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Into the Light

Summary:
Edward has been struggling with the loss of his humanity for almost a century when he discovers his singer, a two-year-old Bella. In a world wrought with violence, greed, and an unquenchable thirst for power, the Cullens' find themselves tangled in an intricate web of half-truths and unfulfilled destinies. There is a reason Edward has walked the earth alone for almost a century, and he is about to find out why when he discovers the consequences of tearing two souls away from each other. Now there is much more at stake than just their love for one another. Will Edward and Bella fulfill their destiny as soul mates and bring balance back to the world or will Edward let his own self-loathing and uncertainty get in the way? I want to give a shout out to eatmySKIRTSx for making this awesome banner for me! She inspired me to make my own above...yay! I was freaked out and you lead me to the right path! Yay! Thanks again!


Notes:
Story is rated Adult for overall content, but later chapters especially. THANK YOU SO MUCH TO MY BETAS AT PROJECT TEAM BETA! YOU GUYS HAVE HELPED THIS STORY MORE THAN YOU WILL KNOW!Story Summary: Edward has been struggling with the loss of his humanity for almost a century when he discovers his singer, a two-year-old Bella. In a world wrought with violence, greed, and an unquenchable thirst for power, the Cullens' find themselves tangled in an intricate web of half-truths and unfulfilled destinies. There is a reason Edward has walked the earth alone for almost a century, and he is about to find out why when he discovers the consequences of tearing two souls away from each other. Now there is much more at stake than just their love for one another. Will Edward and Bella fulfill their destiny as soul mates and bring balance back to the world or will Edward let his own self-loathing and uncertainty get in the way? ON HIATUS FOR MAJOR REWRITES AND TO COMPLETE STORY Before anyone gets too excited – if anyone is even still interested in this story – I’m taking it down to rework it. I’ve been stuck for so long and part of it is because I backed myself into this extremely complicated corner. I’ve been struggling for many months now with whether to just discontinue the story, try to collaborate with someone, or just bite the bullet and try to finish it. Not to worry though. I finally made the decision to finish it in its entirety, so hopefully the new improved and COMPLETED story will be better than it was. My plan is to finish the entire story before reposting so when it is ready, it will be ready, and no one will have to worry about how flakey I am, lol! Before anyone asks, no I don’t have a timeframe for when I plan to repost, so thanks in advance for all of your patience. Thanks to mylittlebakersdozen for listening to my rants about what to do. She is a fantabulous fanfic writer, and you should check out her story, Model Student, www.fanfiction.net/s/5697704/1/Model_Student, and I’m not saying that just because I beta the story, lol! It’s really sweet and a lot of fun, so get to it and read her stuff while you’re waiting for me ; )


6. Chapter 5: Pinky Swear?

Rating 5/5   Word Count 7091   Review this Chapter

CHAPTER 5: PINKY SWEAR?

On Teaching

Kahlil Gibran

Then said a teacher, 'Speak to us of Teaching.'

And he said:

No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of our knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man…

******

Previously: As I tried to collect myself to wrap my mind around what had just happened, it was if my thoughts were stuttering. Bella can read minds…

*EPOV*

I sat there for a moment completely dumbfounded. How do I respond to that? I thought to myself. I blurted out the most obvious question first. “Bella, what do you mean you can hear my thoughts?”

I was both shocked at what this could mean, and amused at her forthrightness when she responded. “I can hear what you are thinking Edward, just like you can hear everyone else’s thoughts. The only difference is that you can’t hear what I’m thinking.”

I was having trouble grasping the fact that she could hear my thoughts, let alone the fact that she spoke with such frankness, that I had no idea how to respond. A million different scenarios and random thoughts began to take over my mind. If she can hear my thoughts, why can’t I hear hers? How long has she been able to hear me? Can she hear anyone else?

I kneeled to the floor, placed a gentle finger under her chin leading her eyes to mine, and spoke softly to her. “Bella, how long have you been able to hear my thoughts?” I asked almost unable to contain my own curiosity. I had never met anyone else that could read minds as I do. Aro is the closest I have ever come across demonstrating this type of ability, but he can only do so with direct touch. Bella, on the other hand, can do as I do.

She shrugged her shoulders, “Since you brought me home with you.”

Since I brought her home! That was over two years ago! How has she kept it hidden for so long? Oh my God, the prophecy must be true then! Wait. My mind slowly began to recognize what this could mean for all of us, but especially Bella. Does she already know about the prophecy? What are we going to do? She is just a fragile human. If Aro finds her, he will certainly destroy her. So many questions I have. How can this be happening? I was abruptly pulled from my surprised mental shock when I heard a soft innocent voice ask a question. It was not just any voice and it was not just any question.

What’s a prophecy? Bella’s silent question was enough to tip me over the edge.

Bella, did you just ask what a prophecy is? I thought back to her.

She turned fully toward me now with a sparkle in her eyes, and then started jumping up and down in silent joy. Her thoughts, however, were much louder. Yay! I didn’t know I could do that too! Her internal voice bubbled over with such unadulterated excitement that she completely forgot the question she had been thinking. I wonder how come I couldn’t do that before? She looked me directly in the eyes with the curiosity we have all grown to love about her. How did you make that happen, Edward?

I could not help myself. I started laughing. She sounded so much like the nearly five-year-old child she was, and this pleased me to no end. Her voice, both mental and spoken, exuded the beautiful high soprano of the young childhood. The innocence of her words always seemed to pull me from my more serious demeanor. For the time being, she had made me forget my anxiety of what had just happened. The reality of her question soon pulled me back from my brief sense of joy, though. I’m sorry love, I have no idea how I am able to hear your thoughts. I’m still grappling with the fact that you can hear my thoughts let alone hear yours. My question is, if you have been able to hear my thoughts the whole time I have known you, and I can obviously now hear yours, what changed? Why now after all this time?

I don’t know why. Maybe I could do it the whole time, but I’ve never tried it before. I greatly appreciated her honesty, but I was still left very confused. She unintentionally deflected my questions when she jumped into my arms, grabbed each side of my face with her small, still toddler-like hands, and leaned her forehead to mine. You are like my imaginary friend now Edward! We can tell each other secrets! Isn’t that great!? She smiled broadly at me.

Her observation immediately took me off guard and sent me into a whirlwind of thoughts and memories from the last few days distracting me from remembering that she could hear everything I was thinking. I guess I was wrong about her ability because apparently hers can go both ways, unlike Aro’s and mine. This definitely confirms a few of Carlisle’s initial suspicions that she was the child from the prophecy—even though her birthmark should have been a good indicator of this fact. Why would we have identical birthmarks, though? I continued my thoughts without pause as I tried to rationalize with myself and force the answers that were out of reach. Many humans possess abilities. They are just unaware of them or the ability is weaker in the human form. It is true most abilities aren’t typically as developed as hers are, but… my thoughts trailed off as I could not help but avoid what I knew to be true. Sometimes the truth hurts, and at that precise moment, I was not above avoiding the pain of the truth for a bit longer. I could enjoy this moment with my little angel, my eternal light.

I don’t understand Edward, and you still never told me what a prophecy is either.

My joy soon faded, however, and I sighed out of frustration when I saw her expression and realized she had heard everything that I had just thought. I pinched the bridge of my nose and sighed heavily. Apologies, my love, it will take some time for me to get used to you being able to hear what I am thinking. I know you are confused right now, but it will all be explained to you soon. Right now, Bella, I am more concerned with why you haven’t told me about this before today. Rather, why haven’t you told me that you could hear me given you didn’t know that I could hear you? I was concerned that she did not trust me enough—even after all this time.

The expression on her face turned from confused to solemn and guilty when she heard me say ‘Bella,’ and saw how serious I had become. She looked so sad as her eyes moved from mine to the floor while she clasped her hands together nervously. I’m sorry. I don’t know why I never said anything. I just thought I was like you, so I thought it would be okay. The day you found me, I heard you, but your lips weren’t moving. It didn’t scare me though. You saved me, so it made me trust you. Are you mad at me? Her last thought was so quiet, I almost missed it.

I tilted her face back up so I could look her directly in the eyes. My gaze softened. How could you ever think I could be angry with you? Of course I’m not, love. In all honesty, a lot of things make a great deal more sense now. I chuckled lightly to show her it was okay.

It must have worked because her lips began to curl into her beautiful smile. She looked at me with a hesitant shyness. I’m glad you aren’t mad at me. I didn’t want you to be. I love you so much because you are my best friend in the whole world, and I’m so glad you know now.

I kissed her lightly on the top of her head and gave her a reassuring hug. Her body immediately relaxed, there were a few things I still needed to find out though. Love, can you only hear my thoughts, or can you hear everyone else’s, too?

I can hear everyone. It was the same with everyone else as it was with you.

My train of thought became more serious again. It was all I could do not to think about all the possible things that she could have heard over the last few years living with us. This was not something I was prepared to broach on my own. The whole family would need to be there for that discussion, so I decided not to bring it up to her. I looked her full in the face. Do you understand why I can hear people’s thoughts? I asked her, emphasizing the why. I was fishing for information. I needed to know exactly how much Bella knew about what we were, or if she understood what it meant.

She cocked her head to one side, a look of confusion taking over her face, but thoughtful at the same time. I’m not sure what you mean, Edward.

I hesitated. I couldn’t figure out how to talk about what we were with her. Should I wait for the rest of the family to explain to her, or should I figure out how much she knows now? I thought, as I contemplated her question. Bella cut me off before I could make up my mind, though.

Oh, you mean about everyone being vampires?

I looked at her with a lopsided grin as I became acutely aware that she knew what we were. How much she really understood what that meant was another question, however. So you know what we are, then?

She looked at me seriously, confirmed what I was talking about, and then began to answer me more fully. That you are vampires? There was no fear in her question as she quickly answered herself. Yes, I know what you are. You don’t ever eat with me and you sparkle in the sun. She spoke of our skin’s reaction to sunlight with such awe and amazement. I also heard all of your thoughts, which is how I figured out what you were called.

I smiled into her soft curls as she pulled away looking at me with a mischievous looking smirk on her face. What is so funny, love?

Her smile widened infinitesimally. Okay, promise not to tell Emmett, but he is the reason I wanted my vampire toy.

I looked at her, puzzled, for a moment. Then it dawned on me. She really did know. Well, as much as her child’s mind would allow. It was understandable that she would not fully grasp the dangers and darkness that our world cast all around us. I wanted to hear her explain, though. What do you mean, Bella?

A huge grin spread across her face. Silly! Because my toy reminded me of one of my favorite brothers, of course! I don’t want to hurt Emmett’s feelings though, so don’t tell him, okay? I nodded my head chuckling heartily at her fear of hurting her vampire brother’s feelings. Pinky swear? she asked, trying to look more serious, but her musical voice betrayed her, and she laughed out the question instead.

Pinky swear, I promised her as our pinky fingers clasped lightly. It then occurred to me that perhaps I was not the only one whose thoughts she could hear.

I was infinitely amused at her simplistic characterization of what we were. It also became quite clear that Bella might know the word vampire from our thoughts, could see or observe certain things about us—not eating or our sparkling skin—but beyond that she did not seem to grasp the full reality of what it meant to be a vampire. I made the split second decision not to go into the full details until we were all there to explain it. Instead, I turned my thoughts back to her ability itself. More or less, yes that is true about vampires, love. We can talk more about this later though. Right now, I am curious how you seem to be able to control this ability so well. It took a long time for me to even realize what I was hearing. Carlisle actually figured it out because I would answer his thoughts instead of what he said. However, when I was with a lot of people at once, it became overbearing—there were too many thoughts rushing through my mind. It was almost painful. I was not as young as you are when I figured it out, and it took me a long time to learn how to control it. I winked at her, which caused her to smile broadly at me. How did you learn so much control without ever saying anything to any of us?

Umm. I don’t know. It never hurt. When I was littler, sometimes it would get loud, but then it would shut off. Maybe that’s why it didn’t hurt? She looked back at me questioningly, but continued her thought. One day I figured out that if I thought hard enough, I could turn it off when I wanted to. She looked at me sincere in her explanation.

What do you mean you could turn if off when you wanted to?

Oh, you can’t turn it off like I can? Well…it’s a lot like turning off the T.V. She looked at me with a face that hoped I understood what she meant.

I looked at her for a moment contemplating my next thoughts. Unfortunately, no, I cannot turn my ability off. Sometimes I wish I could, though.

Maybe you just need to learn how to turn it off. I could try to teach you… she trailed off.

I was distracted by the possibility of learning how to turn my ability off, which would come in handy on so many levels, that I almost did not hear Emmett approaching the house.

Bella looked back at me with excitement in her eyes. Quick! Will you help me trick Emmett? I promise it will be so much fun! She was clapping her hands lightly, goading me into her scheming against Emmett.

I laughed as the plan began to solidify in her mind. She was right. It would be fun. I nodded my head at her with a smile to show her she could count me in.

****

Emmett had been teaching Bella how to play poker. It was their ‘bonding’ time, as he called it. He argued that since everyone else was teaching her different things to facilitate both her cognitive and creative development, he would be responsible for teaching her how to play poker because it fell under ‘critical thinking’ skills that she would need throughout her life. We all laughed at his broad use of the concept of critical thinking, but could not fully concede as it did do just that depending on how you looked at it. Besides, it was definitely an Emmett game to teach her, so teach her he did.

From what I gathered from Bella before Emmett came through the kitchen door, she had long since picked up how to play just from listening to Emmett’s thoughts, but always let him win because she liked his reactions when he won. It was very amusing—Emmett every bit the competitor he had always been, and Bella always the considerate one. However, now that she had an ally of sorts in me, it was not beneath her to set Emmett up, if you will. To make it more interesting, she decided she wanted us all to play, well minus Alice and myself of course, for obvious reasons. Given our ‘abilities’ Alice and I have been banned from partaking in any game unless it is between only the two of us, which has become somewhat of a Cullen Family spectator sport for everyone else.

I almost felt jealous of how free spirited Bella was. She never seemed to let anything get her down. I was amazed that a two-year-old never outwardly reacted to hearing voices in her head. More amazing still was the fact that she somehow learned how to control it without really needing to, and has kept it from us for all this time. The fact that she somehow figured out how to ‘turn it off,’ helped diminish my anxieties a bit, though. I was still a little dumbfounded, but I managed to keep it to the background of my thoughts so as not to alert Bella to my inner Q and A session going on in my mind. I did find some comfort in the fact that maybe now I could understand her better now that I could hear her thoughts.

Bella kept going on about how much fun it would be to show everyone how she is like me. Given the somewhat tense mood that had settled over everyone these past couple of days, I figured, why not play along with Bella’s ‘evil’ plan to trick Emmett.

She ran to Emmett when he came into the living room. “Emmett! Emmett! Do you want to play cards?” she asked him laughing as he picked her up and swung her gently in the air.

*EmPOV*

“Hey, Bella! You sure you really want to take me and my awesome card playing abilities on for another round?” I joked with her. Is she kidding? Of course, I want to play cards with her! It is nice to play a game with someone that I can actually win against for once…who cares if she is a kid! Okay, that’s not the only reason...the kid just cracks me up! She always looks like she’s up to something, but in a fun, carefree sort of way. Rose has been telling me since day one that Bella’s innocent child’s play brings out my true character. All I have to say is hell yeah she does! Why deny the truth when my inner child is drawn to the kid? Bella’s animated voice and comical face broke me from my inner dialogue.

“You bet I am! Do you think that Jasper and Rose will want to play too? It will be so much fun! We can show everyone how I’m doing!” She looked over to Edward and just smiled before turning back to me with the best puppy dog face I have ever seen her put on.

Wow. She sure knows how to play the manipulation angle. What was that all about? Edward better not think he can play his mind games on me on my own turf! I laughed to myself. How can I say no to her? The possibility simply does not exist. “Okay Bella, whatever you want to do is okay by me. Let’s see who else is around to play.”

Just as I was about to call out to everyone, Rosalie came down the stairs, and walked over to us, wrapping her arms around my waist. “Hey babe, what are you and Bella planning?” she asked with a quizzical look on her face.

“Oh, you heard us, did you?” I asked her wagging my eyebrows at her playfully. “Bella wants everyone to play cards with her, so she can show everyone what I have been teaching her.”

This statement only served to make Rosalie raise her eyebrows mockingly at me.

“Hey! Don’t laugh! She’s actually getting really good.”

Rosalie tried to bite back a giggle, but was unsuccessful.

I rolled my eyes at her. As soon as she looked at Bella, though, her motherly instincts immediately softened her appearance. When she looked at her imploringly with those big brown eyes and a broad smile that was all it took. Rose was putty in her hands, and immediately agreed to play. However, she only agreed to play as long as Alice and Edward weren’t going to play. “Well, I’ll play as long as it’s a fair game,” Rosalie said looking toward Edward.

Aw, Rosie. If only you realized you’re just as competitive as I am. I chuckled inwardly to myself at this thought looking from Rosalie to Edward and Bella. Huh? Why does Bella keep giving me that smile? I hope Edward hasn’t taught her how to cheat! I’ll kick his ass if he did!

Bella started choking on a laugh, while Edward started glaring at me.

What? Just making sure you’re paying attention, Eddie, I thought innocently to him with a wink and a smile.

“Hey, don’t look at me. I already told Bella that Alice and I don’t usually play because everyone thinks we cheat.” Edward smirked and winked at the rest of us.

I could only chuckle. Good cover, Eddie! Good cover. Maybe no one else feels like saying anything, but let’s get one thing straight, it’s not that we think you cheat, you know you cheat! I briefly stopped the mental tirade on my brother because Bella kept laughing, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. Why does Bella keep laughing? What’s so funny?

He only shrugged at me, but made sure to smirk at me at the same time.I am pretty sure he caught the multiple Eddie’s I threw out, but he refused to acknowledge them. Dammit! Let me have a little fun, bud! My attempts to get a rise out of my brother were failing miserably, so I gave up and walked toward the dining room table.

Alice and Jasper walked in the door just as we made it to the table. They were returning from a short hunting trip. I knew they were coming back from hunting, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to make fun of someone. “That must have been some walk guys!” I received a swift back hand from Rosie in reprimand for my joke.

“Remember Bella is here!” she hissed at me. Her expression melted quickly though when I gave her an apologetic look.

Time to get down to business.Let’s get a good old-fashioned game of Texas Hold’em going. Haven’t played with everyone together in a long time. Good idea, Bella. I thought when I looked around the table. “Hey guys, want to join a little innocent poker game? Well, Jasper anyway.”

Alice only laughed at me. She has firsthand experience with my competitive side, and apparently she thought specifically asking only Jasper and Rosalie to play with us was hilarious. She turned to Bella, “Hi, sweetie! So old Emmett here has pulled you over to the dark side of poker, huh?” She picked Bella up from my arms and swung her around a bit. She giggled as she nuzzled her face in the crook of Alice’s neck just as Esme walked into the room.

“Hello everyone,” she said brightly to all of us. She leaned over to Bella and whispered in her ear. “Go easy on them, dear. You want to give them at least a little hope to win,” she said to her with a wink. “I have to get some supplies from town. Carlisle is still at the hospital. We will both be home later so we can ‘talk.’ Do not fight.” She turned with a wave and walked out to the garage, all of us acutely aware of what ‘talk’ she was referring to.

Ignoring the serious undertone of her departure, we all started laughing. Esme was the perfect mother, loving and caring, but also aware that we acted very much like siblings when we spent time together.

After the laughter quieted, I looked around the table. Everyone seemed happy, and looked at Bella with joy all over their faces. Wow. Bella sure knows how to win over the masses, I thought, just as she looked over at me with a huge grin on her face. “Good. She really is excited to play. Okay, gotta get my game face on…”

*JPOV*

Well this should be interesting. Emmett, Bella, and poker; what more entertainment could you ask for? I wondered. “You know I am always ready for a good poker game. I cannot wait to see Bella school you, Emmett!” I was struck by the competitive waves rolling off Emmett. Apparently, he is more determined than I thought. I looked over at him only to catch him grinning from ear to ear. These are the moments that I cannot help but appreciate the loving playfulness of my brother’s emotions. As we gathered around the dining room table, Alice kindly offered to be the dealer with a knowing smirk on her face. She must have seen how the game would play out. Bella sat on Edward’s lap because she wanted to have her own personal cheerleader. This was Alice and Edward’s way of feeling included, I suppose.

As my eyes wandered around the table to take in my competition, I noticed a very odd sense of mischievousness rolling off Bella. Her face and body language would tell you otherwise as she wiggled excitedly in anticipation. Knowing Bella, though, she is definitely up to something. I wonder what is going on here? Guess I’lll find out soon enough, I thought with a laugh. “So, Bella, what have you been doing today?” I asked her to keep the conversation light, and to see if I could distract her enough to find out what she was planning.

“Oh, you know, I played with my toys for a while. My Baby Bella doll is sick, though, so I had to tuck her into to bed to rest. I read books and colored, too!” she told me, not giving an inch as to what she might be hiding.

“Aw, I’m sorry to hear about your Baby Bella. I hope she feels better soon. Sounds like you have been having a lot of fun today, though. So, tell us, what poker game is your forte my darling?” I asked her with enthusiasm.

Bella and Emmett answered at the same time, “Texas Hold’em, of course!”

Hmm. So, Emmett taught her the big game. I bet Bella is a natural considering how well she has taken to chess. This should be a piece of cake for her, I thought.

“Alright, let’s do this thing!” Emmett boomed with excitement. Everyone started laughing at Emmett’s exuberance as Alice began to deal the cards.

*APOV*

Well, even though I could not seem to get any new visions of Bella’s future insofar as prophecies and supernatural apocalyptic events are concerned, I had been having visions of more minor events in her life, such as her plan to trick Emmett and take all his poker chips. I had not seen how this all came about until right when it was happening. Damn split second decisions. Sometimes I hate the limitations of my visions. From what I was able to piece together when Jazz and I were running back from our hunt, I knew that Bella had been able to read all our thoughts the entire time she has lived with us. I picked this up from her conversation with Edward as well as the moment they both concluded that she could project her thoughts to him. I only knew this when she had made the decision to finally tell someone, which is why I had not seen it before—at least that is what I kept telling myself. I was still very unsure of my ability where Bella was concerned, and I had been trying to work this out for the last couple of days. I hoped the visit from the Denalis would bring me some answers.

In the mean time, though, I agreed with Edward, whether or not he knew I did was beside the point. We should have a little fun before we sit down with Carlisle and Esme later to talk to Bella as a family. I had to smile to myself as I recited the Declaration of the Rights of Woman repeatedly in my brain to hide the fact that I knew about Edward and Bella’s plan. Pulling a prank over on Emmett is always good fun, and this particular prank would become an instant classic. I would know. I could not wait to see his face! I should have figured that trying to block my thoughts from our resident mind readers, though, would be my ‘tell’ because Bella was looking over at me, smiling with an enormous grin on her face. Apparently, Bella is more perceptive than I have given her credit for because the jig was obviously up.

I sent my thoughts to her knowing Edward was in on this setup as well, “So, Bella, Edward, since when do you two play jokes on people, especially when you’re trying to pull one over on Emmett!? Never mind, do not answer that. I will enjoy the outcome of this little game of yours! It is always fun to watch Emmett crash and burn! He will totally laugh about it later, too! We will all have a chat after this, and I can assure you that is a solid bet! Just so you know, though, Jasper is totally onto you, Bella. Try to keep your ‘inner devil’ quiet long enough to make this happen!” Both of them were trying to hide their grins and giggles, and were doing quite well I might add, but were still raising some suspicion. I quickly averted the situation.

“Okay, so play starts to the left of the dealer. Bella, you will be the little blind and Jasper you will be the big blind, okay…”

*RPOV*

Okay, so, let’s see, what do I have here? Hmm…yes! Two Kings and we have not even seen the flop yet! Okay, hold it together Rosalie. If I can sit still as a statue for hours on end, I should be able to play this hand through and collect a bundle in the process!

Edward glanced over at me, obvious that he heard my inner chanting.

Edward, no cheating! I want to see what our little Bella is made of! Of course I sent this message as I was looking at my cards; smoothly covering my silent warning to my dear brother. He nodded his head so minutely that I almost missed it.

Hmm, I wonder what Bella is so excited about? She certainly is not covering up the fact that she has a good hand. Good lord, Emmett, you could have taught her about tells and bluffing! Oh, well. You always were the competitive type, and definitely not a details kind of a guy. Part of your everlasting charms my Roman God! I thought looking over at my sex on a stick husband. I suppose it doesn’t matter what Emmett taught her anyway because I am so going to spank all these yahoos for all their chips! With that thought, I received a somewhat choked laugh from Edward, and everyone turned to look at him.

“What? I have no control over the thoughts you all are thinking about! Can I help it if they are amusing?” he said trying horribly to hide his laughter.

I rolled my eyes at him. So far, everyone was still in the game. Hmm, should I make this a little more interesting? I took my turn and upped the bet, but not too much. I did not want to scare them all into folding, nor did I want to take away a pathetic pot with such a phenomenal hand. Okay, everyone is still in. This is good. And here comes the ‘flop’! Four of Clubs, Ace of Diamonds, King of Spades. Oh, I am so taking this hand! I sang to myself with silent excitement.

Edward looked over at me once more, and was once again snickering at me. I glared at him. What? I like to win too, you know! Emmett is not the only competitive one in this family—hence the reason you and Alice cannot play! Cheaters! I knew it was childish, but I stuck my tongue out at him anyway. I want to win, damn it!

*EPOV*

Wow. Rosalie sounds as much like a little kid as Emmett does sometimes, I thought. I could only laugh at her thoughts. They were rather amusing. It was the same old Rosalie—just a different situation, I guess. As for the outcome of our little ‘game,’ the anticipation was killing me. Okay, Bella. So, what do you think? Think you can beat Rosalie’s hand? I wanted to test her to see if she was really on top of her game.

Edward! Don’t you know what hand beats what!? Rosalie is going to be upset, but my aces have this hand in the bag! Especially since Emmett is over there thinking he can bluff his way through this hand! Jasper has nothing, and I’m not sure yet if he will fold or play the hand out, but I think he should fold ‘cause he has no chance! I could hear her giggling inside her head. We could not have planned it better having her sit on my lap. I guess I should have thought about Alice seeing our little plan, but it slipped my mind given Bella’s and my discovery that we can talk silently to each other.

“Okay Bella, it’s your bet. Are you in or are you out?” Alice asked her.

“Hmm. I don’t know,” she said putting her finger to the corner of her mouth as if she were contemplating something extremely important. What a con artist she was turning out to be, she could play the cute card very well when she wanted to. “I guess I’ll raise fifty. Yeah, that sounds good,” she said trying to sound like she was trying to bluff.

Wow, she really has this thing down pat. I have to hand it to her. Hope she doesn’t contemplate taking her game on the road!

I heard that Mr.! She exclaimed.

Then we both heard Emmett and looked up. She’s got nothin’! She’s just trying to impress everyone! That’s my girl! Well, let’s see how far we can take this shall we?

Bella and I both laughed silently to each other. This was going to be good, I could tell.

“Jasper, baby, it is your turn. Are you in or are you out?” Alice asked him.

Umm…I am pretty sure that Bella is up to something, and given the similarity of their emotions, Edward is in on it, too. I think I’ll just sit this one out. Looks like it won’t be long until I find out what it is anyway if Emmett does what I think he will. It’s not like I have anything to win with anyway, so I should just cut my losses while I can, he thought. “I am out. I fold. Looks like it is up to you three knuckle heads.”

Bella just laughed, He called us knuckle heads! He is so funny sometimes. Told you he had nothing! Good choice, Jasper!”

I smiled again, something that was becoming a habit as Bella and I shared these silent conversations. If I had not realized what an amazing little person she was turning out to be before, I certainly did now.

You are amazing, too, Edward!

Oh, yeah. She can hear everything I am thinking. That will take some getting used to. Okay my little telepath, now concentrate. We have a plan to see through. I chided her, but not convincingly. I could not help myself. Apparently, her sneakiness was starting to rub off on me…go figure.

“Rosalie, what say you?” Alice chirped enthusiastically. “Are you willing to risk it all or will you bow out early?”

I laughed at Alice. Now she was just going for theatrics, but then again, she could be doing us a favor.

I think she’s helping us! I can’t wait until we get to tell everyone, especially now that Rosalie wants to win so bad too. It will make the joke so much better then! Bella laughed silently at my contemplation.

Your thoughts are beginning to mimic Emmett’s! What are you? His mini-me!? I thought to her jokingly.

What’s a mini-me?

I laughed forgetting that although Bella is highly perceptive and advanced for her age—for a human—some things are still lost on a child’s mind. My apologies, love. You are acting very much like Emmett, is all.

If that is what a mini-me is, then I want to be everyone’s mini-me! Our banter was quickly interrupted by Rosalie’s voice.

“I see your fifty, Bella, and raise you another fifty,” Rosalie answered Alice’s dramatics with a determined stare, and little to no body movement. She could easily be confused as a statue.

We continued our silent commentary as the betting now moved to Emmett. “I don’t think you ladies have anything. You are totally bluffing, and I am going to call your bluffs! I am in!” he said with a forceful pound on the table, but dancing playfulness in his eyes. We all laughed.

Emmett is such a goofball. How old is he?” Bella asked me silently.

How do I explain this to her? I guess honesty will work, I contemplated. He is a 21-year-old human trapped inside a 70-year-old vampire body. I suppose it’s what makes him so much fun and carefree.” I looked at her thoughtfully, not sure if she understood.

She seemed to understand enough, though. You are so right! Emmett is a lot of fun!

“Okay everyone, here’s the ‘turn’,” Alice said flipping over the Ace of Hearts. Betting went around again starting with Bella. She again bet fifty, with Rosalie and Emmett following suit, not convinced that Bella had anything.

Alice burned another card before flipping over the ‘river’ card and Rosalie about jumped out of her seat…well in her mind anyway. Alice had flipped over the remaining King in the deck, and Rosalie was sure she had it made. “I have this game so locked up! You scrubs are all mine!” I could just picture her pointing her fingers around the table at everyone.

Maybe we had it all wrong. Rosalie could quite possibly be the most competitive poker player I have ever encountered! I laughed in my head.

That is why this is going to be so much sweeter! Bella chided as she moved to make her final bet. “All in!” she announced with flare, but without hesitation.

“Whoa! Hold on there, my little tiger! Retract those claws of yours! Don’t you want to play more hands!?” Emmett coached her from across the way while trying to stifle his laughter. It was endearing in a way, but he had no idea, really.

“No. I think I’m good,” Bella responded back to him with confidence.

Everyone started laughing. Jasper looked skeptical, Rosalie self-assured, Emmett perplexed, and Alice all knowing.

Well I guess we are going to throw it all out there. Don’t worry, Bella, I won’t let you drown alone in defeat if Rosie has what I think she has!” Emmett thought.

See what I mean. Isn’t Emmett fun to listen to when he plays cards! He acts as if he wants to win, but I know better. It’s all an act! He is such a teddy bear! Bella grinned up at me triumphantly. She was going to win this one for Emmett.

“I guess I will just have to match you then, Bella. I have to see what you have!” Rosalie practically threw the rest of her chips into the pot in her own excitement.

“Well if Bella and Rosie are crazy enough to throw down, then I guess I am too!” Emmett laughed pushing his chips into the center.

“I guess whoever wins this hand will go head to head with me.” Jasper laughed at the fact that he was the only one that had folded when things did not smell quite right about the situation. Granted he could sense these things, but it was still funny anyway.

“Okay, everyone, show your cards!” Alice practically yelled, but it was an excited yell.

Everyone threw down their cards, and of course Bella had the highest hand with four Aces. She looked as she might explode with excitement as she began hopping up and down on Edward’s lap.

No way! Rosalie and Emmett thought at the same time.

“Yes way!” Bella chanted and started laughing hysterically.

“Wait! What did you say!?” Emmett asked trying to hide his shock as he made the connection that Bella had just answered his shocked thoughts aloud.

“Bella! Do not sit there and tell me you heard everything I was thinking!” Rosalie pouted, but was shocked nonetheless.

“Woo hoo! Edward blow-it-up!” she said excitedly knocking fists with me into an explosion action, which was only slightly awkward for me. That was more of an Emmett action, but I went with it for Bella’s sake. After that, I could not hold it in anymore, and both Bella and I both started laughing.

“We so got you guys! Well, except for Alice, but it doesn’t count when you can see the future!” Bella laughed aloud again.

“So, I am taking a wild guess here, but I am assuming there is not going to be a head to head match now?” Jasper asked with amusement. He did not wait for a response. “I knew you were up to something, you little sneak!”

Bella quickly crossed her arms, challenging him. “No way, Jasper! You aren’t getting off that easy! I am taking you down! No more cheating, though…I can turn it off. I promise not to read your thoughts while we play. I pinky swear!”