Twilight Fan Fiction ❯ Chains of Love ❯ Chapter 3 - Birthday Boy ( Chapter 3 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight Saga, nor any of its characters. I am writing this fan fic purely out of love, and am making no profit from this. Twilight's character's all belong to Stephenie Meyer. I do however own my original characters, and they may not be used or abused without my written permission.
A/N: This is my first attempt at writing a fan fic based on a book. Not to mention a series as popular as the Twilight Saga. If you disagree with anything, or simply don't like how I did it, please let me know. Anyway, please enjoy and don't forget to review… nicely.
A/N2: This chapter was originally part of a 40+ page chapter. I thought it was a bit long, so I chopped it up and made three out of one. Also a great big HUGE thank you to my Betas for putting up with me! You guys are wonderful!
Chains of Love
Chapter 3: Birthday Boy
I grinned as I stepped out of Sam's truck. The slightly rusty doors on the green Dodge protested as we shoved them closed - a little too hard. My miscalculation of strength was due to my excitement while Sam's was most likely caused by apprehension.
I grinned again. I still couldn't believe my good luck! I had only a small pinch of hope that my request would be granted when I'd asked Sam about it three weeks ago, but when he didn't give me a “no” right away, that hope grew. I was persistent, asking him every day. I even brought it up to the other members of the council. I still couldn't believe that I had actually been able to convince them. I thought for sure my mom would say no way and that would be it, but she agreed with me. Even with my mom on my side it had still taken some persuasion, a bit of sulking, and a lot of begging; but they had caved in the end.
I was so keyed up that I jumped over the steps and landed lightly on the porch. Sam rolled his eyes at me and shook his head, his face serious but friendly. I rocked back and forth on the balls of my feet as he raised his hand and knocked rapidly three times followed by two slower taps - his special knock.
I was almost trembling with anticipation as I listened to the quiet flowing steps come toward the door at a casual human pace. Just before they reached the door I realized that I was trembling. Wow. That hadn't happened in nearly a year now.
Calm down Seth, I said to myself. You have no idea how they are going to take the news and the last thing they need is to see you shaking, no matter the reason behind it. I took a deep breath.
Esme opened the door, a warm smile on her lips. “Please come in,” she beckoned.
We followed her into the great room where everyone was standing in small groups. They all waved or said hello to me and then went silent, staring at me in evident curiosity. I looked around quickly to make sure they were all present, but mostly I was looking for Edward. I spotted him standing with Bella, Nessie, Jacob, and Carlisle by the window wall. He was looking at me with a curious, worried, and slightly martyred expression. I gave Bella a questioning look and she nodded, confirming that she had agreed to my request and was shielding my thoughts from him. I smiled gratefully at her and then bit my tongue as I tried hard not to laugh. This was so much fun!
However as I glanced around at everyone again, I noticed just how still they all were and began to feel a touch of doubt. What if they didn't think this was as great as I did? What if, even though they could go, they wouldn't want to go? This thought had never occurred to me and, now that it did, I couldn't seem to get the words out. They stuck in my throat and cut off my air supply.
Sam noticed my hesitation and clapped me firmly on the back. “Well kiddo,” he said. “Tell your friends what you came here to say.”
My eyes slid up to Jacob's and he smirked at me. “Yeah kid, say what you've got to say. It's not like you to be shy.” He winked at me.
What was wrong with me? These were my friends. Of course they would want to come. What was I worrying about? As the nervousness melted, I felt my original excitement take over. I grinned hugely.
“Well,” I began, deciding it would be fun to drag this out a bit. “As you all know Saturday is my birthday, and I have been trying to cement the party details for the last few weeks.” I shot a glance at Sam before continuing - he was watching everyone's reactions. “Well… I've finally decided.” I paused.
“And?” Emmett prompted impatiently. I grinned evilly.
“I've decided that this year I'm going to have a beach party.” I paused again. “Down in La Push… on First Beach.” I watched as surprise and then hurt flickered across their faces. Guilt shot through me. I had intended on surprise and disbelief, but pain?
“But Seth,” Bella was the first to address me, her brow furrowed in confusion. “I thought we were all going to celebrate it together. If you have it in La Push then we…”
“Do you not want us to come?” Nessie asked me, a small pout pushing out her tiny bottom lip. I glanced at Edward; he was keeping his face carefully blank, so I couldn't tell what he was thinking.
I laughed - something I always did when I was tense. “Oh,” I said. “You are all still invited. I just thought you might like to know where it's going to be held.” I grinned as I watch my meaning sink in.
Several people gasped, others simply blinked at me in shock and disbelief.
Emmett and Alice started laughing. “Excellent!” He said.
Rosalie had this small frown on her face, and Jasper had an odd expression, somewhere between pleased and pensive. Esme just blinked a few times, a small worry line on her forehead.
I looked back to Edward and his “group”. Jacob was grinning like an idiot, Nessie - who was clinging to Bella, looked… relieved? Huh. Edward was smirking and looking down at his wife. Bella's face was lit up like a kid's at Christmas time. It took a second to understand why, but as soon as I did I laughed. Bella had spent a lot of time in La Push and on the beach before she got married, and to suddenly be banned from there… well that had to suck, even if she was blissfully happy.
I looked lastly at Carlisle. He was the one whose reaction really mattered. I knew that if he thought this was a bad idea, the others wouldn't go, and so far he had been very quiet and thoughtful.
As I watched, Esme flitted to his side and gazed up at him with concerned eyes. “This is an honor, but do you think this is wise?” She asked her husband.
The doctor was silent long enough for me to start to get worried again. What did he think about this? Did he approve or did he think it would be best not to chance it? I had a few counter-arguments arranged in my head before he spoke, addressing both Sam and I.
“This is indeed a great honor. That we have earned your trust enough to allow this speaks notably of the progress we have made.” He paused for a moment, looking around at his family - Bella, Nessie, and Alice all had their bottom lips pushed out in cute little pouts, and then back to Sam before looking directly at me. I swallowed nervously as I waited for his decision, but before it came, Edward spoke.
“Rose,” he said in a warning tone.
Every eye turned in her direction. Rosalie still wore a slight frown. “What? They didn't want us there the last time, so why now? Why go where we're not wanted?”
“Things have changed Rosalie,” Carlisle said softly, glancing at Nessie. “You know this. What is it that is really troubling you?”
I saw Edward's expression soften as he read her answer, and the knot that had begun to form in my stomach loosened.
Rosalie sighed heavily and her bottom lip pouted out. “This is supposed to be a party. I want to have fun! And not spend it being stared at by a pack of teenagers just waiting for one of us to screw up.”
It was Sam who answered her. “While I can't say that we fully trust you enough that we won't be keeping an eye on things, I can say that no one is going to be waiting for something to happen. Everyone that will be there are all people that are, how did Seth put it, “in the know”. We have… reserved the beach for this party, so there should not be anyone there to serve as temptation outside of the norm. So trust me when I say that if there is staring, it won't be for that reason.”
Rosalie thought that over for a moment and then nodded. A smug little smile now replaced the frown she had worn. Out of the corner of my eye I caught Edward shaking his head at her. Leave it to Rosalie to take that last comment to heart.
Now that Rosalie had had her say, we all returned our attention back to Carlisle who was smiling indulgently at his fair-haired daughter. He glanced down at his wife for a split second; she nodded just as quickly, and then looked at me once again. “We would be honored to attend.” He said.
“Yes!” I shouted, punching the air before my manners kicked back in. “Umm… I mean… uh, thank you.” I said, blushing slightly at my thoughtless outburst. However, before I had time to feel too uncomfortable, they were all laughing and coming over to hug me.
“This ought to be interesting,” Emmett said.
“Yes,” Jasper replied, flashing his teeth at Emmett. “It's been a while since we've had a good water fight.” The two of them laughed loudly.
“Now boys…” Esme warned. “This is a public place we are going to. Let's keep the horseplay to a minimum shall we?”
Rosalie and Alice were now standing next to Bella and Nessie and chatting excitedly.
“You know what this means…” Rosalie began an odd gleam in her eye.
“Shopping trip!” Alice said excitedly. “New bathing suits and beach attire!”
Bella grimaced and slipped slightly to her right, trying to hide behind her husband. I laughed. Bella hated new clothes. Well, not so much the clothes as the volume of clothes Alice's little trips always ended with.
Bella's little side step did not go unnoticed by Alice. “Don't even think about getting out of this. It's been too long since we went out shopping together. You're going, or I will simply have to pick out your suit for you.” She said smugly.
Bella grimaced at some unpleasant memory that I guessed had something to do with some other outfit* or whatnot that Alice had picked out for her. Whatever it was, Edward seemed torn between intrigue and laughter. For a second I thought about asking, but then glancing at Bella's paler than normal face, I decided that I probably didn't want to know.
I looked around for Jake and found him with Carlisle and Sam, all talking in hushed voices about their “security measures”. This conversation wasn't very interesting; I already knew what they had done, so I turned back to Edward and the rest of the Cullen clan.
As I listened to the chatter of voices around the room - the girls were now arguing about what city was best to go shopping in - I couldn't help but marvel a bit about how everything had turned out.
I could remember my father telling me stories of the “Cold Ones” when I was little, and how they were dangerous and evil and that you could never let your guard down. I had always thought he told me this story as more of a metaphor really. You know, things aren't always what they seem. I never thought it could be true… until I turned.
After that I listened a bit harder to the Elders' tales. However, something always nagged at me. I accepted what they said, but found myself wondering if the legends weren't a little one-sided. Granted what the vampires in the tale had done was horrific, but I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pretty blonde vampire, losing her soul mate.
My eyes were auto-drawn to Rosalie as I thought this. I watched her talk and laugh with her family, but she never strayed very far from Emmett's side. I thought of Bella and the months Edward had been gone and shuttered. No one should have to feel that. Yes, I think our legends were definitely one-sided in regards to the vampires.
I know that they are meant to be cautionary, but they really do make one rather prejudiced. I would have probably gone on thinking they were all horrible creatures without hearts if it had not been for Edward. Thinking back, I remembered the night that had changed everything for me.
I had burrowed down into the snow next to the tent to protect myself from the fierce winds. I did my best to ignore their hushed conversation - eavesdropping is rather rude, but bits and pieces seemed to stick in my brain of their own accord.
At first it was mostly just bickering - easy to tune out. I was glad when it seemed to stop. I yawned and thought about sleep, but then the wind carried Jake's words to me.
“Well, you see inside my head - let me see inside yours tonight, it's only fair.”
Edward's soft voice followed. “Your head is full of questions. Which one do you want me to answer?”
Was he really going to let Jacob quiz him? Would he really tell him the truth no matter what he asked? Was this really any of my business? No it wasn't, but I was intrigued. Here was my chance to maybe understand a little of that other-side I was missing.
They started out on simple subjects like jealousy and Jake's underhanded use of Bella's concern.
“I have to use whatever I can.” I heard Jacob mutter. I tried to hide my snort in my paws, hoping they were too engrossed in their conversation to hear me.
The wind picked up at that moment, whipping like a hurricane thought our camp. It was so loud that I missed some of what they were saying. The next words that found their way to me were Edward's.
“Thank you,” his voice barely a whisper. “Odd as this might sound, I suppose I'm glad you're here, Jacob.”
“You mean, “as much as I'd love to kill you, I'm glad she's warm”, right?” Jake replied immediately.
I struggled to hold back my laughter, and they went back to talking about jealousy again. Well, Jake did. Edward lightly scolded him about patience and showing too much of his anger around Bella, almost like a father talking to his son about his first girlfriend.
I guess Jacob must have asked him another question while I was snickering, because I heard Edward reply, “When I saw how much it was hurting her to make her choose. It's not usually this difficult to control. I can smother the… less civilized feelings I may have for you fairly easily most of the time. Sometimes I think she sees through me, but I can't be sure.”
Hmm, so that was why. That explains Edward's recent acceptance of their friendship, and why Jacob wasn't pushing up daisies over the “kissing” incident. Edward didn't want to hurt her, even if it meant that he himself had to suffer.
Suddenly Bella's words from weeks ago popped into my head, “because he'd still be the most loving and unselfish and brilliant and decent person I've ever met.” I shook my head at how many times Jacob had run that particular discussion through his head, trying unsuccessfully to reconcile it with the image he - we, all held of vampires.
Now however, as I lay half buried in snow, it made sense. Everything I knew about the Cullens had always been hearsay. Mostly just a generalization passed down generation to generation through our people. Years of prejudice verses one girl's assurances. No wonder most of us found it so easy to ignore what she said, or chalked it up to infatuation - even our legends say they were beautiful.
I pondered our differences in perspective as I listen to Edward explain what it had been like for him to leave her; the pain and suffering it had caused him being absent from her side, but he had endured it, for her. All so she could be “safe” from him and his family.
I had seen and felt through the pack's collective mind what it was like when one imprinted; the undeniable need for that one person. Sam, Jared, Quil, they would all do anything for their mate, their other half. What if it was like that for vampires? Struck by this new revelation, I marveled at the depth of emotion it must have taken for him to be able to walk away from her, the selflessness. It hit me again as I listened to his reason for dropping out of the fight tomorrow.
“That's how she convinced me to stay with her tomorrow, of course. You were wondering about that before, what could possibly motivate me… what she was feeling so needlessly guilty about. She reminded me of what it does to her when I leave. She feels horrible about bringing that up, but she's right. I'll never be able to make up for that, but I'll never stop trying anyway.”
Even Jacob was quiet when Edward finished, most likely trying to digest this new information like I was.
“And the other time - when you thought she was dead?” I heard Jake ask in a slightly hoarse voice.
For the first time in this almost surreal interrogation, Edward both answered and dodged a question. When Jacob pressed him about it, his reply was almost a growl.
“I can't tell you how it felt. There aren't words.”
I felt something sharp pierce my chest as he said those words. As harshly as he said them, they were still wrapped in anguish. Wisely, Jacob changed the subject… to Bella's impending change and Edward's reluctance to see this happen.
I sighed. How much more was Jake going to pry into? I really felt bad for Edward, having to relive all of this. I also felt the beginnings of a deep respect and admiration for him. No matter how hard Jacob's questions were he was still determined to be honest and answer them. Why? Was he trying to make Jake understand his feelings just as I was trying to understand them?
I listened harder and came across something that confirmed my earlier suspicions that vampires do experience something similar to imprinting.
“You think of me as a… living stone - hard and cold. That's true. We are set the way we are, and it is very rare for us to experience a real change. When that happens, as when Bella entered my life, it is a permanent change. There is no going back.”
He continued on explaining his choices, but I was only half paying attention. My thoughts were a tangled web of chaos. What I had been taught warring with what I know, what I felt. They loved like us, and tended to be overprotective because of it. They felt pain just as we did - possibly even more acutely. They may be nearly indestructible, but weren't we in a way with our “super healing”? We think of them as alien and dangerous, but to an outside observer weren't we just as strange and abnormal? Didn't we keep mostly to our pack because we too are dangerous?
I realized in that moment, as Edward went on detailing to Jake the options handed to him by fate, that we were the same. We all had the capacity for love and hate, hope and regret, happiness and remorse. There were equal parts light and dark inside us all. Just because we were “born” differently, and our bodies have different needs, doesn't mean we couldn't be friends right?
As I continued to eavesdrop the rest of that long night, I found my respect for Edward, and what he had and was going through to do the right thing, growing more and more. Bella was right; he is a very kind and decent man.
Suddenly I understood, and even felt, Bella's conviction that her vampires were good and loving. Up until now I could never fully grasp how she could love them so unconditionally. Even after everything she went through in those long months of forced separation - and before in Phoenix, she had forgiven them - forgiven him, and allowed them back into her life.
After a while their conversation came to an end, and eventually Jacob fell asleep - you could tell by the volume of his snores how deeply he was under. Try as I might, sleep would not come to me this night. Far too many things revolved in my head to allow oblivion to take me. My revelations continued to twirl and cascade through my mind long into the predawn hours, and when morning finally came, that was how Sam found me.
I was brought back from my recollections by an insistent tugging on my jeans. I glanced down to see Nessie looking up at me expectantly. I grinned widely and opened my arms for her. She hopped up into them, and pressed her warm little fingers to my face. I watched as random pictures of bikes, cars, and electronics flashed across my vision before settling on a brightly wrapped package. She dropped her hand and tilted her head to the side curiously. Oh! She wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday present.
“That is a good question,” Edward said. “Is there anything in particular you would like?”
I smiled self-consciously as everyone in the room turned their attention back to me. I guess now that I had shared my news, Bella had stopped shielding me.
At his prompting, a montage of things popped into my head all at once, things I'd seen on TV or advertised in town, but not a one of them was practical or necessary. So I disregarded them; trying instead to think of something I would not only like, but that I would use more than once. Maybe a better computer and printer for my school work? Yeah, that would be cool, and it would be nice to not have to wait thirty minutes for the antique I had now to spit out a one page report.
“Are you sure that's all?” Edward asked me.
I thought about it a bit harder, and came to this conclusion; I'm a pretty simple person - one of those “happy-with-what-I-have” types. So even though I knew I could ask for anything, I realized that I didn't want anything.
“Surprise me,” I said with a grin, knowing full well my lack of response would probably annoy him. I smirked as I heard him grind his teeth. I loved Edward, but it was so fun to tease him every now and again - besides Bella said it was good for him. Edward was sort of like my big brother and my surrogate father rolled into one. Sort of like how he is for Jake, but without the homicidal tendencies.
Edward chuckled and shook his head at me. “If that's how you want it,” he replied with a shrug.
We stayed at the Cullen's house for most of the afternoon. Sam was content to relax inside with the “adults”, while I joined the younger group outside in the back yard. I talked to Edward and Bella about Dartmouth, wrestled with Jake, and caught a very interesting match between Edward and Jasper. Bella even stepped in once to play with us - she's getting much better. Nessie wanted to try, but Jake and Bella were the only ones who would play with her - gently.
As four o'clock rolled around, Sam and I said our goodbyes and climbed back into his truck - I checked the door hinges to make sure I hadn't broken them. I was a little bit sad, like I always was when I had to leave this place, but Mom and Emily would be starting dinner about now. Besides, I thought happily. In a few days time, they will be able to visit you.
The next few days passed quickly - there was so much to do! There was the food preparation for sixteen hungry werewolves and their human guests, delivering the last of the notices from the Council about the tourist shutdown Saturday, and setting up everything on the beach.
We set up three six foot tables - end to end, for all the food and my cake. There was another smaller table for the drinks and my presents to go on. We had trash cans and two picnic tables brought down as well for those of us who didn't want to stand and eat. Jared and Paul set up a volleyball net about fifty feet from the tables, and Embry and I set up the platform and generator for Alice's sound system - she insisted on being in charge of the music.
Finally Saturday arrived and I could hardly contain my excitement. I was grinning from ear to ear the moment I jumped out of bed. Not bothering to look at the clock, and not really caring, I dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and a bright orange t-shirt with the title of my favorite Led Zeppelin song, “Whole Lotta Love”, printed across the front. Taking a second to pick up the birthday card Leah had sent me from Wisconsin and place it back on my bedside table, I left the room, shutting the door behind me.
I bounded out into the living room, expecting to see Mom up and sitting at the table drinking her morning coffee, but the table was empty. Strange… What time was it? I walked over to the coffee pot and glanced briefly at the digital numbers it displayed.
My eyes flew wide. Crap! I was supposed to be down at the beach already! The Cullens were going to be here at eleven, and I had less than fifteen minutes to get down there!
I tore out the door and down the driveway, only to halt as soon as I reached the roadside. My house was set back a ways from the main road, and completely surrounded by forest. The only way to get to the main strip was a winding dirt road, and even running, it would take me at least twenty minutes.
Sudden inspiration hit, and I sprinted full out to my left across my front yard and into the woods. I ran as hard as I could, weaving in, out, over, and around trees, rocks, and animal burrows. I burst through the tree line to the far left of First Beach, and not slowing, continued up the dirt path before finally arriving at my destination.
I slowed to a graceful lope as I came in sight of the festivities, the mouthwatering scent of BBQ wafting my way on the light breeze and feeling rather disgruntled about them not bothering to wake me on time.
That's what you get for staying up all night idiot, I chided myself, feeling bad.
As I got closer, I noticed that they had set up a banner over the music platform, and there were balloons and orange and green streamers everywhere. The guilty feeling vanished. Did they want me to strangle them? I bet this was their idea, I thought venomously, cursing Jake, Quil, and Embry to the seven pits of hell. They loved pulling my tail every chance they got. Sure enough I spotted the three of them standing next to the sound stage, snickering.
I smiled. Even with that little downer I could feel my earlier excitement flowing back. I guess I was like Emmett in that way: nothing bothered me for long. I grinned even wider as I scanned the parking lot and saw only pickup trucks and older model cars. I had made it here before the Cullens, who were notoriously punctual.
I made my way through the small crowd of my friends, some shouting congrats and best wishes, and over to my mother who was sitting at one of the picnic tables with Charlie.
“There's my birthday boy,” my mom said in her low, rough voice, smiling up at me. “I was just about to send one of your brothers to get you.”
“Hey Mom. Hey Charlie.” I said. Then shooting a glare at the three stooges, I grinned widely at her. “I love the decorations.”
Mom and Charlie laughed. I smiled to myself as I watched them go back to talking about some card game Charlie had won. I guess work was slow in Forks, not that that was a bad thing. In fact, things have been downright boring as of late. Until I livened things up by inviting the Cullens to La Push, I thought smugly. Speaking of the Cullens…
“Hey Mom, what time is it?”
“10:59,” she replied.
Yes! They should be here any second. I listened hard for the soft purr of their well tuned engines - Which I had just learned was Rosalie's doing. I grinned and shook my head in disbelief. It was still hard to believe that the “ice princess” was a grease monkey.
I was laughing softly at the mental picture of Rosalie in a dirty pair of overalls when I heard it, the sound of three? No four, four powerful engines coming almost silently down the road.
I grinned my head off, and sprinted up to the top of the small parking lot so I could see them coming. Jacob (pushing Billy), Sam, my mom, and Quil Sr. followed at a slightly more dignified pace.
We all stood in a small semi-circle at the top of the path leading to the beach, waiting quietly for them to appear. Well, they waited quietly. I was rocking back and forth on my heels and sighing impatiently. I knew this was a really big deal having them here on our land, and being invited no less, but I just couldn't stay still.
Finally, after what seemed like ages later, I saw a shiny black car come around the curb. It was Carlisle's Mercedes, followed by Rosalie's BMW, Alice's Porsche, and… Wait a second, that wasn't the Volvo! The shiny, sleek silver car that followed behind was no other then Edward's Vanquish!
I glanced to my right, down the line at the other five people standing next to me, to see their reactions. Jake, who was closest, just shook his head and smiled. “Show off,” I heard him mutter. Billy, Sam, and my Mom had already seen their vehicles, so this wasn't a surprise to them. I peeked nervously at Quil Sr.'s face, only to find it set in a very serious expression. I swallowed and crossed my fingers as I walked forward to greet the first of my special guests.
Carlisle was helping Esme out of the car, the wind blowing her caramel colored hair about her face. They were both dressed in light colors, as usual, which made their pale skin stand out a bit less. Turning to me, they smiled and wished me a happy birthday. I smiled back and hugged them both, telling them how happy I was they had come, and then I walked them over to the council members so I could introduce them. They shook everyone's hand before standing slightly off to the left. Next were Rosalie and Emmett.
“Happy birthday kiddo!” Emmett boomed in his loud, carefree voice as he held up his fist. Tapping my fist to his, I couldn't help but grin. Emmett was very easy to like, once you got past his freakish size and straight forward attitude.
“Hey Rose,” I said. “Like the new outfit.”
Until now, Rosalie had been standing next to Emmett with a scowl on her face, but at the mention of her looks, she brightened right up.
“I got it in Portland yesterday,” she said, twirling on the spot to give me a 360 view of her rose red slacks and sleeveless shirt combo. She had completed the look with a sheer red shawl draped over her shoulders, a red brimmed hat with a red silk flower on the band, and dark red high heels. I glanced at Emmett's dark red button down shirt and dark brown khakis.
“Nice accessorizing,” I complemented her while smiling teasingly at her husband.
Rosalie laughed her wind-chime-like laugh and, threading her arm through Emmett's, walked over to greet Jacob and Sam.
Trusting them to take over introductions, I turned to my next set of guests, just in time to register Alice jumping at me before she had her arms wrapped tightly around me in an almost crushing hug.
“Happy birthday!!!” she cried.
I could hear the gasps from behind me, but I paid them no mind. Alice was Alice and this was just how she was. So I laughed and hugged her back. She leaned back to look up at me, she was so small, and grinned. I returned the smile before letting her go, and turned to say hi to Jasper - who was watching us with an expression that was both bemused and entertained at the same time.
Jasper stepped forward and shook my hand, offering best wishes. He might be a little standoffish at times, but I really liked Jasper. It's hard to believe that he had lived through what he did, and still turned out to be a nice guy. I smiled to myself as I took in his navy blue sweater and jeans. He just couldn't seem get away from those military colors though.
Alice stepped between us then, and pouted at me. “You can compliment Rose's outfit, but you can't say one nice thing about mine?” She stood back and twirled for me.
I had to bite back my laughter. She was such a ham. I looked over her black knee length dress, silver half jacket, and black ballet style slippers, pretending to have to study it for a long moment. The smile she wore when she had spun around slipped back down into a pout.
“You don't like it?” She said in an almost heartbreaking tone.
I couldn't hold back my smile anymore, and it burst forth as I answered her. “You look prefect, as always.”
She grinned smugly. “Why thank you.” She said as she skipped off to join the rest of her family, with Jasper trailing close behind.
I turned my eyes again to the parking lot, hoping the ones I really wanted to see would be waiting, but no one was there. I scanned the parking lot quickly and saw - parked away from the rest of the crowd, Bella climbing carefully out of the driver's side of the Vanquish, Nessie clinging to her right leg.
She smiled and waved at me before taking Nessie's hand and walking toward us - at a casual human pace, her long white sun dress rippling in the slight breeze and her white slippers making a soft sound as she moved. Her other hand was holding down her wide brimmed white straw hat with dark blue iris' and freesia pinned - in a bunch - to the blue ribbons that made up the band. Nessie was dressed almost identically, except that she had her copper curls pulled to the sides of her face and tied up with white and blue ribbons.
As soon as they were close enough, Nessie broke away from her mother and ran to me. I smiled as I gave her a hug, and felt her warm arms hug me back.
“Happy birthday,” she said in her high, clear voice. Then she kissed me on the cheek, slid down out of my arms, and ran over to Jacob.
Bella smiled and shook her head at her daughter before giving me a squeeze.
“Happy birthday Seth,” she said her voice like the gentle peeling of church bells.
“Thank you,” I said. I liked Bella. She was always so kind and mellow and accepting, someone who wouldn't judge others. Being around her was relaxing. It had been like that from the day I met her. She had sat shy and quiet, with a small smile on her lips as she listened to Jacob's and my conversation. She even laughed a few times at my jokes even though I could tell she wasn't very happy. Her eyes had been blank, almost dead, but with a spark of light in them. I didn't find out until later that this was because her then boyfriend, and now husband, had left her thinking it was too dangerous for her to be involved with a vampire. Speaking of her husband…
“Hey Bells? Where's Edward?” I asked craning my neck and looking around the parking lot. Come to think of it, Bella had gotten out the driver's side, and Edward always drives. What gives here people?
She smiled mischievously at me. “Oh, he's just picking up your present. It wasn't quite finished when we had to leave. He sends his apologies and hopes you will forgive him for being late.”
“Not quite finished huh? That must not have made him too happy this morning. I know how much he hates to wait.” I grinned back at her.
Bella laughed. “That he does not,” she agreed. “Shall we go greet everyone?” She started over towards where the rest of her family and the council were standing with me falling into step next to her.
“Hello everyone,” she said as we came to stop next Jacob and Nessie at the end of the group. She leaned down and hugged Billy in his chair, and shook hands with Sam - their relationship was kind of odd, like the way one would treat their teacher or guardian. She smiled and hugged my mom who looked a bit uncomfortable, but let her do it. Of all the Cullens, only Bella and Nessie were allowed to put their arms around her.
Then she turned to Quil Sr. and said in a very gracious manner, “Thank you for allowing us to come here today. I say this not only for Seth's sake, but for my own.” She gazed about her at the people gathered, the salt-bleached driftwood, and the waves licking at the beach. “I've really missed it here.”
Old Quil looked at her seriously for a moment before grinning - his smile reminiscent of his grandson's. “It grows on you,” he agreed, shaking her hand.
Everyone laughed and headed down the trail to the beach. When the crowd saw us, they got very quiet. I imagine it must have been something to see, all four council members, Jacob - carrying Nessie - and myself walking down the path, and followed by seven vampires. I chuckled softly and slipped past Sam to stand in front of the group.
“Hey everybody!” I shouted. “Look who's here!”
“Yo, V-girl!” Embry called waving his hand over his head - he had to call her that around people not “in the know” as to what she was now, otherwise she was still “vampire girl”.
“Bout time!” Quil shouted from next to him. “I was getting bored!”
Everyone laughed and poor Bella looked like she wanted to go hide, and did so behind Jacob.
At that, we all broke up and went about our various activities: Carlisle and Esme went with the adults to go sit at the picnic tables. Alice ran to the “stage” and started setting up the equipment that Jasper was bringing down from the car; Rosalie joined Alice and started rifling through a box of CDs Jasper had just set down. Quil and Embry called Emmett and me over to start a game of Frisbee at the other end of the beach, while Bella, Jacob, and Nessie went to say hello to Charlie.
We had been playing for about ten minutes when we were called over for food. We loped back up the beach and found all three tables covered in food. Until now I hadn't really noticed how hungry I was. Ravenous, the werewolves and humans dug in to the bounty Sue, Emily, and several of the other moms had set before us. In the background Alice was playing somewhat soft music while everyone ate and talked.
Finally stuffed, I turned my attention back to the one missing person in our happy group. I glanced at Bella - sitting next to her father who was trying to get her to eat, and gave her a questioning look. She smiled and tapped her ear, telling me to listen. So I did, but all I heard was an older model truck coming up the road. Probably someone from the Rez on their way home, I thought dismissing the sound.
I looked at her again, but she just smiled bigger and told me to listen. So I did, again, and all I heard was that old truck coming closer. Did she mean he was getting a ride? No, Edward wouldn't do that. Bella had said my present wasn't ready yet. Did he borrow a truck to transport my gift? Was it big enough that he needed a truck? I know I said to surprise me, but what could be big enough that it required a truck?
Speculations swirled around in my head. Meanwhile the truck in question pulled into the already crowded lot and cut its engine. One door opened and closed, and light steps could be heard on the dirt. Looking up to my left I saw Edward coming down the path, his hair was windblown - like he had driven with the window down, and he was dressed to match his wife and daughter in white slacks, a white button-down shirt and a blue vest hanging open.
How was he going to play sports in that? I thought glancing down at his shoes. I laughed. He was wearing white and blue tennis shoes. Well at least his footwear wouldn't slow him up. I saw him grin as he read that thought.
I stood up and jogged over to greet him, grasping his hand and pulling him in to give his back a pat - man hug. “I was about to give up on you,” I teased grinning at him.
He laughed and smiled at me apologetically. “I am sorry, but it couldn't be helped.” Then he turned to Bella - who had escaped her father, and kissed her softly.
“Have I told you how beautiful you look today?” He asked her.
She looked very much like she would be blushing if she could and replied, “Not in the last forty-five minutes. I was starting to feel neglected.”
Edward and I laughed, and after another round of introductions, he settled into a spot next to his wife.
“Time for cake everyone!” Emily called after a few minutes, signaling that it was time to migrate over to the table that housed my colossal cake.
It was three full sheet cakes put together and covered in orange frosting. “Happy 17th Birthday Seth!” was written across the cake in red lettering.
One corner of the cake had a half circle of blue on it with a little figure swimming, up on what was a mini green hill stood a hiker, and in front of what was decorated like a cave was a sandy-colored wolf sleeping.
I smiled and thanked everyone who had made this for me. Including my three favorite activities really said how much they knew and cared about me. Blinking rapidly a few times I bravely endured the singing of “Happy Birthday,” and blew out my candles after making my wish: that we could all be together like this again next year.
I waited while the cake was cut and passed around to everyone. Even the Cullens each took a piece - though I'm sure they didn't eat them. Once each slice was eaten, I could finally open my presents. I know I didn't really want anything, just them showing up was fine, but I couldn't help but be excited.
I speculated away about who got me what as I waited for mom get out her camera. Finally she had it pulled out of its bag and ready, and I began tearing off wrapping paper.
I smiled as I unwrapped present after present. Mostly I got new clothes, sports gear, a few new video games - I am a teenager, and several new t-shirts with band logos - which were good because Emmett had already made a few lewd comments about the one I was wearing.
I saved the Cullens' gifts for last because I was sure that I was going to be made to eat my words about surprises. I shuttered as I thought about how competitive Emmett was. Please don't let it be anything too embarrassing, I prayed silently. Edward smirked.
I decided to start with Carlisle and Esme's gifts - it was safer, and picked up the smaller of two boxes that had been stacked on top of each other, and wrapped in gold. As I pulled the paper back from the box, I couldn't help but laugh. They had gotten me a printer, and I was pretty sure I knew what was in the box beneath it. I put the printer down gently and peeled off the wrapping from the main box. Sure enough inside was a brand new computer with more hard drive space and processing power than I had ever seen.
For a moment I was at a loss for words. I really couldn't believe they had gotten me such a thoughtful and expensive gift, and barely managed to choke out a weak “thank you”. Esme hugged me close and whispered to me to use it well. Carlisle put his hand on my shoulder and told me to do my best. Then we all had to pose for pictures in front of my present.
Next, I decided to try my luck with Alice and Jasper's gifts. They were sitting next to my new computer and wrapped in silver. As I reached for the square shaped package, Alice pointed at the tall, thin gift next to it.
“No! Open mine first!” She said. Jasper rolled his eyes at her as she bounced up and down on her toes.
So I obliged her and tore open the paper cover to reveal… a CD tower. This thing must hold at least 200 CDs, and every slot was full. As if that weren't enough, there was a white envelope taped to the front of the tower. I pulled it off and opened the envelope. Inside were two tickets to see “Muse” in concert next weekend. I stared at the tickets for two long blinks before grinning at Alice.
“You're the best,” I told her, “as always.” She practically glowed at the compliment.
“I take it this is from you?” I asked Jasper. He smiled and nodded.
I opened the box I had started on before Alice made me stop and found a new stereo system inside, complete with headset. I grinned. “Thanks. This is great.” I said.
“You're welcome,” he said in his deep voice, a slight southern accent still discernible to those of us with sensitive hearing.
After another round of pictures, I was free to move on to my next choice. Who would it be? Rosalie and Emmett - I shuddered again, or Edward, Bella, and Nessie? There was always Jacob's gift. I wasn't quite ready to be embarrassed yet, so I chose Jacob's. I looked around for it, but saw nothing that I hadn't already opened. I looked at Jacob, completely stumped.
Edward laughed and said, “I think it's our turn”.
Bella smiled and reached for my hand. I took it tentatively and let her lead me in the direction of the parking lot with Edward and Jacob - who was carrying Nessie, at our side. My mom and Charlie followed behind with the Cullens. Just as I was starting to wonder what was happening, Bella came to a stop about halfway up the path.
Bella smiled at Nessie and she hopped out of Jake's arms and onto my shoulders, covering my eyes with her little hands. I gripped Bella's hand tighter.
“Ok, starting to freak out a little here,” I said. Edward laughed, and I heard a few snickers from behind me.
“We have to be sure you don't peek,” Rosalie said.
Nessie seconded her statement with an image of me blindfolded.
“Do I at least get a hint?” I asked pouting slightly.
“Nope.” Jacob replied a grin in his voice.
I growled slightly and allowed Bella to once again pull me gently up the slope. While I was walking, slowly I might add, I tried to put everything I knew together. Edward had been late with this thing because it wasn't ready in time. He also arrived in an older model truck, and I know he doesn't own a truck. Bella does though, but last I heard it was a glorified lawn ornament - Edward chuckled again. I started to speculate again on what could possibly be big enough to warrant needing a truck for. What would Edward be willing to be separated from his family and show up late for?
“Stop here,” Bella said letting go of my hand and lifting Nessie off my shoulders before standing next to her husband who put his arm around her waist.
I blinked a few times and glanced around me eagerly, but what was I supposed to be looking for? There was nothing in this parking lot that didn't belong, except…
There in front of me was an old '53 Chevy pickup truck exactly like Bella used to drive, but hers didn't look like it had just come off the production line. This one had a coat of glistening red paint, new tires, and a big white bow attached to the back window. Wide eyed I walked around to the end of the truck and gasped. Across the top of the tailgate, stenciled in white lettering, was the name, “Clearwater”.
Seeing my surname on the end of the truck, something in my brain finally clicked. This was mine. They had given me a truck! I opened my mouth to try to speak, but my voice didn't seem to be working. I tried again, with better success.
“I, what, you…” I never said it made sense; I just said I had better success. For a second I just gaped and pointed, not caring if they were starting to snicker at me. I swallowed hard and finally managed a few coherent words.
“Is this really mine?” I asked still dumbstruck.
They all laughed in earnest now, and then Edward chuckled and said, “Yes it is. Do you like it?”
For half a second I wondered why he was bothering to ask when I knew he could just pick it out of my head. Honestly how could I not like it? It was beautiful.
“Thank you, Edward,” I said. I couldn't imagine a better gift.
He just smiled and shook his head, “This isn't just from me. Rosalie, Emmett, and Jacob also put a lot of work into restoring it.”
“I helped to!” Nessie jumped in proudly. “I made the bow, and giving you the truck was Momma's idea!”
I looked at Bella, slightly staggered, and asked, “This was your idea?”
She smiled at me shyly and nodded.
“And you're really ok with giving me this?” I asked her.
“I can't think of anyone I would rather give it to. I know you will take good care of it.” She smiled at me sweetly and held out the key to me.
I nodded, taking the key from her out-stretched hand and grinning from ear to ear. I thanked everyone enthusiastically, and accepted several hugs and kisses before once again posing for pictures. This time it was with my new truck!
I led the group as we all headed back down the path to the impatient crowd of my friends. I practically ran the last few yards to the end of the beach, and told the curious group all about my truck. Then Alice got up on stage and picked up a microphone.
“Can everyone hear me?” She asked. “Okay, good. What do you say we turn this into a party?!”
Alice turned up the music so that it could still be heard over the cheering crowd of teenagers (the adults had gone back to the picnic tables) and jumped down to rejoin Jasper.
We laughed, and danced to some really good music - Alice is the best DJ. Some of the guys got a football game going on down where we were playing Frisbee earlier. Bella got very excited and dragged her husband and daughter - with Jake tagging along - over to look at the tidal pools. Those of us who were left (me, Embry, Colin, and Brady-Quil was playing with Claire) all started a volleyball game.
About the time it was getting aggressive, Edward's group came back. Bella was holding his hand and Nessie was on Jake's shoulders as they walked out of the bushes. As soon as Alice spotted Bella she rushed over to her. They talked for a moment, and then she pulled Bella off, grabbing Rose along the way. Well I say talked, but it was more like pleaded while Edward smirked next to her.
What was she up to now? I thought idly, returning Colin's serve.
Edward and Jacob strolled over to watch our game, and we were just getting into a heated final-point battle when we noticed a commotion from over by the music platform. I glanced first in that direction, but I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. I turned to Edward, who was on my left, and was about to ask what was happening when I noticed his mouth hanging open slightly.
“Hey man,” I said. “You okay?”
This seemed to snap him out of it enough to close his mouth, but he continued to stare at the stage. I sighed and decided to ask Embry, who was on my right, but he had a similar look on his face. So I gave up and turned to look at the stage again. Finally I saw it, walking through the slowly parting crowd, were three stunning young women who looked as if they had just stepped out of the pages of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
Alice was in the lead wearing a black and white camo, tube-top style bikini with knots down the sides holding it together. Her lower half was partially hidden with a black mesh wrap, and her short black hair was smoothed down from the top with the ends spiked out.
Behind, and slightly to her left was Rosalie. She was flaunting a red and black animal print string bikini, the bottom of which had a diamond shaped knotted detail on each side. Around her shoulders she wore a sheer, red overcoat that she left open. She had also pulled her golden hair up into a messy bun on top of her head with a red scrunchie, so that only little wisps of hair hung down.
Following behind the two girls, and looking like she wanted to hide again, was Bella. She wore a slightly more modest swimsuit. Hers was a pale ivory one piece with dark blue flowers printed all over it. However the sides - and I was pretty sure the back - of it were gone. It looked like it might tie behind her back about halfway up. She too wore a long mesh sarong around her waist, but hers was dark blue, making the flowers on her suit stand out even more. Her long dark hair had been pulled up into a pony tail, and bounced slightly as she walked.
After I had managed to shut my mouth, I smiled at Edward and teased, “No disappearing on us now.”
It took him almost a full second to take his eyes off his wife long enough to give me a dirty look before returning his gaze to her and sighing wishfully.
I laughed. I knew he had been thinking something along those lines. Poor guy, I thought. It must be tough always having either Jacob or Nessie awake and then classes to attend. Not much alone time.
He sighed again, and I laughed harder. “Them's the breaks.” I quoted one of Jake's favorite sayings, and earned an even dirtier look.
The girls had made their way over to us by then, and wanted to know if they could join us in a game - girls against guys. We agreed and decided by Rock, Paper, Scissors who was sitting out. Colin lost first and Brady chose to sit with him, Jacob, and Nessie to watch the game. So the teams ended up thus: Guys - Me, Edward, and Embry vs. Girls - Alice, Rosalie, and Bella.
Jacob and Nessie were made the refs and also the clothing holders for the players. The weather was warm today. The clouds were thinning, but not enough to let the sun through. So Edward took off his vest and button up shirt and played in his white A-shirt. The girls all took off their wraps, and I confirmed that Bella's suit was indeed backless except for a single tie and neck strap.
You're a very lucky man, I thought grinning at Edward. He smiled back at me and nodded, and then turned to his wife.
“Not fair,” he called to her in a teasing voice.
She grinned at him and asked in fake innocence, “Are you talking about the suit or my stopping you from cheating?”
“More so the first one, but the second is annoying as well.” He bantered in return.
Looking like she was blushing again she replied, “Enough stalling. It's your serve, gentlemen.”
We all laughed, and Embry stepped back to serve. The ball soared high, and was spiked back to our side by Alice the instant it cleared the net.
“That's 1- 0, boys,” she taunted.
The three of us vowed right then that this was not going to go unanswered, and thus the war began…
About an hour, and one really embarrassing butt-kicking later, the three of us slumped onto the ground next to our shirts while the girls jumped around and high-fived each other.
Man, they fight dirty, I complained silently. I don't think those bathing suits were just a fashion statement.
Edward snorted next to me. “Oh, I know they weren't. The look on Rose's face was far too smug when she jumped for that last shot and Embry couldn't look up in time to stop it.”
“Need I bring up all the times we caught you with your mouth open?” Embry grumble from his other side.
Edward's laugh sounded slightly embarrassed as he chuckled and then sighed. “She is so not getting away with this.” He vowed under his breath.
I laughed. At least you have someone to look at, I thought. Embry and I are still bachelors.
“That is true,” he agreed. Then he glanced at me and asked, “So what would you like to do now, birthday boy?”
I thought about it for a moment and then said, “Race you!”
I jumped up and bounded toward the ocean with Edward right behind me. Well he was behind me for a second, and then he was splashing water at me when I reached the surf. Naturally I returned fire, and soon Emmett and Jasper joined in, followed by Jacob and Embry. Before long we had just about everyone in the water and playing. Even Nessie changed into her cute little green and pink flowered one piece so she could play with her mother and her aunts.
Most of the adults wandered over to the water's edge, and a few of them snapped pictures. This was without a doubt the best day of my life so far. It was even better than beating Riley two years ago. We played in the water for the rest of the afternoon. Emmett and Jasper had a rather entertaining fight until Esme called to them from the beach and reminded them to behave.
When the sky started to darken we lit several big bonfires along the beach for warmth - we didn't need the light. After everyone had either changed or dried out, Alice took her place on the music platform again. The speakers started pumping out dance music and we all ended up dancing in a big group, which was a lot of fun. Even better was that no one shied away the Cullens. They talked and danced with them like old friends. I was pretty sure out of everything I had been given today - including my truck - this was by far the best present I'd received.
Later that evening, as people were starting to say their goodbyes and I managed to get away from all back pats and congratulations for the party and my truck, I finally caught Nessie by herself. She was watching her parents dance while Jacob spoke to Sam and my Mom over by the tables.
“Hey, little lady,” I said opening my arms in invitation. She jumped up into them and laid her head on my shoulder. “Are you getting sleepy?” I asked her concerned.
She shook her head, but did not move it from my shoulder. Nessie was like a little sister to me and I could tell something was up with her. Maybe she would talk about it if we were away from everyone. “Would you like to go for a walk?” I asked.
She nodded and we strolled off down the beach. I'll keep her safe, I promised Edward mentally. We'll be back soon.
I strolled in silence for a few moments, rocking her slightly in my arms. “Do you want to talk about it?” I asked her gently.
She sighed, but did not speak or give me an image, so I continued to stroll along. After a few minutes, she lifted her head a bit and said quietly, “Momma and Daddy are going back to school at the end of the week, and they want to know if I want to join them or stay with Grandma and Grandpa until they get back.”
“And you're not sure which one you should choose?” I guessed.
“No,” she said. “I would like very much to stay, but I've never been away from them for more than a day or two.” She was quiet for a long moment before adding very softly, “I'm scared.”
I looked around and found a large boulder that was sticking out of the sand close to the waves, and walked over to sit down on it. Once seated, I shifted her in my arms carefully, and hugged her close to me. “Everyone is scared about being away from their parents the first time, but they usually end up having so much fun that they forget to be scared,” I said as reassuringly as I could.
She sighed. “I'm not so much worried about that part of it. I know I will be okay, but what about Momma? And Daddy? Will they be okay with my choice? Or will they be mad at me for not going with them?”
“Nessie,” I sighed trying to organize my answer. “You're parents are two of the kindest, most understanding people I know. I'm sure that when you tell them how you feel they will accept it, and not be upset about it. However accepting something does not mean that they aren't going to worry. Your mom and dad will more than likely be worried and will ask you if you are sure about your decision, and they will probably call you every day just to check on you, but they will definitely not be mad at you.”
She sighed in relief and smiled at me before gazing out at the falling darkness. After a moment she reached her little hand up and pressed it to my neck. The image she showed me was of a dark mass in the water and the silhouettes of trees against a violet sky. I smiled, knowing immediately what she was asking.
“That is James Island,” I said to her. “There's really nothing there but the lighthouse anymore. It's a good place to go if you want to be alone though.”
Nessie blinked and showed me my face looking serious, and then the island again, a question underlining her images.
I smiled. “Even I need to get away every now and again. Think things through you know. I spent a lot of time there while I was trying to think of how to bring all this,” I nodded my head it the direction of the party, “Up to Sam and the rest of the Elders, my mom especially. So tell me, what do you think of it here?”
No image greeted my question; she simply continued to gaze out toward the little island, and that was how we finished up the evening, in companionable silence.
*Bella's honeymoon attire. Breaking Dawn page 81.
*Seth's reflections and quotes come from Eclipse chapter 22 and page 110.
*Swimsuit notes: If you would like to take a look at where I got my inspiration for the girl's suits here they are. Web site: in style swim wear .com (take out the spaces) Style names: Alice - Solid Knots Tankini, Rose - Cheetah Bikini, Bella - Frenchie Monokini.
A/N: Yay! Chapter three is finished. Sorry it was kind of long. Anywho, please review and tell me what you think. -Tortured_Angel