All things Twilight belong to Stephanie Meyer, I only play with her characters without intending any copyright infringement.
This is the last chapter of Twilesque, I won't talk much here, there's a long A/N at the bottom.
Chapter 27 That's a Wrap
Relaxing on the intercontinental flight, on way to our honeymoon, I had ample time to think about the last six weeks. At first we had to be incredibly brave to enter the ice filled Cullen house; Esme's love had evaporated. The atmosphere in the house had suffered dearly. The homey, cozy environment melted away when Esme stopped using her ability. Now it felt stark, sterile, a show house: one where photographs for minimalist home magazines were taken.
Esme stayed on the chair she sat in, looking out over her slowly deteriorating garden, for almost a week. Carlisle was despondent; he tried everything to get her to respond, but his efforts were in vain. Edward had refused to give Carlisle insight into Esme's thoughts, and I refused to stand between them. My place was next to my man; I told Carlisle that if Edward gave me permission to use his power, I would read her mind. Not before. The family didn't know I could read their minds just as easily as Edward could now. Even if Edward wasn't beside me, our link was there, always. Esme was hurting; all the materialistic offerings around her did nothing to soften her resolve to punish Carlisle. He was trying, but somehow thought that gift giving would be enough. The stupid male still hadn't worked out that his actions should talk, and that he needed to verbalize his excuses beyond I'm sorry. He was running around gathering inconsequential things and offering them to her.
Esme didn't acknowledge any of them and they were building up around her chair: magazines about interior decorating from all around the world, a limited edition art book about Frank Lloyd Wright—one of Esme's favorites—several light blue jewelry cases with extravagant necklace and bracelet sets. Increasingly more exclusive flower arrangements made the living room look like a funeral home. The oaf even brought a box of Godiva chocolates. But with every offering, he never voiced why he was sorry; he just gave her the gift, stating he was.
Rose and I had had enough; she dragged Carlisle to the garage therapy room. I spoke with Edward; I realized that Esme was getting too solidified in her catatonic state. We were all suffering now; the bond Esme created between the four couples of our coven was slowly dissolving. Alice hauled Jasper away every chance she got, Rose and Emmett went on a hunt every day, and we sequestered ourselves in our treehouse. A quick trip into Esme's sub-conscious mind told us that, once again, a subliminal sign was erected and keeping her from any and all action. We changed it into rightful indignation, but not forgetting that her coven needed her.
Thankfully it worked; Esme still rebuffed Carlisle's perfunctory excuses, but started to tend to the house and garden again. So much that she seemed to go into overdrive, decorating the house for the holidays. Alice jumped on the bandwagon, and together they transformed the house into a winter wonderland. Garlands and mistletoe were everywhere. They made the males put up miles of lights outside. Emmett was over the moon; he went shopping alone one day when Rose was counseling Carlisle, and came back with an enormous inflatable snowman, and an equally large Santa Claus. They were displayed proudly on the meadow that was the Cullen front lawn. A giant sled and reindeer in lights were parked on the roof.
Before we got Esme out of her funk, Edward and I were summoned to the police station. Chief Cope gave us an update of all the cases waiting for trial we were involved with. It turned out that I needed to testify in the case against Jerkob. They wanted enough evidence to put him away in a supermax facility. Rosalie had to testify in the case against Billy, because her investigation had unearthed his involvement in the death of his wife.
The case against Renee had grown considerably. Billy, knowing he was done for anyway through Charlie's tapes, confessed that Renee was his business partner even more than Charlie. Most of the drugs smuggled out of La Push went directly to her; she distributed them in California. The California authorities were over the moon that one of their most wanted was caught, because she had outstanding warrants for her arrest: two counts of drug trafficking and multiple on alleged identity theft and fraud. But the biggest surprise was one warrant for murder; apparently she was the prime suspect in the murder of Phil Dwyer, her boy toy lover. The Washington District Attorney had already decided to prosecute her here for accessory to drug trafficking, and conspiracy to commit human trafficking. After her sentence here was decided she would be extradited to California to stand trial there.
Chief Cope then went on through the list of students who were arrested after the video at school. Mike Newton was sentenced to three years in Clallum County, medium security, which meant that he would be seen by all his peers working in the prison cleanup crews, a modern day equivalent of the chain gang. Jessica and Lauren were now at their half year mark in their program. Both failed their probation test and had to stay the rest of the year. The Black trials, as well as Renee's one, would start in the new year.
Edward went to Seattle a lot during all of this. He said he needed to work on the coven's finances and wanted privacy to buy his Christmas presents. I let him do his thing; we could discuss anything coming up over the link. The link also gave me access to his power; I made good use of that. Because the family was unaware a mind reader was among them, I could freely explore their thoughts. Most of what I captured, I simply stored to go over later with Edward. I was surprised at some of the thoughts reaching me though. It seemed that a few coven members were very good at protecting their thoughts around Edward. When I advised him of that fact, he wasn't surprised. He had already pieced it together, because he was a devious one himself. Jasper never closed his mind off from Edward. Maybe only when he was intimate with Alice, but that was being polite. Hiding thoughts apparently had its own feeling. When they were in the house eventually, Jasper's thoughts of insecurity and unhappiness was a surprise to me. His ideas didn't focus on anything in particular, he just felt uneasy, as if he knew some things were not as they should be, but he couldn't put it all together yet.
I had a long talk with Rose in the garage, just to make sure it was private. I advised her to try to take Carlisle back to his human years. I somehow had a feeling that growing up with a single, fanatically religious, hard ass father had somehow warped his idea of fatherhood. He desperately wanted a family, but he didn't know how to be a father, or a husband for that matter. When Rose started to dig deep and asked Carlisle to tell her about his human life, beyond the facts already known, some very twisted things were unearthed. From what we could surmise, from the bits and pieces Carlisle could remember, his father had derailed when his wife died in childbirth. The midwife had saved the child, Carlisle, but his mother bled out. His father had blamed her death on him, and had parked him with a wet nurse until he was three. From that moment, he was treated as if he was an adult, and required to act as one, too. Mistakes were punished severely; in an age where corporeal punishment was normal, a lashing was child's play. Carlisle's reaction to the harsh treatment was to withdraw and observe. There was the root of all his troubles; this ingrained behavior had now become extreme.
The lovelessness of his upbringing had left him unable to give love freely. Most of his human behavior was learned mannerisms, not instinctual reaction. When he was left to his own devices to solve family matters, he froze and observed. All went the way one of the coven wanted. Until the fifties, it was Edward and Esme leading the way, Edward acting as Esme's younger brother until Rose joined the coven. When they built the family basis, all knew that Edward was the one leading the coven, but they painted the picture of parents with two, and later three, kids. After Jasper and Alice joined the coven they made one big mistake: they had allowed her power to rule their actions. That was even more detrimental to Carlisle's mental state. He acted as the father superficially, calling into the schools to get the 'kids' out of attending on sunny days, but he wasn't required to do anything outside of that. He safely hid himself in his scientific fortress and acted only in his vocation as doctor. As decisive as he was as the emergency room doctor, he was standing back in family matters.
Rose had to literally spell everything out to Carlisle, but the subliminal message made it so that he retained the information. It took another week before he started to act on his teachings, but he finally hit the deck running. He groveled for Esme and apologized abundantly for his inactions; he also grounded Alice for wasting money, confiscating all her credit cards for a month. This resulted in a major temper tantrum, which earned her another two weeks without money. After a parental meeting between Carlisle and Esme, it was decided that Alice would get a fifty dollar spending limit per coven member for Christmas. This money was handed to her in cash, together with an extensive lecture about what was considered wasting money. She had to give Esme all receipts and any leftover money. I made sure I was close by during that lecture, listening more to Alice's thoughts than anything.
Esme softened the blow to Alice's addiction a little bit by taking her with her to shop for Christmas decorations. The house was transformed and Edward sat every evening at his piano playing Christmas Carols. He still went to Seattle almost every day, stating that the accounts of the family needed to be closed for the year. I gave him a list of Christmas presents I wanted to buy for the others. I had my own special trip to make; armed with my fake driver's license, I hijacked the most sensible car in the garage, a Mercedes SUV. I believe it was Esme's car, but since I didn't have my own transport, other than my bicycle, yet, I had to make do because I had to go to Olympia, to close the deal on Edward's private Christmas present. Online and over the phone, I had ordered a customized Aprilia RSV4-R. I had ordered a mat-black paint job, making it look like the Superbike model. Sadly, my haggling skills weren't so good that I could buy the Superbike itself. The matte black paint job on the bike was enhanced with some patterns inspired on the Bell RS-1 Steampunk helmet I bought online. To complete the package, I got the Joe Rocket Survivor one piece suit, Alpine Starr WP boots and REV'IT! Zoom H2O gloves. To ensure total coverage in the sun, I found him a neck dickie. I hadn't decided yet if I would give one of the riding gear packages during the family celebrations.
Walking around Olympia after I had closed the deal on the bike, and arranged delivery of it to the garage, I found Edward the most gorgeous steampunk watch: a skeleton watch, showing its inner workings of intricately tooled little plates of metal; one of the plates was enameled in blue. The beautiful piece fit exactly with all of my gifts to Edward, the theme of them befitting my view of his image. The new man inside an ancient package. With me by his side, Edward was redefining himself; he grew from a lonely, brooding, miserable follower into a self-assured, happy leader.
I went home, happy with all the progress I made. On New Year's, another bike and a set of motor gear would arrive; that set was solely for me. My fake driver's license stated that I could also ride a bike, and after a few lessons I took that day, I knew that it was true. The bike I ordered for myself was a Honda Goldwing in royal blue with the same steampunk designs on the tank and side coffers. I wanted a bike for touring, for traveling around the world the most free way we could. Because of that, I had opted for a trailer to go with it, adding it behind my bike. Of course the trailer was color and design coordinated with my bike as well. With all the storage on and behind the bike, we would be able to live on them, never needing a home except for the luxury we both enjoyed, and our treehouse we absolutely loved.
After my day in indulging my wishes for the future, making sure everything was in place, I was glad I had given my list of gift ideas for the others to Edward. Even if I didn't exactly know what I would give them, I had put thought into the ideas, and through the link, Edward showed me possibilities sometimes for me to choose.
Sooner than I thought, it was Christmas Eve, and a summons came to the treehouse that we were needed in the main house. Edward and I were cuddled into each other, basking in the lights on our very own tree, a tree adorned with a few very special ornaments. Two were the specials we each bought, but the eight very special ones were those Edward had found completely intact when he went through his Chicago home in the sixties. The house had been boarded up, but maintained since he had left it in 1918. Luckily it was never burglarized or vandalized. He told me that it was like stepping back in time when you entered. While sorting through his former life, he had found the eight ornaments that now held the most prominent positions in the tree. The most precious was his parents' first Christmas ornament, a bridal couple with a heart hanging underneath and a little banner on top telling it was for their first Christmas.
We sighed and got our bag of presents before running over to the main house and stepping into the over-the-top winter wonderland. Emmett immediately got our bag and added our packages underneath the tree. He was amped up, babbling in his thoughts that he finally figured it out, never divulging what he figured out. I couldn't ask because I couldn't let them know I was equally as adept at mind reading as Edward. The atmosphere in the house looked cheerful, but a black cloud seemed to be looming somewhere near the stairs. Alice, with a thunderous expression on her face, was brooding next to it. Even though Esme had allowed her to help in the decorations, she had held a firm hand on the purse strings. Most of the decorations were actually homemade, not the elaborate crystal, sterling silver, or even bejeweled ones she had swirling in her head… the ones she had planned to buy since May.
'Bella, I have to tell you that this is the first Christmas, since the fifties, that the house feels like a home, not a showroom. I believe Esme's touch shows the love of her family. Alice dictated everything until now, and she was just after status and expensive to show off.'
'I can only tell you that I'm so incredibly happy; this is the first Christmas I remember where the whole house is decorated and traditions are in place. I only ever had a little tree in my room my first four years with my gran. When we're done here, I need to take you somewhere, honey. For your private present.'
His eyes lit up and a mischievous smile slowly crept up his face. Jasper walked past us, hitting him over the head, telling him to keep it clean today. Rosalie was perched on the couch, wearing a very Christmassy sweater. It pictured the elves at work in Santa's workshop. Esme came bustling into the room, putting a bowl of potpourri on the coffee table. She wore a forest green dress with an apron, exuding motherly vibes.
She led us into a night of old-fashioned parlor games. It was hilarious; Emmett was horrible at similes, but to compensate he tried to give the most creative answers. His best one was on the question: loose as... He didn't even blink and answered, "Loose as Renee's morals." He was out of that round again at the first try, even though he was absolutely right.
My mind went to my false parentage; my gran had taken care of a child that wasn't even her grandchild. Still, she knew things; she made sure I believed in my stories, prepared me for my second life. She was special, too, in touch with the supernatural world.
Edward started to play the piano, the happy notes of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer swirling around the room. We gathered around the piano and I plopped down next to Edward on the piano bench. The whole family joined in with Edward's flawless performance; they sang polyphonic. I sat there watching it all with my mouth hanging open.
I didn't know any of the words and had only heard the melodies sometimes when I was in the Thriftway in the holiday season. Santa had been forced to scratch my name off his list, even though I was a very nice girl, never stepping out of line. I understood that he didn't give presents when those presents would be destroyed by the naughty parent in the home. The Dump was always the only dark house in Forks, no Jehovah's Witnesses in this tiny town.
When it was almost midnight, Edward started to play Silent Night. I found myself humming along with their beautiful singing. When it was finished, we stayed still for some time, all of us lost in our own thoughts.
A loud beeping sound shattered the reverent silence and Emmett started to bounce around the room. He chanted, "It's midnight, Merry Christmas, come on, it's present time," incessantly. I dove into his mind and found that his entire mind was focused on the fun of opening presents. Alice once again separated herself from the group; her thoughts were in sharp contrast to everybody else's. Through the link, I discovered that Edward and Jasper had built somewhat of a system to keep them both in constant contact with Alice's thoughts and feelings. And while she kept a constant block, or so she thought, on her thoughts, she never tried to hide her feelings. Right then rage, petulance, and being disgruntled fought for dominance. While Emmett was happily building eight piles of gifts, Edward pulled absolutely murderous thoughts from behind her block.
"Come on, you guys, it's time to open up these puppies," Emmett shouted from his perch before the tree. "Bella and Edward, you two take the recliner, Mom and Dad the love seat. Rosie, we take the left side of the couch. My left, honey. And that leaves the right side of the couch for Alicia and Jaspero. Come on, come on, I want to get to the private gift giving before we go to the shelter."
His enthusiasm was infectious and I felt myself getting exited for the very first time about getting gifts. These were presents from people who loved me, and there's nothing wrong with expressing love through giving gifts. It helped to know that we also donated to numerous charities—shelters for battered women and abused children's organizations taking a prominent place in the very long list. Edward had shown it to me; this Christmas alone the family had donated over three quarters of a million to about a hundred and fifty smaller charities and nonprofit organizations. Each year he added a name to the list; this year it was 'Not for Sale', an organization against human trafficking and slavery.
We were finally all seated with a pile of gifts in front of us. Out of nowhere, a high hat had appeared and Emmett shook it before he reached inside and read the scrap of paper he retrieved.
"Alice. Okay, sister, you may start off the ripping and tearing."
Alice huffed and grabbed the first package; she ripped off the paper and glared at the Louis Futton wallet and purse inside. Not only was the name deliberately spelled wrong, the stitch work looked absolutely shoddy.
"Now why would I want a bad knock off?" Alice growled toward Rose.
"I couldn't think of anything else you would maybe appreciate within our set spending limit," Rose answered. "But you're welcome."
Alice ripped through the next three presents, which were actually not bad at all, given her cold reaction to them. Esme gifted her with a designer's pad and a set of colored pencils, Carlisle had found a hand painted scarf in cheery colors, and the third was my present, a journal and nice pen. All three of these gifts got a small nod and eye roll. Edward's present was interesting; he gave her a book titled 'The Betrayal of Lancelot'. Alice's eyes snapped to his face, and if looks could kill, Edward would be in ashes right then and there. My instincts kicked in and I immediately solidified my shield around us, but it wasn't necessary. Alice smacked the book on the coffee table, face down, and angrily grabbed the next gift. That one turned out to be from Emmett, whose inner voice suddenly flooded our link.
'Edward, this little gift is because I figured out Alice must have been the one influencing my teases into mental rapes. And nobody toys with my family, not even family itself. I'm more than pissed that she somehow made me torture my big brother and coven leader. From now on, Edward, tell me if you spot me out of line; I will keep the teasing friendly.'
From the longish package a leather paddle emerged, studded with the text 'SPANK ME'. Alice dropped it like she was burned by it, and another family member was placed in the shithole she had opened in her mind. Her thoughts were so poisonous that I had to actively restrain my features to prevent myself from flinching. I felt Edward's fingers dig into my thigh and knew he had the same problem. She started to vibrate, got to her feet, and shook her head, trying to find her voice.
"I've lived with you all for almost sixty years," she said with a menacing voice. "All that time we were a respectable family; we held status and acted our parts." Her piercing glare now rested on me. "That is until you came in and rendered my power virtually useless in guiding our actions. Suddenly, the unit I was molding into perfection was crumbling. Everybody suddenly started doing their own things besides the acceptable things. Somehow you made them all turn against me; you never tried to listen and fit in." Edward started to get to his feet but I held him back, cautioning him through the link to let her incriminate herself. "This farce of a Christmas party is the final straw; half of the gifts I get are insulting, unfitting our status, rubbish. The other half holds strange kinds of warnings. I won't stand for this treatment; I tried to follow along tonight, but I've had enough. Enjoy yourself, I won't stay around here." She grabbed her last present, the one from Jasper, and disappeared through the back door.
We sat for a few seconds in stunned silence, then Jasper sighed and said, "Well, I think I speak for y'all if I say good riddance!"
Esme's eyes went wide when she heard him say that. "She's your mate, Jasper, you shouldn't say that."
"Mom, she has been souring my mood for days now; her totally appropriate punishment went over like a house on fire. She can't take her parade being rained on. She pushed us all for years, and now she's trying to lay a guilt trip on all of us for letting Bella into our family. It's like she can't truly understand the mating bond. I'm glad she's gone for now. Let's celebrate our Christmas with real cheer now."
'The pull is gone, Edward. I don't understand yet but I don't feel the mating pull anymore.' Jasper's mental voice came to Edward.
I saw in my peripheral vision Edward nod once, acknowledging his comment. He told me through the link that we would have to go through everything we knew about Alice, but not until we were sure we were alone and could contact Marcus. We had discovered the one who betrayed the family he had warned us about.
Emmett, eager to put the tense atmosphere behind us, grabbed another name from hat. Edward was next. He was thrilled with the steampunk inspired watch he opened right before a butt ugly tie from Alice. The steel male bracelet with Cullen Crest he got from Carlisle was greeted with a wry smile. I knew he wanted to go back to Masen, but wasn't ready to announce that yet. Esme had gotten him a beautiful sweater in emerald green. Jasper and Emmett's gifts were similar; they both gave him baseball themed things. Rose gave him a gag gift: Leadership for Dummies.
As it turned out, several people had bought similar presents for each gender. Alice had gotten all males a horrid tie; the ugliest one was for Jasper. For the ladies, she had the most uninspiring gift possible: a gift card for Bath and Bodyworks. Carlisle had gotten all us females scarves and all the males that steel bracelet. It almost looked as if he wanted to mark his sons. Rose had gotten everyone funny but well thought out gifts. Jasper had gotten all the boys, even Carlisle, something baseball related. His gifts for the ladies were extraordinary; he must have taken so much time to get everything together. He gave us all a charm bracelet with eight charms representing each member of the family. Going mentally over my bracelet, I had an apron for Esme, a doctors bag for Carlisle, Rose and Emmett were a bear and a rose that formed a cross. Jasper and Alice were represented with a confederate officer's hat and a crystal ball; finally, Edward was a royal lion and I was a bejeweled swan. The thing that stood out the most was the fact that every couple was represented by charms next to each other, except for Alice and Jasper. His charm sat between Edward's and Emmett's; Alice's charm was set apart some distance between hers and all the other charms. It was clear he wanted to tell us something, something Edward and I would take into account when we went over everything.
My last present came from Edward; I felt it was a book. I thought briefly he had a hidden message for me, too, but when I lifted the layer of tissue paper from it, the title didn't help me at all. The book was called 'Extraordinary'; I had never heard of that one. Then my eye fell on the author's name and my still heart lurched in my chest. These were my stories bound into a book, with a leather cover. When I opened it reverently I saw that he had personally calligraphied every page in his flawless handwriting. Every chapter began with a small picture around the first capital. I was utterly speechless with awe. I flooded the link with gratitude and love.
At that time, I noticed we were alone in the room; it appeared that everyone had decided to get on with the personal gifts. I took Edward's hand and tugged him out of the back door.
"Run with me, Edward."
We ran to the garage; before we went inside, Edward stopped me.
"Bella, I would like to give you your gift first. I compiled this for us, but it's my gift to you."
He reached inside his jacket pocket and came back out with a thick manila envelope; he handed it to me. I opened the envelope and looked at the binder inside. I took it out and it was full of official looking papers. The first page appeared to be the owner certificate of a motor yacht; behind that was a page with four photographs. They showed the interior and exterior of the boat... the ship. The damn thing was almost one hundred-forty-eight feet long. Turning the page, I expected more pictures of our speedship, but was baffled by a map of Malaysia with an arrow pointing to a bit of ocean to the east of it. The next page was another map; it showed the littlest bit of land on the west and it had another arrow. This time it pointed to an island; attached to the island was a name tag. La Bella Isla it said. I looked at Edward again with a question burning in my eyes. He smiled.
"That, my darling, is your island, our home for just us; we can be completely free there. Right now they are in the final stages of building the thermal energy plant for electricity. The whole island is ecofriendly. We are going there at the end of January, on our delayed honeymoon."
It took a moment to settle in my brain; here I thought I had gone overboard with his present. And here he went and blew all the stops. It was ridiculously over the top, but so immensely sweet that the only thing I could do was what I did next. I jumped him and kissed every bit of his face I could find.
"You gave us our own little paradise; I love you, I love you, I love you. Now, I really thought I had gone overboard, but you just set me in my place. But I think I still got you something you'll like. The first and most important part you will find next to my bicycle."
He went inside, freezing in the entrance when his eyes caught the bike. In a flash he sat on it, looking it over, like a little boy with his first train track. His eyes were lit up like a Christmas tree.
"Edward, what do you think, do you like it?"
"Oh, Bella, it's fantastic; the paint job is out of this world. Where did you get the inspiration?"
I went into the soundproof room and grabbed the box that held the helmet, gloves, boots, and neck dickie and brought it out to him.
"Well, my inspiration came from you. You are a living piece of steampunk, an old piece of hardware transformed into something with modern function. You must have noticed that I started that image for you with your birthday present and the watch tonight. It just suits you. Still, my first idea for the bike was simply matte black. Then I found this and the rest was born."
He ripped open the box and grabbed the helmet out of it, holding it up next to the bike, and the lights in his eyes glowed again.
"Bella, you realize that this bike has no buddy seat, don't you? I like this thing very much but the only drawback is that you can't come with me."
"Oh I know, but I have a delivery on the second of January; it is my bike and gear. It took a bit longer for them to finish that one. We had the same basic idea though: to travel together in total freedom."
I grabbed the final package while Edward was busy with the boots and gloves, holding up the dickie with question marks in his eyes.
"Well, if you put this on first, and then the helmet with it, you'll see that your neck won't be completely covered in the sun. To be free to travel everywhere, at any time, we need to make sure every bit of skin is covered. Here."
I thrust the last box in his arms; when he opened it and took out the rugged looking riding suit, he understood. It didn't have neck protection in the way we needed it.
"Thank you, I love it all. But I'm surprised that the suit is textile and not leather, to be honest."
"This suit looked more manly. Come on, suit up and try the damn thing."
The delivery at New Year's was hilarious; Edward certainly didn't expect my choice of bike. His eyes bulged out of his sockets when he saw the magnificent Goldwing come off the covered truck. He walked all around and just noticed the trailer coupling when they rolled the trailer from the truck. They hooked it on and opened it up, showing my riding gear.
When the delivery guys from the motorshop had gone with a nice tip in their pocket, he urged me to suit up and hurried to do the same. He unhooked the trailer, putting it safely into the garage. We both mounted our bikes and went for a spin around the peninsula, enjoying the dry day in Washington. To his delight, he found that my bike might not accelerate as fast as his, but it could still reach pretty good speeds. When we finally rode up to the house, everybody came to check out the strange sounds. Jasper and Emmett were all over Edward's sport bike while Rose and Esme were more into the comfort of mine.
The first court appearance was Rose's, or should I say Elody McCarty. It was astonishing how she changed her appearance enough to completely become somebody else. A lot was in posture and clothes, but her make-up, glasses, and wig had a big effect, too. When she was called I only recognized her because I, of course, knew her and her scent. Her self assured persona had vanished; instead she had become a shy but determined geek, spouting just enough science babble to confuse the jury then, with a sigh, dumbing it down to a more than clear picture. Billy Black's verdict was guilty on all accounts; several days later, the judge held the sentencing hearing and came out with the death penalty for the murder of his wife. And on top of that, he received life without the possibility of parole for his drug involvement, and fifteen years for attempted human trafficking.
I was up next to testify about Jerkob's attempted rape. They had me on the witness stand for three hours; his defense team wanted to go over every detail of his alleged rape attempt. Edward sat in the gallery with a permanent smirk on his face because I counteracted any strategy they had. It was easy, because I could head them off before they made their point; I simply worded my answers just so I broke their train of thoughts. I tearfully told the court that I already knew Jacob from the nannycam at my house, that he had terrified me then with his vile ways.
Then Paul was called to the stand, and I had never seen a more baffled defendant. Jacob was under the impression he had died after a long coma. But Paul nailed his coffin shut by divulging everything they had ever done: from childhood pranks to beatings for money. Finally, he told the court what Jacob had done to him, because he was implicated as the middleman. It took the jury only half an hour to come back with a guilty verdict. The judge took a short recess and came back with a sentence of life without parole, with the recommendation that he be placed in solitary confinement to avoid possible riots.
The final court case we attended was, of course, Renee. The DA wasn't yet sure if my testimony was needed; she wanted to wait until Billy was done with his story. The Californian DA was second chair on this trial, to make sure that all evidence presented in this case was admissible in his own cases back home. Billy, after his own devastating conviction, sang his heart out. He told it all, how he had helped Renee with moving to California, how he supplied her with drugs to distribute. The shipments were actually done quite ingeniously. The Quileute tradesmen wove baskets with a secret compartment in it. Vases were made with cocaine mixed into the clay, and ecstasy was coated in chocolate tablets. He also divulged that the deal to sell me to him for Jacob was made when I was four. Not long after my gran died, Renee and Billy had bullied Charlie into the deal. He had wanted to simply pimp me out; he was disappointed that he had to keep me pure.
All the things out in the open, Billy suddenly threw in a bombshell and told that Renee had poisoned Charlie's father to get away from him. He gave a detailed account of what she did, but had to admit that he only had her word for it. The court went to recess until the next day. That morning the DA called and told me that my testimony wasn't necessary. Billy would be crossed by Renee's lawyer that day and the only witness on the list of the defense was Renee herself. Billy's cross-examination lasted all of ten minutes, the state rested and the defense put Renee on the stand.
It became clear very fast that she would dig her own grave. She was still dressed as a cheap hooker, only marginally more decent than how she had greeted us when she was arrested. She told a sob story that almost made us laugh out loud. Her appearance was directly opposite to her so called decency, as was the fact that she was actively flirting with the judge, as well as her own lawyer. She tried to look innocent while batting her eyelashes at the jury. The state did not cross her testimony and the defense rested. After a short recess, the closing statements were held. After that the jury was sent out to deliberate and the court recessed until the jury would return.
Again, the jury didn't take long. They probably took the time to eat the state provided lunch before they voted. That made their time sequestered an hour and a half. The verdict on all charges was an unsurprising guilty. Renee burst out in a bout of crocodile tears but didn't move the judge. He had clearly anticipated the guilty verdicts and went straight into sentencing. She got fifteen years consecutively for the drug charges and the attempted human trafficking charges. Furthermore, he ordered her sentences to be served in a Californian prison. And so the last of my human ties was dissolved on the anniversary of Edward and I meeting.
And here I was, boarding the magnificent motor yacht anchored just outside the One° 15 Marina Club in Singapore. Edward tipped the harbor master, who gave us a lift to the ship. After that he quickly lifted anchor and set course toward open sea. The night sky was completely clear, dotted with innumerable stars. It was a new moon, making the stars glow even clearer. Edward was up on the bridge, piloting the boat to our personal paradise. I walked up to the bow and looked over the sea toward our destination. My thoughts went over everything that happened the last year. From being the town's collective dog to kick, I became a vampire, the mate of a coven leader, with a power to be envied.
I analyzed where I stood now and realized that I had crossed the line between the human and supernatural worlds. I conquered the insecurities from my human life and arose as a confident person, sure of herself, and in her relationship. I looked forward to forever beside my mate. No longer bound by human convention, I was free.
I'd like to thank everyone for the overwhelming response this story has gotten. You have all motivated me to stop Twilesque here and work harder on its sequel.
The sequel will be called 'Parallax' and will handle all vampire issues raised in Twilesque. Yes, we're going on a quest to find Didyme's reincarnation and bring down Aro, but before we do, the coven needs to be united and clear of subversive influences. This means they need to take care of the problem Alice has become, because she's the one influencing them.
How is Alice influencing them?
We have to go back to the chapter where Eleazar explains powers to the, then still, family. Edward asked if a vampire could have a power as well as an ability; Eleazar couldn't answer that question, but didn't rule it out. I will reveal now—to soften the long wait for the sequel—that Alice indeed has an ability next to her future-seeing power; she's able to manipulate people unaware. That means that as long as a person is unaware of her ability to manipulate, it works.
You can now see why Bella is immune from the start; she might not have known it was an ability, but she was aware of the manipulation. So, the ability never had a chance to establish itself. The rest slowly started to become free of it, which is understandable as they were manipulated for half a century at least.
The manipulation manifested itself as subliminal signs in the subconscious mind. Alice herself is unaware how the ability works, simply because she never really worked on her power or her ability.
Now I won't explain more, I don't want to risk outing the plot of Parallax. I'm working hard on it and so far seven chapters have been written, but it's slow work and I won't post until I'm done with it. It will mean you'll have a long wait until I start posting. I will, however, post pic teasers and excerpts about once a month on my wordpress blog. Just put my penname in front of Wordpress. (Charlie Oscar Mike) and you'll be there. You can also put me on author alert to know when I'll start posting.
I'd like to place one last enormous bit of thanks on my team of helpers.
Lorraine Bubbleybear Juillerat for stepping into the shoes of my idea bouncer; without her this story would have stranded at chapter nine.
The great Chandrakanta for firstly designing the great banner for the story, and then stepping up and betaing my frankly un-American way of writing and making it so much better!
And lastly, LunaDiSangue85 for looking for discontinuity and acting like the average reader to point out things I can't see anymore because I have all the information.
And for one last time, please review