One year later…
It was difficult to avoid people's stare when one possesses such inhumane beauty. It was an attribute of being a vampire that was both a blessing and a curse. Of course, no one understood this better than Rosalie of all the Cullens. But let's just save Rosalie for another time and place.
Esme was effortlessly pushing the grocery cart when the tiny human began to rattle off a sentence of gibberish. The little chatterbox could go on and on about anything and everything. It was a wonder how many words she had picked up over the year, yet she liked to play pretend that she wasn't well beyond her years. There were some perks of her childish plays, because it would be a wonder to explain to strangers how a toddler her age had the reading level of a five-year-old and spoke clear sentences without any stutter. Well, they could always share the obvious reason that she was living in a house full of vampires who had limitless knowledge of the world, and spoke to her like they would with one another instead of dumbing down their language. Except they couldn't do that. It was against the rules to expose their true nature after all.
Carlisle had to call Aro and tell him about their new addition a month ago when Alice had a vision of Aro finding out when he sent Jane and Felix to pay them a visit. They couldn't risk being found out first, so they finally decided as a family to call the Volturi's and informed them about Bella. At first, the royal vampire was intrigued by the news of a plus one to the Cullen household. Gradually, the tense vampire beside him, Caius, began to go off about how dangerous it is for their kind that a tiny human was living amongst them. Luckily, Marcus, the more reasonable vampire, jumped in and saved the conversation. Alas, Aro finally consented to Bella's stay with the Cullen, but on one condition. That she were to be turned before she come to the age of twenty-five. Everyone was upset, especially Edward, with the terms that Aro had set, but reluctantly agreed because they had grown too attach to Bella to abandon her. The other reason being that she was Alice's mate, which they informed Aro of as well. They couldn't imagine what would happen to Alice if Bella could no longer be with them. Nobody had really wanted to face the music if they were ever to make that decision.
All in all, it was a choice that the Cullens knew they'd never regret. Bella grew up beautifully in the last two years and filled their lives with pure happiness and innocent love that naturally radiated off of her. She learned quickly and enjoyed being read to more than anything. The one thing that really blew everyone's mind was when she took her first step. Actually, it was more like her first run. Until Bella was thirteen-month-old, she had never been able to walk or crawl. Everyone but Carlisle was worried whether she might be slower in motor skills than any other average infant. Instead of crawling or walking, Bella was able to sit by herself. She was always carried around otherwise, and wherever they sat her, that was usually where she stayed quietly until they picked her up. Then one day, she just simply plucked herself up from the ground by grabbing the coffee table for support and dashed across the living room like she's been doing it forever. Rosalie, who had been sitting there and leisurely flipping through a Cosmopolitan magazine, gasped in shock and her eyes widened to the point where they could've possibly reached her hairline. Alice, who had been out hunting, had a vision of it, and Edward, who was sitting at the piano, had read Rosalie's mind and raced over to her side right away. Bella laughed as waves of quick air surrounded her when Alice sprinted through the front door and carefully engulfed the little human in a warm embrace. It was Bella's biggest feat so far. When Carlisle had gotten home to everybody watching Bella walk clumsily around the living room, picking up toys here and there and dropping them with bubbling giggles, he smiled with pride and explained to everyone that research has shown that crawling wasn't a necessary step for a child before he or she learns to walk or run. They all awed and cooed as she walked around on unsteady feet, and it wasn't until Bella fell asleep in Alice's arms that they all began to disperse.
"Oh, really? How interesting." Esme mused as Bella babbled on about God-knows-what. Esme smiled as the little human continued to bubble on while they leisurely cruised through the vegetable aisle and stopped by the broccoli section.
"Peach!" Bella squealed as she spotted her favorite fruit. Esme shook her head with a grin and went ahead to push the grocery cart over to the stand where the peaches were. Examining a few different peaches, Esme grabbed a few before she was interrupted by a voice from behind. All too concern with trying to choose juicy peaches for Bella, Esme had not paid much attention to her surroundings.
"Hello Miss…" a male's deep voice sounded from behind her. Esme turned around while in the middle of holding a peach in each hand, and smiled at the stranger that stood before her. He was a man who looked about in his early thirties.
"Well hello, may I help you?" Esme asked nicely. The man reached his hand out and began to introduce himself.
"Oh no, I just wanted to come over and say hello. My name is Noah." the middle age man threw in a flirty grin after he finished. Esme looked at him strangely for a brisk moment before she put the peaches back and took his hand and shook it with a firm hold.
"Esme." she quickly said in response. Noah's eyebrows rose a bit and looked down at the hand that she was shaking.
"Your hand's quite cold." Noah commented and Esme shrugged nonchalantly.
"Poor blood circulation." Esme cleverly responded.
"Anyway, I think you're really beautiful and…I was wondering if you wanted to go grab coffee sometime?" he asked with a charming smile. Esme looked taken aback by his words and was quite at a loss for words, trying to find a way to let the man down easy.
"Who are you?" a voice snapped from behind Esme. Noah's face scrunched up in confusion and he stepped around Esme to see who was addressing him. Lo and behold, it was a little girl standing up in the shopping cart with both hands on either side of her hips. Noah looked back to Esme to find her trying to hold back a smile and was stuck in a daze until the same voice addressed him once more.
"Hello Mister, I'm over here!" Bella yelled and Noah turned back to stare at the little girl who was interrupting his time with Esme.
"And you are…?" he questioned with a pretentious sweet smile.
"Bella Cullen." she answered with pride. Noah blinked a few times and then proceeded to talk but was immediately cut off.
"Freeze!" she commanded him and Noah quirked an eyebrow in response. Bella turned to Esme and put on a pout as the woman tried to suppress a laugh. "Momma, can we go home and have peach now?" Bella asked sweetly. Noah's eyes widened and he looked between the beautiful woman who looked like she was barely over twenty and the little girl who was reaching out to her. Esme scooped Bella into her arms and leaned in to kiss her soft warm cheek before turning to Noah.
"I'm sorry, Noah, I can't. As you can see, my hands are a bit full right now. It was nice meeting you." Esme quickly added before she put Bella back into the seat in the grocery cart and started pushing it far away from the man. As soon as they were out of Noah's hearing, Esme began to laugh almost uncontrollably.
"Oh, my sweet darling. Thank you!" Esme exclaimed as she held Bella's face in both her hands before leaning down to kiss Bella's forehead.
"That man stinks, Momma! I didn't want my peaches to smell like him." Bella harrumphed with arms crossed as Esme began double over the grocery cart and dissolved into laughter again.
After about a minute, Esme started to come down from her high of laughing so hard and stared at Bella lovingly. Bella grabbed one of Esme's hands and brought it up to her face and breathed in deeply.
"I like your strawberry and rose smell better." Bella smiled before pulling Esme's hand closer to her face.
"Thank you, Bella. Now…let's go home and have some peach, shall we?" Esme asked and Bella nodded excitedly.
"Can I wash them?" Bella begged. Esme smiled and nodded before they headed towards the checkout line.
Oh Bella, Esme thought lovingly.