Disclaimer: I'm only playing here. I don't own a thing. None of it is mine. Never has been, never will be.
"Please come, please come, please come."
Nessie may only have said two words, repeated three times, but what she showed me while she said it was a different story entirely. I met Charlie's eyes and was relieved to see he looked as shocked as I felt.
"It's not scary," the little girl sitting half on my lap and half on his assured us. "I only saw a little bit once because I fell asleep but it's really not scary. And Jakey and Leah and Seth can come."
Before either of us could reply, she flitted off our laps and into her father's arms on the other side of the room.
"I don't know," he said, answering a question she hadn't said aloud. "You'll have to ask Jacob and the pack if they want to challenge us in baseball. They like you better than they do me."
Embry and Quil were both at the Cullens' house with us, along with Leah and Seth, and Jacob looked to them when he heard the question. All four wolves responded with a unified "it's on!"and Quil left to go find out if anyone from Sam's pack wanted to play or come and watch.
It was apparently settled then, just like that. The vampires would play the wolves in a game of baseball.
Bella led Nessie, Charlie, and me to a massive Jeep and motioned for us to get in. "We have to play far out so unless you want to ride a vampire or a wolf, this is how you get there," she explained.
"Is this how you got there before?" Charlie asked. "You know, when you went to play baseball and disappeared to Phoenix? And I'm guessing that you didn't actually fall down the stairs of a hotel and out a plate glass window?"
"Nope," Alice chirped, appearing beside him and answering for Bella. "That was me faking the damage to the hotel. Bella got attacked by a vampire in a dance studio. Don't worry, though, he's dead. Jasper and Emmett killed him, even if his mate did blame Edward and try to kill Bella later."
"Don't tell him about people trying to kill me!" Bella yelped.
"She's dead too, right? "Charlie asked, ignoring Bella.
Seth was suddenly beside me and he answered for Alice. "Yep. Totally dead. I helped kill her. Could've killed her boytoy myself if Bella hadn't been stupid and sliced her arm open to distract them."
"Well, at least some of the people who wanted to kill you are dead," he sighed. "Can we go back to talking about baseball, please?"
The question was enough and the five of us, because Alice insisted on tagging along so Bella didn't get lost, piled in to the Jeep. Charlie and I sat in the back with Nessie while the girls settled their argument over who got to drive. Alice settled it by announcing that she'd forgive Bella an owed shopping trip if she let drive. It didn't take Charlie's daughter long to give in.
When we arrived at the clearing, Edward opened my door and offered me his hand for help in stepping down. I took his hand, even though touching a vampire for the first time was nerve-wracking, to put it mildly. He didn't try to bite me, he didn't squeeze too hard, and he smiled when I had both feet firmly planted on the wet ground. Other than his touch being cold, it was all perfectly normal. Knowing he could hear me, I silently apologized to him for the things he no doubt heard in my mind.
He shook his head. "Don't worry about it. I'd be alarmed if you weren't a little worried."
I laughed and reached out for Charlie as he came around the side of the car. "So, obviously Charlie and I can't play. Are we just watching?"
It was Emmett that answered, and I was definitely still skittish around him. Even if he were only human, I would have been skittish around him. "Nah. The wolves brought Jake's dad and those three girls," he said, pointing to Emily, Kim, and Rachel, "so I think some of you should be umpires and some of you should be coaches. Or something."
After a brief but heated discussion, the human role in the game was settled. Charlie, Emily, and Rachel were on the vampire's team and Billy, Kim, and I were on the wolves' team. Billy and Emily were stationed at home plate, Charlie and Kim were stationed in what the supernatural among us called the outfield but really seemed like miles away, and Rachel and I were umpiring the infield. I didn't know what good any of us could really do, but it seemed fun enough.
"What are you going to do?" I asked Nessie. "Can you play?"
"A little," she said as she scaled her father until she was settled on his shoulders. "I'll just ride Daddy for now."
"Sounds like a plan to me." I waved and then she was gone as her father disappeared into the outfield. I took my spot beside Rachel and get ready for the game.
I had always considered myself lucky that Harry wasn't a baseball fan. Charlie and Billy spent the spring and summer together watching baseball, but Harry and Charlie only met on fall weekends for college and pro football games. I get football. Baseball is boring.
At least normal baseball is boring.
Watching vampires blur through forests and giant wolves, because they played that way to put themselves on a more even footing with the vampires, throw baseballs back and forth is anything and everything but boring.
They all argued over who was out and what was a strike, but they listened to the mere mortals among them. And we basically took turns giving favor to one side and then the other. By the end of the thunderstorm over Forks, the score was tied. After much grumbling, Sam and Carlisle announced that anyone who wanted to play the next time it stormed could simple pick up where the game left off. Embry, Paul, and Jacob all asked Alice if they needed to run away so she could see when the next storm would be.
"I'm not a meteorologist," she huffed, wrinkling her nose. "It wouldn't work anyway, because you're all going to be at the game so I couldn't see it anyway. The only time I ever see anything anymore is when I'm hunting with Jasper or when I'm going hunting with him next."
"Yeah, hunting. That's the word for it," Emmett snickered.
Charlie put his arm around Alice. "Leave her alone. From what you all have told me, she's got it rougher than just about any of you. You can't expect her to know everything all the time. And if she says hunting, hunting it is."
I stifled the urge to laugh at the Cheshire Cat-like grin on her face. Although even funnier than that were the looks of shock and disbelief on the faces of her family.
Jasper, still the quietest of the Cullens even when relaxed and having fun, chuckled and reached out to his wife. "Come on, Ali. I'll race you home through the tree tops."
She kissed Charlie's cheek and disappeared.
Bella waited until we were back at the Jeep before she said anything. She turned and eyed her father. "You like Alice better than me, don't you?"
"Of course not, Bells," he said, pulling her in to a hug. "You're my daughter and I love you. I'd stand up for you just like I did for her if you needed me to."
She gave him a kiss of her own. "I know, Dad, I'm just teasing. You made Alice really happy, though, and she loves that you like her so I approve."
We followed her lead and climbed into the car. Edward drove that time, while Nessie slept in Bella's lap. They dropped us off at Charlie's house and I was exhausted by the time we got there. I'd worked an early half shift that day and had another one in the morning.
I meant to go straight to bed and fall asleep even faster but, as they say, the best laid plans come unraveled. It turned out I still had the energy to come unraveled in his arms.
It was easy to fall asleep after that.