Chapter 17 Nightmare

Carlisle?

No, this could not be happening to us!

I had known this would come, for I could tell by the way Edward and Alice had acted. Carlisle was perfect for the gracious yet strong role as such a leader as needed to this degree. I did not want to admit it. The moment Alice said Carlisle's name, I froze dead in my death trap heels. Dread began to wash over me. I clenched my hand around Edward's.

Oh no, I cried inside of my head.

The dining hall was silent for a brief moment, as everyone surveyed Carlisle's reaction to his achievement in being awarded the most votes.

Carlisle scanned the crowded room charismatically, although it was evident that he would not accept the accountability straight away.

Alice stepped aside courteously, as Carlisle slid next to her. He wore a congenial smile, though it was in his eyes that he was not exactly bursting with enthusiasm. "I do want to thank you all, first off, who have given me the recognition of this duty." He began, pausing to make eye contact of those who were grinning admirably at him.

"Although, I would like to request a recession on this matter. I need to speak with my family, if you do not mind. We will be brief," he promised, bowing his head slightly, humble as ever.

I let out a small sigh, though it came out more like a huff. This verdict felt as if someone had kicked me in the stomach.

Covens gathered together where they were standing, discussing amongst themselves the results of the vote.

Alice strutted over to us, beaming brightly.

Carlisle led the way into the living area, as Esme took his hand and followed.

Rosalie and Emmett trained in next followed by Jasper and Alice.

I found myself gawking out into the open air. I took a deep breath and turned my head to examine Edward's expression. His jaw was set and his eyes were tight. Though when our eyes met, he snapped out of his daze and managed a glimmer of a smile at me.

Edward, my jumbled thoughts raced, colliding with one another. I wanted to say so much at once. Would Carlisle accept this? We the Cullens had already voted against our family relocating to Voltera, though would Carlisle go alone? No, that was impossible to think…if he went, so would the family. Was there a way to change this? There was, and I knew it. What about our daughter? Could we uproot her? How would she cope?

My mouth dropped opened, as Edward draped an arm around my shoulders and ushered me out of the dining hall. I was at a total loss of words right now. I knew I should not panic. "It is fine, Bella." He whispered nearly wordlessly. "We will resolve this."

I managed to control my facial expression for everyone was probably watching us. I held up my head and forced a smile.

We paced into the living room where our family had relocated. They all stood formally, awaiting us.

Carlisle's face was eager, yet a mixture of disappointment and determination.

Esme was supportive, standing right next to her husband.

Rosalie looked a little furious with this outcome as I felt, though Alice was happy-go-lucky. She was at ease with everything, which made me envious. Her hands were pressed together as she surveyed the looks on our faces. Her smile drooped down a margin. No one else in the family was keen on this verdict…well, unless if you counted Emmett and Jasper.

Emmett was glorious, though he appeared moderately earnest for the first time. He was rubbing Rose's shoulders. I felt Jasper relaxing the room already, his face nonchalant.

We stood in a circle, no longer feeling the need to sit to discuss the arrangements.

Carlisle spoke quickly and rather softly. "Well, where do I begin?" He touched his fingers to his chin thoughtfully. He inhaled deeply, his expression still plastered with amusement.

I glanced at Edward's pensive face. He was distraught. He was focusing hard on his father.

"We have discussed this," said Edward calmly.

"You know our family's thoughts on this," Esme said as peacefully as she could, though I could see that she was as disconcerted as we all were. "However, it is your decision ultimately."

"Will you seriously consider this?" Rosalie said in a rational tone, her mouth in a scowl.

"Now now." Alice's wind chime voice was rather soothing. "We all know that he does not have to accept, though it is his call." She fixed her eyes on the father figure of the family.

"As it is ours," Rosalie countered. "Indeed, I see nothing to consider."

Emmett laughed humorlessly. "Either way, we'll be together babe, it's cool." His palms slid down her arms to relax her, though she looked pent up now.

"I think we should let Carlisle take this one," Jasper said. Everyone fell silent.

Edward looked at me and then dropped his head thoughtfully. My thoughts drifted to Nessie. Please Edward, think about Nessie if we have to move our lives to Italy. I could not help but think this. I knew he had promised me he would not allow this to occur, though he could not put a stop to the verdict of Carlisle being chosen.

I closed my eyes, imagining her in the bed upstairs.

Edward all of a sudden had a very disturbed look on his face, as if someone had jabbed him with a needle.

What? Without warning me, he turned and made a mad dash up the staircase before I could let go of him. I was nearly yanked with him though I stood still in place. I gasped, staggered.

All eyes darted on me, wondering what had happened.

I scanned the puzzled stares and gave a weak shrug. I could now hear Renesmee whining as if in pain. She was crying. My mouth dropped open and I followed suit after Edward, racing up the spiral stairs as quick as I had ever moved.

The double doors to our bedroom were open wide and Edward was leaning over Renesmee.

I felt so frightened for our daughter that I could barely think straight.

I heard my daughter, crying louder. At first, I thought she had fell down and hurt herself.

"What? What is it?" I exploded, climbing on the bed next to Edward. "What happened?" I implored, raising my voice.

Renesmee was trembling as if cold, throwing her hands in the air at Edward, scared to death. She threw her arms into the air in front of her, motioning for Edward to go away.

My hands went directly to her. I pulled off the blankets to examine her. She appeared to be fine, other than her cheeks being drenched with tears. Bits of her hair were soaked as well.

"It's okay Nessie, I'm here," Edward said softly to her hugging her to him.

"NOOO!" She shrieked, blood-curdling scream that made me go stiff. She was pushing him away, fighting him off.

I frantically scanned the room for a culprit, a cause of her disturbance. The suite was empty.

"What's wrong with her?" I demanded of my husband, climbing closer to Renesmee. I did not care that I was wearing a shockingly short dress.

Edward shook his head frantically in dismay as if there was no need to worry. I was gutted by the horrible sounds of her terror.

Renesmee was still wailing, with tears streaking down her face. Edward gathered her in his arms gently, hushing her with a consoling "Shhh, Nessie it's alright, daddy's here shhh." He held her so close to his chest as if protecting her from something in the room.

Her hair was fluffed around her reddened face, though she would not open her eyes. Edward held her close to him, cuddling her to his chest, shielding her from whatever had scared her.

Her cries broke my heart. I threw my arms around her, holding onto her face lightly with my hands. "Nessie, Nessie momma is here, you're safe, you're okay!" I whispered to her, afraid to startle her. Her eyes were still squeezed tightly. Her face pressed into Edward's shirt.

"She had a bad dream," Edward explained soothingly, reaching down to kiss her forehead.

A flood of emotions hit me. I exhaled sharply, and I calmingly stroked Renesmee's cheek with my fingertips. "It's okay sweetie, momma and daddy are here, no one's going to hurt you."

She gasped and then started to cry again, probably from shock. She held onto Edward's neck tightly.

"Nessie, are you okay?" I rubbed her back. "There's nothing to be afraid of. Daddy's holding you," I reassured her over and over.

Her sobbing was reduced to sniffles and then she felt Edward's face then his neck. He looked at the wall for a moment and heaved a sigh. His expression was regretful.

I glanced at Edward's eyes. "Nightmare?" I mouthed. He would know. He nodded, moving her in a rocking motion.

"Yes, she just showed me," he whispered.

I ran my fingers through my hair, wanting to collapse with relief. I climbed next to Edward to see her better and ran my fingers against her cheek to move her curls to see her eyes. She squinted in reaction, cowering from the light and the unknown.

"Don't be afraid, Nessie, it's me, momma," I said in a soft tone, moving my head slowly to hers to kiss her.

Her fingers reached for my hair. She sniffled.

"Are you hurt?" I asked her to ensure that nothing else had happened to her.

"No, I don't think that she is," Edward answered me, his voice low and gentle.

Renesmee considered my question and shook her head no.

"Don't leave me by myself," she murmured in her baby-like voice, her voice quivering.

"I won't I, promise," I said back, caressing her cheek to her chin.

"No we won't," Edward said to her.

Her fingers touched my neck and then I saw it. A horrible vision of the Volturi, their gleaming red eyes blazing down at her, grabbing at her, trying to pick her up. No wonder she was so afraid of Edward when he had rescued her.

"I know, they're gone Nessie, you are safe. It was a bad dream." I assured her my nose close to hers. She was staring up at me, hopeful.

I kissed her again, and then wiped her little tears away.

I caught Edward's eyes focused on something behind me. I turned in alarm. The rest of our family was watching us. Relief and curiosity spread evenly over their faces. Rosalie was closest.

"What's wrong with her?" Rosalie asked, ticking her eyes from me to Edward.

"She awoke with a bad dream," Edward said lightly, still careful not to startle Renesmee.

Everyone's faces were full of compassion, as they watched Renesmee cling onto Edward.

Emmett gazed down at Renesmee for a long moment, his expression soft. He looked at the matress, and pointed to the bed. "Hey, that bed is broken." He whispered, and he shot an accusing look at Edward who fought a smile.

I hid my face next to Renesmee's. "Are you okay now sweetie?"

She did not answer at first, but then nodded with a sniffle. I smoothed her hair gently. She was surveying the crowd of the rest of the Cullens, standing inside of the room with us.

"Well I'm glad that she is alright," Carlisle said. He leveled his eyes with Edward's. "Was she on the floor when you found her?" Of course he would want to know the physical aspects to ensure she was not hurt. Carlisle stepped closer to Renesmee to get a better look at her eyes.

Edward shook his head. "No, she was crouched on the bed, where I assume she fell asleep." Edward glanced at me and I nodded.

"Yeah, that's where she was when Rose and I left her." I said.

"Perhaps we shouldn't leave her alone while she is sleeping. Especially in a strange house," said Esme.

Alice stepped closer to look at her. She concentrated on her for a second and then smiled. "She's used to being held, that's why."

That was true, we rarely put her down. I reprimanded myself for it. I should have known better not to leave her upstairs alone. I let out a shaky sigh. Alice ran her fingers over her hair. "It's alright, Bella. She was not in any danger, you know I'd see that." Her tone was uplifting and positive. I was grateful.

I gave a strangled smile, all of the discussion about Carlisle forgotten momentarily.

Renesmee clutched onto my fingers, and then held my hand. "Momma?" she asked sweetly. I looked at her, wanting to give her anything she asked for next.

"What is it Nessie?"

"I don't wanna go back to sleep." She said sadly.

Edward was touched, I could tell. His face looked pained for a moment and then he smiled down at her. "You can stay up with us, don't you worry." He said, using his dazzling tone that made me feel weak.

I gave Renesmee another kiss. I rubbed her arm. She snuggled closer to Edward, who looked rather proud. It was one of the best moments, after the worst.

"See, this is why I think that you all are far more important to me," said Carlisle. We paused to look at him curiously.

I was caught off guard when he brought the subject up.

"I know how you all feel already about our family in Italy." He looked at Esme. "I know that most of you do not wish to relocate our lives."

Edward and I traded a look of agreement.

"No, we would not want that. You would not want to go alone, I assume?" asked Edward.

"If I did accept, then I would like you all to go with me." Carlisle answered promptly.

Everyone's reactions were somber.

Esme said, "We would support you. However, I don't think that the children want this." She waved a hand towards us.

Carlisle looked at each of us. "I don't need to ask you, or put it to a vote once more. I realize by the looks on your faces what you really think of this arrangement, and I want to do what's best for us all."

"It is your decision, though I will say that no, I would rather have my family remain in Forks," Edward said, cradling Nessie to him. I gave him a grateful look. He nodded at me, keeping his promise to me. I felt a little bad about cornering him with my thoughts while we were in the living area.

I curved my right arm underneath his to hug him in celebration, while my other arm was around Renesmee.

"We can easily reelect the next person down with the highest number of votes and go from there," said Alice buoyantly.

"I will deny that position, as the leader in Italy then." Carlisle astounded us all. My eyes flickered up to him. "You all, my family, are far too important to me. Though I am in the position to protect you all anyhow, I am sure whoever we elect next will do the same."

"Hope so," said Emmett, almost sorrowfully. "Man, we had it though." He held his hand in a fist before Rosalie shot him a glance that made him end his statement really quick.

The liberation of Carlisle's words was tangible in the bedroom.

"In that case, I say we reconvene in the dining hall, so that I can make my decision known." Carlisle said, as he strode out the door. The others fell in step behind him.

Rosalie fell behind. She approached us just as Renesmee was set into my arms by Edward. I hugged Renesmee to my chest and she made herself comfortable against my shoulder. I lifted my eyes to Rosalie. Her expression was panged with remorse and a little bit of disappointment.

She bent down to curl her fingertips underneath Renesmee's chin and smiled at her. She then stood and turned on her heel and strutted out of the bedroom.

Cuddling with my baby, I glanced at Edward. His face was placid, and his eyes were fixed on Renesmee. Our eyes met.

"What. A. Night." I sighed, shaking my head at the events.

The corner of Edward's mouth twitched. "It's not over either." He commented.

He hunched over to look into Renesmee's view. "Are you ready to go downstairs with us, Nessie? There are a lot of people down there."

Her eyes widened slightly, nightmare aside and curiosity piqued. "Who?"

"Most of the nice ones from the covens that you've met," I answered, looking down at her. Renesmee looked at both of us, her mouth spreading into an even smile.

"Okay," she answered me bravely.

Edward was on his feet beside the bed. He helped lift me and Nessie up and walked us out of the suite and down to the first level where the gathering awaited us.

I carried my daughter into the dining hall, and of course, an audible 'aw' drifted over the crowd when they saw Renesmee. Her round eyes skimmed over everyone as she sat on my hip, clutching onto my shoulder.

Carlisle was at the point of the table now, standing next to Esme and Alice. "It gives me great honor to be chosen for such a significant position. Although, I regret to say that I must deny this election." Carlisle refused politely.

A considerable number of vampires were disappointed, although they attentively listened to Carlisle.

"It would not suit my clan—my family. I think it natural that a much more solid coven must be fitted for this calling." Carlisle said modestly. "I believe that we must consider pass the power to the next being nominated."

"In that case, we shall account for the advocated leader with the second most votes." Alice consulted her parchment pad. She already knew who it would be of course.

I felt as if I were on pins and needles, I could barely stand it anymore. I held onto Renesmee, who was poking her head around to grin at someone. My eyes were glued on Alice. Edward's arm constricted around my waist eagerly.

We all waited patiently, the anticipation building.

Alice turned to Carlisle, who had been given the honor to announce the next elected vampire. She showed him a name, her lips together in a confidential manner.

Carlisle glanced at the name and nodded. He raised his head to speak.

I realized I was holding my breath.

The blanket of silence fell over us once more.

"It gives me pleasure to announce that Eleazar has been nominated," said Carlisle with shining pride for Eleazar. He stepped next to Carlisle, nodding at the praise as several clapped for him.

"Thank you one and all." Said Eleazar proudly. Kate, Tanya and Carmen had glorious looks on their sparkling faces. "I will dutifully accept this honor." He turned to shake hands with Carlisle.

On that ending matter, everyone was dismissed to converse with one another over the new triumph.

I was glad that the anxious build-up was over. I was thrilled that Carlisle had not accepted his honor. The fate would have been beneficial for all, though it was such a prominent duty that would be spread all over the globe. Carlisle would have had to quit his career as a doctor, his life as a father. I could see why he refused the power.

"That settles that," Edward said against my cheek. He planted a kiss there. "Are you happy now, my love?" He asked me, his voice as charming as ever. I tore my eyes from Renesmee, who was wiggling her fingers at Zafrina.

I raised my hand to feel the smooth skin of his cheek. "You know I am," I sighed.

Edward's stare on me was tantalizing. I felt like fainting, if it were possible, I would have. Now we can go home, I reached out to him with my mind, allowing him to read it.

"Nessie, there you are my dear. Hello Bella, Edward," Zafrina greeted us. She held Nessie's hand for a moment. "You are simply adorable. It is good to see you." She touched my face in an endearing motion and nodded at Edward. She waved at Renesmee and then made her way towards the front entryway of the homestead.

After the entire mansion had cleared from the visitors, I felt such relief. Everyone was settled and decisions were made. Eleazar, Kate and Tanya were heavily discussing their life altering plans in the dining hall.

Our family was collecting their luggage and belongings to pick up and depart straight away.

Alice was in her suite with Jasper, compiling the last minute suitcases together.

I stood with Edward inside of our suite, where Edward and Emmett were fixing our borrowed bed.

"Can't take you anywhere huh?" Emmett said under his breath followed by a chuckle.

Edward rolled his eyes at his brother. I grimaced, holding a sleeping Renesmee in the cradle of my arms.

"I'll remember that. Just you wait until I don't have a child in my arms," I whispered at Emmett. He only laughed harder, trying to muffle his outrageous guffaws.

Edward gave me an impressed look, his eyebrows raised. He nodded once at me just as he lowered the mattress back into place. Emmett dusted off his hands. "I'd run if I were you." Edward said to Emmett, who socked him on the shoulder. Edward gave him a weird look, though he could not help but laugh.

I glared at Emmett, threatening him with my eyes. "Hey, you're the one who gives me reason," he pointed at us two and then marched out of the bedroom, laughing at his poor joke.

"He'll get his," I assured Edward. He stared at me for a moment, as if marveling at me.

Just then I heard footsteps approaching. I turned my head. Jacob turned the corner, his expression confused. He had been awoken to get ready to leave.

"That stench was nauseating." He pinched his nose. "Good thing I was out for it. So, what'd I miss?" Jacob asked us, ticking his eyes between Edward and I.

"Carlisle was elected at first," started Edward.

Jacob's eyes bulged. "What?" He looked at me pointedly. "You guys aren't gonna leave to Italy are you?" He knew he would be forced to come along with us if we were to live in Voltera.

I shuddered at the thought.

Edward smirked to himself, zipping up Renesmee's suite case. He stood it next to the doorway. "Carlisle refused the position. Now Eleazar is reelected."

Jacob exhaled, glad for the outcome as well. "Enough with the crazy talk. Let's get out of here. This is all creeping me out." He shuddered. "Especially that dream."

I looked at Jacob oddly. "Dream?"

"Some nightmare about the Volturi," Jacob said, batting the air as if it were merely a nuisance.

"Yeah. Nessie had that same nightmare. She woke up crying." I said, my eyes grazing my peaceful daughter, curled in my arms.

Jacob's face fell. "Aw, Nessie." He touched her cheek gently and shook his head with a grumble. "Yeah, I say it's time to get her back home." Jacob motioned towards my daughter, and then hurried to the corner of the room where some of the pieces of our luggage was placed.

Edward opened up a long, fleecy blanket. "Here," he said softly, as he helped me wrap Renesmee in a thick comforter.

Jacob picked up one of Renesmee's suite cases and hauled it out of the room, zealous to get on the road obviously and back to our own territory.

"Can't say I blame him." I lifted my eyebrows and looked at my husband.

I could not wait to get back to Forks either. I wanted to call up my father once we got in safely. Most of all, I could not wait to have our baby back to the safety of our cottage. Just the very thoughts of the cold, rainy weather of Forks made me feel warm inside.

Most of all, I needed time alone with Nessie and Edward. I could not wait to situate our lives back to the way it once was.

Edward and I were left gazing at one another. "Home sweet home," I said suggestively, my eyes locked onto my husband's. He wrapped his arm around my neck and led me out to the Volvo, and we began our journey back to Forks.