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Sunset

Summary:
Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her? Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.


Notes:
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.


11. Edward - Birthday Presents

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Since Bella didn’t need to go to work on Saturday morning I took great pleasure in fulfilling one of my primary roles as her mate. “One day soon, we’re going to have to share the experience together. I feel selfish taking all the satisfaction without making sure you get release too” Bella said afterwards. “I think we’re going to need a bigger bed to do it properly” I said ruefully, thinking of the huge bed that I had made “preferably one with replaceable headboards”. “Okay, but since you were going to replace my bed anyway, I think you better get right on it.” “Don’t worry, love, I’ve got it in hand.” Since I wasn’t quite ready for Bella to see the bed I had to find a way to leave her apartment without hurting her feelings. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn that Bella had read my mind. “You have to leave, making sure that you’re not seen, please, and come back for me after lunch to take me to see Esme’s renovation project. That’ll give me some time to get some of my lessons planned for next week without worrying about you being bored.” “So having made use of my services, you’re kicking me out, is that it?” I tried to sound a little cross, and offended. “That’s right, off you go. I’ll see you after two.” I went through the kitchen window, grumbling about only being wanted for my body. I ran straight home, collected the things I needed and went to the house. Carlisle, Esme, Alice and Jasper were already there. I wasn’t too surprised that there was no sign of Emmett and Rosalie. Alice and Esme were directing their men into doing the finishing touches to the open plan living, kitchen and dining room. The bedroom was mine to sort out. When it was finished to everyone’s satisfaction we went back to our home for a short break before I left to collect Bella. I arrived at ten past two. I knew that we couldn’t leave straight away since Bella needed a little longer before her pain meds were fully effective. I tried an old trick that used to work very well in distracting Bella by kissing her. I had no idea that ears could be so sensitive! The trip got off to a bad start when Bella tried to walk down the stairs when we left. Seeing the agony on Bella’s face as she started down the first step made me furious. “Why do you not let me stay on the mornings to carry you down?” I demanded after I had carried her down the stairs and helped her into my car. “And I should be here after school to carry you up. Why do you not let me?” I ended up shouting. “Because at those times of day we were bound to be seen at some point and I can’t risk that. I really should not have let you carry me today. What if Shawna had either arrived at, or just left her apartment at the wrong time?” “I can understand your view point for regular occasions, even though I don’t like it, but if we had seen your neighbour today, I would have just suggested that she could offer to swop so you wouldn’t need assistance getting up and down the stairs.” “Then let’s just be glad that we didn’t see her. Now are you going to scowl at me all afternoon?” Given what I wanted from this afternoon, I knew it would not be a good idea to spend it being cross. “That depends on how reasonable you’re going to be.” “I knew it! I knew it was too easy to get you out of the apartment this morning. What have you done?” “We’re giving you your birthday presents love, and since we missed a lot of birthdays, there’s rather a lot of presents for you to be reasonable over. We were going to give you christmas presents too, but decided against that on the grounds that you might think it a bit excessive.” I waited apprehensively for Bella’s response. Her heartbeat was still steady, if a little fast, but her breathing had become a bit shallow. “If you’re going to yell at me you need to breathe” I stirred listening to her take a deep breath. “I am so mad at you I could spit! You know I don’t like surprises. You know I don’t like people giving me things and you know I don’t like people spending money on me! So why would you do this to me?!” “You know Alice does like surprises, you know she and I like giving you things and we didn’t spend money, or at least very little. Every gift has been made by us, and by us I mean all the family, using as far as possible materials we could find, except for the chemicals that Alice stole, or buy very cheaply, mainly at second hand stores. You probably have enough cash in your account to meet the total cost of actual payments. Apart from one thing that I bought, but I don’t think that counts since it’s for me as much as for you.” “The bed” Bella sighed. “You went totally overboard with the bed didn’t you” she sounded more resigned than angry. “I’ve made the bed frame, I just have to buy the mattress. Come on, the house is just down here, have a look, admire all the work we’ve all put in and yell at me later.” “Okay, as long as I can yell Alice, too. This is not fair. When I didn’t get anything on my actual birthday I thought that I had gotten away with it. I should have known better” Bella grumbled, to herself I think, more than me. “Yes you should have. Now open the glove compartment and look at the pictures of what the property was like before Esme got her hands on it.” Luckily Bella allowed herself to be distracted. I wondered how long it would take her for the penny to drop. “Oh my. No wonder Esme wanted to renovate it. How could anyone let it fall into such disrepair? What a shame you couldn’t buy it.” “I think the location probably had something to do with its disrepair. The town grew in the other direction so it is quite isolated. I’m hoping that the new lease holder will persuade the owner to sell it to her in five year’s time, otherwise there would be a risk of it falling into disrepair again.” “You built the porch! It’s a pine porch and you built it!” “I did. It needs weather proofing, but that costs nearly sixty dollars and will have to wait.” “But you can’t afford to wait to weather proof the porch. This is Alaska and mid September.” “Okay, if it means that much to you I’ll do it next week. Happy now?” “Yes.” Poor Bella. It was already going so much better than I had any right to hope. I parked the car, lifted Bella out, told her to close her eyes and carried her over the threshold. “Keep your eyes closed, I want you to tell me what you think of something you feel with your feet so I am taking your shoes off and setting you down.” I removed Bella’s shoes and set her down on the warm floor. “Well, what do your feet think?” “It’s obviously a wooden floor, but it feels so warm, in fact the whole room does. How? And can I open my eyes yet?” “Not yet. Underfloor heating. It was Rosalie’s plan. Under the floor boards is a thick layer of insulation – shredded car tyres – topped by a layer of some reflective aluminium foil which cost nearly ten dollars in total, and a maze of pipes through which hot water is pumped. Rosalie had to make some of the pipes herself since she couldn’t get enough ready made through scrap metal. How good is the floor? I only ask because Emmett did that.” “My socks haven’t snagged on a splinter yet. It feels nice and smooth. Can I open my eyes now?” I took a deep breath. This was it. The moment when I would become the happiest man in the world or I would curse myself to Hades for my wretched impatience. And I was stalling. “Go on then, open your eyes.” Bella opened her eyes and looked around in disbelief. I didn’t know if she was seeing the work that had been done, or just the signs saying “Happy birthday, Bella” and the donor’s name. “There’s not much from Rosalie since she also did most of the work for the power house; nor Emmett since he practically built the power house, under Rose’s guidance. Carlisle’s gifts are not all ready yet, but he found the slate to replace the broken tiles in the roof. Esme found this place and negotiated this for you.” I handed Bella the rental agreement. She took it without looking at it, still looking around the room. Bella stumbled to the bookcase, from Jasper, and ran her fingers over the sanded and stained wood. Next it was to the kitchen. Storage units that were built by various family members, but no appliances yet, and she caressed the smooth work surface. The dining table and chairs were next to feel her attentions. Then she looked at the one chair in the living area and started to wilt. I quickly deposited her on my lap as I sat in the chair. On the floor near to the chair was the matching cover to the chair. Bella looked at it with a question on her face. “It’s to cover your sofa. Alice got most of the material from some old velvet drapes that were in our house when we moved in that she said she knew she would use one day when everyone else wanted to just throw them away. The rest came from an old bed spread that really should not have been allowed to be called that since it had holes in it. She assures me that she only used the best parts of the spread when making the covers. She’s knitted a blanket that’s somewhere for you to use as a throw or a cover if you want a little extra warmth without lighting a fire.” I was rambling, and still Bella had said nothing. She looked at one of the side tables, from Esme, on it sat a clear vinyl vase with a cactus in it from Jasper. That was when the tears filled her eyes. “You built me a house?” “Only for five years, but we built as much as we could. Although, if you take the trouble to look, you will see that you are named as the person responsible for paying the rent to the owner. Given the state the property was in Esme negotiated a very reasonable rent, and you don’t actually have to start paying until November to give you time to make the place habitable, and if you wanted, you could cancel the agreement by giving one month’s notice. It’s so much better for you; you won’t have to manage any stairs. It would be easier for Alice to visit and me to stay. The utilities should be less too because of the power house. I’ll tell you all about that when I show it to you. Jasper wanted to varnish all the wooden furniture, but that would have cost money, and a lot of time that we didn’t really have, but I can do that too over the next couple of weeks if you would like, but Alice thinks it all looks good without it. The only rooms that need real money spent on them are the kitchen for the appliances, and the bathroom, which I hope you will allow me to pay for since I’m hoping to be living here with you and you have to pay for the rent, and if you still think it’s too much money, you can pay all the bills too. Actually, it all would have been here already if I had thrown money at the problem but I thought you would prefer that I don’t.” I was rambling and starting to get really nervous. Bella still hadn’t given any indication as to what she was thinking. I wished I could read her mind the way I could read everyone else’s. “Bella, I don’t know what you’re thinking. You have to tell me” I gave in to my frustration. “The bedroom?” Was she doing it on purpose? “I’ll take you to see the bedroom. Esme made the dressing table. Carlisle and Jasper one of the bedside tables each, which is why they don’t match exactly. We haven’t got lights for them yet. So you can get those. As I said before, I made the bed frame, but have ordered the mattress, and there are two other headboards ready for ease of replacement. I also ordered new bed linens. Alice planned the closet but, under strict orders, has limited the stocking of it to the two outfits I owe you, plus one birthday gift from her. The bathroom is empty, except for the pipes for the water and drainage and heated towel rails. I can’t finish that until all the stuff arrives. Esme said she’ll help since she’ll have nothing else to do while Carlisle’s at work and everyone else is at school. Bella, will you please say something?” “I can’t get over the fact that you all built me a beautiful house.” “You’re not throwing a fit inside because you are so angry, are you?” I was still worried. “No. If you had bought me a house I would be furious; but you built me a house because you know I don’t like money being spent on me, even though it would have been easier for you.” “Yes, but like I said to you before, it has proved to be more entertaining doing it this way. Rosalie in particular enjoyed the challenge. The power house is probably going to be the subject of her Masters. We might do future renovations like this, but of course we won’t worry about spending sixty dollars on weather proofing for the porch.” “Why is there a carpet hanging on the wall instead of being on the floor?” Bella sounded genuinely curious. I was starting to think that all was going to go well. “Alice found it in a shop and said it was perfect for the bedroom, but it was too worn to walk on so she decided to put it on the wall. She pointed out that I should choose bedding to match it so I chose cream and gold. I hope you will like them” and I was starting to panic again. She must have heard it. “Relax, I’m not mad; overwhelmed, but not mad.” “Will you let me live here with you, please Bella? If not, will you please live here and let me visit you as now? Bella, please?” It seemed like the longest time, how easily I became frustrated, before Bella finally looked at me and nodded her head. “How much notice do you have to give your current landlord? This place should be ready by the end of the month at the latest.” “It’s a six month lease I just won’t renew. I’ll have to ...” Bella trailed off and looked at me in panic. “What is it love? Just tell me and we can fix it.” I hoped my own panic didn’t show. Was there something that we hadn’t anticipated, something important? “I can’t get up the steps without being able to use two hand rails and they’re too far apart.” I knew there was more to her panic than that. “You won’t have to use the steps at all. I’ll show you the rest after you tell me what was really bothering you.” “Do you promise that once I have them, you won’t take these gifts back?” I looked at Bella. The fear in her eyes was a lance through my being. “I promise you that everything in here is now yours and I will not take anything away from you unless it is to replace it with something as good or better and only with your prior knowledge, probably because I would have broken it while we were making love.” I saw Bella sag with relief. After Bella put her shoes back on I took her to the porch and walked to the side of the house where the porch ramped to the car port. Attached to the car port was a small shed like structure. I set Bella on her feet and told her to open the door to the shed. “What is that?” ‘That’ was Alice’s version of a Segwey. “It’s not as good as she could have made it with more time. But she said if it isn’t reliable, or turns out not to be powerful enough, she’ll make you a new one for christmas. All you need to do is get out of your car, and ride this up the ramp, even over ice, to the front door and there’s a cupboard just inside the front door that you can use to store it in while you’re at home. There’s a charging unit attached to the wall. What do you think?” “I think it’s brilliant. I must thank everybody. When will I see them?” “They’re all coming here in about half an hour, except for Emmett and Rosalie who have gone off somewhere, so I have just enough time to show you the power house.” I carried Bella to the back of the house and pointed out the small structure behind the car port “The power house” and asked what she thought of the trees just behind that. “They’re, erm, they look a little peculiar to be trees. What are they?” “They are why I smelled of gasoline on Monday. They’re wind turbines, shaped to look as much like trees as possible yet still be effective. We made them out of scrapped cars and one of them still had some gasoline in the tank. The turbines generate the electricity that heats the water and powers the pump to send the hot water through the house as well as the lighting and other electrical appliances. We shouldn’t need to pay for any more electricity while we live here. In fact, we should be able to sell some to the generating company if you want to go down that route – paperwork. But there is also a battery storage system in case something goes wrong and there should always be at least forty-eight hours worth of electricity stored in the batteries.” “And Rosalie designed all this?” “I know. It is such a shame that she was born in a time when a woman’s brains were regarded as more of a flaw than a prize. I’ll show you what plans I have for the bathroom.” We hadn’t done more than step back into the house before the others turned up – with more gifts, Bella was going to freak. “Happy birthday, Bella” Alice sang and handed over a box. “Alice” Bella and I both said, “you really shouldn’t have.” “Oh give over, Bella. Just open it.” Bella did. Inside was a savoury snack, a small birthday cake and a flask of hot chocolate. “Thank you Alice, I’ll have them shortly.” “Very shortly Bella” Carlisle was stern. He knew Bella had to eat every three to four hours. The other gift was from Carlisle. “Esme and Alice managed to get the finishing touches done for me. I promise you, this did not cost me a penny. In fact, it might end up making money!” Bella was intrigued at the idea that a gift to her could end up making money for the donor! Inside the box was what looked like a cardigan. Bella took it out and held it up. It was clear that it was no ordinary cardigan. “Let’s get the cardigan off that you’re wearing, it’s actually quite nice for you, and try this one on” Alice was all business removing Bella’s clothes. “Thank you Alice. It was a birthday gift from my mom” Bella was snide. Alice helped Bella into the new top and had it fastened in no time at all. “It’s, it’s, I don’t know what to say. Carlisle, how can this not have cost you anything?” “I came up with the idea of the back support inside the garment. In order for it to be discreet, it had to be very thin and lightweight. It took me hours in the hospital lab to perfect the formula. I took everything to a medical supply company and they agreed to make the prototype for free provided I agreed to let them use the formula and make similar garments for sale. The support can be removed from one garment and inserted in another. This support will need to be changed after your operation, but it should help you in the meantime. What do you think?” “I think it’s wonderful, Carlisle. What a brilliant idea, thank you. And thank you all for all the work you’ve done. It’s a beautiful house.” “I knew you would like the rustic look” Alice said complacently. “Jasper, why did Alice need to steal some chemicals for you?” “To make the vinyl vase for your cactus.” “It is wonderful, thank you. I love everything, thank you all. I just wish Rosalie and Emmett were here so I could thank them too.” “They’re back in Forks” Esme said, unaware that she was imparting bad news. “I’ll tell them that you’re pleased with everything.” “Forks? Vampires are back in Forks?” Bella looked at me in question. “I didn’t know that was where they were going. I hadn’t told anyone yet because it didn’t seem to be urgent.” I could tell that no one understood why Bella was so anxious. “I’ll call Jake and warn him” and Bella took out her ‘phone. I went to hug her and whisper that I was sorry and in the two seconds it took Bella to connect to Jacob I explained to the others why vampires in Forks was not good. “Bells, hi, what’s up? Is it about your house? I see it’s on the market.” “Hi Jake. Straight to the point, Rosalie and Emmett Cullen are back in Forks, I thought you had better be prepared.” “Hot damn. When did they arrive? How long are they here for?” There was a slight pause. “And how do you know?” the latter question was asked almost fearfully. Before Bella could frame an answer, Jacob’s reactions got us all interested. “You’ve seen him again haven’t you? That’s why your house is on the market. Damn it Bells, I won’t let you do that again. I’m driving up. Do not do anything before I get there, Bells, promise me.” “Jake, calm down. I am not going to kill myself. There is no need to panic. I’ve promised that I will stay at the school until at least the end of the school year, and I will keep that promise Jake. I’ll be down to see you for the new year I pro ....” Bella turned her head to look to Carlisle “Will I be able to go down to Forks for the new year?” “No lifting anything heavier than a cup of tea for at least two weeks, I’m sorry Bella.” “Who are you talking to up there? Why can’t you promise to see us at the new year? You’re with them aren’t you? Damn it Bells, didn’t they mess you up enough last time?” “Jake I have to have another operation on my back. I’m not having it done until the end of the semester, that’s all. I won’t be able to lift anything so I can’t ...” “I’ll drive you down” I interrupted. I wanted to see Jacob Black myself and thank him, not that I expected him to be glad to see me. “I’ll drive you down, stay at the house for a couple of days, which will hopefully be okay for the pack, if not I’ll go further south to hunt, and drive you back home. Will you stay at Jacob’s?” “Will that be okay Jake? If he drives me to your place and stays at their house?” I could tell from the tenor of the silence that Jacob was not happy that I would be driving Bella anywhere. I decided to return to the purpose of the call: “Tell Jacob that Rose and Emmett arrived on Thursday and we’ll tell them to leave by tomorrow. Hopefully they won’t have been there long enough to have an effect on the pack.” “I heard all that already Bells. We should be alright but it’s good to be warned.” “I’ll speak to you later Jake” “Yes you will” “Love to Billy, Lizzie, Charley and Clint. Bye Jake, love you.” “Love you too, Bells.” As much as I was grateful for the existence of Jacob Black, at that moment I hated him more than usual. Bella loved him. Bella told him she loved him without apparent thought. And he thought it was acceptable to tell her that he loved her too. All of that in front of me. I heard Alice tell Jasper to calm me down, I didn’t like to say, but it wouldn’t work. I was furious and was going to stay furious since there was nothing I could do about it. “Bella, is the pack sure that it is our presence that causes them to become wolves?” Carlisle, ever the voice of reason, asked. “Yes. Between the time you left first time, and you returning there were no new wolves. When you arrived, as soon as the eligible young men came of age, they became wolves. Since Victoria made her last appearance, there have been no new ones, unless one or two develop now because Rosalie and Emmett are there. At least Jake can check on the likely candidates so that they don’t go through the transformation terrified because of what’s happening. But it’s possible that with only two vampires there, the current pack will be big enough for no new ones to be needed.” “I’m sorry. I had no idea that we were the trigger. As a family, we won’t return. I’ll sign over our land to the Quileute so they have no reason to doubt us.” “You’d best speak to Jake about that. They might not want former vampire land.” Bella was speaking of Jacob as if he were the Quileute chief: was he? “Perhaps you could raise it, tactfully, while you are there?” Carlisle suggested. “We would have to arrange to take and store our belongings from the house. Perhaps they could be the basis of our scheme for Minnesota?” Jasper said. He was right. There were some heirlooms in Forks, Carlisle’s cross, my piano, and we should get them back. “I rather think the Quileute will have to accept that we will all be there for the new year while we pack up. We can take our belongings to Minnesota like Jasper suggested and store them for the time being.” Carlisle spoke as head of the family, so that is what would happen. “Now, Bella, sit at the table and eat and drink.” Bella smiled and gave a snappy salute “Yes, sir!” I wasn’t quite quick enough to lift her before she stumbled. Luckily, I was quick enough to catch her before any harm was done to either her food or her dignity, well, not too much on the latter. “I’m just glad Emmett wasn’t here to see that” she mumbled. “Bella and I are moving in at the end of the month” I declared, well aware that Bella hadn’t actually said that I could move in with her. Bella looked at me in the most peculiar way. ‘Cool the aggression brother’ Alice whispered in my head. ‘Whatever it is about that ‘phone conversation that has gotten you riled, Bella has no notion about it. You’ll blow it if you’re not careful.’ I gave a nod of acceptance, accompanied by a grim smile to Alice. I tried to apply my logical brain to the problem. Bella loved Jacob Black. Bella had loved Jacob Black enough to live with him, to sleep with him. But Bella had not loved Jacob Black enough to want to stay with him or live for him. Did Bella love me enough to want to stay with me, live for me? That, I realised was the problem. It wasn’t that she loved him. After all, she had also sent love to various other people. No, the problem was that Bella had promised that she would stay until the end of the school year. She had made no promises about anything after that. Was she, in effect, giving herself permission to love me until then and leave me by ending her life before I could leave her? Or was she giving herself until then to make long term decisions about her future, allowing me time to prove myself? Bella and I needed to talk.