A/N: I wrote this as a birthday present for my amazing friend, sister, and dedicated beta, Hev99. I love her so much that I, with great effort, suppressed my angsty soul and wrote something more appropriate for the theme of the day, which is celebration. For today we celebrate the day that a wonderful, strong, beautiful woman was born. She is a blessing in the lives of all who have the privilege of knowing her, and I could not be more grateful to be among the privileged. Happy birthday sweets! I'll see you in less than two weeks! SQUEEEEEEE!
I'd also like to say that although I should be sad that I don't own Twilight, the friendships I've found because of it make me feel rich every day, so I'm good. And please forgive any mistakes…I couldn't very well ask my incredible beta to beta her own birthday gift. ;)
It was finally here. We'd been planning this day for weeks. My best friend, Alice, was turning twenty-five and we were throwing a surprise party. It wasn't going to be a huge affair, but we hoped it would be fun for her. Alice and I had been friends for as long as I could remember. The problem was…she couldn't. Ten years ago, Alice was in a freak rock climbing accident that claimed the lives of her parents and landed her in the hospital with severe head trauma. She lost almost all of her memory which made the loss of her parents doubly hard. But despite losing the first part of her life, she bounced back with classic Alice flare. She moved in with my family, and even though the first couple of years were rough, she never gave up. She even went rock climbing again for her eighteenth birthday, after the doctors finally gave her the all-clear. It scared me to death to watch her, but you would've never known it by the way I cheered her on from the bottom.
The sweetest thing though, was watching Jasper make her fall in love with him all over again. If any couple was ever meant to be it was those two. He never gave up on her, and did the most amazingly creative things to show her how much he loved her. Like everything else it took some time, but in the end she proved she was still a sucker for his charm.
"Edward," I called up the stairs. "Are you almost ready? Emmett and Rose will be here any minute."
"I'll be right down, love."
As I turned to head back into the kitchen, the front door suddenly flew open and Emmett's voice boomed through the house in a horrible sing-song Cuban accent. "Lucy! I'm home!"
"Geez, Emmett," I breathed, while clutching my chest and attempting to slow my fight or flight response. "Haven't you ever heard of a doorbell?"
"Whas a doorbell? You have some 'splainin' to do!" He continued on in that terrible accent shaking a finger at me. He was so frustrating at times, but I couldn't help laughing at his antics. Emmett was all freight train on the outside with his huge, muscle clad frame, and puppy dog on the inside with his bright blue eyes and charming dimples. He loved to have fun, but was fiercely protective of those he loved.
"Just get out in the back yard, Ricky, and rig up the banner," I said, shaking my head at him. "You did get the banner, right?"
"Honestly Bella, it hurts that you don't trust me. Of course I got the banner." He acted like he was trying to pull an imaginary dagger out of his heart as he headed for the back door with a bag that, I could only hope, held the banner.
"Hey Bella," Rosalie greeted. "Where do you want this stuff?"
"Here, let me help you with that," I offered as I reached for some of the grocery sacks that overburdened her arms. "Let's get the cold things into the fridge, and then we can start prepping the meat for the barbeque. Hopefully Emmett will start blowing up the balloons once he has the banner hung. I figured if I put the balloons and the helium tank on the table directly below where the banner is supposed to go, even Emmett wouldn't be thick enough to miss it."
"You left him alone with a helium tank? What were you thinking?"
Well, duh. Being struck by lightning would've been less obvious once I thought about it.
"Crap! Good point. Looks like I'm the thick one. We should hurry."
Rushing into the kitchen, we quickly organized the groceries and doused the chicken in marinade. We had planned for hot dogs to be on the menu. Well, until Jasper pointed out that Alice now viewed them as neatly wrapped packages of unidentifiable swept up slaughter house bits. Yeah, I'm pretty much never eating one again. So chicken, real, fully identifiable chicken, became today's main course.
Sliding open the back door we were greeted with a "hellooooo ladies" in a very high, very unnatural, very helium induced voice.
"Emmett," I scolded. "There had better be enough left to fill those balloons."
"Calm down, Your Highnessness," he placated; his voice deepening back to normal with every syllable. "This is only my second one. I'll blow the rest up before I use any more."
I'm pretty sure I heard him mutter "kill joy" as I turned to go back in the house, to which I smiled to myself. I loved the big guy, I couldn't help it. Ever since eighth grade when he helped me out of a giant mud puddle and then proceeded to shove Mike Newton (who had stuck his foot out when I walked by and launched me face first into the filth) into the very same pit of shame. Mike shot me dirty, no pun intended, looks all day, but stopped after Emmett asked him if he'd like to become a permanent resident of "101 Mud Pit Road". It was such a stupid junior high thing to say, but it scared off Mike and made me laugh and we've been friends ever since. People always assumed we were dating because we were always together and we hung out with Alice and Jasper, and that was just fine with me. There wasn't a guy in the whole school I was interested in, and as long as they thought I was dating Emmett, they weren't suicidal enough to bother me.
Our circle expanded in high school when Edward and his sister Rosalie moved to town. I'm sure Emmett and I looked like silly cartoons with bugged out eyes and tongues hanging out when those two walked in on the first day, but it was a whole lot of pretty and could not be ignored. They both looked like they'd fallen off Mount Olympus and crash landed in our dumpy little town. Not just because they looked like the spawn of gods, but because they looked at the school population like peasants who did not deserve to breathe the same air. We loved them instantly. Of course they wouldn't know that for a while since neither Emmett nor I could manage a complete sentence in their presence. It was Alice who finally told us to get a grip, and then worked her Alice magic. She called us her masterpieces. I don't think I'll ever understand how she managed to make two perfect couples out of two human perfection specimens and two lunatics, but we'll forever be grateful.
Rosalie and I chatted casually as we filled bowls with candy and placed cookies on plates. The punch bowl was filled, and the party plates and napkins were unwrapped and arranged. We had about an hour before the guests would start arriving, with Jasper bringing Alice about thirty minutes after that. I had spent hours looking through old photographs of Alice's childhood birthdays, the one's she couldn't remember, and tried to pick things out that we could duplicate from a few of them. I had her fifth birthday princess cake replicated by the local bakery, which had actually created the original, and ordered a castle shaped inflatable bounce house like the one that had been rented for her sixth birthday party. Jasper hired a magician, which Alice had when she turned seven, and Emmett got the banner and picked up some leis to pass out like the luau party she had when she turned eight. All together it will look a bit odd and eclectic, but I figure if she hangs out with all of us she must like odd and eclectic.
"Hey baby. Hey Rosie," Edward greeted and he sauntered into the kitchen, giving me a quick kiss before grabbing a Mountain Dew out of the fridge. "I think I just saw the bounce house people show up. Which side of the yard did you decide on?"
"I think the west side, by the garden shed."
"I agree that's the best spot. I'll go tell them."
"Thanks babe. And could you please tell Emmett he can't go anywhere near it until we've signed all the insurance forms?"
"Will do," he chuckled. "But he's got his own health insurance so it shouldn't be a problem if he gets hurt."
"It's not him getting hurt I'm worried about. It's him hurting the inflatable. I don't wanna have to buy the thing if he pops it."
"Well then I guess I'd better get out there and sign everything before they start blowing it up."
"Speaking of blowing stuff up, when you're done with the inflatable, will you help finish the balloons? If the tank is empty, just hook them up to Emmett. I'd be surprised if he isn't floating by now."
"Your wish is my command," he said with a crooked smile and a slight bow of his head before walking out of the kitchen. Holy squirrel nuts in a tree, I love that man.
Shaking my head to clear the fog of lust, I began covering the food with plastic wrap so we could move it outside to the serving table.
"I gotta say, it still grosses me out a little when you drool after my brother like that," Rosalie said while scrunching up her face and shuddering.
"It's been over ten years, Rose. I'd think you'd be over it by now."
"Exactly. It's been ten years. I'd think you'd be over it by now."
"What can I say? He's hot. And he can do things to me that make me…"
"Oh! Ew! La, la, la, la, la…"
I had to laugh as Rosalie grabbed a tray of cookies and ran for the backyard… works every time. With a smirk, I picked up the veggie tray and followed her.
The yard was really shaping up. Edward and I had hung the pink and purple streamers earlier that morning. The castle was slowly rising from a lumpy flat mess into a fully inflated giant petri dish of childhood disease specimens, and I made a mental note to spray the whole thing with disinfectant. Balloons were tied in groups of twos and threes to chair backs and planters, and the flames on the tiki torches danced happily in the gentle breeze.
"Lookin' good," Jasper's lazy drawl sounded from the back door. "Except… who's Bob?"
"Some guy with no arms and no legs floating in the pool," Emmett chuckled.
Jasper rolled his eyes. "Uh huh…and I suppose Matt's on the porch and Art's on the wall?"
"What are you guys talking about?" I turned in confusion toward the direction Jasper nodded and saw it. I couldn't quite compute it, but I definitely saw it. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a large form attempting a stealthy escape. "Freeze McCarty! You aren't going to ninja outta here until you explain to me why that banner says 'Happy Birthday, Bob!' I mean seriously? Bob?"
"It does?" he asked a little too innocently. "How could the party store have screwed that up so badly? It's not even close! I'm going to go straight down there and give them a piece of my mind!"
"I seriously doubt you can spare it." Literally tapping my foot, I crossed my arms tightly over my chest and stared him down with the evil eye until he finally broke, held his hands up in surrender, and began what I was sure would be a very riveting explanation.
"Okay, okay… I'm sorry. I didn't get it ordered in time and the only thing they had was some old banner that no one ever picked up six months ago. It's not my fault we live in some Podunk town that has stone-age party supplies. Besides, no one's gonna notice. You didn't even notice and you're as OCD as it gets."
I opened my mouth to argue with him, but was cut off by an odd, and somewhat creepy laugh, followed my some sort of horn. Slowly I turned and took in the second scary thing in as many minutes.
"Oh, hey guys, this is Wing-Nut the Clown. He's agreed to do balloon animals and stuff for the party," Jasper said.
"Ummm, Jasper? What happened to the magician? You know, a pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat, make-things-disappear magician? Why is Ding-Nut…"
"Whatever. Why is he here? What happened?" What was going on here? I could feel my stress levels climbing into the danger zone. All I wanted to do was plan a simple surprise party, for crying out loud.
"I tried, but they were all booked out, so the agency gave me Wing-Nut's number."
"Well, he may not be a magician, but he sure made Edward disappear," Rosalie said in an amused tone. It was no secret in our group that Edward placed clowns above crazy hillbilly ax murderers on the scary scale.
My face fell into my hands as Edwards muffled voice came from inside the house. "I'm not coming out until that thing is gone!"
Emmett began to laugh, but I silenced him with the look he has learned to fear over the years. With a big sigh I tuned to face a now very confused looking clown. "I'm sorry, uh, Mr. Nut, but we aren't going to be needing your services today. We'll pay you for your trouble."
"That's ok miss, to be honest, when I heard it was an adult party I was worried it was some sort of fetish thing," Wing-Nut replied with obvious relief in his voice. Jasper paid him and sent him on his way, and I took a deep breath and tried to calm down a little so that we could get the rest of the party set up.
I had to say, that even with the mess ups, the party came together really well. The cake was amazing. It looked just like a castle, and actually said 'Alice' on it, so at least something was right. I was just starting to breathe a little when, of course, there was one more fire to extinguish. Emmett apparently thought it would be funny to tell Edward that Wing-Nut wasn't gone, but just lurking in the bushes as part of Alice's surprise. It took me twenty minutes, and an apology from Emmett, but I finally coaxed Edward back outside as guests began to arrive. Poor guy wouldn't go anywhere near a bush though. I was so going to kill Emmett when this was over!
Jasper had left to pick Alice up from the day spa and bring her here, and I shushed everyone and had them get ready when Jasper's text came in that they were five minutes out. I took one last look around the yard. It wasn't perfect, as I had hoped, but it was going to be fun and my excitement for Alice to arrive began to bubble. The anticipation became torture once Tyler peeked over the fence and announced Jasper's car had just pulled up, and I began vibrating with Alice-like excitement. Edward's steady hands on my shoulders were the only thing keeping me on the ground.
From our vantage point to the side, I could see the back door begin to slide open and the black spikey haired head of my best friend and sister pop out. It was our cue…
Alice startled at the loud chorus of voices, but her squeak of fright quickly gave way to squeals of joy as she took everything in. And when she spotted me, her smile got impossibly wider as she ran toward me and threw her arms around my neck.
"Thank you so much, Bella. This is amazing!"
"Happy birthday, Alice! I'm so glad you like it."
"Like it? I love it!"
"Happy birthday, Alice," Edward said as he slid up and hugged her, starting a whole host of birthday greetings from all the guests. I watched Alice happily get passed from one person to the next, laughing and hugging until she finally landed back in Jasper's arms. The kiss he planted on her was searing, and had most people turning away in slight embarrassment. Of course Emmett isn't most people, and I was forced to once again use the awesome power of my stern look to silence him from afar. I swear, he was like a gigantic toddler.
Breathless and slightly pink in the cheeks themselves, Alice and Jasper broke apart from their kiss and stood forehead to forehead gazing into one another's eyes. The moment was so intimate, that even surrounded by party goers, decorations and music, you just knew that they were somewhere else entirely. Of course I was proved wrong when Jasper spoke.
"Happy birthday, Bob."
"What?" Alice laughed.
The party flew into full swing. People bounced and danced and ate. They talked and laughed and shared stories. It was a wonderful mix of old friends and new, and I was very pleased. That was until I walked over to refill a candy bowl near the cake. I thought something looked odd as I approached the table and when I got there I saw exactly what. I was so filled with exasperation that I could barely contain it. Someone had scraped 'Alice' off the cake and written 'Bob' in chocolate syrup. And I knew damn well who that someone was.
A/N: Happy Birthday, Bobble! :)