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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.


32. Bella - Babies Galore

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6818   Review this Chapter

“You’ll never guess what” Lizzie said without bothering to greet me when I answered the ‘phone. “Hello Lizzie. How lovely to hear from you. How are you and your beautiful family today?” “Yeah, yeah Isabelle, we’re well, you’re well yada, yada. Guess what the latest strange thing to happen is. You never will but go on, try.” I didn’t want to burst her bubble, she really was hyped up about it whatever it was. “Some new pack members who are not direct descendants.” “Nope, not even close except it is about the pack.” “You’ve got more girlie wolves.” “Nope, but I think that Gemma will join, so does Jake.” Gemma was Paul and Rachel’s eldest and had the same temperament as her fiery father. “Then I give in, you’ll have to tell me.” “Every single one of the pack members’ wives, other than Tanya but including Emily and Claire, is pregnant. As you know even Leah is pregnant and we all fell during February or March and other than Leah we were all taking precautions against pregnancy. Claire is really not happy since she’s too young and worried that it will interfere with her desire to become a doctor, and she can’t officially say who the father is or Quil will be prosecuted for statutory rape.” “Oh my gosh! How? Well I know how of course, but how? And why?” “We don’t know how. Leah has no idea exactly how pregnant she is, but she is progressing very fast. As you know our pregnancies don’t last the normal nine months, but if Leah fell at about the same time as the rest of us then she’s not going to last nine weeks! She gets visibly bigger every day and we’re all worried. Seth is going to drive her and Nahuel up to yours so Carlisle can look after her – he doesn’t know that yet so can you ask him for us please?” “Of course I will. But why? Does the Council think it means that trouble is on the way and the pack is going to have to expand?” “Yes, basically in about sixteen year’s time we are going to have a battle with vampires, but not yours or we wouldn’t have Tanya and Nahuel join us. Seth will also be bringing a letter from Jake for Carlisle asking for a meeting sometime to discuss it all.” “Oh wow. Congratulations to you all, seriously. Tell Claire not to worry about her studies since you will all help with the baby so she’ll be exhausted but fine. When will she and Quil get married?” “As soon as Claire’s parents give her permission; and erm, well, that’s not all. Three of us are expecting twins so Claire knows we won’t be able to help as much as we would like.” “Then we’ll find some other help for Claire. We’ve got some time to work it out.” I told Edward about the conversation and warned Carlisle and Esme that they were about to get visitors and why. They were all puzzled but happy to help Leah. Edward and I went to the family home to wait for Seth to arrive with Leah and Nahuel. Leah was enormous. She looked about eight months pregnant but she had only met Nahuel four months ago and she hadn’t looked like she could be more than four months pregnant the last time we saw her just two weeks previously. It was definitely strange. Carlisle used his ultrasound equipment on Leah but said that the amniotic sac was not the usual membrane so he couldn’t get a very clear picture. But what was clear was that the baby would arrive very soon. Carlisle asked Leah if she would be able to make sure she didn’t transform into a wolf during the birthing. He was confident that no permanent harm would be done to him if she lashed out at the wrong time, but he was concerned about the safety of the baby. Leah said that she was very worried since she didn’t think she would have enough self control not to phase. Carlisle suggested to Leah and Nahuel that it might be better not to wait until Leah went into labour but to deliver the baby by caesarean. He could give Leah a local anaesthetic so that she didn’t completely miss the baby’s birth. Nahuel needed some of the procedure explained to him but he fully supported the plan believing it to be the best idea for both Leah and the baby. It wasn’t long before Tanya, Embry and Huilen arrived as well. “I hunted on the way here” Huilen reassured us with a significant look towards me. I was a little relieved that my safety was one less worry for everyone. “Looking good Bells” Embry said as he greeted me. “Yep. My new lung and mechanical heart are working perfectly. I have no excuse for missing any work. School starts next week and I’m raring to go, almost.” Carlisle delivered Leah and Nahuel’s daughter the next day. She was by far the prettiest baby I ever saw. She had thick black hair, dark brown eyes and teeth! Carlisle wouldn’t let Leah hold her until he had checked if she was venomous. Luckily she wasn’t. “She can understand you” Edward said when he saw her. “She knows what you are saying. I can hear her thoughts!” We all looked at Edward as if he were mad. How could a new born be able to express herself? “She’s hungry and wants something to eat, not drink, eat.” He looked at the baby and said “I’ll get you some scrambled eggs, it’s a favourite of Bella’s.” And the baby laughed, clearly pleased. “Erm, do you have a name for her yet?” I asked tentatively. “Pia, after Nahuel’s mom Pire” Leah replied. “Hello little Pia Deepwater” I said (Deepwater being the surname Nahuel and Leah had elected to adopt as their family name), “Welcome to this strange and beautiful world.” I was updating my lesson plans one day, Edward was playing his keyboard quietly in the background and my ‘phone rang. It was the ringtone I assigned to work. “Damn, why would school have to call me now? This can’t be good” I muttered. “Hello, Isabelle Swann” I answered the ‘phone. The face of the person calling me was a surprise. “Principal Jones, this is a surprise. What can I do for you?” “Call me Linda, Isabelle. How are you? You are looking very well.” “I’m good Linda. You?” I hated small talk and wished she would get to the point of the call. “Very well thank you. I called to ask you if you would accept a permanent position at the school from September. Darcy has decided she wants to stay at home with her baby so after completing the mandatory one year to keep her maternity pay she is not returning to work. The School Board has agreed that you can be offered the position with no probationary or qualifying period. Will you come back to us Isabelle? I would love to see you return.” “Linda, I don’t know what to say” I prevaricated. “Don’t say ‘no’. Think about it for a day or two. Get back to me when you’ve considered it.” I half reluctantly agreed to think about it. But what was there for me to think about? “I meant it when I said we live where you want to live and that I would adjust my left accordingly if you want to go” Edward said after I had been silent for a while. “I know, but while I want to savour the feeling of being offered a job, it isn’t my first choice to spend the next however many years living in New York City, teaching in Harlem.” “Hmm, I see your point. But if you want to try, that’s what we do, okay?” “Okay” I smiled at Edward, glad to drop the subject. But I did feel good about being offered the post. Unfortunately the subject wouldn’t leave my mind. Different scenarios were swirling around in my head while I was asleep. Some of them were not pleasant. In one dream I had, Edward and I were living not far from the school in Harlem, it was a very dangerous place to live, especially for white people. Naturally Edward strode though the trouble as if it didn’t touch him until he was met by a crowd of black vampires. Everything about them was black, not brown skinned, but black skinned, black eyes and black clothes. They were about to tear him apart. “Bella! Bella! Wake up! It’s just a dream!” I slowly came to. Edward was leaning over me stroking my hair away from my face. I looked into his dazzling eyes, inhaled his wonderful scent and reached up to touch his beautiful face. “I have to say no” I said to him. “Okay, but why?” I told him about the dream. “Why do you want to go?” Edward asked me. I was about to point out that I didn’t when I realised that a part of me did. “I want us to get away from here for a while and then come back as an open couple” and I told Edward about my idea. “Well your imagination really has got better over the years. You are right, people do wonder what could have happened to cause us to lose touch given how close you seem to be to the family. And it does give you the perfect excuse to leave town for a while. You could tell the school that you will take the job for one semester if they can’t find another teacher and we could get an apartment in Manhattan and I could drive you to work and collect you or we could live upstate a little and you could drive into work – but I would be a lot happier if you would let me get you a better car, one that was less likely to be squashed on the freeway.” “Huh, the sort of car you like wouldn’t last five minutes in Harlem.” “Just because a car is as strong as a tank, it doesn’t have to advertise it. It is possible to get a car that looks ordinary, but would protect you a lot better than your tin can would.” “I’ll think about it” I muttered and went back to sleep. Edward and I were at the family home when he told them my suggested story of why they moved away without keeping in touch. “That is a very good story Bella. I have actually found that some people are almost rude in trying to find out what caused the rift. Most seem to think it was because you made a play for Carlisle” Esme said. “I am very hard pressed not to just tell them to mind their own business sometimes. But what about ‘Masen’?” “Perhaps the engagement could be something you made up to try to persuade Edward to leave you alone” Alice suggested. “You would have had to have had a relationship with him to have got your bruises, but perhaps it wasn’t as serious as you had tried to make it.” It was all coming together. We just needed to wait for the ideal opportunity to spread the word. I called Linda Jones to tell her that she should try to find someone else to fill the vacancy, but if she wasn’t successful I would do it for one semester to give her a bit more time. There was only one problem in my life: I rather thought that I would have to go to Phoenix to visit mom because I didn’t want her to come to Carcrix and risk her getting into conversation with someone who mentioned my good friends the Cullens. Edward didn’t like it, but he knew I was right. I called my mom and invited myself down to stay with her and Phil for a week before I was going on holiday for two weeks with a friend, Esme. Of course I was really going away with Edward. I would then stay with Renee and Phil again for a further week. I hadn’t told mom that I had resigned from my job and I told her that the teachers were all expected to put in two weeks of work decorating the school during the summer break and that I had to prepare for the next school year. I hated lying to her, but one week at a time was more than enough. Carlisle talked Andrew into arranging with a hospital in Phoenix to be prepared in case a heart became available while I was down there. Andrew would only be involved if it was to be a partial heart transplant rather than a whole one which my insurance would pay for. The opportunity to spread my tale came when the Principal called me in to ask why I was leaving. “I hope that it isn’t anything that I did, or didn’t do” he said anxiously. “No it’s nothing to do with what happened before with the Gaines’s” I reassured as I noted that the receptionist, Mrs Pale, was listening through the door that I had left ajar. “Actually, it is quite embarrassing. You know that I have known the Cullens for years and that we lost touch when the family moved” and Principal Skerrit leaned forward eagerly. “Well the truth is young Edward, and he was young then, declared to Esme and Carlisle that he was going to marry me when he grew up. Naturally we thought nothing of it, he was just a kid; but apparently he told his parents that I kissed him and told him that I loved him. They thought that I was messing with their child which is why they upped sticks and left without leaving me a way to contact them. It wasn’t until later that Alice told them how much she missed me because when I babysat for them I read a story, kissed her goodnight and told her I loved her while the babysitter they had in their new home wouldn’t even read a story. Esme and Carlisle immediately realised that they had maligned me. They didn’t know what they could say to me so they left it thinking they would work out how to apologise later.” “So that’s why they do so much for you, guilt!” I knew that the story would spread. “Anyway, Edward still says that he wants to marry me. We tried to ignore it. I even invented a fiancé to put him off, poor Masen did not deserve that and it was one of the reasons we broke up, but nothing has worked. So I’ve decided that this time I’m going to up sticks for a while to give him time to get over it.” “But next year he won’t be here so you won’t have to worry about him at school” the Principal sounded puzzled. “I’d managed to get him to moderate his behaviour by saying that he could lose me my job, but he said that since he won’t be a student there would be no reason for him to hide how he feels or for me not to admit my true feelings for him. I tell you Principal, it could get very awkward. So, as soon as the semester is over, I am off for a long holiday and hopefully he will get the message.” “Well, yes, I can see that it is all very embarrassing for you. And now I think about it, he was overly solicitous of you during that incident with Dalton Gaines.” “Yes, I tried to remind him of my supposed fiancé. It’s also why we arranged for Embry to come to carry me to my car in September when I broke my rib cage. And he used to be so cross when I asked Alice to help me during the lunch breaks after my operation.” “I noticed that, too. Goodness me Isabelle it seems that you have done your best to dissuade the boy and it is a shame that you are the one who is going to have to suffer for it.” “Yes, but at least this time Esme and Carlisle will stay in touch I’m sure.” The next evening at home Edward told me that he was now the focus of everyone’s thoughts at school, apart from those looking at me trying to understand what he saw in me. “Everyone is pretending not to know but they’re all thinking about it. I’ve gone right up in Gwynne Wynne’s estimation, she never thought that I would have the good sense to look for real gold rather than be bedazzled by someone like Rosalie. And you will be pleased to know that some think you should go for it with me – younger men have so much more staying power than older ones apparently.” I had to laugh, glad that none but me knew exactly how much staying power Edward really had. Lizzie and Angela came for a weekend visit. It coincided with another of Edward’s hunting trips. Because our bed was so large we decided the three of us would just bunk together. Not surprisingly there was plenty of room for all of us despite two of them being pregnant. Alice spent Saturday evening with us for a girlie pyjama party. Unsurprisingly she used all three of us as her dress up dolls, but I was her main victim. For some idiotic reason, I allowed myself to be talked into having my hair cut. I didn’t want my hair cut. I needed it long so that I could use it to hide the bald areas where I had scar tissue on my scalp but Alice assured me that the style she had in mind would allow me to cover all my scalp and look stylish at the same time. “And if you don’t like it, I’ll pay for you to have hair extensions” she said. It was so annoying that I did like it. There were times when I really did not like Alice Cullen. Edward, when he saw it, assured me that it looked beautiful and pointed out that shorter hair would be easier for me to look after than the very long tresses that I had before. There were times when I didn’t like Edward Cullen either. My last day at school arrived all too quickly. I was almost sad to leave. I hadn’t made any real friends, my bad reputation at the start of the year had been a big off putter, but most of the staff turned out to be friendly enough once they realised that I wasn’t seducing every man in town. We, all the school staff, had a little get together after school had ended for the year and the Principal presented me with a pretty scarf clip as a goodbye gift from all the staff. Hating to be the centre of attention as I did, I mumbled my thanks, hopefully sounding suitably appreciative. “So what are you going to do with yourself?” I was asked. “I’m disappearing for a few weeks in a couple of days, heading south to see if I can soak up a little sun. I have a teaching position for one semester in New York so I’ll keep my house here for the time being. But to be honest, I’m really not looking forward to working in Harlem again. After that, it depends on what happens with, erm, you know.” “Ah, yes, I see, of course. Such a shame. But you know he is very good looking and the family is quite rich, you could do worse.” That was a bit of a surprise. “I know, but don’t you think he could do better than to waste his life running after an old crock like me? I’ve tried to interest him in some of the girls more his age but he just tells me how immature they are. I don’t know what to do with him, I really don’t.” “Give in” another woman joined the conversation. “Give him what he says he wants, but make sure you’re getting something from it too, and if he’s anything like a normal teenager, once he has it he won’t want it anymore.” I pretended to be shocked. “Are you saying that I should have a relationship with my friends’ son just so he can get bored with me and move on?” “Not just so. You have to enjoy it too. Do you mean to say that it hasn’t passed through your mind that he would make one fine piece of man candy?” And to my surprise a few more of the women and one or two men joined the conversation and indicated their approval. My mouth gaped like a fish for a few seconds before I finally said “I’m practically speechless! It never occurred to me that I should ....” and I trailed off so that they could draw their own conclusions as to what the end of my sentence would be. “If it was Emmett then maybe: I like Emmett. Edward is just so intense and moody. Besides, Esme and Carlisle would kill me and to be honest I don’t think that I would blame them!” “Speaking as a parent, I tell you, you make their kid happy and they’ll love you forever” I was told by one happy Resistant Materials teacher. I looked around the room and most people were nodding their heads in agreement. “Thanks to you lot I’m probably going to think about it now. Well at least I’ll have four weeks to get those thoughts out of my head and return to normal before I see him again.” “Or to realise that we’re right and you should give him a go. You might find that you do belong together. Twelve years is not that big a gap, happens all the time when it’s the male who is older.” “A woman should be with a younger man since women live longer generally anyway and you don’t want to spend the last ten years of your life a widow, do you?” “You know, I have always thought of Edward as being very mature for his age” another said. I pretended to be shocked again. “I know, but still ...” “At least some people will be pleased for us when we return as a couple” Edward said when I relayed the conversation to him. “They’re saying that after three glasses of wine” I countered. “It might change when they’re sober.” “But it might not” Edward was determined to look at it from the ‘glass half full’ perspective. I had packed for my four week holiday in the south. I didn’t have many suitable clothes so I would have to borrow extensively from my mom. I doubted she would mind. Edward wanted to drive me to the airport but I managed to persuade him to let Esme do it just in case we were spotted by someone who knew us. He wasn’t happy. “Please try to be careful Bella” Edward was almost frantic. “Edward, I’ll be fine. You hunt, get seen a lot around town and call me every day. I’ll meet you at Las Vegas in a week’s time and we can have a whole two weeks all by ourselves.” “Couldn’t Esme collect you, after dark so you’re not driving in the heat of the day, and she and I can meet so you can transfer to my car? That way I don’t have to worry about you driving all that way by yourself. I know there is no logical reason for me to worry, but you know that I will because no matter how careful you drive, the other person might not.” I sighed. He was right, I knew that he would worry that some tanker was going to lose control and crash into me or something equally nasty. “Okay, but as long as Esme doesn’t mind going all the way to Phoenix just to collect me, and then again to drop me off.” “You know she won’t because it will ease her mind too.” I sighed again because he was right. “Bella! Bella! Over here Bella!” My mom was waving at me like a windmill. “Hi mom. It’s so good to see you.” Dropping my crutch, I wrapped both my arms around her and hugged her, burrowing my head into her shoulder. “Hey Bella” and I looked over to my mom’s husband, Phil. “You’re looking real good. I’m glad you came.” “Hi Phil. I’m glad too” and I was. I still missed my mom, but I was relieved that I didn’t have to live with her and Phil. I was too much like my dad to be able to really get on with them. Phil took my bags and Renee hugged my left arm tight to her as we walked to the car, too fast for me to be comfortable. “Mom, slow down. I’m still a little stiff from the flight so I can’t walk as fast as you.” And Renee’s face fell. She constantly forgot that I had some mild disabilities and wasn’t as quick or flexible as I should be, or she treated me like I was totally disabled and not able to do anything for myself. “I’m sorry honey. Should we get a wheel chair for you? Phil, baby, can you get Bella a ...” “Mom, stop. I don’t need a wheel chair. I can walk fine, just not very quickly that’s all.” But the damage was done. Renee was in hover mode and she would drive me round the bend until I snapped unless I could convince her to be sensible. “What plans do you have for us for this week? I hope it includes a lot of lazing about soaking up some sun. You won’t believe it but I’ve been growing strawberries and tomatoes at home. I hope there’s some left when I get back. I love the fresh smell you get from growing them.” “I thought we could go to Tuscon for one day, or we could go for two and stay overnight. We never did get around to going there before did we?” “Good idea mom, that sounds great. Do you mind if I borrow some of your clothes? There’s not a lot of call for shorts and strappy tops in Alaska so I don’t have a lot with me.” “Of course I don’t mind but what about your scars? People will see them.” “I don’t really care that much, but if you think they’re too bad I guess I could buy a couple of long skirts or thin pants. I’ve even brought my swim wear in case we go somewhere to swim.” I could tell that I had shocked Renee. I used to be so self conscious about my scars. Edward had taught me that they really don’t matter. If people wanted to stare, let them. Over the years I had gotten used to being stared at for one reason or another and I no longer let it bother me. Phil wanted to know why my bag was so heavy if there weren’t many clothes in it. “My massage pad takes up most of the space. Well worth it to bring it though.” Mom and Phil looked at each other and me, not recognising this person that I was now. I was more confident than I had ever been in my life before. They were used to the mousey, quiet and shy Bella. I preferred me this way. It was strange pulling up in the driveway to the house in which I had spent a lot of my growing up years. When I used to compare it to Charlie’s house it had always looked fresh and new. Now I compared it to my and Edward’s home which really was fresh and new. Without thinking I got out of the car and walked up the steps to the front door. I stopped and turned to see Renee and Phil staring at me as if I was a stranger. In a way I guess I was. They hadn’t seen me manage even a few steps like that in nearly twelve years. “My exercise regime is brilliant. And my doctor in Carcrix is excellent and has done a lot of work on my behalf in finding the best treatments for me.” “That is nice sweetheart. I’m glad you’ve got someone looking out for you. You do seem to be a lot better than you used to be, doesn’t she Phil?” Phil looked at me and smiled. “Absolutely. She looks almost as pretty as you are baby.” I had to laugh. Mom may be twenty years older than me, but there was no way I would ever look anywhere near as pretty as she. Surprisingly the week passed quite quickly for me. I went to bed early every night so that I could talk to Edward. He stayed on the line all night, humming my lullaby as I started to get sleepy, waking me if I was talking in my sleep and to tell me to start my massage pad so that I wouldn’t be stiff when I woke up properly. He also called as Masen during the day. We had to be careful to make sure I used the ear piece so that his image wouldn’t appear on my ‘phone screen for mom to see. She asked why I wasn’t going on holiday with him. “If we’re still together, maybe next year” I said thinking that it will be hard to keep making excuses. He and I would have to ‘break up’ for Renee as well as the Principal. Esme turned up to collect me in Edward’s Porsche. Even in the dark there was no mistaking the class of the car. Phil was overwhelmed and asked if he could have a little sit in the driving seat. I really didn’t get what it was about cars that made all men act like boys. My case, without my massage pad since there was no electricity where we were going, was loaded. Esme promised to drive carefully, I promised to call when we arrived at our destination and we were off. We actually didn’t go very far before Esme turned into a car park where Edward and Carlisle were waiting with Carlisle’s car. Edward opened my door and released me from my seat belt so that he could hug and kiss me. I don’t know how long it was before I heard Carlisle and Esme start to laugh and talk about us in the background. I remembered where we were and it probably wasn’t the best place to risk getting carried away. “How long did you have to wait before Carlisle and Esme caught you up?” I asked knowing that they would have raced down. “Forty-six minutes. I gave them a three hour head start to make it more interesting” Edward said. I used to be frightened being in the same car with Edward when he was driving because the speed terrified me. Now, it didn’t bother me at all. I knew that Edward would never risk my wellbeing by being too reckless. He had to drive reasonably slowly while still in town, but it wasn’t long before he just put his foot down and sped along. The drive was so smooth that I soon fell asleep. The journey that would have taken me about twelve hours Edward completed in just over four. I had to break my promise to my mom: there was no way I could call her as soon as I arrived! We were in staying in a small rundown shack. Edward assured me that it had running water via an underground spring and that there was a good fire place to light a fire to keep me warm at night if the blankets weren’t enough. “What about fuel for your Porsche?” I was worried we would be stuck in the middle of nowhere. “You were sleeping so you didn’t notice that I charged up at the last stop. There is more than enough to get us back again. Let’s get you in and in bed for a few more hours. I can do the unpacking and sorting out while you sleep. Send Renee a text to say you’re stopping for some sleep so she won’t be expecting you to call any time soon.” I wanted to argue with him, but he was right, I needed a lot more sleep and it was a good idea to keep mom calm. It was cold at night in the hut but I slept in my warm sweat suit wrapped in the thermal blankets that Edward provided. I woke to beautiful sunshine and the smell of grilling bacon. “I thought you could have the treat of one small bacon roll. How did you sleep love?” “You tell me. I don’t remember dreaming, I don’t feel stiff so I guess you stretched my muscles thank you, and I feel quite rested. What time is it?” “Just after seven. I sterilised the bucket and dug you some holes to fill out back. There’s a tap out there too that you can use to rinse it.” Edward was clearly amused at the deprivations due to the lack of bathroom facilities that I would have to put up with. “Whose dumb idea was it to come here?” I asked even though I knew the answer. “Yours, you wanted us to be completely alone and we are. There are no thoughts for me to hear so there are no people for miles around us. I don’t ever remember hearing such silence for so long. It’s almost uncomfortable. You’ll have to talk to me more so I don’t go crazy.” I thought he was already crazy. He knew I wasn’t the most verbose conversationalist. Squatting over a bucket was not the easiest of manoeuvres I’ve ever done, but at least I could do it. Twelve months previously it would have been an impossibility and I would have scoffed at the idea that I would ever be able to do it. I was helped by the fact that Edward had gauged out a hole in a rock to use as a stable base for the bucket and it was next to a large rock that I could use to help me stand. I felt very proud of myself for being able to empty the bucket and rinse it without undue discomfort. “Erm, Edward, since there is only cold water and no electricity, how am I supposed to wash? I am not having cold baths.” “There’s an old tin bath in the shed out back. I’ll just have to heat water over the fire for you. If it gets too bad, we can drive to Boulder City for a night at a motel. We might have to do that anyway to get more supplies unless you want to drive my Porsche into town in the daylight.” The idea of driving his Porsche at all terrified me and he knew it. “I guess I don’t mind tinned or packet food for a couple of weeks” I decided. We, well I, actually had a lovely time. I think Edward did as well. He would carry me on his back as he used to, with a small knapsack on his front for water and snacks, and he would run. I got to see more of the Colorado river and plateau than any other tourist could. “Don’t you think the power of nature, the beauty it can create is absolutely awe inspiring?” I asked as I was sat at the top of a cliff looking down at the thin ribbon of river. “That water gauged out its path through these rocks. Water did that, not TNT or other explosives. It’s amazing.” “I tell you what I think is amazing, you” and I looked at Edward in surprise at his intensity. “You are the most amazing thing that man or nature ever created. I can see that you are in some discomfort, but you don’t complain. We could have flown over the river, but you wanted to get up close and personal. The look on your face far outstrips the beauty in the landscape. I’ll never cease to be grateful for the fact that you took me back, never!” Sometimes I still found it hard to quite believe that Edward loved me as much as I loved him. How was it possible that this extraordinary being saw anything in ordinary me let alone enough to adore me the way he seemed to? And I got to see Edward totally naked in the sunlight: his beauty was more awe inspiring than anything else that nature could create. We, well Edward, drove to Las Vegas for two nights half way through our holiday. “I can hear thoughts again” Edward said as we got close to the city. “I don’t know how you can bear the silence of only hearing your own thoughts all the time. I suppose you get used to it.” “Then you should have fallen in love with someone who wasn’t a mental mute. I don’t know how you can bear to hear other people all the time. No silence to just be able to concentrate on what you think and feel, although I forgot, you’re a vampire with the ability to focus on a number of different things at the same time” I was a little snide. Edward naturally checked us into a five star hotel. I grumbled a bit, but didn’t complain too much since he agreed to stay in the middle of nowhere with me. I did feel a little self conscious walking through the hotel in my holiday dirt. We spent practically the whole time in our suite. “Why did you decide to stay here if all we’re going to do is stay in the room?” I asked thinking that we could just as easily found a hotel bathroom in a closer town. “Because I like to gamble and I actually thought we could spend some time in the Casino. How was I to know that you would be so insatiable that you wouldn’t want to leave the bed except to use the bathroom?” “Because it is a very comfortable bed and a very good bathroom. You could always go down while I’m sleeping” I offered knowing that I actually wouldn’t like it if he did. “I have a confession to make. I did go down for a couple of hours this morning. It actually wasn’t much fun without you.” “Oh. Did you win?” which I actually thought would be a silly question. “I won at poker, but then lost it all on roulette so I finished even” he shrugged. “I really don’t think it fair that you play poker with your special abilities” I said in firm disapproval. “If my face didn’t give away every emotion, and I had even the slightest mathematical ability, I would suggest that you teach me how to play so that I could challenge you.” “I wouldn’t want to take your money love. You work too hard for it” Edward laughed at me. “Although now that you are openly living with me you get a share of the family income. I have no scruples about taking that!” “What do you mean? I’m not openly living with you yet. Not until we get to New York, and even then, I still don’t like it since I’m not contributing to the family.” I had forgotten about the agreement I had reached with Carlisle. Then I remembered another aspect of it. “In any case, I need to save my money for my surgeries.” “You do contribute love. You are the link between us and the Quileute. Without you we would still be mortal enemies and we as well as the Quileute would have lost out there. Also, you make me happy. That is an important contribution to the family. In fact the whole family missed you and felt the pain of your loss – even Rosalie, more so because of the effect your loss had on the rest of us, but we need you to complete the family.” I looked at him in amazement. How could I be an important member of the family? I thought over Edward’s words. He had promised to tell me nothing but the whole truth so he had to mean what he was saying. “You have given me so much too” I replied, and I wasn’t referring to material things like the house. “Seeing you happy makes me happy so I’m a double winner.” “We both are, love. We both are.”