Thanks to my beta, Besotted, and my BFF pre-reader, Twaffle. I couldn't have done any of this without either of you. Many thanks go to FeMcB02 for pre-reading, as well. :)
We arrive in Portland where the weather is brisk and the skies are cloudy. This means zilch.
Nothing will deter me from what I want to do today.
We bring the private plane, the whole family unwilling to miss what I have in store. I'm sure Bella will wonder why I'm the only one who brought an antique, but she'll soon find out why. Little does she know, I called Charlie into this Roadshow event. He meets us at the front doors of the Oregon Convention Center, and I start making introductions.
"Charlie, this is my family. Everyone, I'd like you to meet Bella's father, Charlie Swan," I say, grinning.
That man is wearing the smile of someone completely in love. Bella's going to be floored.
Emmett steps forward first, shaking his hand in greeting.
"It's nice to meet you, Chief Swan," he says, patting him on the back.
Holy shit, this man is huge, Charlie thinks, impressed by Emmett's stature.
"Your Bella is a riot," Emmett states, smiling.
Charlie nods, responding, "She'd have to be. Her father has his moments, and she was around those boys from the reservation so often, she had to have a sense of humor. I may have disowned her if she didn't," he laughs, greeting Rose next.
Damn. His wife is beautiful. Did I just see her put knitting needles into her purse?
"Hi, Charlie," Rose says, giving him a hug. Charlie's thoughts blank out completely for a few seconds. Because really, Rose is a knockout, and that happens to most men when they meet her.
"Hi, Rose," Charlie says, a bit higher-pitched than usual.
"I taught Bella how to knit!" Rose says. I snicker, folding my arms.
"She said we were going to make badass comfy socks, and we did! They're as soft as a baby's bottom! And then we watched Back to the Future, because nothing rocks more than Michael J. Fox in a time-travel movie. Maybe there is a flux capacitor out there somewhere! Do you like the The Moody Blues?" she asks, starting to hum 'I Know You're Out There Somewhere.' Charlie looks kind of shell shocked, assaulted with random information.
What just happened here? he thinks, confused. He decides to address all her points, and to throw some humor in as well. He's definitely Bella's father.
"Comfy socks sound great. Back to the Future is awesome. I have a flux capacitor at home, but I'd have to kill you if you saw it, and I do like the Moody Blues," he answers, humming 'Nights in White Satin.'
Rose is grinning widely, glad that she didn't freak Charlie out. Alice and Jasper decide to greet him next.
"It's great to meet you, Charlie," Alice says, also giving him a hug. "Did Bella tell you we're going to go skydiving together at some point in the future?"
Bella skydiving? I can see it.
"She hadn't mentioned it to me, but I can see her enjoying something like that. I presume you'll be the one she goes with?" he asks, chuckling.
"You'd be right," Alice replies, beaming. "Would you care to come with us, join in on the fun?" she asks, wondering if Charlie's a thrill-seeker.
"Uh, no," Charlie responds, scoffing. "I'll leave that to you and my daughter," he says, shaking his head. "I have no desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane," he states as Jasper offers his hand in greeting.
"Don't let her fool you," Jasper whispers to Charlie. "My wife's a bit crazy," he says, knowing we vampires can hear. Alice snickers quietly, responding as only she can.
"Maybe. But you know you love me that way. How many bedrooms have we destroyed because I'm 'crazy'?" she teases, speaking in vampire pitch. Jasper clears his throat, imagining some of their escapades before continuing to speak with Charlie.
"I'm Jasper. I work in forensics for Chicago's Police Department. If you'd ever be interested in taking a tour, let me know," he says, genuinely interested in showing Charlie his line of work, knowing they'll mesh because they're both involved in law enforcement.
"I'd really like that, thank you, Jasper," Charlie replies. His thoughts are touched, and he feels welcomed into our family.
I really like how open and genuine these people are.
Carlisle and Esme step forward together, Esme with a hug and Carlisle with a handshake.
"Bella's an amazing woman, Charlie, and it's so nice to meet her father," Esme says, beaming. Carlisle nods in agreement and places his arm around his wife.
Bella's already cherished by them. This is more than I could ever ask for, for her to be loved by so many like this.
"Thank you," Charlie responds, almost at a loss for words. "She's the apple of my eye… and I can tell she's the apple of Edward's, too," he states as he makes eye contact with me. His thoughts are focused on trust. He trusts his daughter with me, heart and soul.
"How about we go surprise your girl, Edward?" Charlie says with a small smile on his face.
I'm making my way through the door before he even finishes his sentence. I'm amped up, almost giddy, but not anxious. We make our way to Bella's line, and we have what looks to be an hour's wait.
"Are you feeling like you want to throw up?" Charlie asks, thinking I look ready to jump out of my skin.
"No, I'm just antsy. I've been so ready for this…" I trail off, feeling unable to express what I want to say with the right words.
"I'm a little nervous, granted, but I've known that Bella was my other half since the beginning. She's the light of the morning, and the moon that graces the darkness of night. She's everything," I say softly, drumming my fingers on my thigh. I can't seem to stand still.
"I know what you mean, kid," Charlie replies. "I felt nervous before I proposed to Renee. I was a sweaty, anxious mess, and I did throw up before I left to pick her up for our date. There's no other situation on such a grand scale in which you lay your heart on the line like this, waiting on an answer," he says, his mouth curving into a smile.
I'm still fidgeting, drumming my fingers on my leg, and Jasper shoots me an annoyed glance, kicking some calm my way.
"Man up, soldier," he snorts, barely controlling his amusement.
We wait in line, my family gets to know Charlie even better, and I finally see Bella in my line of sight. She spots me as she prepares to greet her next Roadshow client, and her thoughts let me know she's excited to see my family. She hasn't seen her father yet, and I'm thrilled that she's going to be surprised in more ways than one.
Inching our way closer, Mac spots us as Bella sends another happy client off.
Oh, cool, Bella's father is here…I haven't seen him since he visited her a year ago for the Seattle show. Hold on a minute. Edward looks like he needs some xanax. Is he going to do what I think he's going to do? Romantic above all else. He's so going to get brownie points for this.
I make sure that Bella's not watching as I take the antique box that holds my mother's wedding ring out of my pocket. I look at Mac as I tilt my head and show it to him with a smirk on my face.
I knew it! He's going to propose on-air! Many a female will swoon, and the rest of the male population will be screwed.
I chuckle softly, putting the ring back into my pocket. There's only one woman I care about impressing. I don't have a speech prepared, and I don't need one. I'll speak with my heart.
My family is buzzing with excitement and anticipation as we get closer, and I'm feeling the effects. I whisper to Jasper to let me have these feelings, because I want to experience everything about these moments.
Before I meet with my love, I want to speak to Carlisle. I feel compelled to thank him for all he's done for me. He's the rock of this family of ours, and I couldn't picture a better man to lean on.
"Carlisle… I can never thank you enough for not only bringing me into this life, but for also salvaging what you could from my human life," I speak quietly, knowing he'll appreciate my words. While I was changing, Carlisle made sure to have my family's most important possessions saved.
"My mother's wedding ring means so much to me. Getting to pass it on to Bella means even more. I love you, and this family," I say, thankful beyond measure for the people in my life that I've been blessed with.
Carlisle's expression is one of love and humility, and his thoughts are warm and confirming.
You'll never know how proud of you I am, Edward. Brining you into this life was one of the greatest things I've ever done. This family wouldn't be the same without you, he thinks, remembering all of the ups and downs we've had as a group.
In one particular memory, he remembers the day the guys and I went and watched The Karate Kid. It was 1984, and we'd just gotten out of the theater. We drove home quoting movie lines, and Emmett and I got the bright idea in our heads to wax all the cars we owned at the time. But we made a competition out of it. We always do.
I see us in his memory, furiously waxing the bodies of our cars, all model year 1984. I was working on an Audi 5000S Turbo, and Emmett had a Mazda 626. Things were going fine, and we were laughing like crazy, until I got a little boisterous with the next car, a Porsche 944.
Obviously, I was onto my second car before he was finished with the first. I mean, come on. I am the fastest vampire in the hood.
"Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off," I yell, pushing a little too hard into the windshield of the Porsche. I hear the crack, and I know I'm fucked. The glass is already spider-webbed. My whole body freezes, and I'm on lockdown. Rose is going to have my ass. This is her baby.
"Shit, dude," I say, in panic mode. "I need to buy a new windshield, and fast. Rose doesn't have to know about this. Let's go!" I say, hopping into the car like my ass is on fire.
Thousands of memories whiz by in his head, and one in particular takes residence. He remembers making plans for a family trip to Venice, Italy. I watched as the mated pairs buzzed with excitement, ready to tour the city of love. I wanted to go, but I politely declined.
"I'm sorry, Carlisle," I say, wishing I had a mate to share the trip with. "I just don't think I'm up to it, being in such a romantic place… I feel like the odd man out," I say, wanting to get away for a while. The family never meant to make me feel excluded, but I feel like the trip is more for the rest of them than for me.
Carlisle watches me take off by myself for a few days. His face is drawn in sadness and empathy, and I remember hearing him begin to pray for me in his thoughts before I'm out of range.
At this moment, it dawns on me that Carlisle understood and grieved my quiet pain in being the only unmated vampire in our family. More so than I realized.
You're welcome, he thinks, smiling. Isabella is a wonderful addition to our family. I really can't tell you how happy I am that you've found her.
Finally, I'm up. I turn around, making eye contact with Bella's father, and I say the only thing that sums up what I'm feeling. "Thank you, Charlie," I whisper. He nods a couple of times, his thoughts saddened and joyful at the same time.
There you are. Didn't get here early enough, did you? she thinks, smirking.
I give her a 'look,' shaking my head back and forth once as I make my way to her setup.
Now I know you're not always mister patient vampire. She thinks this, grinning at me, before looking back to where my family is, and to where her father stands, watching.
My dad! What's he doing here? What an awesome surprise!
She gives the family and her father a little wave before the camera starts rolling. I take my seat beside her, pulling the antique box from my pocket.
"It seems, my Edward, that you've brought me a small trinket today," she starts, pointing toward the box.
"Ahh, yes," I reply, secretly thrilled that she called me hers on national television. "But this isn't just any small trinket," I say, opening the box for her to survey its contents.
Wow, this is so gorgeous. It's such a stunning ring, and not too ostentatious. I wonder who it belonged to.
"Tell me what you know about this ring, Edward," she says, still suspecting nothing.
"This is a Late Victorian-era wedding ring that has been passed down in my family. I believe its origins date back to around 1895," I state, waiting for her appraisal expertise to come forth.
Bella picks up the ring, turning it for the camera before placing it on a stand made for jewelry.
"This ring is honestly the most beautiful piece of jewelry I've ever seen," she says, picking up her pointer tool. I'm thrilled that she likes my ring so much, and I wait for her to begin her appraisal.
I kind of want to put it on, just to see what it looks like on my finger. Ah, well.
I want to start laughing, because she doesn't know this ring is hers.
"You're definitely right about the era that this ring was made in," Bella starts, gesturing toward Mac and the camera.
"Victoria became the Queen of England in 1837, at 18 years old. She was young and pretty, admired, respected, and emulated by her subjects. Everything she wore - be it clothing or jewels, became an instant fashion trend, thus, the Victorian-era was created. This era spun between the years 1837 and 1901. In the Late-Victorian era, jewelers began crafting rings using machines, but your ring isn't one of them. This ring is a shining example of the beauty she inspired during her reign," she says, getting ready to point out its finest details.
"You have two gorgeous mine-cut emeralds flanking a beautiful old, mine-cut diamond, together weighing one half-carat. These stones are set diagonally across the finger and are embellished on each side with glistening rose-cut diamond flourishes. The band is made of 18 karat yellow gold, with platinum settings for the stones. The jeweler that made this band masterfully created delicate, handcrafted feminine jewelry for women of the Victorian era," she says, putting her pointer tool down.
"I can't pinpoint who made it, because there are no tell-tale signs or signatures on the ring itself. However, this ring is superb and in mint condition," she says excitedly. "I would estimate its value at –"
"Stop right there, love, please," I say, halting her speech before she's able to tell me how much the ring is worth. She looks at me, puzzled, wondering why I stopped her.
"The worth of this jewel isn't important to me. Do you know why?"
Bella shakes her head at me, blinking.
"No, I don't," she answers, confusion lighting her expression.
"All I need is sitting right here next to me," I respond, looking into her expressive brown eyes and picking up my mother's ring. "And her worth is impossible to measure."
"This has been in my family for a long time. I imagine my mother once told me how important it was, but I don't entirely remember," I say, thinking that the human memory I'll receive will have to do with my mother and this precious jewel.
"It's nowhere near as important as you," I say quietly, gently rubbing the band between my fingers, looking at my sweet girl with total adoration. Realization begins to dawn in her mind, and she's thoroughly shocked.
I shift from my chair, placing one knee on the floor and taking her left hand in my own.
"My contentment revolves around your smile, your laugh, the joy you take in the small things in life. You've made me aware of what true intimacy and love have to offer, and I can never go back. Nor would I want to," I say, stroking her ring finger.
"Everything I want to experience in this life, I want to do it with you by my side. I can't wait to be your husband. Hoping that you will one day introduce me with that title thrills me beyond words. I am yours," I say, emphasizing the words with fierce intent.
"In an era that was simpler, a woman would take her husband's name, because she wanted to join with him as one."
"Will you wear my name, Isabella? Will you marry me?" I ask reverently, my entire being waiting, wanting.
Bella's eyes tear up, and her thoughts are filled with joy. She also wants to remember everything about this moment, and she notices my expression is one of unabashed want and devotion.
Your eyes are so golden and bright right now, it's like they're lit by flames. And I know they're burning for me, as my entire being burns for you.
"Yes," she says clearly, her tone confident and sure. "I will marry you," she says softly, ready for me to put my ring on her finger.
I can't believe this ring is mine. I'll treasure it always. As I treasure you. Forever.
I'm still kneeling as I slide the ring on her finger, and I'm taken into a human memory once more. As I begin to relive it, Bella's thoughts take me off guard, and I'm astounded.
Oh my God, Edward… I'm experiencing your human memory! I'm here with you, able to watch and listen!
Bella's thoughts are amazed, and I'm reeling with the knowledge that her gift has manifested into something more. I root this revelation in the fact that Bella has cemented our bond as mates – our connection has become stronger, deeper, since she made her decision to become immortal and spend her life with me. And I know that this manifestation of Bella's gift is for me alone. I can feel it. I'll now be able to share a part of my life with her that I never thought I'd be able to.
I focus back in on my memory, as my mother speaks to my 17 year-old self about love.
"Edward, I know that you've seen that most couples of our time are matches made by their parents, used more as a business deal than anything else." She huffs as she says this and continues speaking. "Thankfully, my parents married for love, and they never pawned me off like something to be bartered. A dowry never hung over my head, thank the Lord," she says, looking toward the ceiling and gathering her thoughts.
"It felt so freeing, being able to choose the man I wanted to be with, rather than having to essentially be forced into a marriage I didn't want. I remember telling my close female classmates that I had a choice in who I wanted to marry, when the time came. More than half of them couldn't understand why I was so happy to have the freedom of choice. And that saddened me terribly," she says, her green eyes clouded with emotion.
"I know you've liked a couple of the girls from your school over the last year, Edward," she says, a soft smile on her face. "I'm well aware of your age, and I know you're growing into a respectable, desirable young man. I just… I want to caution you," she says softly, taking her wedding ring off of her finger. Mother never does this – she must have a serious point to make.
"Pay attention to what the girls you like say, as well as how they act around you. Don't keep your heart locked away, but be aware that there are some girls that listen to their parents speak of matchmaking and dowries, furnishings and money…as if they're the only important things in this world - that material things mean more than the man they are to marry. Know, my Edward, that you don't need them. Young girls of today should be thinking for themselves. They should strive for their own education, their own freedom in their relationships. They shouldn't settle for less than being loved, and neither should you," she says as she puts her wedding ring under the light of the lamp by the love seat.
"This ring was given to me by your father, as you know," she states as I watch the stones glint under the light. "Your father said that the emeralds matched the color of my eyes, and that's the reason he was so taken with it. They match yours, too. This is just one of the symbols of his love for me. One day, you will pass it on to your future wife," she says, bringing it from under the light. "I have a feeling that she will be your perfect partner in life, Edward. Have no doubt that the woman you give this to will have a strong and witty mind. And she'll love you like no other," she says, slipping the ring back on her finger.
"When I perish, it will be yours. Your father and I want your bride to wear it proudly. But take your time, Edward. Don't rush into marriage because it's what the other boys your age are doing. I have a feeling you'll be waiting a while for your perfect girl, anyway," she says, laughing.
Bella's thoughts are even more shocked by my mother's last sentence.
I wonder if she somehow knew? You waited so long for me.
My mother sends me off with a hug, jokingly muttering about my hair being too much for any of the girls in this city, anyway.
As the memory ends, Bella and I both notice the date on the calendar that my mother kept on the parlor wall as I walk through the door. My mother had that conversation with me on September 13, 1913, exactly 74 years to the day that my Isabella was born.
Bella hugs me close as the taping comes to an end, unwilling to let go. She's been so touched by her ability to experience my human memory, and my proposal is still sinking in.
God, Edward. I can't believe you did this! I'm so surprised. Getting to see your mother, and you as a teenager, I can't express how much that means to me.
"I love you," she whispers, kissing me softly.
"And I you," I reply.
I can't wait to experience more of your memories! I want to see what you were like at six years old because I'm sure you raised some cain when you were young. Can we go home and touch all your antiques?
I laugh loudly at that. "Maybe not all my antiques," I respond, still chuckling. "I'd like to draw these memories out a bit. You can touch other antiques, if you know what I mean," I smirk as Bella's face contorts with laugher.
"That one was kind of cheesy, but still funny," she snorts, shaking her head.
They're lost in their own little world. I think they forgot we were here. Charlie thinks, amused.
"Come on, sweetheart," I say, tugging on her hand. "We have an audience. They seem to think we've forgotten about them," I state, grinning.
Bella engulfs her father in a hug, and she takes the opportunity to rib him a little.
"I never knew my father was such a good secret-keeper!" she says, smacking him on the shoulder. Charlie chuckles, shrugging. "I definitely wasn't going to ruin one of the most perfect surprises for my only daughter," he replies. Bella hugs the rest of the family as well as Mac before letting us all know she's going to finish this round of clients out, and then find a replacement for a few hours. She's buzzing and happy, and now she feels like she can't sit still.
Bella is soon in front of the camera again, and the first thing she says as Mac starts filming is, "Best. Day. Ever!"
I'd have to agree.
Two weeks later, we've all gathered at Carlisle and Esme's to watch the taping of my proposal. Bella's moved in with me, and she's begun planning a small, intimate wedding six months from now. She's recruited Rose, Alice, and her mother for their opinions and their help, and it's been fun to watch, and give my input where needed. Truthfully, I just want to marry my girl.
My phone rings after we've viewed the episode, and I'm surprised by the location of the number that's on the other end of my phone. Italy. It's Aro. I'm nervous as I prepare to answer. A Volturi King has never called me before.
"It's Aro," I say, still kind of thrown for a loop that he's calling me. "How'd he get my number?" I say speaking rapidly. Carlisle looks abashed, running his hand through his hair.
"Uh, I kind of gave it to him," he says, making a face. "Quite a while ago, actually. Aro likes to be able to contact other vampires, especially those of us that like to blend into human society. He has no ulterior motive, Edward, and he doesn't pry into our lives. He likes to check in on us from time to time, and make sure we're content," he states. "He's like that loveable, semi-annoying grandfather everyone has, to be honest."
"Of course, he can be ruthless, but only when it's necessary. He does keep tabs on problematic human casualties that come under suspicion of vampire killings, but he doesn't take action to destroy another of our kind unless he feels he absolutely has to," he finishes as I lift my phone to answer.
"Hello?" I answer, still nervous.
"Hello, Edward," he replies, his voice deep and regal. I think I detect a hint of amusement in his tone, as well.
"It's wonderful to finally speak with one so loved by Carlisle," he says, shuffling the phone in his hand.
"Hold on for just one second, young Edward. I need to put you on speaker. I loathe these blasted contraptions sometimes," he states, and I can hear him pushing buttons in my ear. For as smart as vampires usually are, some of us really have trouble with technology. I swear I hear giggling as he finally gets me on speakerphone, and I'm almost positive that I now have an audience with Marcus and Caius, as well as the three kings' wives, Didyme, Athenodora, and Sulpicia.
"Ah, that's better," he says as the snickering in the background quiets down.
"Now, Edward. Caius sat us all down in front of the computer earlier, to watch an American television show called Antiques Roadshow. He was able to get it to stream online. You should know that Caius calls the computer itself 'the mighty interwebs'," he says, laughing.
"Caius is an odd duck, sometimes," he states, and I hear Caius' growl in the background.
"The mighty interwebs are also responsible for your addiction to Bejeweled and Diablo III," he says emphatically as Marcus laughs. "Those games are polar opposites, brother," Marcus chuckles, as Aro tries to get back on course.
"Anyhow, we got all caught up on every episode you and your lovely mate are in!" he says gleefully. "She's a beauty, Edward. I can tell that you two are a perfect match," he states, his tone still one of excitement.
"See, I called because we are very interested in your mate's ability. Carlisle told us that you've all received human memories every time she touches one of your antiques while she's touching you, and well… we wanted to respectfully request an audience with your Bella," he says. "We want to come to the Roadshow, or we'd gladly fly your whole family to Volterra. You can imagine the treasure trove of antiques we have here," he states, waiting on my response.
I can't believe the Volturi kings have called me in for a favor.
"It's my turn to put you on speaker, Aro," I respond, laughing. "I want you to ask my mate. I don't make these kinds of decisions without her," I grin, pushing the button.
"Good man," he responds, his voice echoing through the room. "I think we've all learned a thing or two over the millennia about communicating with our wives before acting on such things," he says, and I hear their wives murmuring in agreement.
"That didn't stop you from hiring Felix as our chauffeur, Aro," Sulpicia says briskly. "I told you that cocaine-laced blood did something to his brain! He crashed us into a tree!" she mutters, seeming amused and exasperated. "You know we would've been dead if we weren't vampires," she says. I hear him huff in agreement. This is probably one of the most surreal conversations of my long life. I shake my head, looking at my Isabella. She's sitting with her brows raised, wide-eyed.
They seem a bit dysfunctional to be in charge of a vampire race. She shrugs one shoulder as Aro addresses her.
"Hello, Bella," he says cheerfully. "My name is Aro. It's nice to speak with you, and I'm so happy you and Edward have found one another," he states.
"My brothers and I, as well as our mates, want to respectfully request an audience with you," he says, continuing. "We've learned of your talent for gifting human memories to we vampires, and we'd all be honored to bring you relics from our long lives," he says, waiting on her response.
"I had to ask Jasper and Carlisle this once, and I have to ask you, too. Can you all behave yourselves?" she asks with a huge smile on her face.
Aro clears his throat on the other end of the line, and he seems to squeak out his response to my mate.
"Of course we can," he replies. I'd love to be able to see his expression right now, as well as read his thoughts.
"Well, then," Bella says with a nod, "I'd love to. I think we'll come to Volterra first," she says, and her thoughts are filled with how beautiful it must be in Italy. It looks like I'll get to visit Venice, after all.
I haven't even been able to appraise everything you and your family have, yet. But getting the opportunity to appraise these vampires' antiques is so cool! I'll never run out of items to appraise!
"Wonderful!" Aro exclaims happily. "We'll arrange for your tickets. Have no fear, Bella. You'll be warmly welcomed here," he says, ending the call.
Bella sinks back into my side, marveling at what just happened. We all are. We all look around the room at each other, bursting into laughter.
"I have a feeling things will never be dull with you around, Bella," Esme says through her giggles.
"Me, either," Bella replies, looking into my eyes.
Gazing back at her, I find all the assurance I need to know that we're going to have a long, happy life together. Spending my life loving her is going to be the biggest adventure of my existence.
I want to thank everyone who has read this story and supported me. I also want to thank those who have reviewed, put my story on alert, or put me on author alert. I want to thank the guest readers whom I couldn't respond to. Trust me when I say I wished I could have responded. That said - if you still wish to communicate with me, please enable Private Messaging through your ffn account.
Antiques Roadshow is my first story, and I'm unafraid to write more stories – because of your support. It means more to me than I can express.
I have other plot bunnies in the works. I can also say that I will likely write an outtake or two for Antiqueward. Please keep me on author alert if you'd be so kind.
Bella's engagement ring is on my profile, for those who want to see it. It's seriously pretty. Many thanks to my friend forthelongestday for working on the photo. She's awesome with photoshop.
I quoted The Karate Kid, AND Tangled in this chapter. Pretty win, yeah? I'd say this is the Best. Day. Ever, because I can finally hit the 'complete' button.
As always, find me on twitter at conqueredthesky.