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Afterglow

Summary:
The in canon tale of the daughter Rose never thought she could have. When my mother found me, fate seemed to link us together. Not only was I the daughter she never dreamed she'd have, I was unusually unappetizing for a human. However, being raised by vampires does not come without conflict. This is my tale about growing up Cullen and finding love in the most unexpected place. The world's largest coven is about to get a whole lot larger!


Notes:
Sorrowfully, I do not own the Twilight saga or any of its characters. They belong to the glorious Stephenie Meyer. But Emmalie is MINE, as is the plot. :)


11. Retail Therapy

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 4627   Review this Chapter

A pungent mixture of disinfectant and excessively bleached sheets burned like fire in my nostrils. The mattress beneath me was so ridged; if it were not covered in bedding and if I did not have so much faith in my grandfather, I would have thought it to be a Mortuary table. My heavy eyes remained closed, as my mind drifted into the first threads of consciousness.

"Why does she smell so strange, Carlisle? This is not how my baby smells!" my Mia growled.

There was an undeniable panic in her voice. It made her words nip even colder than usual.

"Rose, she will be back to normal soon. Her GHB levels were abnormally high, but we DC'd it to a stable count. She can go home as soon as this evening," he assured her.

I unclenched my fists and let some the tension dispense from my stiffened posture. I sank deeper into the mattress, my assurance in my grandfather renewed and my faith rekindled.

"Is it her illness?"

".......No Rose, as you know GHB is a naturally occurring acid within the central nervous system. However, I have reason to believe the GHB found in Emmalie, was.....synthetic."

"Synthetic, but Carlisle-"

"Rose, it will just distress you further. We will discuss it at home," he urged as if trying to keep the secret from me.

"Someone drugged her, didn't they? SOMEONE DRUGGED MY BABY!" Mia screeched.

I convulsed as her angry voice flooded into my ears like a violent wave upon the sand. Then I let the reality of what almost happened, bubble in my mind.

"Rose, lower your voice. Yes, it is true GHB is a drug that, when in high doses, acts as a sedative. It can be a date rape drug, but we know nothing for sure," he insisted, trying to calm her down.

She did not like this. I could tell she did not like this. She hissed in and huffed out in anguish, before turning sharply to leave.

"Rose, come back!" He ordered mildly, but it was no use. I heard the sharp staccato click of heels against linoleum fade, then my grandfather's sobering sigh. "Emmett, follow her and make sure she doesn't do anything foolish."

Out in the hall, over the monotone beeping of medical equipment and the shrilled voice of the charge nurse, I could make out my Uncle Edward's low voice. He was lecturing Nessie like he had never before. It was strange. I had never heard anyone speak harshly to her. Nessie was....well she was Nessie. I learned later that he and Bella hopped the first flight back. And they were not too happy with Ness. She was grounded, which was a first for her. It wasn't just the ID; it was the bike, the phone that was never answered, and the disregard for curfew.

The entire family camped out in the waiting room for a day until I was released. I did not come into the hospital sick, but I did leave it sick. While there I had caught someone's cold and my lungs now quivered, as if the air had become too thick, too permeated to take in.

On the way home my father kept sucking in breaths as if he was preparing to cuss up a storm, but after he would turn in his seat to face me, he would just sigh. I could tell he wanted to tell me off, but I was so exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open to eat, much less be scolded. Once home, I stayed in bed with four walls and six layers of designer blankets to keep me company. I thought it to be a little overkill, but at this point no one was really listening to me. My mother insisted that I stay there until I was 100 percent better. She fluttered in and out, but shooed most everyone away.

The first day home, tension was high. I could not help thinking about Vanity Fair. William Thackeray knew what he was talking about when he said, "The world is a looking-glass... Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion." I was pretty certain that I had smashed my looking glass. Instead of just one sour face, I had splinters of mirror reflecting dirty looks everywhere. I had made a mess.

My Aunt Alice and my Popeye were not on speaking terms; they now kept their conversing to strictly bellowing and screaming. He pointed a giant finger at her and she wilted in guilt, hunching her little shoulders, only standing up for me when the conversation came to it. I felt horrid, but was not at liberty to defend her.

I just assumed Nessie was mad at me too, for now she was under house arrest. I really did not get to see much of her. Then again, I'm not sure anyone was. I had heard that even Jake was limited to only dinner time visits, chaperoned by none other than the saint of restraint himself. Edward was being a dick, and that was putting it mildly.

In turn, Jake was coming down really hard on Leah; taking all the frustration of being separated from Ness out on her. In several venting text-messages, Leah had threatened to murder and castrate Alpha Jake. Along with the half-hearted threats, there were some pretty calculated plans to leave Forks forever. I told her to hang in there because as soon as my uncle gave Nessie her freedom, Jake's attitude would change back to tolerable. Presently, Edward was just being difficult, even for us. When not brooding in his music, he was rising to battle every one of my Mia's malicious comments. Bella tried to keep peace, attempting to be everyone's stronghold, the keystone in a crumbling arch. All the while, Alice was struggling to bring her hopeful attitude to the mix. But she was not used to anyone remaining angry at her for more than ten seconds. It was hard for her. My father, when not blaming Alice, was just being a crabby couch-potato, yelling at refs on the other side of the screen. And my dear Uncle Jasper had his work cut out for him. At times, he would slip outside to evade the unbearable range of emotions. Out my bedroom window I could see him pace in our front lawn and sigh deeply, like a swimmer coming up for fresh air after being submerged for too long.

My mother was the worst. I tried to apologize but with an eerie smile and a frigid finger to my lips, she hushed me and forbade me to ever mention it again. She doted and pretended like none of it ever happened, but only to me. When she left my room she was quick to let no one forget ‘what almost happened'. When she was not with me, she was in the garage. Even her and my father were at odds. The day after I came back, I listened to them fight outside my door.

"Rose, let me through," he barked, struggling to keep his deep voice hushed.

"No, you're just going to yell at her. She has been traumatized enough without you busting her eardrums," she retorted, clearly blocking his way.

"So, you're not going to let me talk to my own daughter? Is that how it works, Rose?" he questioned cynically, an unyielding snort punctuating his disbelief.

"NO. I'm not going to let you scold OUR daughter for being a victim of circumstance!"

"A victim of circumstance? Rose, that's the biggest load of shit I've ever heard! She's out of control. If we don't do something now, we're going to lose her."

"Emmett, she needs to know we love her no matter what!" she fought. Her tone was even, as if she was reciting from some parenting guidebook.

"No, Rose. She doesn't need you to make her hot chocolate and coo at her feet. She needs someone to tell her to shape the hell up. What our daughter needs is to have her cell phone and credit card locked away in a bullet proof safe until further notice. She needs to be grounded. Why don't you get this?" he questioned.

"Emmett, she has been through so much just-"

"Rose, be a parent! If you don't have the balls to do it then let someone else."

"Emmett, I'm warning you! If you step one foot in that room..." she growled. Her tone was more terrifying than the words themselves.

There was silence for a moment before he resigned to mumbling under his breath. I'm sure he was swearing, but I could not make out individual curses. The words that I did hear were stronger than any curse and they stabbed twice as deep into my heart.

"We never should've done this," he muttered evenly, before he trudged down the hall and down the stairs. I listened to the floorboards creak as he stomped past, letting his words sink in. He did not have to say more; both she and I knew what he meant. He regretted me.

A surge of inexplicable fear rushed through me, leaving me hollow inside. It was like tripping in a pitch black room and falling until you hit the unseen ground beneath you. I had made him that mad? He regretted bringing me into his life?

My vision blurred in a swirl of hot tears. I only had a moment to collect myself so I did not appear as if I had overheard them. But I just couldn't do it. Instead, I turned my back to the door and buried my head in a silk throw-pillow, and sank deeper under my comforter. She entered the room so silently that I felt her frigid hands before I ever heard her. The mattress sank slightly as she added her weight to its undertaking.

I had steadied my breathing enough so that she could not see the sobs I was holding back. Her hand rubbed icy circles on my back.

"When you're feeling better we're going to spend more time together. I'm going to take you car shopping," she tried, her voice cracking with hints of emotion. I smiled at her attempt to make me happy.

"Yeah right, like you'll buy me a car," I flouted, dry throatily. She chuckled to herself, and then corrected me.

"Oh no baby, you're not getting a new car. I am. You will be getting a used but meticulously looked after car."

"Figures," I thought.

"Of course, you need to start studying the Washington State Road regulations; an hour a night should do it. Then you'll need to have a several hundred hours behind the wheel with either your father or I, before I would ever consider letting you get your license. Preferably me, I'm the better driver," she furthered pretentiously. "It will take you a year or two-"

"Mia, it takes most teens six months-not a year. And it is fifty hours of instruction with an adult-not several hundred. You're being a little demanding," I commented, trying my hardest to keep my annoyance fully veiled.

"Emmalie, do not push me. I'm trying my best to block out the fact that you were almost a bloody corpse in some God forsaken alley, and treat you like a young lady."

"Mia, I made a mistake, okay. You cannot keep me in a fishbowl for all of eternity," I shamelessly bit at her. My tone was sour and verged on disrespectful, but I had no intention of harnessing it. I was making a point.

"Emmalie, do NOT go blaming me for this. You're the one who almost got yourself killed, so lose the attitude," she growled, tucking a blanket around me with more force than necessary. I pushed all the blankets aside and bolted upright.

"I don't have an attitude and I was nowhere near dead," I fumed in utter defiance. She shoved me back on the bed and was tucking me back in before I could even protest.

"Emmalie, we are not talking about that-"

"Mia, I know you. You're not going to let me out of this room for another ten years. Did you ever think if you weren't so suffocating, I would not have to-?" I retorted, my tone accusing.

"What Emmalie? You would not have to sneak into clubs? Go behind our backs? You would not have to lie to us?"

Her perfectly shaped eyebrows dropped around her now charcoal eyes, eyes that were drained of their warm amber hues. I had to bite my lip to keep in all the angry words that were riling up with inside me.

I knew I was pushing my luck, but I was beyond caring. A resonant growl escaped her lips, her predator instincts surfacing. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and stormed out. I jumped up to follow her, but she was down the stairs, sprawled on the couch with her head propped gracefully on my father's left thigh before I even made it halfway down the hall. I stomped down the steps, stopping halfway to adopt the most defiant stance possible. She scowled in my direction, giving me the world's most glacial reception. Her eyes did not leave me; she stared relentlessly, silently demanding me to retreat to my room. Bella, who was curled up on the chaise longue, peered over her novel to silently observe our staring contest. Alice and Nana were perched on the kitchen barstools, going over a shopping list for our unnecessary garage renovation. They too casually glanced up pretending not to notice me, before whispering chide remarks. My father no longer looked angry; he apparently let it go and settled on letting his frustrations out via gaming. He and Uncle Jazz were deep into their Halo game, their eyes fixed on the screen, their bodies flinching at the virtual battle. My mother faked interest, but flicked her eyes back to me in question. She prodded me further with a single arched brow, as if to ask "what are you doing here".

"I'm sorry. I just wanted to have fun!"

"Was it worth it, Emmalie?"

"No it wasn't, but you're just so...soo-"

"Emm, I am finished playing mommy dearest in your melodramatic tale! And I seriously don't have the patience to deal with a disillusioned brat," she spat harshly, concluding her statement with an impatient growl.

"How ironic since no one seems to have enough patience to deal with you," I muttered under my breath. It was true and she knew it. She made life miserable for the rest of us at times.

"Well, lucky for you it's not too late. If I'm that unbearable to live with, then we can find someplace else for you to live," she announced with an eerie amount of enthusiasm, her eyes overly animated.

She smiled wickedly as she cocked her head to the side in her usual tou-shae attitude. Though insincere, the threat left me numb and I stared at her with an emotionless expression, a blank unaltered canvass. Did she really mean that?

All it took was a mere second, before the shame of her words took its toll. She looked away, again taking a new interest in Halo. If she did not realize her own mistake Nana, who silenced Alice mid-sentence to glare darts her way, would have clued her in. Alice too, shook her head in disbelief. It would have been the perfect time to let her wallow in her own guilt, to run off to my room and play the wounded victim. Yet I stayed, determined to make her equally hurt.

"Well I was considering running away but since you're willing to cooperate, then by all means," I said, hurling the spear straight back into her heart.

"Sure I'll cooperate. I'll even put an ad in the paper.... ‘Ungrateful, deceitful, soon to be 16 year old female. Prone to reckless behavior and childish tantrums. Call if interested'," she mused aloud. My Aunt Bella loudly shut her book and with a roll of her golden eyes, quickly vacated the room, too annoyed to stay. Nana groaned and Alice heaved a giant sigh. My mother ignored the disorder and continued. "And maybe that will make you happy."

"Yeah, I'll be thrilled and you will be too," I yelled. "YOUR LIVES WILL BE GREAT WHEN I'M GONE, HUH?"

"HELLLLL YYEEAAAAHHHH! You better believe it!" My Father boomed, jumping to his feet in an obnoxious dance of celebration. Jasper gave him a congratulatory slap on the shoulder, before looking at the rest of us. It took us all a moment to realize that my father was not responding to me, and it took him a moment longer to digest the angry stares coming from all directions.

"What? What did I miss?" He asked, confused and looking around, his hands raised in a defensive shrug. Everyone else just rolled their eyes, Jasper took a moment to reassess the emotions and get a better understanding of what was going on. My father finally noticed me on the stairs and keyed into my tears.

"What's wrong?" he asked looking around still semi-confused. I shrugged a little.

"Why don't you ask Mia? She is the one putting up ads to get rid of me," I said turning to head back up the stairs. He turned sharply and looked down at my mother who was now innocently flipping through Cosmo. He gave her an annoyed stare then stopped me.

"Awwww, Emma, you know she just says stuff like that. She never means it," he excused warmly, as if it made up for what she had said.

"Well, I...I...I'm sick of being a Cullen! In fact, I'd rather die than stay here. AND I DO MEAN THAT, with my whole heart!" I yelled from the top of the stairs. He winced slightly, his eyes revealing the hurt, before changing his approach.

"Emmalie, if you are going to be like that I think you should go to your room," he admonished, his arms folded over his chest.

"That's where I'm going!" I yelled brashly.

Downstairs it was mostly silent except for Alice.

"Nicely done you two! If you keep it up you'll get the parents of the year award for sure," Alice jeered, her voice intoning with a rare hint of sarcasm.

I sulked in my room while everyone else paraded around with their bad dispositions. They would clash at times and fights would erupt about the most mundane stuff, but for the most part everyone avoided one another.

Carlisle and Esme suffered it for a day, before even they were losing patience. Four days after I had returned home, Carlisle put in for some much needed personal time. He lightly proposed that he and the guys go on a big game expedition. There were reports of rouge rhinos in the Western Africa, and an overpopulation of wildebeest. Since we Cullens were all about creating a balanced and stable ecosystem, the men took up the cause. They left for Africa, venturing to the grasslands between the Serengeti and the Masi Mara, in hopes that hunting would heal their foul moods.

While they were gone, time seemed to cure things. After a day, Alice and my mother were speaking one word sentences to each other. And my mother was no longer hiding out under car-hoods. Bella pulled her head out of the book she was finding refuge in and began to play peace maker. My Nana's happiness returned as they began to patch up their differences.

But I was getting worse. My guilt multiplied by day and tripled by night. Still quarantined to my room, I suffered night after sleepless night, restless to make things right again. I removed pillowcase after pillowcase, all too damp with salty tears to last another night. My eyes were eventually too dry to cry anymore.

After a week of self-loathing, I awoke one night and decided to leave my room. I could hear my Mia and Nana outside my window and the silence upstairs told me it was vacant. So I tiptoed down the hall, jumping the creaky boards that I knew by heart. I continued down the stairs to find my loveable little aunt. She was curled up on the couch absorbed in late night infomercials. I went and cuddled up beside her. It was the first time I had talked to anyone since the incident.

"I'm so sorry, Alice. I've made everyone upset at everyone else and the only one at fault is me," I sobbed into her lap.

"Oh sweetling, we're just having a spiff. Your mother and I have had worse than this and gotten through it. Everyone has. It will pass eventually," she voiced, rubbing my back.

"You don't hate me Alice?" I asked, sitting up.

"Never," she intoned like a Shakespearian actor. I smiled at her silly impersonation. "So what do you say to cheer each other up, we buy a bunch of things we really don't need and then ship them back in thirty days," she suggested impishly. Alice was like my very own retail therapist.

I nodded and wiped the last of the tears from my swollen eyes.

We were having a great time. So far we had ordered a miracle cream that diminished wrinkles (even though Esme was the oldest and had not one wrinkle), a super suction vacuum, a car key location system, and a Hip-Hop Abs workout DVD. I giggled as Alice called the numbers on the screen and placed the orders. Her bubbly spirit was like medicine to me.

"Do want to get the Lean-Mean Grillin' Machine?" she asked as we watched, enchanted by the man and his burger making.

"Naaahhh, I'm a vegetarian," I reminded her. She looked at me and beamed in agreement. Then she flipped to a different channel.

"Why?" she asked after a moment.

"Why, what?" I questioned for her to verify.

"Why are you a vegetarian?" she asked. I was surprised by the question, because it was the first time anyone had asked me. It was one of the diet decisions that had been completely mine, not forced on me by my mother or the illness that ruled so many of my decisions.

"I have a reason....but you'll laugh at it," I cautioned before I went on. She looked at me un-persuaded. ".....I guess I sort of figured that I would abstain now because I would have no choice but to kill later."

She looked at me, her enchanting eyes clouded with bewilderment. Sometimes it felt as though I was being dissected when she did this. Perhaps she was surprised at me thinking I would one day be like them or perhaps it was the death thing. In some ways it scared me. She was the one who knew if it would come to be. She had never even hinted at my future and I had always been too fearful to ask.

"You never told me you were a pacifist," she stated. I smiled lightly, glad she had not commented on my plans for the future. Pacifist... I suppose given who I lived with it was rather unusual.

"I don't know about pacifist. It's just that death scares me so much; anything suffering and dying is like a reminder. So I just don't..." I had run out of words. I glanced at her hoping that she understood. She nodded encouraging me.

I let my mind wonder back to our conversation before I gathered my courage and let the words flow forth.

"So am I wasting my time abstaining? Am I ever going to be one of you?"

My heart fluttered as I waited for her answer. The fact that her response was not immediate had me internally berating myself. I don't know why I asked if I could not hear the truth. I simply was not ready to die. Ten more years, I reasoned. I could deal if I knew I had a least ten more years. She did not blink but stared wordlessly at me.

"I've looked Emm, believe me I've looked. But I can never really see who changes you," she stammered in an apologetic way. It spilled from her mouth like some awful confession, as if it had bothered her as much as it bothered me. I pulled away from her golden stare to hide the disappointment in my eyes, disappointment that was pooling over into tears. She rubbed my shoulder gently, my glassy eyes pushing her to continue her confession. "But I've been haunted by a crimson-eyed version of you since the day Emmett carried you out of that car. If I close my eyes I can see it now. It always scared me as you grew older and began to look more and more like that girl in my vision. I didn't tell anyone, not even Edward knows. What scares me most is everything else about that vision seems so foreign. I can't tell where you are or who you're with. Try as I might, I can't figure out any details about your changing."

"So you see me changed?"

"Yes....sometimes I do," she whispered painfully. I tried to decipher her sudden withdraw from the world, the dead look in her golden eyes. Then I understood. She saw an alternate ending as well, an ending that she was not going to share with me.

We sat for a moment embracing the silence, as Alice lovingly stroked my arm. It felt as if we sat there forever. Then she shifted slightly and glanced at Esme's ancient grandfather clock.

"Emm, you best go to bed. I'm already in hot water with your mother. Let's not push her over the edge," she piped in her musical little voice. It was strange that her tone was devoid of the gloom once there. It was as if we had never had that conversation. I was not as easily settled.

"Aunt Alice I know I'm old and all but, would you tell me a bed time story?" I asked a little embarrassed. She curled closer to me hugging me tenderly.

"I'll tell you stories as long as you'll let me," she promised sweetly. "Now which story will it be?"

"I want to hear about when you and Uncle Jasper first met," I requested in a gleeful whisper, my eyes shut, my sprit very much awake. She sighed, her cold breath hitting my shoulder.

"But you've heard it a thousand times before. Don't you want to hear how your mother saved your Popeye from the bear, or how your Papa met Nana Esme, or your favorite: how Edward and Bella came to love one another," she suggested helplessly.

"Oh Alice, I love all those stories. I really do. But there is something about yours that I just love," I said. She looked a little nervous. I always felt that there were pieces of her story she withheld from me, things she feared telling me. I had a feeling it had to do with the subject I abhorred most: Death. I just figured it had to do with their deaths. She thought that it would bother me hearing about her or Jasper dying. I mean it wasn't like they ever fed on humans. My entire family was harmless in that way. They could never take a human life, not even a subliminal notion suggested such a horrid truth.

She looked at me and began the story that I knew by heart. I smiled saying the tale in my mind with her. She was at the part when Jasper says, "I'm sorry ma'am" when she stopped and gasped out, "Garrett!"