Nightmares and Shopping Trips

I was dreaming. I knew I was dreaming…but that didn't stop me from being scared.

The woods were dark and cold. I didn't care. Finding Jacob was all that mattered to me, even if I was at risk of losing my tongue due to my chattering teeth. I kept my arms wrapped around my torso, keeping my body heat closer to me.

"Jacob!" I screamed, hoping he would come to me. Any time I had called him, it only took once before he was bounding straight for me. This time, there was nothing but silence.

Even in a dream, there should be the sound of leaves rustling, bugs chirping, the sound of bats fluttering through the trees. But there was nothing. The only sounds were my breathing, slowly accelerating with fear, and my heart beat following suit.

Something was terribly wrong. My pace quickened, causing me to stumble. Even in my dream, I was my mother's daughter.

"Jacob!" I screamed again. Nothing. I had no clue where I was; I didn't recognize anything. This forest wasn't familiar.

It was just as I grabbed onto a tree trunk for balance to step over a fallen tree that I stumbled down said tree and came around the one I was holding onto, and saw, literally, my worst nightmare.

I gasped, putting my fingers over my mouth. A couple yards away from me lay a giant russet wolf, unmoving. Its eyes were open, unblinking, seeing nothing. Empty, they were empty. I knew this wolf. I had stroked his fur, kissed his snout, run with him in the forest. I knew his heartbeat, which was noticeably missing, like my favorite song.

I tore my eyes away from his face to see his fur matted around his neck. The ground below his head was darker than the surrounding dirt.

"Jacob," I whispered as my knees hit the ground. I felt nothing. When I wrapped my arms around myself this time, it was to keep myself from falling apart, to keep my heart together.

I wanted nothing more than to crawl to him and lay with him, but I saw a flicker of a shadow move. Putting my back to the tree, I scooted back around to the other side. Holding myself tight, I squeezed my eyes shut, praying to wake up.

Out of nowhere a hand seized me by the collar of my shirt. I screamed…

I sat straight up in bed, breathing hard. My clothes and sheets were covered in sweat. My room was starting to lighten up from the rising sun. I had finally slept through the night, but I didn't feel any more rested. I felt worse. Reaching over to the other side of the bed, I found it empty. There was nothing there. The usual warmth and solidness that should have been there was about an hour away from me trying to negotiate a new peace treaty.

Putting my head in my hands, I groaned. He never told me when he would be coming back. He'd told me that he didn't want me to just sit there and count down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Well, I was counting them anyway, the days at least. And I was dead set on telling him he'd been away too long. Of course, if I told him that I'd been having nightmares while he was away, I'm sure he wouldn't be away for as long. But I'd told him to stay however long he felt he needed to get this done quicker, swallowing my fear as I did so.

My father, Edward Cullen, had told me that it was just as hard for Jacob to be away from me. It made me feel a little better, but I doubted he was having nightmares of me lying in the forest with blood pooling under my head. He probably wouldn't be gone right now.

I sighed heavily. Yesterday had been my last day of home schooling. I had nothing to do now but sit and wait. From downstairs, I heard the piano start up, playing my lullaby. Daddy knew I was awake and had had another nightmare. I never could close my mind to him while I slept.

Hi, daddy, I thought to him with a smile.

"Good morning, sweetheart," he whispered sweetly to me.

I listened for a moment as he swept his fingers over the keys, slowly coming to the end of my lullaby. Slowly, very slowly, my tense muscles relaxed. I tilted my head from side to side stretching out my neck.

"Ooh, she's awake!" Aunt Alice squealed. I heard her tiny form swish up the staircase.

I sighed again. I guess it was just going to be one of those days. There were two knocks on my door before my bubbly little pixie of an aunt came bouncing into my room.

"Good morning, Nessie!" She leaned in to peck me on the cheek.

"Good morning, Aunt Alice." I pressed my lips to her cold cheek. "I'm guessing you came in here to ask if you could dress me and we go shopping since I'm done with school."

She hopped up and down on the balls of her feet excitedly. "Please, oh please, oh please?" she begged with her hands put together in front of her face. "You're a free woman now. We can do whatever you want."

At the sound of her calling me a woman, my face flushed. I was done with high school. The only time I'd been in a school was my freshman year. I wanted the experience of being a normal teenager. It was great but I was growing too fast. By the time I was a sophomore I looked like I was eighteen. In all actuality, I was only nine years old, but I still looked eighteen. Carlisle had told me he figured I was done growing. The oldest I could probably pass for would be twenty-two or three if I dressed just right.

Carlisle was actually my grandfather on my dad's side but I couldn't bring myself to call him grandpa. It just didn't seem right with him looking like he could be my brother, or a distant cousin. It was the same with his wife, Esme, my grandmother. Neither of them were insulted that they didn't get their familial names. But sometimes I would forget and slip up. I knew they enjoyed it because they would grin like idiots.

I shook my head, coming back to the present. "Ok, ok. But can I dress myself?"

Her face fell a little. "Sure."

Her face shook my resolve. "Go pick out whatever you want." She squealed again and took off for my abnormally huge closet. "No heels!" I screamed after her as an afterthought.

I didn't live in my parents' cottage with them simply because it was theirs. Also, Aunt Alice had a really bad habit of buying me a lot of stuff. I ran out of room in my tiny little bedroom at the cottage. I kept my "baby" stuff there, but had moved into the big white "Cullen house". My dad's old room still had most of his stuff. His stereo, bed, knickknacks, cds, and such. The only thing Esme had cleaned out after renovating the cottage was his closet. Unfortunately, Aunt Alice decided that that left tons of room for new clothes for me as I grew. I always argued the point that she would never let me wear the same outfit twice so why did I need that big of a closet? She had given me a dangerous look so I shut up.

While the little pixie shifted through my closet, I decided it was time to get out of bed. I went to the bathroom because, obviously, nature was calling. This was usually around the time that I would shut my thoughts down to my father.

My gift was that I could touch someone and show them my thoughts or memories. That was how I had communicated during the first few months of my life. Eventually, we, meaning my dad and Carlisle, thought that I might be able to do this without touching people. They were right, but I had to work at it. I also had to learn how to touch people without them seeing anything. Sometimes, if my thoughts or feelings were strong, I would project them on accident. But it was easy to learn that one because I wanted that. As I started maturing, I knew that I'd have to get away from Dad or have Mom follow me around. I didn't want either, so Carlisle had taught me how to meditate in order to erect a mental shield. We weren't sure that it would work until I stood right in front of Dad thinking about a love scene in a movie. His face had scrunched up, trying to read me, but he couldn't. But as soon as a burst of joy washed through me, it crumbled.

Carlisle told me that I'd have to practice for a while before I was able to keep it up, but that it was pretty well done on my first attempt. So, I practiced every day, and eventually, I got to the point where I could just picture it in my mind and there it would be. Dad was mad at Carlisle for a while for teaching me that. I giggled every time his face would scrunch up.

Coming back to the here and now, I could hear my father sigh downstairs after I closed up on him. I laughed as I glanced in the mirror while washing my hands. My hair was a mess, of course. It reached down to my waist in bronze curls. Jacob and daddy refused to let me cut it. In return, Jacob kept his hair short and shaggy for me, because even though I loved his long black hair, I also knew that it was uncomfortable for him when he phased. His russet fur would reflect the length of his human hair. With his hair long, he tended to get heated faster and worn out sooner. Besides, I loved how it fell into his eyes when it was short and shaggy. It made him look almost as young as me.

Jacob had been sixteen when he first phased but the werewolf gene had caused him to bulk up and look older. Biologically speaking, Jacob was somewhere around twenty-five but looked about twenty. It was strange but for an older guy, he was attractive.

I startled myself with that thought. Suddenly, I was glad that I could close my thoughts from my father.

Shaking my head, I cupped my hands under the faucet and put my hands to my hair, smoothing out the curls. If Jacob were to come home today, I wanted to look decent.

I blinked at myself.

When had I ever wanted to look decent in front of Jacob? Had that thought always been there at the back of my mind? Yes, I realized with a shock, it had.

Ok, this was getting weird. Those dreams must be starting to affect me. I mean, I loved Jake. I always had, but when had I started having these thoughts about wanting to please him and how attractive he was? Hmm. Maybe it was just because he was the only boy I was constantly around that wasn't family. Not to mention, with my accelerated growth, I am a teenager. Teenagers have to start seeing the opposite sex as a being without cooties eventually. Right? But I also thought about how we never tell each other that we love the other like we used to do when I was small. I never realized when it had stopped. It was sort a mutual agreement. We didn't need to say it.

I sighed for what felt like the thousandth time that morning. Shaking my head again, I walked out of the bathroom to find my aunt bouncing on her toes again.

"Your outfit's ready. I left it on your bed. No heels, just as you asked."

I smiled at her. She was so cute. "Thank you, Aunt Alice. I'll get dressed after I eat breakfast."

Her face fell again.

"Ok, ok. I'll get dressed now. What's your rush anyway?" I asked, brushing past her into my room.

She followed me like I knew she would. "You are a woman now. We have to buy womanly stuff."

I raised an eyebrow. "Please mean clothes."

She rolled her eyes. "Of course." I relaxed, but too soon. "And shoes, and underwear."

"Aunt Alice!" I nearly shouted.

"What? I have to get you out of these cotton things. You need lacy, racy, silky things." She shrugged as if my father hadn't just heard her.

I crossed my arms over my stomach. "Yeah? And who exactly am I going to be wearing those for?"

She grinned wickedly and I heard Dad growl downstairs.

"Alice," he growled out. "Don't even."

Needless to say I was confused, but I gave in. "Fine. If it makes you happy and gets you off my back, fine. Just let me get something to eat first. I am half human."

She nodded with that stupid scary grin still on her face. It had gotten even more wicked after I agreed and Dad groaned.

Quickly, I slid my clothes on. A designer pair of jeans that were oddly comfortable and a long sleeved white shirt. It was a very normal-looking outfit. I was surprised that Alice had contained herself. I put my comfy tennis shoes on and I was ready to go. Before I left my room, I slipped a hair tie around my wrist just in case.

Skipping down the stairs, I skipped right into my Uncle Emmett's back, which nearly knocked me over. The man was a rock, literally. He turned quickly and caught me.

"Hey, you," he said in way of greeting.

"Hey, yourself, Uncle Em. Why are you standing at the bottom of the stairs?"

He righted me on my feet and gently kissed my cheek. "I was going to go upstairs but your dad threw something at me."

I peered around Uncle Em's massive form at my dad who was still sitting at the piano. "And why did you throw something at Uncle Em?"

Dad looked at me and smiled. "Because I wanted to."

I shrugged. "Well there you have it."

Uncle Em rolled his eyes. "You two are exactly alike." He grinned at me, swooping me into a massive bear hug.

I braced my hands on his shoulders. "Can't…breathe." I gasped out. "Put…me…down."

He put me down, chuckling. "Aw, you're half vampire. You can take it."

"I didn't say you were trying to break my ribs. But my lungs actually need to breathe."

He chuckled again and walked away. I went over to my dad to sit next to him on the piano bench. "What's up, Daddy?" I rested my head on his shoulder.

He leaned over and kissed my hair softly. "I just heard you wake up. I thought you might need some soothing."

"Thanks. I've just been having some weird dreams lately." I watched his fingers dance across the keys gracefully.

He leaned over to whisper in my ear, "I've noticed." His fingers never faltered. "Is that why you close your mind to me?"

I looked up at him, startled. "No. Not at all. If I even thought for two seconds that you could help me with them, I'd let you in. But you see them every night when I sleep. I know you watch me and my dreams. You know how scared I am when I wake up."

The piano stopped and he wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "I'm sorry, sweetie. I should be there to soothe you when you wake up. I guess I just feel that you're strong now, and don't need me like you used to."

"Oh, daddy," I whispered, wrapping my arms around his waist and tucking my head into his chest. "I'll always need you, no matter what. You and mamma are my strength. I love you both so very much." And I'm glad you let mamma keep me, I thought shamefully to myself.

"We love you, too, sweetie." I felt the press of his lips firmer against my hair.

"Besides, I do have my reasons for keeping you out of my head." I smirked at him.

He raised his eyebrows. "And what reason would that be?"

"Well I am a teenager, Dad. And I want to try to be a normal teenager. I mean, of course you know what I'm thinking. All parents have that I-used-to-be-that-age speech. I want to be able to be a normal teenager with normal teenage thoughts."

He groaned. "Now you have me guessing. And you aren't a teenager. Technically, you're still nine."

I gave him a look.

He sighed. "Of course. I know, I know. Mentally though you are eighteen." Then he started mumbling under his breath. "If I were a human father, I'm pretty sure I'd have a shotgun loaded and a heart attack waiting to happen."

I giggled. "It's ok, Daddy. Don't worry. It's not that bad."

Then, from somewhere behind me, I heard an impatient sigh and the tapping of a shoe. Aunt Alice.

I turned to find her in the foyer with her arms crossed. Her high heeled toe was tapping furiously against the hardwood floor.

Daddy and I looked at each other. I rolled my eyes. "Ok, ok. Jeez. Let me grab a Pop-tart or something." I went to the kitchen and grabbed a cookie dough package of Pop-tarts out of the freezer and met Aunt Alice at the door.

"Ready?" she asked.

"Yup. All set," I said, shaking my Pop-tarts at her. She made a face. "Bye, Dad!" I called over my shoulder.

"Bye, sweetie. See you later. Have fun!" he called back.

I walked out to find a car pulling up to the porch. Aunt Rosalie was driving.

Apparently, we were having a girls' day out. Fine with me.