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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. :)


2. Soggy Old Forks

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4042   Review this Chapter

We returned to the states, moving into my grandparents' house, around my fifth birthday. The lengthy plane ride I remember partly because it scared me to death. I clung to my Popeye like a vine, whimpering when turbulence jolted the plane. My Mia tried her hardest to engross me in games and coloring, but I was so anxious I did not eat or drink. I just trembled, shaking like an autumn leaf on a stormy night.

After three torturous lay-overs, a shuttle, and a fight with the airline about my 'lost' car seat, we were there. When we emerged from Fairchild International's main entrance, it was drizzling an almost wintry rain, something that I would eventually get used to.

My Mia introduced me to her lonely, cherry-colored car, a car my father appropriately called her first-born. He did not share her regard for the car; to him the BMW was the enemy. I saw the jealousy when her eyes lit up with love. The M3 was just waiting in the back of the empty, puddle-filled parking lot, dropped off by her sister earlier that day. She stroked its red waxy coat as if it were her long lost pet. Her amber eyes gleamed with possession, and her lips curled into a content little smirk. As my mother sped blissfully home, overly pleased to be behind the wheel, Popeye held me on his lap. His hands were wrapped securely about me, hands that were stronger than any harness.

They both were uncertain how their homecoming would be received. The car was ride was carried out in complete silence, their minds filled with worries. Only my faint breath could be heard. The air was tense with anticipation, so tense that I gazed out the window for escape.

Forks was a far cry from Prague. If Prague was an evening gown, Forks was a faded cotton sweater. There was nothing about the place that made it stand out. It was the usual small American town, consisting of pot-holed roads, small and struggling shops, and outdated buildings. Despite its lack of glamour, the place did have a certain appeal to it. It was peaceful and unassuming.

My eyes tried to absorb the surroundings as my Mia sped by. She bit her lip in satisfaction as the speedometer climbed. My Popeye's large hand squeezed her thigh, as if to pinch her from a dream. She put on a sulking expression and then let the speed drop down. As soon as we entered the town, we were leaving it. The scenery grew more rustic, the road narrower. We kept going until the houses were few and the asphalt petered out to gravel. Next, she swung a tight right onto a long, tree-lined driveway. A series of turns kept me from seeing ahead. At the end of the serpent-like drive, a rectangular house towered into the cloudy-gray skyline.

On the porch they waited, like stone statues, petrified. They all stood in different stances but the over all effect was the same. The body language read apprehensive, even a little disgruntled. The greeting was similar to the way one would welcome a vermin into their kitchen. They were all hesitant about living with a human child. That is except my Aunt Alice.

The crackling of gravel ceased and the car came to a halt. Mia looked at me and sighed. Her slender fingers fiddled with the keys nervously; at the time I did not know why. Even in their nervousness, they were inhumanly still. My parents feared facing their family's judgment. They were taking many risks by adopting me, risks to me and to themselves. But the trial period in Greenland had my Mia convinced that it was possible. She now had to convince them.

Her gift had never been the power of persuasion. Perhaps it was her undying devotion to her loved ones that qualified as a power. While she was slow to accept just any as a loved one, once you were, God help the soul who would dare to harm you. The reason they returned was not only to be with the ones they loved, but to return a son and daughter to a certain heartbroken mother. My Popeye gave her a small pep talk.

"Remember, we've gone over this before. The Volturi made asses of themselves last time. I'll be surprised to see even Aro's humiliated face at Nessie's wedding. They are not likely to come back before she is eighteen. They say, ‘I'll see you tomorrow,' and you can expect them in a decade. When they do come, all eyes will be on Nessie. And if at any point we are endangering the family, we will just up and leave." His points were simple, his game plan graspable. He would have made any little league coach proud. "And do not forget to tell them that she is ..." he stopped noticing that I had turned in his lap and was intently tuned in to the speech. I'm sure he was going to say unappetizing, most likely tasteless or bland in smell, but he just let his eyes do the talking. She gave him a childlike nod, then stepped out of the car, collected, smoothing her chic Gucci trench coat along her hourglass curves.

As soon as she got out, I eyed my Popeye, trying to make sense of what he had said.

"Popeye, who is coming to see us tomorrow?" I innocently asked, referring to his pep talk. It was rare that he spoke in such a serious tone. He looked at me for a moment with a golden, pensive stare, then found an answer that would satisfy a five-year-old.

"The Tickle Monster," he said, his fingers burrowing under my arms, sending me into hysteria. We played that game for a few minutes before I begged the Tickle Monster to go away, and my Popeye to come back. His trick to distract me worked for I did not ask any more questions about his little speech.

I remained, unaware, in the car while my Mia was confronted. My Popeye let me continue to sit on his lap in the front seat and play with the music dial. I questioned him about the buttons, but his attention was worlds away; his eyes intent as a star gazer. He was focusing in on the heated conversation my Mia was involved in. Every now and then, I would glance up at my Mia. Her hands moved passionately as she spoke. If the tall blond man she was talking to would just match her spirit, the conversation might have been more of a fight, but he was calm and collected.

The tall house behind them reflected their paleness, a faded antique white. It too was beautiful. Around the open yard, I noticed that ancient trees rivaled the house's height. The old ferns and cedars looked like they may have been there as long as the house. For a child used to the snug feeling of city streets lined in town houses, the vast space made me feel unclothed. Wide stairs led to a huge porch, a porch that ran the length of the house then hugged gracefully around its sides.

I occupied the time by playing with the windows, making them go up and down, hoping I could hear what my Mia was saying. The cold Forks air was soggy and smelled like worms. The conversation on the mouth of the porch steps was too muffled for me to hear so I resorted to turning on the windshield wipers. My Popeye's face was emotionless, his mind zoned out to my doings. It was only when I decided to test out the horn that I got his attention. He flinched at the noise and then looked over to me smiling with his deep dimples. His chuckle was raspy and warm.

"You drive like me already. Just remember, road-rage is only acceptable when your mother is not in the car," he said, tugging mischievously on one of my thick braids. His eyes were so playful, they could have warmed even a freezer-burned heart. I giggled and went back to fiddling with the music dial.

Eventually, as if on cue, my father opened the car door and carried me to meet these strangers. Two of his large strides and we were before them. His embrace was as chilled as the air. Usually, I felt safe in Popeye's trunk-like arms, so high off the ground that nothing could reach me. But these new people were just as intimidating. The men matched his menacing height and looks. Quickly, I buried my head in his rigid rock of a shoulder. The meeting had my stomach tossing summersaults. My mother came swiftly to comfort me, her words soft like a lullaby.

"Don't you wish to meet my family...your family?" Her lips puckered in an attractive pout, and her honey eyes grew so big I could see the swirls of cinnamon surrounding her pupils. The face should have been featured on the cover of some paperback Greek tragedy.

But I shook my head no, my braids flapping like puppy ears. She had asked and I had declined; I would have been perfectly content to fly home to Greenland. Who cared if that little shack smelled like putrid fish guts or that frostbite warnings were announced daily on the news? Greenland was home. It mattered not to me that this place looked like a palace, a utopia on earth. It was unfamiliar and looming as the statues before me.

In the back of my little mind, I was also afraid to accept this as mine. It was like the window shops near the holidays in my impoverished days in Prague. Not only was I not allowed to have any of it, little barefoot girls like me were kicked out of the store. Once a storekeeper even shooed me away from the window, claiming I was smudging it with my filthy hands. No, this was too new, too big, and too good for me.

"Maybe when I's is bigger I will meet them," I promised fearfully. I could hear her exasperated sigh. She pried me from my father and placed me down. Like always, she would have her way, if not with honey then with something saltier. My father rolled his big eyes at her eagerness, and then smiled at the group of life-sized figurines.

"This is my mother, Emmalie," she told me, pushing me toward a smiling heart shaped face. The woman had her creamy brown hair pulled up, and her burgundy ear rings matched the necklace around her ivory neck. She had a classic beauty to her; what it was specifically it was hard to pinpoint. As she gently kissed my forehead with her lips of frozen silk, I noticed her honey-hued compassionate eyes. They were the mirror image of my Mia's.

"You may call me Nana or Esme, whichever you like," she offered, her melodious voice inviting. She had gracefully stooped so I could look into her eyes. At some point in my childhood, I realized that a Cullen was the only known creature on earth that could, indeed, gracefully stoop.

"I's would like to call you both," I said in my baby talk, not wanting to choose the wrong thing. Then, the tall man who had been listening to my Mia knelt beside her, also reducing himself to a less intimidating height. My emerald eyes looked him over watching for any reason to be wary.

"And this is my husband Carlisle," she introduced, her voice as comforting as a cashmere blanket.

"Welcome home, Emma. You may call me Papa Car if you like. We are glad to have you here at last," he said, his smile just as kind as his wife's. He was dressed professionally, his appearance sleek. Not one dark blond hair was out of place. His eyes were honest. I awarded him with a hug; this I saw slightly pleased my Mia. Impatiently she continued the introductions. But when she ushered me in front of two enormous giants, I retreated. Stretching my arms out, I ran to the only defense I had.

"Popeye!" I exclaimed in fright. I was in his strong arms immediately, my pallid face buried in his chest, a chest that was bubbling forth in laughter. A chorus of laughter followed, all surprised by his name.

"Popeye?" inquired an amused male voice, followed by snickering.

"Shut it, Edward. I want to keep our reunion G-rated, but if you make me, I'll have Em close her eyes, so I can teach you some manners," snarled my Popeye, his voice roguishly rough. His face was as playful as ever, so I knew that he was only joking. "These, Emmalie, are your Uncles, Jasper and Edward. And they will be nice or Popeye will..."

"Emmett McCarty Cullen, you will not start making threats! Do you hear? And Jasper and Edward, can you please not torment your brother. I do not need any body-sized pit-holes in my front lawn," spouted off Nana Esme in her mommy voice, her eyes patronizing. I peeked over Popeye's shoulder to glance at the giants. They both faked shame at the rebuke, but their eyes held a good-natured promise. "You. Me. Out back. Later."

I evaluated these two monster-size uncles from my safe place. One was a little shorter, with a lovely face and messy bronze hair. The other was lean, with the trim body of a runner and a equally handsome face. He had a stiff posture, but I noticed that his golden hair matched my Mia's almost hue for hue, honey blonde.

I saw that the stiff-postured one shared my aversion. He hung back, shifting from foot to foot like a sprinter preparing to get in the blocks. We both were not overly eager to meet one another. It was strange that he would be afraid of me, some one so small, but he looked to be just that. He sent my Popeye an apologetic glance, and then with a nod walked into the house with a refined poise. Everyone noticed, their dreamy eyes drifting somewhere unknown, perhaps the past. Papa Car followed him, giving a quick reassuring smile to his anxious family. Later Jasper would learn that I was abnormally inhuman in aroma, but for now he avoided me as a precaution.

"I's met enough big peoples today. No mores, Popeye. I's afraid," I whispered in his ear, then snuggled deeper in his arms. The confession was sincere. He smoothed my hair and glanced at my Mia. She was giving her brother an overly sour look for frightening me; she did not care if it was unintentional. Even under her death glares, his face lingered with a smile. I could tell she was contemplating smacking the smug smile off his face. It was as if all the compassion and love I knew iced over.

Popeye's cold lips kissed my hair and his icy hands rubbed my back, setting my mind at rest. I notice while he was comforting me, he was also angling his body to stop my Mia from wrestling his brother to the ground.

"How about a puny-small person? Would you care to meet any of them," he mocked teasingly to a woman I had not yet noticed, her small body hidden by the smug man's massiveness. I peeked up over his broad shoulder curious to meet someone small. My Mia gave up her war plans and took me to her, eager to share me.

"Hi, Emmalie, I'm Alice," said the elfin women in her bubbly voice. Her pixie-like body was swathed in a sage green wrap dress. Her face was warm and adoring; her smile was perfect. The halo of short wispy black locks was partly covered by her headband and her wrist glittered from the many bangles they adorned. Her appearance was meticulous, even her golden eyes matched. The perfume-like aroma coming from her was like an exotic spice. She had an overall allure about her. I looked at her and gasped.

"When I's naughty, the middle of me is named Alice too," I connected happily. Alice's nose crinkled as her mouth spread into a brassy smile. I couldn't tell she did not believe me or did not know what I was talking about. "Emmalie Alice Marie Cullen," I recanted perfectly for her, folding my hands behind me in a recital-type manner. Understanding glazed over Alice's tawny eyes and for a moment her mouth fell open. It was a rare thing to tell Alice something she did not already know. My mother chuckle making my cheeks flush rosy with color, I had no idea I had said anything funny.

"She was named after some eccentric, shopaholic, psychic girl I know," my Mia admitted nonchalantly, shrugging her slender shoulders, trying to steer clear of further explanation. Alice looked at my Mia amazed, but my Mia tried to turn her eyes away to hide her fondness. She rarely verbally affirmed her love for her sister; she did not like making herself vulnerable. But if the time came to prove it, she would.

Alice stood up and launched herself at my Mia, hugging her affectionately, hanging from her neck. My Mia stood paralyzed in surprise. She wanted to avoid sentiments, but she returned the hug out of sisterly duty. My new Nana stood there, beaming at the two with the fondness of a mother. I liked Alice right away. She was sweet, not in the least bit scary, well, maybe a little.

"Where is my little sis and the shrimp?" my Popeye demanded intruding on the moment. With his disappointed puppy face, he looked left and right, then accusingly at the others. The man with the metallic-like hair moaned as if recalling a festering wound.

"They went on a mother-daughter trip. I swear Bella is planning first-degree postmortem murder. Doesn't she know what this does to me?"

"Sorry, bro. Women don't think like that. I'm sure they'll be back in no time flat. This is the time you enjoy not having to listen to her endless prattle or her self absorbed thoughts," my Popeye stage-whispered, flinging his arm around his brother's shoulder and walking up the steps to the house in a blasé manner. His comic relief was like a rain cloud over a scorched thirsty land. The agitated guy seemed instantly comforted by the reassurance. My Mia gnashed her pearl teeth at Popeye's back, her gem-like eyes narrowing into angry slits. She had the scare factor of a crouching tigress, yet I saw my Popeye glance over his shoulder mischievously at her. He loved to irk her.

"Emma, promise me you will never marry."

"Sure, Mia. Pinky-promise," I vowed fervently, unsure of what she was referring to. My Popeye teased her like a smitten little boy at recess. It was his love language. If you were the butt of my Popeye's jokes, you were at the center of his heart.

My mother and father were always passionate souls. This is not to say that they did not fight. They did that and more, but their makeup sessions were as steamy and zealous as the altercation itself. Their companionship helped to compensate for any flaws. He let her see the world through new eyes; she gave him confidence that he somehow lacked. They needed each other. This perhaps was the reason their fights lasted for a maximum of four hours.

"I'm going to park the car in the garage and do some quick tuning, alright, sweetling? Go with Nana and Alice and I'll be in soon," she directed gently, annoyance still plaguing her beautiful face. Her mother gave her an understanding smile, then let her depart with a tight hug.

While Nana and Mia embraced, Alice sized me up. The wheels in her little head were turning. With nimble fingers she ripped out the tags from both my shirt and jeans, smiling at the size as she tucked it into safe keeping. Next she lifted up my foot, measuring it like a blacksmith preparing to shoe a horse. I thought all of this was peculiar, but I complied out of esteem for my new aunt. My Mia growled at her in annoyance, but Nana cupped her face between her hands, as if to bring her back to focus.

"I missed you much, Rose. Don't stay away that long again," she whispered with emotion. Her soft eyes were tender with maternal love. I could tell that her eyes saw my Mia differently. She saw past her beautiful mask, even past her pettiness. It was the same way my Mia looked at me, unconditionally in love. "Oh, and Rose. Your toolbox is over on the left work bench. We had to make room for another of Jasper's new bikes." My Mia nodded, annoyed at her brother, then strutted back to her car.

The tool box was her comfort item; her tinkering was her coping mechanism. Often times the fights would end up with my Mia tinkering. I knew the process now. Even at five, I knew more about cars then most grown women. She would replace all filters, raising head and port polishing. She would check her ECU, then fine tune. Every now and then, big changes would occur like a brake change, suspension overhaul, or a newly needed clutch upgrade. General tinkering involved the uptake of the turbochargers and spoiler. The woman dreamed in horse power. The tachometer and speedometer were so off sometimes it was laughable.

One thing was for sure, when they were fighting, she would slam things around. My Popeye would then come along and try to overcome her anger with affectionate caresses. The first few attempts were futile. He would get hit with a wrench or any of the other available metal tools. Eventually, he would get her to come around. It was as if they were spellbound; they could only resist each other for so long before they gave into the magic.

I watched the red car whiz to a steel out-building, then considerately let the two women lead me up the stairs, holding my hands since the steps were too tall for my small gate. Nana gracefully held the front door, but before I crossed into the Cullen threshold, I was diverted by a small croak. Delighted, I skipped over to the source of the sound and scooped up a captive from the wet porch floor. The small frog squirmed in my childlike grasp. I asked my new Nana if he could come in too. Alice's face twisted in disgust; Nana donned a forced, plastic-like smile.

"Why, of course," she said with tight lips and wide eyes. Alice looked at Nana, surprised by her consent. The Cullen household abided by a 'no pets whatsoever' policy. Since my mother claimed they were allergic to every sort of animal, I never asked for a puppy. In Greenland, we had tried the goldfish thing. Sadly, it didn't work out; both of my goldfish died of cardiac arrest when my Popeye attempted to feed them. This was when my Mia formed the rule about pets. But small exceptions such as frogs or snakes should be allowed, reasoned my five-year-old mind.

I was perceptive, even as a child. Seeing their dislike with my amphibian friend, I decided he could stay on the porch. But before releasing him, I made sure that I was not passing up a life of royalty. I kissed him and then sat him down disappointedly.

"He's no prince anyhow," I said with a little kid shrug. My Nana and Alice both stifled a laugh at such a fairytale belief. I went on to explain to them that, one day, I would indeed find a ‘real one.' This time, they both just laughed freely. I stood there confused at their laughter. Alice, seeing my confusion, pranced over to me and scooped me up with the genteelness one would use when cupping a butterfly. To her I was probably just as delicate. She told me she did not doubt that I would. A kiss to my nose was all it took and I burst into giggles, shedding my shyness. I went into the house babbling endlessly to Alice and Nana Esme who gave me their full attention. Maybe, I thought, I will not mind soggy old Forks, after all.