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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.

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.

20. Bella - Christmas Gifts

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“Promise me you will tell me the second you want me out of your life” Edward asked. Without thought I replied “That won’t happen.” “Then it won’t hurt for you to promise to tell me the second it does will it?” he persisted. “Okay, I promise that I will tell you the second I want you out of my life.” “Good. Since you think that you will want to stay with me after the school year, how are you getting on with considering the options?” Damn. I had really left myself open to that one. “I’m still thinking, and even adding to them. But my favourite, so far, is a stay at Esme’s island for a while. And most times when I’m thinking about them, I don’t get past that, I’m afraid.” “And you don’t want to tell me more at the moment, do you?” I heard the resignation in his voice. The man knew me well. “How do you feel about a stint on a deserted island with no one but me?” “Actually love, it sounds wonderful.” I heard his acceptance of my desire not to talk further about long term plans. I would have to talk to him at some time about them. But there was no point at the moment. Why start an argument unnecessarily when they might come to nothing? The other members of the family came to see me regularly, but never stayed for long. I didn’t know if it was because they didn’t want to be on the end of my teasing, or if they were just giving Edward and me alone time. I asked Edward. “They’re making your christmas presents. We usually spend a fortune on each other for christmas but, with you in mind, we’re doing it different.” “But we didn’t spend much on theirs” I wailed. “Actually we did. Jasper’s book is a first edition. The ‘photo frames are gold etc. But it’s not the money that’s the important thing. It’s the thought that went into choosing each gift and the work involved in finding it.” I hoped he was right. I didn’t know if they would all think the gifts were inappropriate, or even if they would care about them, but I wanted them all to have something from their past lives, something that was good. “I hope you didn’t spend a lot of money on my present” I suddenly had this awful fear. “Not a penny. It is something that belonged to my mother, so it’s a hand me down. Did you spend a lot on mine?” “I spent a lot of time on the phone, but the gift itself didn’t cost much at all.” “Now you’ve got me intrigued” he said as he started to think about what it could be. I was worried. I wasn’t sure that I had made the right choice. Still, it was too late, I couldn’t change it now, and I wasn’t sure that I would want to. I chatted to Renee, letting her know that I was recovering from my operation but I didn’t say anything about the possibility that Andrew had thrown up. I didn’t want to get Renee’s hopes up. She was convinced that the only thing that was good for me would be to move in with her and Phil. I hated that I just couldn’t tell her that living with them would drive me round the bend. Even though she was nearly fifty, Renee was as much a child as I expect she was when she was ten. Phil was as bad. That was why they were great school teachers. I was in constant fear that they would do something that would land them in hospital. It was easier to learn of their idiocy after the event when I knew all was well because Renee was telling me about it. When I did stay with them Renee was constantly hovering, checking if I wanted anything and wanting me to talk. The one thing that she knew I hated more than anything, but she still kept trying to get me to talk. I had planned to spend christmas with them but was glad when the operation gave me the perfect excuse not to. I told mom that I would still be in hospital for christmas and that a friend who was going to Seattle for new year had offered me a lift to Forks so I could spend new year with Jake. It made her feel a little better. She hated that I usually spent the holidays on my own. I tried to tell her I preferred it that way. I woke up on christmas morning feeling very nervous. This was it. They would love their gifts, or they would hate them. There would be no in between. After I had eaten my breakfast and taken all my medications I was told to hurry up and get ready so everyone could open their presents. I noticed that Alice, Esme and Rosalie were all dressed up. I put on my favourite outfit that Alice had bought on Edward’s behalf. The first thing everyone did once Edward and I were downstairs was to open gifts from Denali. I wasn’t expecting that. I hadn’t bought anything for any of them. “Don’t worry, Esme took care of that. We send one to each of them from all of us” Edward said on seeing my panic. “What did you send Embry?” I wondered. “A book about vampires” Esme laughed. I put in a note at the front that it was all a load of tosh, but I thought he might find it funny. I should have thought to ask your advice. “No, it was a good idea” I said. “I’m sure he’ll get a lot of fun out of it.” I was given a hair barrette. It was actually very nice. Edward was given a shirt, whatever. Next I had to open my gifts from my family. I felt very self conscious. My mom and Phil had sent a book and movie download that they thought I would enjoy. Jake and Lizzie, probably at Lizzie’s insistence, sent a gift addressed to both Edward and me: a painting of the Olympic peninsula on a typical misty day. It would look good in our living room. After that, we all had to open the gift from our partner. “This is where I usually just disappeared for half an hour” Edward whispered to me. It was his first christmas with a mate, just as it was mine. I didn’t pay any attention to what the others received. I was only concerned with Edward’s reaction to his gift. “How?” he asked looking at the ‘photo taken at Forks High School prom over twelve years ago. “Angela” was my succinct response. “You have no idea how many times I wondered if my memories played me false. But now I see that they didn’t. I had almost forgotten about your feet being on top of mine. You hated the idea of dancing. I couldn’t believe that someone who could be as brave as you would panic so much at the thought of dancing. Now open yours.” It was with real trepidation that I opened my gift. It was a beautiful diamond ring. It was a large oval with a dozen or more diamonds linked by a web of gold. “This was your mother’s? It’s so pretty” I said as I stroked it. “Yes, and I want to ask you to wear it on the third finger of your left hand so that even though people won’t know with whom you belong, they will see that you do belong with someone. Will you do that Bella? Please will you wear my ring on the third finger of your left hand for me so that there is no doubt that you belong with me?” I didn’t say anything. I just slipped on the ring. It fitted almost perfectly, it was just a little loose. “I’ll have to put on a little more weight” I sighed as I looked at Edward. He was staring at my hand with possessive joy. He looked exultant. “Thank you. You are mine now Bella Swann. Nothing and no one is going to take you away from me now” and he kissed the ring before he kissed me. Carlisle and Esme’s gifts were passed around next. “Ours are last” Edward whispered in my ear “since we’re the youngest.” “Hang on a minute, I’m thirty. That’s older than all of you” I pointed out not sure that I wanted to be classed as the youngest. “Carlisle is nearly four hundred, Jasper is a hundred and eighty and Rosalie and Emmett are both over a hundred. Add our ages up in couples and we are the youngest.” I still grumbled to myself for a while, then decided I liked being thought of as young. Carlisle and Esme’s present for Edward was a new car. The gift he unwrapped was a set of car keys, but it was fairly obvious that they went with a car of some sort. “A new Porsche, Dynamite” Edward said reverently. “What colour?” Carlisle laughed at the eagerness. “It’s a metallic charcoal grey.” I never did get men’s interest in cars. As long as they went what else mattered? “I said I wouldn’t mind one in a bright neon pink when I saw it” Alice added a little enviously. But she was well happy with the bolt of fabric that appeared to be shot with diamonds. “I’ll need to find another owner for my old car.” Edward called his eighteen month old sports car an ‘old’ car as if it were a clunker! My gift puzzled me. It was a swimming costume. “Your main gift is at your house” Esme said. This is just a little something for you open today. I noticed that you didn’t have any swim wear. I thanked her politely, not liking to say that I didn’t have swim wear because I never went anywhere I could swim. Next we opened our gifts from Alice and Jasper. Everyone received designer clothes. Or at least everyone did but me. I received a towelling robe. I rather thought it was meant to be the house coat that Edward once suggested I get. “Your real present is at your house” Alice said sounding disgruntled. “You know I really hope you like it, it was a lot of work and it would have been a lot easier to buy you a nice outfit.” “Thanks Alice. Since you put in a lot of work I’m sure I’m going to love it as much as I love the rest of the house.” And it was true. The fact that they had all gone against their usual practice for me meant that I was bound to love it for the effort that went into it. Emmett and Rosalie gave Edward a new time piece. Apparently it was top of the range, an excellent piece of engineering. I thought it was a nice watch! My gift was clearly not a watch. It felt like a gift voucher of some kind. I opened it feeling very apprehensive: what if Rosalie had gone overboard with a voucher of about a thousand dollars? I was wrong. It was a photograph of an indoor swimming pool and a piece of paper which had written on it: Merry Christmas Bella Structure Carlisle and Esme Tiles and cement Alice and Jasper Filter, pipes and steps Emmett and Rosalie I looked at the evidence, but still I couldn’t quite believe it. “You built me a swimming pool for my christmas present” I finally said. “Lizzie’s idea” Edward said. “And a very good one it was too” Esme put it. “Although I expect that the Johanson’s are going to get a real shock when they get their property back at the end of the lease period” and in the recesses of my mind I heard everyone chortle at that. “I can’t believe you built me a swimming pool for my christmas present” I stared at the ‘photo. “You know swimming is good for you” Edward said starting to sound a little anxious. “Yes, I know, but still. You built me a swimming pool.” I was still struggling to grasp it. “For a teacher Bella, you state the obvious rather a lot. Can’t you come up with something a bit more cryptic?” Emmett was snide. “I love it, love it, love it! Still obvious I’m afraid.” I said with a bit of a laugh. “Actually Bella, until you said it, that wasn’t obvious at all. Now can the rest of us have our gifts from you two, please?” Alice was the snide one that time. This was it. I was so nervous as Edward handed out the gifts from us. Carlisle opened his first. “It’s just like my first one. And it has all the bottles and equipment, such as it was. Thank you, it’s beautiful.” ‘It’ was an old doctor’s case. It was the oldest we had been able to locate and had come from France. Esme’s gift was one that I was really worried about. Had I stepped over the mark with it? “Edward, perhaps we shouldn’t have ...” I started to say. “Shush, love. They’re perfect.” Esme opened her present. It was an old silver locket. Inside was a little baby fine light brown hair and an inscription: Charles Platt 1926 “Is this really ...? How did ...?” Although Esme wasn’t able to complete a sentence, it was clear what she was asking. “Yes” Edward replied. “Your mother intended to give it to you after his funeral, but as you know, you died. She then wanted it to be buried with you, but the morgue lost your body. She kept it in the hope that eventually you would be found. Your younger sister had it, then her daughter. She wanted to sell it but was told it wasn’t worth anything so gave it to her daughter telling her to hang on to it since it might turn out to be worth something one day.” “Thank you. How did you think to find it?” I looked at everyone else and said I would tell her later. Esme knew what some of the other gifts were so didn’t really need any further explanation. Emmett’s gift was a medal awarded to Desmond McCarty 1919 – 1944 who died in service to his country. “I never knew what happened to him” Emmett said of his late brother. “Thanks you two.” I could see that Rosalie was starting to look apprehensive. She wondered what we could have given her that was as personal as the other gifts. Luckily, Edward knew his siblings well. He had tracked down and bought a pearl necklace said to have once belonged to Wallis Simpson. Accompanying the necklace was an old newspaper photo of the Duchess in which she is wearing the same necklace. “Thank you. It’s beautiful” she said with relief. Jasper’s gift was a first edition book about the Confederate Army. Jasper was directed to the third paragraph of page forty-two. It was about him: Major Jasper Whitlock. Jasper read it and passed it to Alice. “How on earth did you find it?” Jasper asked. “I just googled your name and this came up. The hardest part was tracking the book. Edward did that” I said, making it sound like I was surprised that he never thought to do it himself. “I can’t wait to see what you got me” Alice almost danced. “How come you don’t already know what they’ve got you, Alice?” Rosalie asked. “She doesn’t know because we haven’t decided which of two possible presents to give her yet” I replied. “It could be this one, wrapped in gold paper, or this one wrapped in silver paper. Which would you like?” Alice took the parcel wrapped in gold paper. It was a ‘photo of young Mary Alice Brandon with her younger sister Cynthia. “You do realise that it is going to be very hard for you to keep this standard up don’t you?” And Alice was right. Future gifts could not possibly be as personal as this year’s were. “You did most of the work to get yours. We just followed in your footsteps and wondered why you didn’t go all the way. I said that I was your granddaughter. I told your great-niece what had happened to you saying that an orderly at the mental institution helped you to escape. Apparently your sister thought there was something funny about your death because your parents never went to visit your grave, but your mother went to visit your aunt’s all the time. Nor was Cynthia allowed to talk about you, ever. I’ve got a few other ‘photos at home if you want to look at them later.” “Thanks, Bella. Later perhaps.” Edward was going hunting with Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper that night and didn’t expect to be back for about thirty-six hours. Alice had already warned me that we were going to have a girlie day the next day. I was dreading it. “I thought you were supposed to love me” I grumbled to Edward. “If you loved me you wouldn’t leave me with Alice. She said we’re having a girlie day” I wailed. “There, there love. You know it won’t be too bad really. Go for a swim in your new pool. Be exhausted and need a nap. She won’t be able to argue with that. Spend lots of time on the ‘phone to Renee, Angela, Lizzie and Jake and anyone else you can think of. Before you know it, you’ll just have time for your exercises and it will be time to get ready for bed again.” I had to laugh. I supposed I could do something similar to that. And I did still owe Alice for stealing my old sweats. I would have to see how it goes. It was the first night I slept without Edward since I was released from hospital. I wasn’t very comfortable at all and didn’t seem to get hardly any sleep. Edward had the knack of lying with me and supporting me so that there was no pressure on my wounds, just the balm of his cold skin. I couldn’t follow Carlisle’s instructions and lie on my back without that support and be comfortable. I should have taken the higher level of pain medication that Carlisle had wanted me to. I was going to need to nap during the day. Alice came in at two in the morning to stretch my muscles the way Edward usually did. “I’m surprised that you’re awake” she said on seeing my open eyes. “I can’t get to sleep without him now. Stupid man. I’m going to be a wreck for the next three days without the sleep I need. And bad tempered” I warned. “Okay, I’ll tell Esme and Rosalie to stay on your good side. How about some warm milk?” I didn’t really think that warm milk would help, but it wouldn’t harm either so I agreed. But the mug of warm milk (laced with something I had no doubt), the massage and quiet calm conversation soon had me nodding off. We did go to my house for a swim. Well I swam while the others lounged by the pool looking annoyingly beautiful. The water was lovely and warm and it was an excellent way for me to exercise. ”It’s your first time so don’t overdo it” Esme called to me. I got out because she was right. “That water felt beautiful. Thank you to all of you. You are an engineering genius, Rosalie.” I don’t know who was most surprised at the praise, Rosalie or myself! I was about to enjoy a little nap when Jake called. “Hey Jake, I was going to call you and Lizzie later. How goes?” “Hey Bells. Look, is the Doc with you ‘coz I need to speak with him?” “No he’s out hunting. They’re not due back until tonight. What’s up Jake?” “Don’t know that anything’s up really. It’s just like it’s Wierdsville here lately. Listen can you pass a message to him for me?” “Sure, of course I can.” “Can you tell him that Jacob, Chief of the Quileute, requests the counsel of Carlisle, wise and learned leader of the Cullen coven? And phrase it just like that please.” “Okay. So should I wait until after you’ve spoken to Carlisle to call Lizzie?” “Ermm, yeah, that might be best. I tell you Bells, things are definitely getting strange around here. I’ll speak to you later. Are you still planning to come down for the new year?” “Yes, unless you would prefer I don’t.” “No, it’ll be great to see you. Bye Bells.” And that, I thought, was definitely strange. I asked Esme how I could get a message to Carlisle. She suggested I just call his ‘phone since he would check for messages as soon as it was convenient. So I rang and left the message exactly as Jake asked, noted Jake’s number and added “Jake said that things were definitely getting strange around there and that I shouldn’t call Lizzie until after you and he had spoken.” Naturally the women with their vampire hearing heard every word I said to Carlisle and started to wonder what could be going on. I told them every word Jake said to me as we all tried to dissect it for hidden meanings. We finally decided that we were almost certain to be wrong so we should just wait until we heard from Carlisle.