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1.Time. In my human life it had meant minutes, hours, days, weeks….But in my new life, my immortal life, time should have been almost non-existent. Passages of time should now be measured in years, decades, centuries, forever.
A forever with Edward.
But missing a single day with Renesmee was like missing weeks. It was the only reason passing time was such an intruding part of my expansive mind. Her growth had been so rapid right from the very beginning. From that first time on Isle Esme where Edward had promised me a real honeymoon and where I realized the impossible: I was pregnant. Within weeks of my little nudger making herself known she was born a large healthy baby, with a full head of golden bouncy curls and a glistening set of sparkling white teeth.
Created from a beautiful immortal and a fragile human: half vampire; with uncanny strength, a healthy appetite for our family’s vegetarian diet and marble like skin. Her skin was as impenetrable as any vampires. Her pale, smooth skin had just a slight glisten – a sparkle that didn’t have to be hidden on sunny days in order to keep our secrets…
She was also half of that clumsy, self-conscious mortal girl who was now a foggy memory in my new highly tuned brain. Thank goodness those were the qualities of mine she did not inherit! What I did pass to her was my beating heart, warm blood and chocolate brown eyes. Eyes that Edward thought would be lost forever the day I joined my new family in their vampire world. Renesmee even had a little bit of Charlie in her with those golden curls that grew a little bit longer every day, further down her back like vines reaching for a new place to tether. Those golden curls now hung just past her waist. It had recently crossed my mind that we were going to have to cut her hair soon.
Edward and I were on the back porch of the Cullen house watching our daughter leaping and bounding through the grass with her Jacob wolf and as the dusk approached we sat watching the sky fill with a rainbow of colours I couldn’t even name. With her constant running through the damp mossy woods up the mountainous coastline with Jacob she certainly couldn’t have her hair at her ankles which is where it would be soon enough but I just couldn’t bear the thought of cutting it.
Edward placed his hand on the small of my back and leaned into me, his voice sounded like wind chimes in a gentle breeze. “I don’t think that you have to worry about cutting her hair love.” His sweet breath of honey, lilac and sunshine filled my nose and entranced me and I leaned closer resting my smooth hard lips on his jaw.
I knew I hadn’t actually said anything yet and the puzzled expression on my face quickly turned into a little smile. I still wasn’t used to Edward being able to hear my thoughts. At first, spreading my shield away from me enough to let Edward in took effort and concentration but the growing contentment of my perfect life made me feel safe and protected in a way that was so new to me. By the time the summer was at its peak and the days were long I was beginning to extend my shield almost like a reflex, without even thinking and soon Edward was hearing my thoughts without me even having to focus on it.
Renesmee and Jacob were playing a game of hide and seek to the west of the Cullen house near the cool waters of the creek. Nessie moved like a graceful ballerina and it was a mind blowing thought to acknowledge that she was at an age where most children would just be learning how to walk. Jacob was hidden a couple hundred yards away in the tall grass, not making a sound but his efforts were futile and he knew it. Renesmee’s vampiric eye sight and impeccable sense of smell made this game impossible for either of them to win or lose but Jacob played with her anyway for her delight in finding him. This time he let her sneak up behind him and as she leaped onto the back of his long russet coat giggling he stood up on his long muscular legs and pranced towards us as she held on tight.
Edward smiled a wide grin as tiny diamond sparkles danced off his perfect white teeth and the brilliance of them momentarily distracted part of my newborn mind with their beauty. My new mind was so full of thoughts and constantly brimming over with sensory overload. My brain felt like a huge perfectly organized warehouse where I could store and access all sorts of intense thoughts and emotions. And in one part of my mind I was still considering the already constant mess Renesmee’s hair was always in when she came back from one of her adventures in the woods with Jacob….and if she were to get it tangled when she was running….no, we were going to have to cut it…
Edward continued listening to my thoughts and he spoke again; “Look closely, at her hair.” His melodic voice sounded almost relieved. She was always changing, minutely but consistently, enough that vampire eyes could detect the swiftness of it. Edward turned his content gaze towards his daughter bounding towards us on the back of a monstrous Jacob wolf. The tall grass was swaying gently in the warm summer breeze and I could smell the crisp, organic smell of the river running in the distance like it was at my feet. It was one of the few cloudless days in Forks and the smells of the surrounding pacific-northwest forest were heightened by an entire day of sunshine. The smells of dirt, moss, bluebells, sap…The SMELLS! They went on and on.
Jacob’s large paws stopped silently at our feet and Renesmee crawled off Jake’s back and into Edward’s arms. Her golden curls were reflecting the brilliance of the pink and orange sunset and were now exactly an eighth of an inch past her bottom. As Nessie sat nestled on Edward’s chest he pointed to the tips of her long soft hair. I paid attention now to what Edward was pointing to.
“Edward! How did I miss this!? When?” I had been paying such close attention to the passing time and her rapid growth. I was too busy watching my little girl change so swiftly that I hadn’t stopped to see what wasn’t changing. As I examined her now I was glad and relieved at what I was seeing. Her hair had stopped growing! Edward answered with gladness in his voice. “I noticed yesterday. I told Carlisle but he wanted to take a few more measurements first before he had decided that it actually had stopped growing.”
“This is the first time anything on her has stopped growing since she was born,” I said in wonderment. My new vampire eyes were very good at measurements. I was relieved. A delay in any part of her growth even if it was just her hair thrilled me because it was at least something that had stopped growing on her. As the weeks and months past, her body had consistently lengthened and her features matured. I marvelled at her developing beauty and her astonishing intelligence. It was very frightening: while most people had years to watch their babies grow, I only had 7 short ones until my child would become her own women
Edward felt my relief and put his arm around my waist as we continued to watch the last of the days sunlight disappear into the western sky. I rested my head on Edwards shoulder and whispered more to myself; “I guess I won’t have to cut it!” Of course Edward heard me and gave a quick chuckle.
“What?” I asked quizzically.
Edward, keeping his eyes focused on the disappearing sun answered lightheartedly. “Not that she would have let you…she got her stubbornness from her mother.”
I lightly jabbed him in the ribs.
“Ow,” he rubbed his side.
“Sorry.” I kissed his shoulder. Besides my inexplicably easy transitioning into vampire life including what was supposed to be a very difficult first year, one of my favourite unexpected vampire traits I was uniquely in possession of was my unwavering strength. I was as strong as the day I awoke to this world.
Edward was right about Nessie’s stubbornness though; and she always insists on wearing her hair down, she told me that it’s because, that’s how Jacob wears his long black hair. Renesmee is often found sleeping in his shaggy coat in the meadow when the dusk comes. Like Jacob, Renesmee had an elevated temperature and it was becoming natural for her to fall asleep outside after another one of her and Jacob’s active games of hide and seek. I wonder if I could convince Jacob to start braiding his hair….
Edward heard my thought and let out a beautiful laugh only a heightened ear could hear.
Jacob has never left Renesmee’s side since the day she was born. When he is not patrolling around Forks with his pack, Jacob spends his nights sleeping outside the cottage in his wolf form or sleeping on a couch in the Cullen’s Den. Both places of slumber that I would have never of guessed would belong to Jacob Black and Rosalie was not at all pleased with the second option. Jacob was Nessie’s protector and playmate, nothing more. With Edward able to read Jake’s thoughts, Edward knew that to be true.
Sitting here in the falling dusk watching my perfect family, which even included Jake now was more then I felt I was entitled to.
A colourful silver and blue butterfly was dancing above Nessie’s head as she sat on her father’s lap. “Look Jakey!” Renesmee squealed and leapt from Edward’s lap gracefully jumping fifteen feet in the air to gently catch the colourful butterfly. Once she was back on the ground she ran to Jake to show him her newly acquired treasure. Wolf Jacob, who was lounging in the tall grass, perked his head up to see what she had brought him in her tiny but capable hands. Jake let out a little bark and tilted his head to the side as if to say, what do you have in your hands Nessie? The gleam in Jacob’s large russet eyes showed actual excitement in her captured treasure. He was always genuinely glad to share in the joy she felt about discovering something new. She opened her hands just enough for Jacob to stick his big black nose in. She took the creature and placed it on Jacobs muzzle where is stopped to beat its wings and then quickly flew away.
Renesmee put her hand on Jacob’s furry face and he saw her butterfly capture replayed in his own mind just as it had happened moments before. She replayed his reaction to her capture over and over again. It pleased her. And it caused a momentary look of shock in Jakes eyes. I was still weird for him to see himself in his wolf form with his own eyes and Renesmee was always showing him in the other way as he called it.
Jacob spent a lot of time in his wolf form these days. I knew that unlike us, he was aging. I would spend the rest of my existence at eighteen, as would Renesmee in about six years. But Jacob, when he stopped shifting, would start to age like a normal human. Jacob’s friends and pack members once imprinted will make the conscious decision to stop shifting so they can age with their soul mates. But with Jacob it was different; Renesmee would never be older then eighteen and I knew that the thought of being without her was already unbearable. Jacob has been very vocal about never wanting to stop phasing. And could you blame him? Renesmee was going to live forever.
A few days ago when Jacob and I were out hunting with Nessie I asked him about the no phasing thing.
“Jake, has your tribe ever heard of a shifter that never stopped shifting?”
“I don’t think so Bells; there has never been any need for it. No one has ever found a reason to keep shifting.” Jacob answered distractedly and continued deeper into the pacific forest hardly making a sound. Even in his human form he was an almost silent presence in the vast and damp greenery.
I put my hand on his shoulder and the temperature difference between us was shocking. Touching Jacob was like putting my hand in a fire. I shuddered inwardly at the thought. “You’re just as much my family as the Cullens are now you know. But Jake it’s scary! The rest of us know our futures!”
“I know Bella, and it’s going to be shifting without ceasing for me.” Jacob let out a quiet chuckle that sounded like the cause of an unknown fear rather than amusement.
“We know that we have a forever with Renesmee thanks to Alice and Jaspers discovery in South America,” I say more to myself then Jake.
“Nahual,” Jacob said with indignation that I couldn’t place. Nahual was proof of the existence of other hybrids like Nessie; a discovery that brought an immeasurable amount of peace to what seemed like such a futile situation. It was a bright future for my little girl.
“Jake, I’m scared for your future.” Jacob was the only one of his kind to ever imprint on an immortal. Jacob’s muscles tensed and his response was one of determined finality.
“If Nessie is going to live forever then so am I.”
He turned his attention on Renesmee who was crouched on the edge of a rock a few feet ahead looking for something warm and wet to satisfy her thirst. Like her father, mountain lion was a particular favourite but neither Edward or I (or Jake for that matter) would let her take one down by herself. I dropped my hand from Jakes shoulder and he walked a few feet to the right behind a thick bush and emerged a large russet hunting partner for Nessie.
We spent the rest of the afternoon taking down a few deer and hunting for a bit cat for my little girl.
When that dark had changed my view from a vivid deep purple, Edward lifted our sleeping daughter from Jake’s fur and began the nightly walk down the winding path to our little cottage nestled deep in the woods beyond the river. Edward would always carry Renesmee in his arms; our 10 month old daughter who looked like she was a small five year old. Slowly, going no faster than a human saunter we would make our way home. Knowing that there will come a time soon when Nessie will be too big to carry home.
Jacob always went for the walk back with us. I ran my hands through Jake’s long coat as we headed home. His large paws hardly make a sound on the forest floor. Jacob always went in his wolf form and we would always walk in silence. When we arrived at the cottage’s heavy wooden door I gave Jacob’s furry head a pat and he ran into the dense forest to the right of the cottage to begin his nightly patrols around Forks. Since our battle with the Volturi, Jacob has spent every night patrolling with the rest of his pack. Seth, Leah, Quil, Embry and Jarod took shifts night after night searching for any danger. It seems like just yesterday the ground was snow covered and the Volturi had come and spared our lives. Barely.
Jacob’s dedication to our daughter’s protection was almost obsessive at times and nothing out of the ordinary ever happened around here anymore. Which is nice…for a change.
Inside our warm and inviting home with its rich colours and wooden accents, we made our way down the hall towards Renesmee’s room. The walls on both sides of us were lined with pictures of Renesmee taken over the last ten months starting from a newborn and onward, the most recent one taken two days ago: a five year picture history that was taken in such a short time. We tucked Renesmee into her small white four poster bed shut her bedroom door quietly. The smell of burnt driftwood and pacific redwoods filled our comfortable little home. I turned and looked at Edward and reached for his hand. “Edward, as much as it has made me apprehensive about Jacob’s monumental admiration for our daughter, I’m glad he’s here with us…the relationship I have with Jake now because of his imprinting is more than I could have asked for or deserved”
“Bella you are always underestimating what you deserve; you deserve the world, and I’m going to give it to you. I have a lifetime to do it too.” He leaned in and gave me a soft quick kiss. I can’t imagine ever tiring of Edwards lips on mine.
When I was still human my relationship with Jake was strained and it was hard for me to juggle my undying love for Edward and my love for my Jacob-the Jacob that had saved me from curling up into a ball of non-existence when Edward had left me so long ago. As much as I loved Jake I could never give him the love he wanted and our relationship was so off balance. Now though, with the unlikely of all events occurring I was free to love Jacob the way I was meant to because his heart was not being crushed in my grip. His heart now belonged to Renesmee.
Edward pulled me along to our bedroom down the hall from Renesmee’s at vampire speed. As the door silently shut behind us his hard marble lips were fiercely on mine. My hands in his perfect golden hair, my hard lips moving with his; I could taste his scent on my tongue. That perfect blend of lilac and sunshine with the sweetness of honey to it. I inhale deeply; not for the air but for his heavy breath to fill my lungs. I wonder what my scent is like?
“Honey suckles and cucumbers with a hint of brown sugar,” he whispers between kisses. We fell onto our soft king-size bed and he pressed his hard stone body into mine. His weight was crushing in a secure and sensual way. And even though I could throw him across the room if I wanted to, his body pressed to mine was safe and gratifying: such a difference from our time on Isle Esme. My hands travel down his chiseled back, every muscle and sinew felt under my sure hands.
“I’m so glad I have you Edward, always.”
“Always.” He moaned as he wraps his arms under me and around my waist. I wrapped my legs around him and pull him closer.
Suddenly a loud shriek echoes down the hall from Renesmee’s room and instantaneously we were still, and then at her bedside a fraction of a second later. She leaped into Edward’s arms sobbing and delicately placed her hands on his neck. Edward watched what she was showing him and when she was finished she turned to me and climbed into my arms with tears in her eyes and running down her rosy cheeks. “Never leave me momma! Never! Never!”
“Ssshhhhh, baby girl,” I cooed. “We will be together forever, I promise. Tell me what’s wrong Nessie.” She reached for my face and I bent my head to give her my cheek. A rush of haunting images filled my mind. Dark shadowy figures at the edge of a coastline; waves were crashing beneath them where their feet should have been but it was as if they were floating. A blazing fire raged in front of them. I shuddered and felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time: fear. In my human life fire represented warmth, comfort and light but now there was only one reason a vampire would ever be near a fire like that and that was for extermination. A nanosecond has passed and I refocused my attention to Nessie’s dream; reliving the memories in her little mind - the picture of the dark figures looming by the breaking water. Suddenly the line of figures in the sea parted in the center and two yellow hooded cloaks emerged from the beneath the sea water and floated through the opening the others had made. In unison they removed their hoods but I couldn’t see their faces because they were looking at the ground where their feet should have been. A man and a woman so still they were like statues. The women slowly looked up first; her glowing red eyes were looking right at me. She looked so familiar with her auburn hair and naïve smile. The corner of her mouth turned up in a sinister way; her top lip just a little too big for the bottom. Who was she and why do I feel like I know her yet have no memories of this woman? This vampire? Suddenly and swiftly the man jolted his head up and pointed a finger in my direction – Renesmee’s direction. His glowing eyes were burning more violently then the fire that separated him from us. Then I screamed the same piercing shriek Renesmee had let out just minutes before.
It was Charlie.
Edwards assuring voice spoke to both of us now. “It was just a silly dream sweetheart. You have seen way to much evil and danger in your short, young life.” He took Renesmee from my arms and placed her in her soft white sheets. “We are safe now, all of us” he crooned.
“And Grampa too?”
I tried my best to keep my voice as soft and calm as Edwards had just been. “Yes, and Grampa too.” I kissed my little girl as Edward turned off her little table light. We retreated to our room where I was sure that Edward would spend the rest of the night making me forget how frightened the images Renesmee had just shared actually made me.