Emmett's embrace, until we are just lightly holding hands, further apart than Carlisle and Esme. Emmett guesses immediately. "Rose," he says in a low, tense whisper, "it doesn't have to get… physical."
"They're here," Carlisle gasps. None of us can see them yet- Carlisle has superior vision, even for a vampire. Not to mention he's the only one positioned well enough to them in advance. I turn to Emmett. "Even if it doesn't, darling," I answer him quickly, detaching my hand from his, "it's going to get ugly."
And then they walk in through the gate.
Edward is looking like he hasn't fed for months, even though his eyes are still dark brown. He is more rigid than any of us here, and most humans are already avoiding him, their invisible danger signals activated. He has one arm thrown lightly, delicately across Bella's shoulder, while he pushes a trolley full of luggage with the other hand. Bella looks frighteningly pale, almost matching Edward's complexion. She also looks unusually subdued. I let my eyes rove over her body, and notice, with a shock, that there is a lump on her abdomen. A tiny one, easily mistaken for a flabby paunch some girls have, but I know Bella has a perfectly flat stomach, and no flab whatsoever. The baby is growing, and growing fast. Looking at that little lump, that physical entity strengthens my resolve, and destroys any resentment I have left towards Bella. She's my sister, and that little lump is my future niece or nephew…
I had remembered to keep my mind blocked from Edward's irking gift. Making these minute observations has helped me, and so, Edward doesn't even glance at me, only looks at us gathered there as a whole, no feeling of relief visible on his face. I fight desperately to not think about my plans. Edward can be very perceptive.
And then Bella solves all my problems by slipping away from under Edward's arm, and running to me- to me! I catch her in my arms, and embrace her gently, mindful of the child and her delicate bones. The rest of my family is staring at us in absolute shock. "It's alright, Bella. I'm here for you. I won't let them touch the baby." I whisper into her ear.
"Bella…?" Edward is dazed, and his whisper only falls onto Cullen ears. A sob racks through Bella's frame, and she looks up to me, eyes swimming with tears. I notice, absently, that Bella's eyes are rather beautiful- a lovely shade of brown.
"You'll help me?"- she asks, her voice rasping.
Esme breaks away from Carlisle, and puts an arm around Bella's waist. "We'll all help you, my dear."
I glance up at Edward. His jaw has dropped(a first for any vampire, I'm sure), and looks so piteously distressed, that my smug smile slips a little. He comes towards us in a daze, forgetting the trolley full of luggage completely.
"Bella…" This time he is close enough for Bella to hear. She winces at the pain in his voice, and so does Esme. She turns around towards him, but still enclosed protectively within my stone arms.
"I'm sorry, Edward, but I can't… I just can't let you!" Her voice rises vehemently.
"Bella… it will hurt you. It will cause you pain… and all because of me!" The anguish in his voice would melt anyone's heart- but my heart is made of stone.
And Bella's heart seems to be made of ice- sometimes easily melted, but rock hard at the moment. "The pain will be worth it, Edward." She reaches out to him, and strokes his cheek, but I do not let her go. "And I don't blame you. I thank you… thank you so much for giving me such a priceless gift." Her face lights up with pure joy, joy only a mother's face is entitled to. Edward isn't satisfied by her happiness. "Delusional," he murmurs, pain still seeping into his words. "Absolute insanity."
I hiss at him, soft enough, and fast enough for just us to hear. Bella, being close to us, is the only human who has heard it. Nevertheless, Esme says, warningly, "Rose…" I shrug.
Carlisle and Emmett put an arm on each of Edward's shoulder. "They've made their choice, Edward," Carlisle says quietly. Edward glances at them in dismay. Carlisle sighs. "I would never, never force Bella to do something if it is against her will."
"Even if it is good for her?" Edward asks, his voice breaking.
Emmett answers him, "We've had this discussion before, Edward. For another reason, but we have the same justifications now. Just because we're super-strong, and she's as weak as a weed-"
"Nice to see you too, Emmett," Bella murmurs sarcastically.
Emmett and I chuckle, and Esme smiles.
Emmett continues- "What I'm trying to say is, there is no way I'd help you coerce Bella- just because we have a physical advantage."
Carlisle nods. "Well put, Emmett."
Edward looks despaired and betrayed- like Paris would look in the final hours of Troy's battle with the Greeks, having no one left, losing all hope…
"Anyhow," Emmett says quickly, "Rose would never let it happen, so I'm with her through and through."
Edward glares at me. "I've got a bone to pick with you."
"I told you I'd be waiting," I say serenely. "Can't say I didn't warn you."
"Don't you take it against Rosalie," Bella scolds him. "This is my choice altogether. And I asked her to be here. That's why I called her."
Edward stares at her in astonishment. "You called Rosalie? I thought- it was the other way round…"
"Of course I called her," Bella says simply.
There is a minute pause. "You really are serious…" Edward says softly.
"You will not part him from me." Bella states, just as softly. "He's mine."
Edward suddenly looks older, as old as he should have by this time, without the little vampire-factor coming in between. Again he becomes a living embodiment of Paris… and that somehow unsettles me. Though I have always empathized with Helen, the too-beautiful woman without ever finding her Emmett, her Soulmate; for the first time today, I can imagine what Paris had gone through.
But my voice sounds as cold as ever when I say shortly, "You'll come in Carlisle's car. Esme and I will bring Bella home in my M3."
Edward looks even more pained. "That's not necessary, Rose."
"I should think it is."- I snap.
"She's my wife."
"She's my sister!"
"Children." Esme says. One word, and as usual, we stop bickering. "Let's see what Bella has to say."
Bella looks terrified at having to choose. She looks at Edward's drawn face, and glances back at my determined one. She frowns, and bites her lip, thinking. Even Carlisle and Emmett are waiting with bated breath, it seems.
"Edward, I love you," she murmurs, leaning into him, her nose touching his. My grip loosens on her. Honeymooning lovebirds! I should have known-
"But I'll come with Rosalie." Bella finishes softly. And again, I am surprised. She trusts me so implicitly… and from that moment on, I began to love her like a sister.
Edward's face is suddenly an expressionless mask. "So you have chosen."
"It isn't like that!" Bella says hurriedly. "There are things I want to say to Rosalie- she's a... a woman. She'll understand." She looks into his face pleadingly, almost like a child asking its parent for permission.
Edward's eyes are burning. He leans in and kisses Bella on her forehead swiftly. "I love you, too." He reassures her, and then, without another word, he turns on his heel, and grabs the luggage trolley.
"Come on," he tells Carlisle and Emmett. Emmett gives me a kiss, too, before they leave. It somehow feels like we won't see each other for days. Which is silly, really.
It turns out Edward still has a last word for me.
"Drive carefully," he tells me coldly. "She hates speed."
"Esme's driving." I retort.
And then they leave, with us still in the almost-empty terminal.
"He's really mad at me, isn't he?"- Bella says, breaking the silence.
"No, he's mad at me." I say cheerfully.
We start to depart, both me and Esme holding each of Bella's hands.
"It's a part of him, too. I wonder why he doesn't understand." Bella sighs.
"I think he does, honey," Esme answers. "Which is what is killing him."
Bella makes a frustrated noise. "Pain is normal in these cases. Even for the normal, human pregnancies."
Esme makes a small noise. "I think he's worried this will be more painful. Way more."
"Of course, I'm prepared for that." Bella scoffs. "My little nudger is no normal kid."
"Nudger? You mean-"
Bella giggles. "Yes, he kicks already! Four times so far."
Both Esme and I are overcome with enthusiasm. We gush over her, and talk excitedly, asking details, laughing, giggling, like three normal young women, as we walk into the airport parking. But of course, there's nothing normal about us. In the next week or two, we'd find out just how abnormal our lives would become, even for a family of vampires.
There's a storm coming, but we will face it, and face it well- because right after that will come the rainbow- an ethereal rainbow to permanently bless our lives.
This battle will be won.