CHAPTER TEN -- the last chapter -- NOW POSTEDThe waiting is finally over ... The days leading up to and following Bella’s 19th birthday – the year she never turned 19. And yes, this is a sequel to “August 13th.”
ATTENTION READERS: DO NOT STEAL MY STORIES. Someone has stolen some of my stories from this website -- including this one! -- and posted them as their own on fanfiction.net. It is plaigarism, it is stealing and it is illegal. Read, enjoy -- but don't steal. Post-Eclipse This is a sequel to "August 13th" -- you don't have to have read that story to understand this one, though I highly recommend it! ;) To do so, check it out here: http://www.twilightarchives.com/viewstory.php?sid=986
9. Chapter 9
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2352 Review this Chapter
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“I can’t breathe but I feel good enough,
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The morning of September 13th broke like any other day. With sunlight brightening the landscape from behind a thick bank of clouds. A steady rainfall drizzled from the skies, playing a tinkling melody against the roof and drain pipes. I remember watching the window grow lighter, taking color. I’d spent the night blissfully awake in Edward’s arms. We could not sleep, and we would not sleep together until we were alone, but we could at least spend our nights together. Sometimes we talked; other times, we just lay in comfortable silence. We’d kiss; he’d caress me and I’d marvel at the wonder of being with him. It had become our new routine and I’d lost track of the days; they didn’t seem to matter any more. In fact, I would not have paid attention to the date that particular morning, if Edward had not nuzzled my cheek and murmured in my ear, “Happy Birthday.”
It was my birthday. My 19th birthday. Except I would not be turning 19. I would never turn 19. Because I was never getting any older. Part of me thrilled with the idea. I’d dreaded this day for so long … but the reason for my dread did not matter. I’d worried only because I did not want to grow older while Edward remained forever young. I, too, was now forever young.
The idea brightened my day; it was the first time I was genuinely happy when Edward and I went downstairs and greeted the others.
Alice, however, was in a bad mood. Edward explained that she was angry with him because he had forbidden her from throwing me another birthday party. It had absolutely nothing to do with the disaster my previous birthday party had been, he promised her. He just didn’t think I was up for it. And when I told her he was right, Alice became mad at me, as well.
“There will be plenty of time for other parties,” I told her. “And it seems kind of silly this year, any way.”
Alice let out a grumpy sigh, a kind of harrumph, but did not argue. I was right, of course. It seemed rather silly to celebrate my birthday when I was, in fact, not getting any older. Part of me wanted to let her throw the party just to celebrate that – my ageless future – but the rest of me knew better.
It had less to do with the idea of parties so much as the fact that I just wasn’t ready. I was still adjusting. Too slowly, for Alice’s taste – but much more quickly than the others had. I needed time, I told her. Just time.
Her solemn oath that there would be no party did not stop the parade of gifts. Alice gleefully – almost maniacally – presented me with a lavishly wrapped package. Once I’d prodded through the layers of elegant paper and tissues and ribbons, I discovered a beautiful new dress – practically a gown. It was sleeveless, with a fitted bodice and a sweeping ball gown skirt. The entire thing had been crafted out of midnight blue satin. Alice told me she’d foreseen a need for such a dress in my future and insisted this was just practical planning ahead. I couldn’t imagine what sort of event might require such a lovely gown, but – never one to bet against Alice – I graciously accepted. It was, after all, a beautiful dress. And if I really was going to need this type of wardrobe, I might as well hang onto it.
Alice had also finagled the others into giving me gifts, despite Edward’s efforts to stop them. Secretly, I think his efforts to that effect were only mild and half-hearted. Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie offered me a pair of glittering earrings – each one featuring a large sapphire and clusters of small diamonds. Jasper said Alice had picked them out, of course, to go with the dress. I got the impression that Jasper had covered the brunt of the cost for these gems and I think he was trying to make up for my last birthday – during which he tried to eat me, scaring Edward into leaving me and almost destroying my heart in the process. I didn’t blame Jasper; Edward would have overreacted about something else, eventually, and as it was – everything had worked out. I wasn’t sure things would have turned out the same way if other elements had been changed. I’d have to make sure Jasper understood this.
Then Esme and Carlisle presented me with a small package – just a token, they told me, to officially welcome me into the family. When I opened the box, I cringed inwardly. Edward was beaming beside me, practically bouncing on his toes. I lifted up the engraved, silver keychain – from which dangled a single key bearing a logo of four interlocking circles. An Audi. I rose from my seat, walked slowly to the window and peered out. There, sitting shiny and sleek in the driveway, with a large pink bow draped across its top, was a brand-new, silver Audi. I wasn’t sure what kind, but it looked fast and extremely fuel-efficient.
I closed my eyes, tempering my annoyance with Edward for not telling them that I did not want a fast, new car. “Thank you,” I said, surprised with how genuine it sounded. “You really didn’t have to …”
But then I turned and looked back at them, smiling brighter than ever. And I realized … they did have to. I was their newest daughter. And the Cullens were known, among other things, for their cars. I was a Cullen now, in every sense of the word. I smiled back at them – genuinely – and thanked them again. I meant it that time.
The day proceeded quietly after the gift exchange. So far, Alice appeared to be keeping her word. Regardless, I didn’t let my guard down and Edward seemed to think that was wise. In fact, it was not until sundown that I began to really relax. I sat cradled in Edward’s arms on the porch swing in the front of the house – watching the sun set over the horizon. In the late afternoon, the clouds had parted and it created an amazing array of colors in the sky as the sun dipped lower and lower – vast oranges and golds and ochres. I found myself almost slipping into a trance – between the sunset and Edward’s arms. I started when a trilling interrupted the peace.
I fumbled through my pockets, pulling out the relatively new, sleek silver cell phone. I did not recognize the number, though I knew the area code to be from Clallam County. I worried it might have been one of the Pack – had something happened?
“Dad!” I had not expected to hear Charlie’s voice and was surprised at myself for not recognizing his number. In fact, I had not thought about Charlie once since we’d spoken on the phone the night Edward bit me. I had been human the last time I’d thought about my father. “Hi!”
“Bella, are you okay?” He sounded worried; uncertain – as if he wasn’t sure he was actually speaking to me.
“Dad, sure, I’m –”
But I didn’t get a chance to finish. Edward yanked the phone from my fingers nimbly and pressed it to his own ear. “Hello Charlie,” he said. “I’m sorry about that. Bella’s a little … not herself tonight.” He was silent for a moment, his lips twisting while he listened to Charlie’s response. “No, sir, of course not. Alice wanted to celebrate, you see, so we drove into Canada … yes, it’s 19 there, sir. Well, she had just a little too much ... But I assure you, I’m keeping an eye on her … Of course … No, sir … Yes, she’ll be fine … Yes.”
Edward pressed the phone back into my hand.
Charlie was laughing. “Happy birthday, Bella,” he said. He sounded both annoyed and amused. “Don’t party too hard, kiddo. You give me a call when you’re feeling better.”
“I love you, Bells. Happy birthday, again – really.”
“Thanks, I love you too – Dad?”
“Hey – Jake’s here, with Billy. Do you want to say hello?”
I felt my stomach drop in my chest; a deep sinking feeling. “Uh …” Vaguely, in the background, I could hear a deep, familiar voice – though gruffer than I recalled – protesting. “I’m not so sure …”
“Oh right, not a good idea tonight.” He laughed deeply, a rumbling sound.
”Well, anyway. I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. You have fun, okay, kiddo? Be safe.”
“Sure, uh … Dad?”
The phone disconnected. I held it in my hand, staring at it in confusion. Finally, I looked up at Edward, hoping for some kind of explanation. He burst out laughing, which only annoyed me further. “Edward? What did you tell Charlie?”
“Bella, please understand,” he said, straightening up. He stopped laughing and took both my hands into his. “You don’t quite sound like your old self … you sound different. You haven’t learned how to adjust your voice – your inflections – to sound like the human-Bella Charlie remembers. I had to cover for you.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I told him you were drunk.”
“What?!” I was underage; Charlie was a cop – and a stickler for rules like drinking ages.
“Relax,” Edward told me. He pressed down on my shoulders to keep me from jumping out of my seat. “It’s okay. I told him we took you into Canada. It’s not a far drive from where we’re supposed to be going to college – and the drinking age there is 19. I assured him that I, myself, had had nothing to drink and that I was taking very good care of you and would make sure you made it home all in one piece. It’s okay.”
I sighed, forcing myself to relax. But the conversation with Charlie only brought up another dilemma. I looked up at Edward, my eyes searching his, as if hoping the answer would appear to me there. It did not. “What am I going to tell Charlie? I can’t avoid him forever, can I?”
Edward took a deep, heavy breath, and cast his eyes towards the sunset. “Well … I suppose you could tell him the truth. But then you run the risk of putting his life in danger, if the Volturi ever found out.” I shuddered at the idea of those ancient vampires after my father. “We could fake your death,” he suggested coldly. “Or you could lie to him. Break his heart.”
“Are those my only options?” None of them appealed to me.
“I don’t know,” Edward said honestly. “But we have time yet. Don’t worry about it tonight, love. It’s your birthday.” I groaned and rolled my eyes. That fact did not bother me nearly as much as it had last year, when I’d actually aged. “And speaking of your birthday,” he continued, “I haven’t given you my gift yet.”
I turned to face him, one eyebrow arching perfectly higher than the other.
“I know, I know,” he said. “You don’t like gifts … but you let everyone else give you something and, honestly, Bella, I’m your husband now. It’s my job to remember important dates like this – birthdays, anniversaries.”
“I thought husbands usually forgot those things?”
“Only the lousy ones,” he said, grinning back at me. I pursed my lips, not convinced. “You said hand-me-downs were okay.”
I rolled my eyes again and held out my hand. “Alright then. Lay it on me.”
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small, black box. He hesitated as he held it – just hovering over my palm. “It’s … it’s only partly a hand-me-down,” he confessed. “But I hope you’ll accept it, anyway.” He set the box down on my hand, then quickly pulled his fingers away. He watched me carefully, almost wary.
I let out a short breath, staring at the box. It looked harmless enough. I glanced at Edward. He was waiting, struggling for patience. Secretly, I wondered when my birthday had become a day about everyone else. Because it seemed like the day really was more about appeasing everyone else’s wishes for my birthday, and not my own. But Edward was right – he was my husband now. It was perfectly acceptable for him to buy my gifts, to give me things – regardless of the date. It was our money now, not his money. I breathed in, out and then carefully lifted the lid.
Nestled in a swathe of pressed cotton sat a large, emerald cut topaz – about the size of a dime – encircled by small, perfectly clear diamonds. I lifted it from the box, the cotton falling aside. It dangled delicately from a thread-like gold chain. The light from the sunset caught in the stone and it glittered, every facet sparkling. I found myself mesmerized and Edward, delighted by my reaction, grinned as he took it from my fingers and deftly clasped it around my neck. It sat heavily against my chest.
“Thank you,” I said, finally finding my voice. “I love it.” And I really did.
He grinned, his face beaming more brightly than the fading sun. “I’m glad.” His fingers trailed along the path of the gold chain across my collar bone, then danced upwards, tangling in my hair and he pulled my face towards his, crushing our lips together. I whimpered and wished, once again, that we were alone.
“Soon,” he promised, sighing and pressing his forehead against mine. “Soon.” He sealed his promise with another kiss and the colors of the sunset swirled as I fell into the kiss, closing my eyes and disappearing in Edward’s taste.
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