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water and a white sundress


Written for twilight_swap at LiveJournal. Takes place in the summer before New Moon.

1. water and a white sundress

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 1892   Review this Chapter

Edward smiles down at me, my head laying on his chest and our fingers entwined. I look up and say, "You're so beautiful."

The golden fabric that's everywhere in the room makes his topaz eyes stand out even more than usual. I reach up to stroke his cheek, continually amazed by the cold smoothness of his skin.

"Unnatural," he says dismissively, playing with a strand of my hair. "Whereas you are the most gorgeous creature I've ever seen."

A blush creeps over my cheeks and I look away, hiding my face. Will I ever get used to him?

Just then Alice bounds into the room, a happy smile on her face. "Let's throw a party!" she says in her high soprano voice. Edward rolls his eyes and I have to laugh.

"Right now?" I ask, sitting up in Edward's lap. I twist around to look at her.

"Well," she says, rushed and excited, "I think it would be a great idea, don't you? We could make it a Labor Day party, you know, celebrate the end of the summer. And everyone would have to wear white, because of course you can't wear white after Labor Day."

She takes a deep breath after this pronouncement, then adds, almost as an afterthought:

"You have friends, right?"

And Alice dashes out of the room.

Edward turns to me, bemused. "Now," he says, "where were we?"

x x x

After a few hours on his black leather couch (talking, laughing, listening to music) I'm starting to feel hungry. So Edward accompanies me down the stairs -- a hand on my lower back for insurance -- and I walk to the kitchen, making a sandwich out of the fixings Esme had so thoughtfully bought me.

I carry my food to the dinner table, Edward following me like a glorious, godlike shadow. I'm in the middle of biting into bread when Alice bursts in, catalogs in hand and a pen behind her ear.

"So," she says, spreading magazines across the table, "I think mostly white, with pale blue to break the monotony, plus dark brown accents --" She circles a picture of curtains and glassware. "-- would be a really nice combination."

"Alice..." I try to say, but she cuts me off.

"I think we need a pool," she says decisively. "In the backyard. I mean, how are we supposed to celebrate the end of summer without a pool? It'll take at least two weeks, but I'm sure we'll pay enough that they don't take any longer than that."

I stare at her, completely bewildered. "You're going to buy and install a pool...for one...human...party?"

She shrugs. "Rosalie will love the chance to show off her bikini."

Edward watches her walk away, then turns back to me. He scrutinizes my face. "What are you thinking?"

I groan loudly. "Must I?"

He leans over to kiss me on my lips. I wonder if he can smell the sandwich on my breath -- I'm sure he can -- but then he trails kisses down my neck and breathes along my collarbone and I've forgotten everything but the feel of his lips on my skin. He pulls back to his previous position in his chair and smiles at me. "Now," he says, "what were you saying?"

I have to breathe deeply to get my heart rate under control. "I was wondering what this would cost," I say honestly. He frowns.

"Don't worry about anything, my Bella," he says. "We have a lot of...time to make money. Our beauty isn't the only unnatural thing about us."

x x x

Edward and I are in my room one cloudy morning, two weeks later. School starts next week and I am not excited.

"Why do I have to finish my senior year?" I grumble. "Why can't I just be a vampire and be done with it?"

Edward, sitting in my old rocking chair, stiffens. But all he says is, "Alice wants to talk to you about the Labor Day party."

A few seconds later, the front door opens and I hear Alice's voice calling excitedly: "You have to come with me, Bella! You're going to be so excited!"

I roll my eyes and laugh, leaving my room and walking downstairs with Edward shadowing me as usual. Alice is practically bouncing up and down. As soon as I stand in front of her she grabs my hand impatiently, dragging me to Rosalie's M3 that's waiting outside for me.

Edward glares at Alice. "Be careful with her. She's only human, you know."

Alice pays no attention to this. Within a few seconds I'm buckled in the front seat, Edward's sitting behind me, and Alice is backing out into the street. We zoom along the highway at an alarming rate, and I say shakily, "How did you get Rosalie to lend you her car?"

She turns to face me, which only speeds my heart rate (Look at the road, Alice! I'm thinking) and laughs. "Rosalie was a bit preoccupied, so I didn't exactly get her permission. But it's an emergency!"

I cover my face with my hands, trying not to look at the road. Fortunately, Alice's crazy driving brings us to the Cullen house within a few minutes. Edward opens the passenger door and I take my hands away from my eyes.

The trees surrounding the house have been draped with white and pale blue cloth, glittering and shimmering like silk in the weak gray light. Just inside the door -- I make my way to the inside of the house with wide eyes, nearly tripping over myself -- I can see everything Alice has done to make the living room of the Cullen house look even more amazing than it usually is. The curtains are white with dark brown polka dots, and there are blue and brown streamers hanging from the ceiling. Pop music is playing quietly and it goes along rather well with the summery theme. Balloons are floating in midair (I really don't know how she managed to do that), and they're blue with brown strings.

"Alice," I say, amazed, "you're incredible."

She's grinning. "Wait until you see the rest of it."

I follow her out the back door and stare, astonished.

In the center of the expansive backyard is a clear, sparkling swimming pool. It's long, and deep at one end. Chocolate-brown inflatable rafts drift across its surface, bearing bottles of water and other clear, light drinks. A table is set up to one side with a pale blue cloth draped over it. Glasses and plates are stacked on its surface, near drinks and snacks that are such perfect choices, I wonder that a vampire bought them.

I spin around to stare at Alice. "Who's coming? And when?"

She giggles. "Well, I invited pretty much everyone in our grade, plus, oh, a couple others. And as for the when..."

The doorbell rings from inside the house and Edward grins. "You have impeccable timing, Alice," he says.

"Thank you," she responds, inclining her head gracefully. Then she rushes off to welcome the guests.

I stand beside the pool for a few moments, holding Edward's hand and watching the water. Before anyone finds their way outside, Alice dashes up beside me unexpectedly.

I jump, but Alice is already shoving me into the house. "Hurry!" she hisses. "Before somebody sees you!"

I'm led to a back staircase and then up, into Alice's room. Alice pulls me in front of a full-length mirror, then dashes off to her closet. Her voice calls to me from the depths of that shadowy wardrobe.

"You look awful, Bella! Jeans and a t-shirt will never do at one of my parties. Here --" She throws a white sun dress with precarious-looking straps at my head, and I barely manage to catch it.

"But before you put that on, wear this --" Random garments come flying at my head again. "-- underneath."

Alice helps me untangle what turns out to be a white one-piece bathing suit. Then, the short, ruffled white dress is next. It falls to mid-thigh and I blush, thinking about what might happen if I tripped and fell.

"Uh, Alice," I say, "I don't exactly want to go swimming. Think about the horrible things that might happen. I'm a danger magnet, remember?"

Alice laughs, leading me out of the room. "Silly Bella. Edward will protect you, remember? Besides, you don't have to swim if you don't want to."

When we open the door to the backyard, I'm stunned by the sight of a hundred people wearing white. Some I recognize, some I don't, but it's clear everybody's having a good time. I push my way gently through the crowd, looking for one certain person...

There he is. Edward's standing beside the pool, in almost the exact same position I left him. I come up behind him and he smiles, turning around slowly. His arms encircle my waist, holding my body close against his.

"You look absolutely beautiful in that dress," he murmurs. "Remind me to thank Alice later."

A high voice calls out, "You're welcome, Edward!"

I chuckle, then manage to pull my gaze away from Edward's glorious face and down to his clothes. He's wearing a white button-down shirt with the top three buttons undone. Pale blue jeans partially hide white shoes of some kind (although they look expensive). I blush and turn away.

"What's wrong?" he asks, concerned.

"How can you say I'm beautiful, when you look..." I wave vaguely in his general direction. "...like that?" My voice is quiet and I can tell my face is red.

"Oh, Bella," he groans. "You're amazingly gorgeous. Please, can't you just acknowledge that?"

I set my chin stubbornly. "When standing next to a Greek god, nobody is gorgeous."

A grin crosses his face before he controls his expression. "Well then," he says, "you're going to have to learn what happens when you don't appreciate your own worth."

And with that -- without warning, before anything registers -- Edward pushes me into the pool.

I shriek for a half second before I crash into the pool's surface, and then my mouth is filled with chlorinated water. It's choking me, and I can't breathe, can't see. Where's Edward? Why isn't he --

A cold hand, colder than the water surrounding me, encloses around my wrist and pulls me inexorably upward. Air blows across my face and I cough, expelling liquid sloshing in my lungs. Lank strands of hair partially obscure my vision and, although everything's a little blurry, I can tell there's a whole crowd gathered at the edge of the pool, watching curiously.

A low voice, worried, beside my ear. "Bella? Bella, are you alright?"

My eyes narrow, cheeks on fire. "I'd be fine," I hiss, turning to face him, "if you hadn't drowned me."

"I'm so sorry," he says, musical voice completely sincere. I'm having a hard time staying mad at him. "I failed to keep in mind your human limitations."

He holds me, in the water, and presses against my lips for a kiss in front of all these spectators. As horribly embarrassed as I am, I can't help but melt into his embrace.

"As a side note," he whispers, "you're even more beautiful in the water."