Alternate Reality - A Twilight Story by Judith Leavell (AKA JudyLee)
An elderly woman, a 'Twihard', enters an alternate reality where the Twilight characters are real.
This fanfiction is based on The Twilight Saga, the copyrighted work of Stephenie Meyer, @2006. My other source is “Twilight, the Missing Pieces: Everything Through Edward’s Eyes” By P. A. Lassiter. The author’s website is http://palassiter.wordpress.com/ Thanks to all my sources. You have inspired me. J. Leavell
1. Alternate Reality
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 20449 Review this Chapter
As a ‘Twihard’, she was overjoyed when she heard of the new scientific breakthrough: a way to transport a person into a dimension where a fictional world becomes real.
The scientists were asking for volunteers. The downside, which deterred most people from signing up, was they had not been able to return test subjects to this dimension. They weren’t really sure that it worked. Objects and animals disappeared from the test site. However, since they could not bring them back, they didn’t know if they arrived at the desired destination. They were trying to create a portable return site that a person could take with them, but it was not yet perfected. The only people who volunteered were those who had ‘no life’ here and believed that they would be happier in a fictional world they loved. Like Judy Lee.
Shortly after her 75th Birthday in October, she signed the waiver giving them permission to send her with no guarantee of return. They explained that ‘when’ they perfected the portable return site, they would send one through to her same coordinates. She requested that the package be well-padded and water-proofed. The Olympic Peninsula is practically a rain forest. They agreed.
They told her she could take as many items she as could pack onto her body. They couldn’t guarantee that a suitcase would land in the same spot, or worse, would become part of the person being transported.
When she prepared for her ‘trip’ she carefully layered clothing --long johns, jeans, slacks, sweatpants, tank top, tee shirt, long-sleeved tee shirt, flannel shirt, hoodie-sweater, jacket and parka. She put in her pockets spare underwear, socks, tennis shoes (she wore hiking boots), hair brush, tooth brush and paste, her cell phone and what money she could scrape up. She flattened a light-weight backpack between shirts. She had no one to notify. Her family had already given up on her. Judy Lee stood on the red spot inside the contraption. She had given them her best guess where the Cullen house was located. Fortunately she landed at the end of the driveway facing the front of the house.
She knew Edward would hear her silent hail if he was nearby. She thought as loudly as she could, “Edward Cullen. I am human. I come in peace. I am in front of your house. Can you hear me?” She waited several minutes. Maybe Edward wasn’t home. She spoke aloud, “Hello! Are any of the Cullens within earshot? I am human. I am not dangerous. I would like to meet any or all of you!”
She walked eastward around the house to the south-facing glass wall. The metal shield was drawn over the glass. The house felt empty. It looked like they planned to be gone for some time.
Her hopes plummeted. As she rounded the house to the west side, she had an idea. If the wolves were patrolling maybe she could contact them. She faced the forest to the West and called as loudly as she could, “Hello! Are any of the Quileute wolves around? Seth? Leah? Quill? Embry? Sam? Please come to the Cullen house if you can hear me. I am human and I am stranded.” Breathless, she leaned against a tree and waited. If any wolves were nearby they would come to check. But… if no vampires were around would there be any wolves?
After half an hour Judy Lee was getting nervous. How long would it take to reach civilization? The Cullen driveway was three miles long. Then an undetermined distance on a dirt road would reach Highway 101. Somewhere to the south was La Push then a little farther on was Forks. She couldn’t walk that far, even if daylight lasted.
She remembered her cell phone. She pulled it out of her pocket, only to realize that this alternate reality wasn’t in range of her contract area. She called ‘611” and reached a company representative. She explained that she was lost and asked if they could contact someone to come get her. She gave them Billy Black’s name and said he was in La Push on the Quileute reservation, but she didn’t have a number. The rep found it and called. After about twenty rings, she said no one was home. She agreed to try once more. She called the Forks Police Station. Judy Lee asked to speak to Chief Charlie Swan.
When he came on the line she said, “Thank goodness! Chief Swan, you don’t know me, but I feel like I know you and Bella. I’m at the Cullen house but no one is home. I have no transportation. Could you send someone to get me, please?”
“Who is this?” Charlie’s voice was stern.
“My name is Judy Lee. I’m not from around here. I was dropped off at the Cullen house, but nobody’s here. Billy Black didn’t answer his phone, and you’re the only other person I could call. If you will come get me, I will try to explain why I’m here. I assure you this is not a prank call. Can you help me?”
“Why are you at the Cullen place?” He sounded suspicious.
“I thought at least some of them would be here so I could contact Edward and Bella. But the house is closed up like no one is returning for a while.”
“OK, I’ll come get you. You had better have a good story when I get there.”
Judy Lee sighed in relief. “Thank you, Chief Swan. I’ll wait on the front steps.”
He said, “I’m on my way,” and hung up the phone.
All she could do now was wait. She took off several layers of clothing and put them in the backpack. So many questions were in her head. “What if I can’t find them? Where will I stay? Could I get a job at my age? Is my money worth anything here?” If the scientists never developed the return system, she was stuck here. Obviously she hadn’t thought things through before she began this adventure. “It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to contact Edward. This is not my ideal dream at all!"
The police cruiser drove up to the steps and Charlie stepped from the car. She said, “Thank you for coming, Chief Swan. I am at a loss for what to do next.”
He looked at this elderly woman and said, “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on while we drive back to Forks. Get in the car and we’ll talk.” He judged her to be harmless so he opened the front passenger door. While he drove, she tried to explain about alternate realities, scientific experiments and people like her who volunteered. He shook his head when she told him that in her world his life took place in a series of fictional stories. The towns of Forks and La Push were real, but all of the people were created in the mind of a woman in Phoenix, Arizona. He said, “You know how crazy that sounds, don’t you?
Judy Lee agreed but continued to tell him about the empty life she had faced. “I lived my happiest moments while I was reading about Bella and Edward and all the people around them, including you. When the chance came to meet all of the individuals that I already loved, I couldn’t wait. I didn’t think of all the things that could go wrong. Now I’m here… with no way back.”
Charlie made a snap decision. Instead of going to Forks, he took her to the Quileute Reservation. La Push was where his girlfriend, Sue Clearwater lived. She was an Elder of the tribe. Maybe she had some idea of what to do with this strange woman.
The woman in question continued, “If I can’t contact the Cullens, or if they want nothing to do with me, maybe I can get a job here. Or maybe I’d be better off in an asylum. If that happens, maybe you could go to the Cullen place and check periodically to see if a package has been dropped at the edge of the forest. If it’s there, I could go back to my dreary but familiar life in the other reality.”
“Well, it’s quite a story. I’m taking you to the Quileute Elders. After they hear your story, we’ll figure out what to do with you.”
They stopped at Sue’s house, and Charlie told her a bit of the crazy tale. Sue called Jacob, now Chief of the tribe and he called a meeting. Charlie left her in Sue’s capable hands. Although he was aware that the Indians could change into animals, he only knew that the Cullens, and now Bella, were not exactly human.
When he reached the police station, he called Edward in Ithaca, New York. He repeated the tale Judy Lee had told him then said he had left her with the Quileutes. Perhaps Carlisle would be able to make sense of this strange woman who seemed to know Bella and the entire Cullen family. He or Edward could call Jacob after the tribal meeting and see what was going on. Charlie ended the call.
Edward frowned as he went over what Charlie had told him. What a strange tale! He thought. Could it be true? I must meet her. If I can read her mind, I’ll know if this is true. Another reality where we are all characters in a fiction book! Is that possible? Maybe this is just a crazy woman living in a delusion. If that’s true, how does she know so much about us? Wait! What if this is something cooked up by the Volturi to try to catch us revealing our existence to a human? Would they even think to create such a plan? He texted Carlisle at the University: ‘Call me ASAP.’
It wasn’t long before the phone buzzed. When he answered he heard, “What’s wrong, Edward.”
“I just got a strange call from Charlie in Forks. He picked up a woman in front of our house.” Edward told Carlisle the story he had heard from Charlie. “I don’t know how she knows about us. Charlie took her to the reservation; to Sue Clearwater. She will look after her until we are sure what is going on.” He paused. “I think we should go back to Forks and talk to this strange human. Will you go with me to evaluate the situation? Is it possible the Volturi are involved … could they be setting a trap? If this is legitimate, I need to read her mind. If you would come, you could get a psychiatric evaluation. If she is delusional, how does she know so much about us?”
“Calm down, Edward.” Carlisle’s soothing voice relaxed Edward. “It is a strange tale, to be sure. I’ll arrange for a substitute teacher to take my class for a time. We’ll fly out and get to the bottom of this right away. If it is the Volturi, you will be able to determine that as soon as you see her.”
When he arrived home, Carlisle called Jacob to see what he had learned. When he hung up he told Edward, “Jacob said the Elders had concluded that the woman was demented. However, Renesmee threw a fit when they planned to send her to the psychiatric hospital in Port Angeles. She made a good point. If the woman was allowed to tell her story to strangers, even doctors, the wolves and the vampires would be put in danger. Leah voted to eliminate her to protect everyone, but Renesmee reminded the pack that it was their duty to protect humans… no exceptions. Jacob has invited us to visit and meet this human, but reminded me that she is under the protection of the Tribe.”
Carlisle called a family meeting. He felt it necessary to inform the family of the potential threat of exposure. He warned them, though, of the consequences of breaking the treaty with the Quileutes.
Sue informed Charlie that the old woman would stay with the Tribe. The couple continued to date, but Charlie knew there was a lot Sue was keeping from him because he was an ‘outsider’. His frustration gave him the courage to ask Sue to marry him. She agreed that she didn’t want to keep secrets from him, and if they married she could tell him everything… no secrets.
Charlie invited Bella and her family to the wedding. The timing was perfect for them to meet the strange woman. Carlisle called the university to arrange a substitute for an indefinite length of time. He, Esme, Edward and Bella planned to attend the wedding. They opened the big house and called Jacob to let him know how many vampires were there. Of course, the packs already knew they had arrived. Sue asked Bella and Renesmee to help with wedding preparations. The date was set for the following Saturday. Reverend Weber and Jacob Black would preside at the duel Christian and traditional Indian ceremony. Sam and Renesmee would stand with them.
Esme stayed at the house while Edward and Carlisle met with the Elders and Judy Lee under the supervision of Billy Black and Sam Uley since Jacob was busy. The old woman smiled hugely when she saw the vampires. She stood and took their hands in hers. “Dr. Cullen… Edward… My name is Judy Lee. Thank you for coming all this way to see me and hear my story. This is not how I planned our meeting; nothing has gone as I had planned!” She grimaced.
Carlisle smiled at her and said, “Please, call me Carlisle. I am very interested in hearing your story.” He has centuries of practice with making humans feel comfortable around him.
“You must know by now that I am not your run-of-the-mill human. I know all of your family and love them as my own. I will try to explain my situation to your satisfaction. I truly believe that I am not the threat most humans with my knowledge would be.” Judy Lee looked earnestly into their eyes.
She was asked to repeat her story in her own words, though they had heard it from Jacob. Edward paid attention to her thoughts as well as her spoken words. He said little except to ask a few questions inspired by her thoughts. He knew Sam was uncomfortable with his ‘gift’.
The wolves had noticed an odd difference in her scent, but not enough to reject her claim to humanity. The vampires, with their keener senses were able to detect an alienness to her scent that was strange enough they thought even Jasper would not consider her to be edible. It lent some credibility to her claim that she was not of this world. When they returned to the house, Edward filled in the bits she had thought but not spoken.
Edward and Bella spent several hours a day with Judy Lee and Renesmee. He chatted with her while his wife and daughter worked out the details of the wedding. He was embarrassed to learn how much she cared for him. She was thinking, ‘I’m not really too old for him. He isn’t really seventeen.’ However, he also saw the she loved Bella and the rest of the family, too. They spoke very little, as he mostly read her mind, occasionally asking questions. She told him what she knew about the history of his family, including a surprising number of details. She also knew the importance of keeping her existence from the Volturi. She knew that secrecy was the key.
The wedding was beautiful and moving, though very unconventional. The newlyweds spent a week at a motel in Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. There Charlie learned the secrets of the tribe and the existence of vampires, including Bella. He learned about Renesmee’s situation, too. As he realized that this kind of information must remain secret he decided he could no longer be Chief of Police in Forks. It would be too hard to lead the double life that would be necessary.
After the honeymoon, he resigned his position, sold his house and moved onto the reservation with his bride. Billy was delighted as he could spend more time with his old friend without keeping secrets. They talked about the Cullens and the unusual qualities that made them different from the vampires that the packs hunted and killed. He was glad his daughter had at least joined a family with a moral background.
Renesmee spent a week with the Cullens, catching up on family trivia. She brought Judy Lee to the house and let her get the feel of the family she knew so well from her books. Carlisle and Esme went back to Ithaca to fill in the rest of the family. He went back to work, and Alice, Jasper and Emmett went to meet Judy Lee. Rosalie refused to go.
Emmett took to her right away. She laughed at his jokes and he loved that she knew so much about him and admired his strength and joyful attitude. He called Rose and tried to convince her that the old woman really loved her, too. She stubbornly remained skeptical and refused to travel to meet her.
Judy Lee and Alice talked a long while before the vampire accepted that she was okay. The old woman knew things about her past that she hadn’t been able to uncover.
“You could see things in the future even when you were very young. At first the family took it in stride that you would know when it was going to rain, though the sun was shining, or when Grandma was coming to visit. But as you got a little older, you told your friends and family about dangers to them that you had foreseen. When they ignored you and people were hurt or died, they claimed you had cursed them and made those things happen. They began to think you were a witch or a devil-child. Your father arranged to have your mother killed and when you accused him he plotted your death, too. You saw it coming and went to the marshal in town, but it was too late. Your father convinced the marshal that you were crazy and you were admitted to an insane asylum.
“An old groundskeeper, who was also a vampire, worked at the asylum. He was able to feed on patients because no one would miss them if they disappeared. He liked you and took you under his wing. He was able to keep you from some of the worst tortures and shock treatments. You knew when James found your scent. You were his ‘la tua cantante’, like Bella was to Edward. The old vampire bit you as a last resort to save you. He left you and put himself between you and James even though he knew he would not survive… But it gave you time to become worthless to James. The shock of the transformation made you forget him and your time in the asylum. Your first vision when you recovered was of finding Jasper.”
Alice intended to track down what she heard to make sure it was real. She really did not like the gaps in her history and she remembered the last part about Jasper. She loved that Judy Lee wanted clothes designed by AliceRoi Fashions.
Though Jasper still reserved judgment, even he was impressed with her knowledge. She had revealed things to him that he had never told anyone. How could she have known his fear that Maria was planning to kill him? He has said little to his family about his years as a nomad. Only Edward could have heard the thoughts he would never speak. This strange woman had told him, “I cried for you when I read about how painful it was to dispose of Maria’s soldiers when they passed the newborn stage. I knew people like her in my world…capable leaders, but not very nice. When Peter came back for you, I was relieved that you didn’t have to be around her anymore.”
She even knew that he had problems with depression because of feeling his victims’ pain and fear. Tears came to her eyes when she shared her knowledge. She really did feel sorry that he had to go through that suffering.
Jasper was still wary, but she finally convinced him that she would never betray them or hurt Alice. He could feel her sincerity and the love that she felt for all of them. He accepted her conditionally, but continued to watch her carefully. She did have that strange scent and truly didn’t make him thirsty. It added credence to her story.
Edward watched Jasper as he walked away from the old woman. Jasper is in a strange mood. He told Bella his story several years ago, but hearing it from someone else seems to have put things in a different perspective. Judy Lee told him she cried for his pain. I think that’s the first time anyone ever said that to him. It also made him think about how being a part of this family has changed him. It seems Judy Lee has an unusual way of seeing things. Edward had silently listened to all the conversations the woman had with his family members. He, of course, heard more than they did. The more he heard, the more he believed her. No human in this world could know so much about them without giving herself away to the Volturi, or even to a passing nomad. He thought she would surely have talked about her knowledge to other humans, but she apparently had not spoken to anyone before Charlie took her to the reservation. She didn’t even tell him that she knew about vampires. She waited until she spoke to Jacob to reveal that knowledge. When Nessie took her back to the reservation at the end of the week, he talked with his siblings about her. He Skyped Carlisle to include him in the conversation. Esme and Rosalie were listening, too.
“She is certainly an interesting lady. She seems to be quite intelligent. She imagines herself to be much younger than her actual years. Her life in the recent past has been less than desirable so she has lost herself in fantasy. This group of ‘scientists’ has given her a new purpose. I don’t think she really thought through the ramifications of what she has done. If she is here for the rest of her life, will she regret it? Will she be able to accept that the fictional world she immersed herself in is not all there is to our reality? Maybe the return machine will arrive before she regrets her decision… or she may be able to adapt. She has told me in her thoughts that she would love to become a part of the Cullen family. She believes she is too old to become a vampire. She wouldn’t want to live forever as an old woman. She thinks she may have a decade or more to live, though. What do you each think of bringing her into our home?”
Everyone looked at Carlisle. He said thoughtfully, “When I met Judy Lee I thought she was relatively harmless except for her vast amount of forbidden knowledge. She knows our history with an amazing amount of detail. I think she would add an interesting sideline for a few years. You have all spoken with her. What do you think, Jasper? Have you felt any threat as you have been around her?”
Jasper looked at Alice. She was smiling and nodding. He spoke to Carlisle. “I was worried that her knowledge would endanger us. She has been extremely careful, though, not to talk to anyone who is not familiar with our secrets. She is empathetic to our feelings, and does her best not to step on any toes. She actually cried when she was talking to me, because I had suffered. I would continue to watch her but I think she might even be fun if we keep her. Alice, what do you think?”
“I think Judy Lee is delightful. She does seem to really love us. I want her around so I can make clothes for her. I don’t know why we can’t keep her safe and secret. We just won’t tell anyone we have her.”
Bella looked at Edward then at Carlisle. “I like her. She knows how I felt about Edward when I was human. I kept the secret. I think she will too. I vote to let her stay with us at least for a little while.”
Emmett looked at Rose. “Baby, I want her to come, too. She’s funny. You know, she loves you, too. She knows all about how you saved me from the bear. She thinks you’re beautiful! And smart! She said you were the prettiest lady in both worlds! Rose, she laughs at my jokes and lets me spin her around. Please, let her come stay with us.”
All eyes turned to Rosalie. She didn’t want to be the center of attention. She also didn’t want to be the only hold-out. She sighed. “All right! But if she causes any trouble, she’s out of here, right? You’d better be sure about this. Just keep her out of my way!”
After considerable discourse on the subject, it was decided that Judy Lee would remain on the reservation for now, with visits from members of the family regularly, getting to know her better. The official story was that she was Renesmee’s great-grandmother on Esme’s side. That led to her being called ‘grandma’ most of the time. Emmett loved it. He began calling her Little Grandma whenever he came to visit. The name stuck, and she became an honorary member of the family.
The Little Grandma spent a lot of time with Nessie, working in the house, gathering herbs, nuts and berries from the forest, going for walks on the beach and sharing stories about the Cullens and the packs. They became quite close as they both waited for visits from their family. They loved to sit on cool evenings watching TV or listening to music and drinking tea. Judy Lee found that she was very fond of an herb tea that Nessie told her had been known forever by the Quileutes and used to calm or relax.
Edward and Bella visited most frequently. On a visit a few months after her arrival Judy Lee turned to looked at Edward. ‘Could perhaps another wish come true? I know you’ve heard me thinking about it.’
He looked at Bella. “She wants to ride on my back while I run. She said she has wanted to experience it since you rode from the meadow the first time.” He smiled down at her. “Maybe she would accept a ride from you, instead. That would be more respectable, don’t you think?” She grinned back at him and nodded.
He looked a little uncomfortable as he said, “Little Grandma, I carried Bella that way because I love her. I think it might be inappropriate to carry anyone else that way.”
Bella laughed. “I got sick that first time. Let’s show him how it should be done. Let me carry you, Little Grandma!”
Edward carefully adjusted her on Bella’s back and soon the three were racing through the forest. They stopped in a small clearing and Edward asked, “Are you OK?” She nodded. “It was wonderful! It’s a great way to travel!”
As time passed and they became familiar with her, they took ‘Grandma’ to the cottage, the meadow, the baseball field. They surprised her with a visit to a little-known hot springs, where she could soak and relax in the hot water.
She asked about Port Angeles, but they thought it too risky. There could be someone there who remembered the Cullens from years before.
On one visit, Renesmee went with her mom and dad on a vegetarian vampire hunt. Jacob and Judy Lee stayed at the house to catch up on his story. They talked about the time Bella spent with him while Edward was gone. He still couldn’t get used to how much she knew about them. She told him some of what she knew about Edward’s travels during that time, and assured him that Edward had never stopped loving Bella. He thought leaving was in her best interests.
Jacob said, “If she hadn’t jumped off the cliff and put everything in motion, I could have eventually made her happy.”
Judy Lee said, “She could have been reasonably happy. But Edward has always been her ‘true love’ and she would always have missed him. Her love for Edward and his love for her is much like the ‘imprinting’ that the wolves experience. When he thought she was dead, he went to the Volturi to have them kill him. He knew from Carlisle’s experiences that he couldn’t kill himself, so someone else would have to do it.” Jacob mumbled that at the time he would have been glad to do it for him.
She spoke seriously. “Jacob, if you had married Bella, you could both have been moderately happy. But she would never have experienced the ecstatic joy she found when she married Edward. You would never have met Nessie, who is now the love of your life. When we try to force our decisions onto the natural order of things, then we screw up what would have been the perfect choices for us.”
Jacob pondered this and said, “I hadn’t thought about it like that. The way it worked out was the best way, wasn’t it?”
She nodded. “I came here thinking this was the best course for my life but nothing has gone the way I planned it, and I don’t know where my life is going from here. Maybe you’ll find my package and I’ll go back to my other reality. Maybe that’s what was meant to be. I hope I’ll eventually be able to spend my remaining years with the Cullens. That would be best for me, but I don’t want to be a burden to them. Maybe it would have been best if I had just stayed home and never come here.”
Jacob gave the old woman a hug and said, “But maybe this is the right future for you after all.”
A wolf or a visiting Cullen would often check the area where a package would be found if the ‘scientists’ ever developed a return device. No one really expected to find one though. Judy Lee had showed Edward an image of the experimental equipment and the young men who had designed it. Edward had chuckled as he told his family that they seemed to be college science students who got carried away with their experiment. On one occasion she lamented her lack of preparedness. “I thought I was well prepared when I came through. I thought I had everything I needed. But I forgot a lot of essentials: my birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security card… I don’t have a Passport because I have never gone anywhere. I don’t have anything to prove that I am who I say I am. I didn’t bring any of my medications. I did bring all my cash, but I don’t even know if you have the same money here.”
Carlisle and Esme made a weekend trip, and they went through the rooms listening to Judy Lee tell them what she knew about each one. She told them together what she had read about their stories. They were very still as she related how Carlisle had planned to change Edward’s mother but was too late. “It was her dying request that you save Edward. ‘Do what only you can do for him’ she said.”
Carlisle smiled and walked toward her. “You really do know a lot of details about us, don’t you? It’s hard for me to get used to the idea that you are so familiar with us, and we know so very little about you.” Esme remained very still but sadness filled her eyes.
Judy Lee ignored the last part of his statement and looking into his eyes, speculated, “You know, Carlisle, if you had been able to save Elizabeth Masen you would have married her, because it was the honorable thing to do, and I think you could have been happy with her.” She paused and looked at Esme, then back to him. “But Esme is your soul mate. She felt it in some way ten years before when she first met you, treating her broken leg. I think you felt it too, but she was just a child. You knew it was true when she came to you again, broken and dying. You changed her and finally found the mate you had been seeking. “She has loved you all these years, but secretly felt that she was your second choice. She has tried to be everything you could want, while feeling that she couldn’t mean to you what Elizabeth Masen would have.” Judy Lee stopped and looked down at her hands. “I shouldn’t have blurted it out like that, but it is true. She loves you more than you will ever know.”
Carlisle flitted to Esme and wrapped his arms tightly around her. He whispered, “My love. My one true love. You were never second place. There has never been anyone else who has been so right for me. You complete me.” He sighed and looked at this strange human. “You truly do know us well. Did you memorize those books? I couldn’t have told you my story any better.”
“I just read them so many times. They were real to me before I came here. You and your family were… are… more real to me than my other life was. This is my life… coming here; confiding what I know. You know, if I were younger I would ask you to change me; but I’m too old. I wouldn’t want to live forever being old.” She got all teary-eyed. “I just want to live out my life with my new family.”
Carlisle put his hand on her shoulder. “Judy Lee. Breathe slowly. Calm down. Your pulse is racing. “Let’s not make tonight your last one, all right?”
She took slow deep breaths. “I’m sorry. I got carried away, didn’t I? Oh!” She saw the carved cross that was still at the end of the second floor staircase. “I think this is one of the most fascinating things in the books. How wonderful that you would keep your father’s cross all these years! I wanted to ask you… When did you get it? That wasn’t in the books.”
He smiled. “I got word that the old church was going to be demolished. That was about 1790. I swam to London and retrieved the cross at night. I took an old abandoned fishing barge, shored it up, and towed the cross to America. I own several houses and stored it in one until my ‘family’ began to form. It has followed us ever since.”
“Thanks, Carlisle. I always wondered.” She yawned, looking embarrassed. “It’s so inconvenient to need sleep… and food… and other ‘human necessities'."
They let her eat then settled her into Edward’s old room -- her choice. When she was asleep, they went to their room to reconcile what they had learned from the human. Oddly, the shared knowledge brought them closer than ever. Esme was relieved to learn that she had always been his true love.
There were more short visits. Judy Lee had spent over a year with the Quileutes and had reluctantly concluded that the routine visits were going to be the closest she would get to her family. She was grateful that Nessie seemed to love her. Jacob was kind to her, too. One evening when the two women were sharing tea and conversation she mentioned that in all this time she had never seen even one member of the packs in wolf form.
The next day, Jacob came home as a giant russet wolf. Nessie grinned at her and said, “Go on. Give him a big hug. He won’t bite!” She laughed as the old woman walked toward Jacob with a hand extended. This was how she had learned to greet animals for the first time. Jacob waited until she touched the tip of his nose then licked her face. He grinned a wolfy grin with his tongue lolling to one side.
Judy laughed and wrapped her arms around his big neck. She buried her face in his fur and said, “Oh, Jacob. I have wanted to do this for so long! You are as beautiful a wolf as you are a man. Thank you for this wonderful experience!”
Edward came for a visit by himself because Bella was working with Esme on a project. He hugged Nessie and Grandma then excused himself. He found Jacob and requested a formal conference. Jacob called the Elders together and waited for Edward to begin. He asked them if it would be possible to take Judy Lee to New York. “I have seen in her mind that she wants to go, but thinks it will never happen. The only drawback has been Rosalie, who didn’t want the intrusion into her life. Emmett has convinced her to meet the human and give her a chance. We would keep her on the grounds or go with her whenever she goes someplace else. I have seen in her mind that she would never intentionally betray us or the Tribe, but we would see to it that there will be no chance of an unintentional slip. If you allow her to go with me I will assure her safety. No harm will come to her. Even Rose will honor the treaty.”
Edward visited with his daughter while the Elders conferred. They didn’t want him close enough to ‘listen’ in. Both women were delighted to see him. The three had a nice visit but he didn’t tell them about his meeting. If they said no, he didn’t want Judy Lee to get her hopes up. Seth came for them when the decision was made. He was glad to see Edward and couldn’t keep secret that they had decided to let her go.
Jacob spoke for the Tribe when they arrived. “We are willing to allow Judy Lee to leave the reservation on the assurance of Edward Cullen that she will come to no harm. If at any time she wants to come back to us or if she is put in jeopardy by staying in New York, she is to be returned immediately.”
He smiled at the old woman. “Grandma, do you want to go to New York with Edward? You can say no if you want to stay here. If you decide to go, you will remain under the protection of the Tribe, no matter how far away you are. We have Edward’s guarantee that you will not be in any danger. What do you say?”
Judy Lee was speechless. When she caught her breath she looked at Edward. “You want me to live with you? I can stay with the whole family? Wait. Is Rosalie okay with it?”
Edward laughed and said, “She’s willing to try. If she can’t handle it she can find someplace else to live. Do you want to come?”
She wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged her head into his cold chest. She started to cry; she couldn’t believe her dream was finally coming true. He gave her a brief hug, then gently unwrapped her arms and held her away from him. “I take it that is a ‘yes’?
Edward called Carlisle from Nessie and Jacob’s house while Judy Lee gathered her things. Esme would prepare a room with an adjoining bathroom. Humans have more needs than vampires. Then he called Charlie. Sue had informed him of the decision, and he came to say goodbye. He shook Edward’s hand and hugged Judy Lee. “Give Bella a hug from her old Dad, will you?”
Nessie hugged Grandma and leaped into Edward’s arms and whispered, “Bye, Daddy. I’ll miss you. Tell Mom I love her. Just because you have Grandma now doesn’t mean you have to stay away.”
Charlie and Jacob laughed, because Renesmee looks older than Edward, now. Edward grinned at them and said, “No matter how grown up she looks, she will always be her daddy’s little princess. You two take care of my baby, you hear?”
When the farewells were over, Edward drove Little Grandma to the big house to close everything down. He took her to Jasper’s office and created a birth certificate, social security number and passport. He took a deep breath and said, “Judy Lee, I don’t know how this will work out. Rose will leave if she can’t handle it. Everyone else is looking forward to your arrival. It’s not every day that we add a member to the family. None of us have had a grandma in a very, very long time.”
The grandma in question said, “I’ll do my best to make Rosalie feel comfortable around me. I don’t want to chase her from her home.”
As they walked toward the terminal at SeaTac Airport, Judy Lee mentioned that she hadn’t ever been to New York. He asked if she had traveled much and she shook her head. “I haven’t flown much, either. When I was in high school, my boyfriend took me up once in a two-seater Cessna.”
Conversation stopped as Edward checked them in. He bought her a sandwich and a soda, and asked her to continue her dialogue while they waited for their flight.
“Once I took a short flight from Reno to San Francisco then transferred to a small prop plane to get to Sacramento. Three times I flew to Hawaii with friends.” He saw in her mind how exciting it was to travel on her birthday in first class. He smiled. “The last time I flew was to Florida to see my son and his family several years ago. I really have not traveled much.”
He asked if she had ever left the country. “Not really. Once I went on a date to Tijuana. Does that count?’ They both laughed.
Their flight was announced. They boarded, and nothing after that was familiar. They were escorted to a private room with a cushioned couch and a coffee table set with hors-d'oeuvres. Soft music was playing. There was a TV and a computer on one side. Edward chuckled as she took in the differences from first class to Luxury class. An attendant asked if they wanted drinks. Judy Lee asked for tea, and it arrived almost immediately. She nibbled some of the snacks and drank her tea. They watched TV for a while. The human’s eyes started to droop and suddenly a pillow and blanket appeared. Edward dimmed the lights. The TV went off and the soothing music lulled her to sleep.
Edward trespassed in her dreaming mind. A beautiful and much younger Judy Lee was alone with Edward in the meadow. They were both on a blanket in each other’s arms. He was proclaiming his love for her as he was bringing her to the peak of…. He tried in vain to block the dream. He switched from music to the TV; a western shootout blared from the screen. The noise penetrated her dream… She was on the steps of the saloon in an old fashioned dress and bonnet. She was holding back a scream as she watched Edward and Felix facing off with big pistols in the street at high noon. As she screamed Edward’s name she sat up and opened her eyes.
She turned and saw him gripping the arms of his chair. He was very still, staring at her with an odd expression. She stared back at him, hypnotized. He was so beautiful! Then she remembered her dream. Horrified, she thought, ‘I’m sorry, Edward. I have loved you for so long. I know it’s foolish, because of course Bella is the only one you will ever love in that way. But I would be happy just to be in your presence. I wouldn’t be any trouble. I would fix my own meals and clean up after myself. I wouldn’t get in your way. I could sleep in a corner of the room with a blanket. I would try not to think things or dream dreams that would embarrass you. Please don’t send me away! Sorry, I seem to be begging now. Whatever you decide, I will honor your decision.’ He broke eye contact with her, and she looked down at her feet. ‘How embarrassing! I wish I could keep from dreaming things like that. Maybe I should pray that the return machine will come soon so I wouldn’t be a problem to everyone.’
Edward took a deep breath. “Judy Lee, I don’t know what will happen.” He grinned at her. “I don’t think we will have to resort to a blanket on the floor… our ‘pet human’. I am sorry you have such strong feelings for me. That is a little uncomfortable for both of us. But I can tell that you love Bella, too, so maybe we can find a compromise. Everything is just so new and strange for you right now.”
To change the subject they talked about how they could keep her occupied if she stayed with them. She knew about Isle Esme. Perhaps Bella and Esme could take her there. Alice could take her shopping. They had more than enough books, movies and music to keep her busy. Possibly she could meet the Denali’s.
Carlisle met them at Tomkins Regional Airport. He welcomed Judy Lee to the family and tucked her under the car blanket in the back seat. Edward filled him in on their list of things to do. Carlisle spoke silently, ‘It may be a moot point. She may not fit in. We could be returning her to Jacob soon. It’s a long shot, but her ‘package’ might arrive in the near future.’
Edward chuckled quietly. In vampire sotto voce he said, “I wouldn’t count on that. Remember, the ‘scientists’ who did this were college kids. I’ll be surprised if it isn’t years, or never.”
She tried to stay awake, afraid of what she would dream. As she dozed off to the soft hum of the engine and a CD of Edward’s music, a kind of peace settled over her. As she drifted into a doze, she thought, ‘This is going to work. Every-thing is going to be all right. I know these people. I love them. I will do my best to make them love me too. This feels right, and Jasper isn’t even here to manipulate my mood. I’m supposed to be here.
Edward filled Carlisle in on her thoughts. “She’s very calm. She’s certain that she can get them all to like her… even Rosalie. She believes this is where she is supposed to be.”
Carlisle glanced back at her. “I hope she’s right. Over the last year she seems to have developed a system for how to react to us for the best reception. We’re almost home. We’ll see how it goes.”
Edward nodded. “I hope it goes as well as she thinks it will.” He listened to her sleeping mind again. This time her dream regressed to a happier time in her other world. She was caring for her mother in their home. Her daughter and family lived with them. Then her mother died. The house was sold and she and her daughter’s family had to move. She became a virtual recluse; staying in her room with her books, TV and computer. She fell more and more heavily into her fantasy life, the characters in her books becoming more desirable than those in the real world.
To Edward’s chagrin he saw his family living out their daily dramas. She touched mostly on her favorite times:
When Bella found out I was a vampire and loved me anyway.
The night Jacob spent with us in the tent before the ‘newborn’ fight.
The honeymoon. (So detailed, I would have blushed if I could.)
When I delivered Renesmee.
Our first night in the cottage. (More details!)
My talk with my daughter about morals and the value of marriage.
She stirred and slept dreamlessly after that. He told Carlisle how accurately she dreamed. There could be no doubt that their lives were chronicled in books in her world.
Judy Lee watched excitedly out the window as Carlisle drove through a wooded suburb northeast of the city called Cayuga Heights. An isolated private road ended at a large Tudor-style home with extensive gardens backing onto a small forest. He pulled up to a three-car garage and one of the doors opened automatically.
“What a beautiful home!” she exclaimed. “But Esme would have nothing less, I’m sure.” Now she was beginning to feel a little nervous. She was actually here, and the family was waiting in judgment. “I hope I pass muster.”
Edward helped her from the car and grabbed her backpack. He smiled and squeezed her hand in encouragement. “Don’t be nervous. You’ve been very brave up till now. You can do this.”
She gave him a wobbly smile and took a deep breath. “OK. I’m ready!” Carlisle led the way. Edward followed the human. They were all waiting in the living room. Carlisle announced, “Here’s Little Grandma!” He turned to her smiling and said, “I think you recognize everyone?
She met Esme half way in a hug. “Esme, thank you for opening your home to me. No one is more loving and caring than you.”
Esme said, “You’re most welcome, Grandma.”
“Emmett, Alice, hugs? You, too, Jasper if you want to.” They all laughed and had a group hug.
She turned to Bella, and smiled. “Hi, Bella. I brought him back safe and sound.”
Bella laughed and said, “Welcome home, Little Grandma.”
She looked toward the back of the room. Rosalie stood there stiffly defensive. Judy Lee grimaced.
“Rosalie, I know you don’t want me here. I’m an intruder, and a potentially dangerous one. If I say the wrong thing to the wrong person the Volturi will swoop in with no hesitation. I assure you, though, that I will not betray you or this family.” Smiling slightly, she continued. “I will stay out of your way. Because of my other-worldly knowledge, I think I understand some of your anger and pain. If you every want to talk, I’m here. The first move is yours. I think you are the most beautiful creature on both our worlds. Please forgive me for intruding. I love you and your family. All I ask is that you give me a chance. That’s all... Your move, Rosalie.”
She bent her head and turned away. She thought, ‘Edward, did I do all right or did I blow it?’ She looked at him and he shrugged his shoulders slightly. So the verdict is still out. ‘Oh well, I did my best.’
Emmett picked her up and spun her around, then set her gently back down. He grinned. “Don’t worry, Little Grandma, she’ll come around.”
Esme put her arm around the human and said, “Let me show you to your room.
Alice came, too. “I’ll help you put your clothes away. I’ve got some ideas about designing new clothes.”
When Esme came back downstairs, Edward hugged her. “Thanks, Mom, for stocking the kitchen. If she’s too shy to mention it, she should eat something at least twice a day. She needs water or other liquid all day long. We don’t want her to dehydrate. We should encourage a little exercise every day, too. It might be fun coming up with ways to entertain her. Give her a chance.” He looked at Rosalie, who turned and disappeared. He sighed. “She doesn’t know if she will ever be able to go back to her world. She’s trying to be optimistic about her life here. Jacob will keep watching for the return package, but the kids who sent her here don’t know if they can bring her back. Remember, they’re just science students.”
He grinned at them. “In her mind she’s a lot younger than an old woman in her mid-seventies. With proper diet and exercise she could live another twenty years or so. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a human living with us, (he winked at Bella) but we can do it. If after a time you find it too much trouble, Nessie and Jacob will be glad to keep her. All I ask is that you give it a try.”
Alice went through the backpack while Judy Lee showered. When she came out of the bathroom, Alice was sitting on the bed shaking her head. “It looks like you’ve been dressed by wolves for the past year. We definitely have to work on your wardrobe!”
Judy Lee laughed. “Well, for today at least I’m wearing jeans and a sweater. It’s a lot colder in New York than it is on the west coast. Thanks for the bathroom guest basket. I know you did it. It had everything I needed.” She dressed and they went down to the living room together.
Alice went straight to the computer to start designing clothes for Little Grandma. “Remember my age Alice, and try to be a little bit conservative, please.”
Alice laughed. “If I’m designing them they’ll have to have some pizazz!”
The human smiled at her vampire family. “I was serious about staying out of the way.” She looked around the room. “There’s a cozy corner by the window. Could I put a chair and an end table over by the bookcase?” Bella moved a recliner into the corner and Esme found a cute round accent table to put beside it. Edward added a pillow and blanket. Judy Lee sat in her corner for the first time and beamed up at them. “This is perfect! I can be with you without being in your way. I have books to read; a table for my drinks; I can look outside or nap if I get tired. I love it. Thank you.” She was quiet for a moment. “Please, don’t hang around just for my benefit. Go about your usual day and I’ll take care of myself.” Suddenly she was alone except for Alice who was still at the computer. She viewed the room from her corner and sighed with satisfaction.
Alice spoke up. “The kitchen is fully stocked. Feel free to eat whenever you want. Don’t forget liquids. Edward warned us not to let you dehydrate.”
Judy Lee stood up. “Thanks, Alice. I am a little hungry.” She went to the kitchen to learn where everything was kept. She fixed a sandwich and a glass of milk and went to eat on the patio. She didn’t stay long; it was chilly outside. She washed her dishes and put them away. She didn’t want to leave a mess. When she went to her corner with a bottle of water, the room was empty. She found a book and settled under the blanket to read. After a while she slipped into a doze.
It was late afternoon when she woke. Carlisle was in a chair nearby, reading. He looked up and smiled. “Good afternoon, Judy Lee. Are you rested?” She nodded. “I would like to arrange weekly doctor’s visits for you in my office. You are, after all, a senior citizen and I would like to monitor your vital signs while you are under our care. We want you to stay healthy and happy.”
The senior citizen laughed. “I guess I should have anticipated this, living in a doctor’s house. Isn’t it fortunate that I don’t even have to leave home for my appointments?”
He chuckled. “Now would be a good time, if you don’t mind.”
When she left Dr. Cullen’s office she heard Edward playing the piano. She saw Bella seated beside him as he played. She smiled at them and went to her corner. As she snuggled in her blanket and picked up her book she saw a portable CD player on the table. She looked at Edward and he nodded. ‘Thanks’ she thought.
That evening after she had eaten supper and gone to bed, Carlisle addressed the family. “Well done, everyone. You handled the first meeting with warmth and humor. Judy Lee desires the Cullen family to be part of her life. She knows and loves all of you.”
Edward added that she had revealed to him her fear that she would not be accepted. “This is a more permanent step than the short visits she has had with you before.”
Alice’s laughter tinkled through the room making everyone smile. “She put a lot of thought into the meet-and-greet today… she even knew the right things to say to Rose. I have seen glimpses of the future and I think everything is going to work out fine.”
Edward looked at his family. “She loves all of us in special ways. She wants to be with us but she doesn’t want to become a vampire. She said she would be happy to just live out the rest of her natural life as part of the family. She is sad that Rose won’t talk to her. She won’t make the next step, though, until Rose does.”
Emmett grinned. “She’s like an old fashioned doll. I have to be careful not to break her. I’ll work on Rose, too. I think she’ll come around.”
Carlisle added, “Think about things to do to keep her entertained, but don’t wear her out. She’s spunky, but she’s not young. She won’t need you to keep up the human façade all the time. She knows vampires do things differently and she accepts that… even embraces it. She is exhausted from the stress of this day. When humans are under a great deal of stress they handle it in different ways. Some will strike out in anger; others will pretend that the stress does not exist. Some will simply put it on hold until it can be dealt with another time. Sleep is a defense mechanism that allows her to process new information in the form of dreams. When she wakes she is able to handle the stress more easily. Edward has seen in her dreams that she files information in categories: things she must deal with now; things to deal with more slowly, and things that she can’t change so she accepts them. She seems to be most content when she has things organized in her head.”
Judy Lee woke in the early morning and thought about her first day. Except for Rosalie, everyone seemed glad that she had come. She chuckled to herself when she thought about going up to bed last night. Laid out on the bed was a lovely warm flannel nightgown and robe. On the floor were matching fuzzy slippers. She slept in her new gown and in the morning she put on her new robe and slippers to go down for breakfast. Esme had a plate of fruit and toast ready for her breakfast with a cup of coffee. “Thanks, Esme. It’s just what I wanted.” Judy Lee beamed at the motherly vampire as she ate.
Alice jumped up and down. “Hurry, Little Grandma. We’re all spending the morning in the back yard.” She winked. “The sun is shining!”
The human set her cup down. “Oh! I’ll run up and change clothes.” She quickly rinsed cup and plate and dashed upstairs. She washed her face, brushed teeth and hair and donned a long-sleeve flannel shirt, cotton slacks and tennis shoes.
Alice met her at the kitchen door and dragged her outside. They stopped when they stepped off the porch. Alice turned her loose and went to join the family. They were beautiful! Esme and Bella were tending the flowers that surrounded the yard. Emmett and Jasper were shirtless, sparring with each other. Edward, in a sleeveless tee shirt was standing near the porch watching her reactions. Carlisle was reading a book. Alice turned to look at her.
The yard was full of rainbows. Everyone was glowing. Judy Lee just stood there, speechless, her hands clasped in front of her, smiling. They stopped what they were doing and turned to see her reactions. They were all smiling; Emmett laughed. Edward came to her and said, “Is this what you expected?”
She cleared her throat. “Now I know how Bella felt that first day in the meadow. Bella, did you ever get used to it? I mean before you started sparkling, too?”
Bella appeared beside Edward and stroked his arm. She looked into his eyes and said, “No, I never got used to it. I’m still enthralled when I see him like this. He has always been beautiful to me.”
Edward kissed the top of her head and wrapped his arm around her. “As you are to me, my love.” He put his other arm on Judy Lee’s shoulder and smiled. “Come join us. We brought a lawn chair for you.”
As she sat down, Jasper appeared with a bottle of water. “Edward reminded us that you need liquids throughout the day. We want you to stay healthy and happy.” He emphasized the last word.
She grinned at him. “I don’t think I’ll have a problem staying happy, Jasper. It seems all my wishes are coming true.”
Emmett grabbed her chair and spun around the yard in seconds, then put her down. He laughed. “You’ll have to expect a lot of surprises if you stay with us, Little Grandma.”
She caught her breath and grinned at him. “Emmett, you can supply me with carnival rides whenever you want.”
She sat in the sun and watched her family sparkle as they worked and played in the back yard. Around noon, everyone left for other interests. Bella and Edward went to her and she stood up. “Bella, I haven’t seen this forest from the tops of trees. Would you and Edward have time for a sight-seeing tour?”
Edward laughed. “Shall we give her a tour, Bella?” She nodded and Edward lifted Judy Lee to her back. They ran through the forest until they came to a very tall tree. Then they went straight up. There was a large, smooth branch near the top in the sunlight. Edward set her down carefully and he and Bella watched her survey the world.
“Oh. I can see forever from here. It’s like looking from a plane, only better. Thank you for this gift.”
Edward smiled. “Our pleasure, Judy Lee. You remind me somewhat of my Bella as a human. She took us in stride, too.”
“You know, when I started reading the books, I identified with Bella.” She smiled at Bella. “I felt that you and I thought alike in many ways. We definitely have the same taste in vampires.” She glanced shyly at Edward. “Please don’t be upset with me, Bella. I love you, too, and I know you belong together.” She grinned. “I think at my age the fantasy is much better than the reality would be.”
Bella laughed. “There’s something to be said for fantasy. I couldn’t help fantasizing about Edward, either. He seems to bring out the romance in human females. He just can’t help it. I’m fortunate that he loves me, too.”
Edward put his arms around her and whispered, “I’m the fortunate one.”
Judy Lee wrapped her arms around both of them and said, “I love how you love each other. In all my life I have never found my soul mate. It’s wonderful to see couples who have. I think that’s why I became so enmeshed in my fantasies. It almost brings me to that feeling of being so loved. And the Cullens are four couples who radiate their love for each other. How could I not feel blessed to be drenched in the overflow of so much love?”
Edward kissed her head. “How would you like the return trip to be above ground? We’ll take to the trees.” He placed her securely on Bella’s back. The flight through the trees was amazing. Bella and Edward climbed and leaped from tree to tree, and by the time they got back to their home the human was breathless. When Bella set her on the ground she was flushed and excited. She almost felt light-headed.
“I think I feel a little dizzy. Probably, I forgot to breathe. Please, please, don’t let this be the last time.” They laughed as Bella put her arm around the old woman and they went into the house. A water bottle was on the kitchen counter. She took a drink and carried it with her.
Judy Lee spent time on the internet, watched TV, perused Carlisle’s library and listened to CDs… Edward’s collection was phenomenal. She went for walks in the neighborhood and in the woods behind the house. When she left the house, she was always watched though she didn’t know it. They had to make sure she didn’t talk to strangers or get hurt. Sometimes they would walk with her.
She often sat with a book on her lap and silently watched the Cullens in their daily routines. She tried to stay out of the way. If she went too long without a drink of some kind, one of them would hand her a bottle of water. She remembered to eat occasionally. She was content. Her healthy diet and the exercise she was getting were making her feel better. Periodically, Carlisle asked her to let him examine her. He occasionally took blood samples or x-rays or CAT scans. The doctor said her health was improving.
The months passed. Winter arrived in earnest. When the first snow storm came, the old woman stopped going for walks and started wearing warmer clothes around the house. One morning she came downstairs and there was a space heater warming her corner, and a new electric lap blanket. Esme appeared before her with a contrite look on her face. “I’m so sorry, dear. I put a heater and some extra blankets in your room, also. We will try to be more aware of your needs from now on.” She hugged the human, then left.
One afternoon Judy Lee wandered into the garage. To her surprise, Rosalie had her head under the hood of Carlisle’s Mercedes. Judy Lee hadn’t seen her since the first day. “Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were here. I’ll go.”
Rosalie looked up and smiled. “Don’t go. I wanted to talk to you. You know that I didn’t want you here because I thought you would endanger my family. You’ve been here over a year, now and Emmett says I should give you a chance. I’ll try to keep an open mind.”
Judy Lee was shocked. “T-thank you, Rosalie. I really do love your family, and you, and I would never do anything to endanger them. They have been so kind to let me live here. I’m sorry if my presence has kept you away. I didn’t intend to cause you grief.” She paused. “You know, I have talked to everyone else about what I have read in the books. Do you think I could talk to you about your past, too? Just tell me to go away, and I won’t ask again.”
“What do you want to know,” she asked.
“I don’t want to irritate you by bringing up things you don’t want to remember….”
Rosalie laughed. “Vampires never forget. I thought you knew that.”
Judy Lee chuckled. “I do know that. What I meant to ask was ‘Do you mind talking about some unhappy parts of your past?’
” She looked up from the engine again and asked, “Just tell me what you want to know, Judy Lee.”
“I was wondering, while you were dating Royce, if you suspected he was not all he seemed to be. Did he hide it well or were there times it leaked out?”
Rosalie made a final adjustment and closed the hood. Wiping her hands on a shop rag, she leaned on the car facing the human. “I suspect there were times when he showed his true colors, but I ignored the signs because he flattered me and made me feel beautiful. I wanted a husband who loved me and would give me a baby like my friend Vera had. I wasn’t aware that he was protecting his inheritance by finding a ‘proper’ wife. My parents were ecstatic. If they saw anything odd about his behavior they didn’t mention it to me. They told me not to mess this up. It would raise their status in the community. That was what was important to them.”
Judy Lee nodded. “So his actions that night when you left Vera’s house caught you by surprise.”
“It happened so fast. He and his friends were drunk and he was showing off in front of them.” Pain flashed in her eyes for just an instant. “I was in such pain from the very start. I passed out a lot, but the pain kept bringing me back. The extent of their cruelty was beyond my comprehension. My only wish was to die quickly and end the pain. When Carlisle found me, I was so far gone I didn’t realize he was there. When he carried me to his house and changed me, I became aware first that I wasn’t dead because death wasn’t supposed to hurt so much. What Royce and his friends had done paled by comparison. As the hours passed I became aware that Carlisle was with me, apologizing for the pain and trying to explain what was happening. Eventually the pain subsided and I was able to comprehend what I had become. At first, I was angry because everything about my life had come to an end. I could never go back. I didn’t want to live.” She paused.
Judy Lee already knew most of it from the books, but hearing it from Rosalie made it seem so real. “I can’t even imagine how horrible it must have been,” she said. “I understand why you had to deal with those monsters. You needed some kind of closure.” She looked down. “You are superior to me in every way. I’m after all just a human. But you may not be aware of how different you are now than you were when you first became a vampire. Would you mind if I go over with you what I read in the books to see if it fits with what you know happened?”
Rosalie nodded and said, “Go ahead. I’m curious about that.”
Judy Lee took a deep breath. “Stop me if I start to irritate or annoy you. That’s not my intention. Here goes… At first, you were upset and angry at everything and everyone. Edward was especially annoying. I think it was his seventeen-year-old attitude. He didn’t have the finesse to think before he spoke. Then you found Emmett. I’ve read that true love has a profound impact on the vampire psyche. That, I think, was the beginning of your change. Then Bella came on the scene and seemed to threaten your family. The anger resurfaced. Edward wouldn’t listen to reason and fought with everyone to keep her.
“After Edward went to the Volturi and Alice and Bella went to Italy to save him, you tried to understand the bond that had formed between Edward and Bella. Your family was threatened again when Victoria formed the newborn army. Bella seemed to be the cause of that, too. By the time they got married though, you were beginning to accept her as family. That was another step in your change. It was subtle, but it was there.
“A greater change came when Bella got pregnant and she turned to you for protection. That formed a bond between the two of you. At last, she was doing what you had wished you could do. The baby became a catalyst. Edward again became the irritation, until he communicated with the unborn baby and loved her. When Renesmee was born and you started caring for her, it let you feel some of what you thought you had lost forever. Loving her began to heal you a little.
“Another dramatic time was when Irina saw Renesmee and went to Italy. The Volturi again threatened everything you loved. When you all gathered together to defend your way of life I think you realized how important the family bond was. That changed you, too. And when the Volturi backed down and Alice and Jasper came back, that bond deepened.” Judy Lee smiled at Rosalie. “Without all the adjustments you made through the years, I don’t think you would ever have been able to accept me when I invaded your family. Do you think you could… accept me, I mean?”
Rose stared silently at the worried expression on the woman’s face for a minute. “I didn’t believe Edward when he said you knew all about us. You read all this in a book?” She looked thoughtful. “I hadn’t thought about all the changes in me that were brought on by the things that happened. I am happier now than I was in the beginning. I even like Edward a little more. Ha-ha. It was good that we talked. I think I could eventually learn to like you, Judy Lee.” Together they went into the house. “Do you need a drink? We forget sometimes that humans dehydrate.”
Judy Lee got a glass of orange juice. “I forget sometimes, too. Thanks for reminding me.” Rosalie saw Emmett in the backyard and went to join him. Edward was at the piano. He smiled when Judy Lee looked at him. She thought, Wow! I’m glad it went so well. I was a little worried about our talk. I love to hear you play. Please don’t stop. He nodded. She went to what she thought of as ‘my corner’. She curled up in her chair and picked up a book. As Edward’s music played she dozed off.
Edward thought, ‘Judy Lee gave Rosalie a lot to think about. She has put a lot of thought into the reasons for Rose’s growth. He watched as her eyes closed and her book slid to the floor. Is it odd that she nods off like that? Maybe this journey is more stressful than she realizes. Also, older ladies need more sleep than young ones. Sweet dreams, Little Grandma.’
Days turned into months and Judy Lee felt like maybe she was becoming more or less invisible; to her that implied ‘accepted’. The Cullens occasionally spoke or smiled at her and brought her a drink of some kind if she had gone too long without one. She sat in her corner and listened to music through the earphones and read or watched the daily routine of the Cullens. She was content. On warm days she walked.
One pleasant early evening she took a sandwich and a glass of iced tea to the back porch to spend her mealtime. As she finished eating, Alice and Jasper jumped the back fence and appeared in front of her. Alice’s bell-like laughter made her smile. “Hi, Grandma,” she said. “We just ate, too.” Jasper laughed with her and put his arms around her from behind.
“Hi, guys.” Judy Lee smiled at them. “You two are so happy together. Jasper, the book said that you held back from the family, perhaps because you couldn’t believe it was real. I think it was because for so many years you had never had a chance to feel close to anyone. You had no choice with Alice; she is an unstoppable force.” She winked at Alice. “But after more than sixty years with the Cullens, don’t you feel more a part of the whole, now?”
She watched him carefully. He shuddered a little then smiled at her. “I think you see a lot more than others think you do. Yes, I do consider this my family, now. We have been through a lot together.” He looked intently at her. “How are you holding up? I feel a peace in you that surprises me. Tell me a little about you now, so we will be on a more even keel.”
Judy Lee shifted uncomfortably. He was the first to ask her about her life. Edward probably knew more about her than anyone, but he had never asked, either. She looked into Jasper’s eyes and saw open curiosity there. Looking down at her hands she said, “I wasn’t a very good person. I made a lot of mistakes. I had a loving, Christian upbringing, but as I got into my teens and older I began making wrong choices; choosing a less than stellar path. I had a few marriages to the wrong men… I never found my soul mate. Perhaps that is why I love your family so much. You all have found your ‘one true love’ with no doubts about your choices. I have longed for that all my life, but I am content to sit in my corner and bask in the overflow.
“The one time in the last few years that I felt truly happy was caring for my mother in her last years. I felt needed and loved and that was enough. When she died I found relief in my fantasy world… Your world. My children loved me and tried to make me happy, but even they finally stopped trying. I didn’t even think about the consequences when I had the opportunity to come here. This world is more real and desirable than mine. I hope I will be able to stay here with you all until I die. I’ll try not to be a problem for you.” She stopped talking and looked back up at him.
He patted her shoulder. “I feel your sincerity. You have consistently had a good vibe about you. I like you.” As he and Alice started to leave, he looked back at her and grinned. “Grab a bottle of water on your way in.” He was chuckling as he walked away.
Judy Lee heaved a sigh of relief. Jasper is quiet, but he’s really a nice guy. Alice is the perfect complement for him. Maybe it’s time for a long hot bubble bath. Oh, and a bottle of water, too. She was smiling when she went back into the kitchen.
A few days later, Alice and Judy Lee went grocery shopping. “What are we out of that you like? Fruit, cereal, milk, eggs, cheese, bread, veggies, juice, bottled water….” They gathered food for at least a week. Some of the pantry stuff would last longer. Alice insisted on buying a few new clothes at the mall for her model, too. On the way home, they chatted about the weather and other trivial things.
Judy Lee mentioned her latest conversation with Jasper. “He seemed like he didn’t mind that I haven’t always been the ‘goody-two-shoes’ I appear to be now. I’m always afraid I’ll say something that will offend one of you and you’ll send me away. If you see that happening in the future would you give me a heads-up? That way I can avoid that path.”
Alice laughed. “Okay, Little Grandma. I don’t think it will happen, though. You’re pretty easy to be around.”
“But… I have told everyone what I know about them; you, too. Some of that stuff is pretty private. Do you know if any of your family is worried that I know all that? Did I hurt your feelings when we talked?”
Alice patted Judy Lee’s knee as she drove. “I have tracked some of what you told me. Enough to believe the other things. Some of it shocked me, sure. But you didn’t cause any of it. And you haven’t told anyone else, either. You’ve been in this world for almost three years and you haven’t even thought about betraying any of us. I would have foreseen some results of that, and Edward would know if you were thinking about it.” She chuckled. “It’s pretty hard to keep secrets around here. None of the others have said anything about being upset; Jasper hasn’t detected any animosity from anyone but Rose, and she has lightened up these last few months. Did you talk to her? It seems like she smiles at you a little these days.”
Judy Lee sighed. “I just worry, you know. I don’t ever want to leave this family, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, either.” Alice parked in the garage.
“Don’t worry, Grandma. We all love you.”
They put the groceries away and Alice disappeared with the clothes. The human walked into the front room and found Edward at his piano. He looked up and smiled at her. “You tend to shock us with your knowledge of our family. The others haven’t spoken harshly to you about what they have learned, have they?”
“No,” she said slowly. “I guess not.”
“We’re pretty resilient, you know. Just behave the same as you always have. You don’t have to start packing; my family is quite fond of you. Have some orange juice; it’ll cheer you up.” He grinned and went back to his music. She followed his orders and the orange juice did help.
She went to her room and put on some soft music. It had been a long day in many ways. She lay on the bed and shortly the music lulled her to sleep. When she woke up an hour or so later and went downstairs, everything seemed normal. She got a bottle of water and went to her corner to read.
Edward looked into Alice’s mind and was reassured. ‘It’s sweet that she is so concerned about Alice and the rest of us. She really does care about us. I wish she would tell us more about her life. She seems embarrassed that she was not always this sweet. Who of us have had a pristine life? I know she hasn’t even come close to what we have done.
Judy Lee had been with the Cullens just over three years. She was now seventy-eight years old. Christmas was coming soon. She didn’t want to bring up the holidays because she hadn’t seen them do anything before. To them, it was just another day. She hadn’t had much to celebrate, anyway, until she had come to live with her vampire family. She thought briefly that it might be nice to do something special. She couldn’t cook them a special meal since they didn’t eat. She couldn’t buy gifts… anything they wanted they had already. As she drifted off to sleep one night, she dreamed of singing carols, dressing up, and garlands in the windows, trimming a tree…
One cold night Judy Lee dreamed about stew. She imagined a big stew pot simmering on the back of the stove. In her dream there were mashed potatoes, broccoli and a big salad. She hadn’t eaten much meat since she’d left the reservation and a cold winter night seemed perfect for it. The next morning she asked Emmett and Jasper if they could bring her a little bit of bear meat and venison when they went hunting again. They were both happy to do it, and because they had dressed meat when they were human they brought it prepared for cooking.
She prepared two small pots… one with venison simmered with mushroom soup, and in the other the bear meat sautéed in butter and garlic. She had a delightful supper of mashed potatoes, broccoli, salad and a lovely, tender venison soup, just like her dream. It was delicious! The next night was bear in a thick broth poured over a baked potato, with more salad. She felt a little heavy after two big dinners, so she ate just salad for the next few days.
Edward spoke to the family one evening about Judy Lee’s Christmas dream. They decided that it might be fun. They hadn’t celebrated since Nessie was little. Since she seemed to be pleased with her meaty meals, they decided to give her a variety of meats as gifts. Emmett and Jasper would get more bear and venison. The others could find wild rabbit, wild turkey and salmon. Edward thought she might like to try mountain lion. Carlisle and Esme wanted to go fishing. Alice decided on rabbit, and Rosalie would find a turkey. Bella was silent, but smiling as she secretly planned her part.
It was all settled then. They would have to take turns getting Judy Lee out of the house while the others used the kitchen. Jasper and Emmett would take her out to find a Christmas tree. Alice would take her shopping for ornaments. They couldn’t remember when they had been so excited. It was a nice change for them.
A few days later, when Judy Lee came downstairs in her robe and slippers to get a glass of orange juice, Jasper and Emmett appeared in the kitchen. “Morning, Little Grandma,” they said in unison.
“How do you feel today?” Emmett blurted out. “We thought you might want to cut down a Christmas tree.”
Jasper nodded and said, “It’s just around the corner, you know.” He looked at her slippered feet and added, “You might want to put on your boots.”
She grinned and gulped her OJ. “Just give me a minute to get dressed.” She rushed upstairs to dress in jeans, flannel shirt and boots. She grabbed her jacket because it gets cold in December in New York. She hurried outside and said, “I’m ready.”
Emmett crooked his arm into a seat, scooped her up and said, “Hang on, Little Grandma!” She laughed and did as she was told. They flew through the forest to a small clearing with new trees growing around the edges. Emmett set her down and said, “Do you see anything you like?”
Jasper flitted from tree to tree framing each with his hands. “How big do you want it? We can go from a foot tall for a table tree to about 8 feet. That’s a little shorter than the ceiling is.”
She stood in the center of the clearing and turned slowly in a circle. Then she saw it… the perfect tree! “That one,” she cried. She ran to a beautiful round tree about five feet tall. “This one will just fit in front of the window by my corner!”
Emmett and Jasper both laughed. Jasper asked, “Shall we break it off at the ground, or pull the roots up and plant it in a pot?”
She stared at him. “Are you kidding? With the roots intact the pot would have to be huge. I want to be able to reach the top for the star.”
“OK!” Emmett said. “Jasper, hold it up and I’ll trim the trunk.” Jasper grabbed the tree and tilted it up and over while Emmett gave it a karate chop that left the base smooth.
“You carry it, Emmett. I get to transport Judy Lee this time.” Jasper grinned and settled her on his back.
“Don’t go too fast, Emmett,” she cried. “I don’t want my tree to get damaged.”
Emmett laughed. “Don’t worry, Little Grandma. I won’t hurt your precious tree.”
Jasper took off first, climbing a tree. “I hear you like flying high. Hang on tight.” With that he flew from tree to tree while the world sped past her. They arrived in the back yard just as Emmett did. The family came out to admire the tree. Alice clapped her hands together and said, “We’ll get a stand for it when we shop for ornaments this afternoon.” She looked at the woman’s flushed face and heavy breathing, glared accusingly at Jasper, and said, “Now, let’s get you in to the house with a cup of tea.”
“Don’t be angry with Jasper. It was exhilarating! I could use some tea, though.” She let Alice lead her to her chair and tuck a blanket around her. Alice had seen them coming, so she already had a cup of tea on the side table. Judy Lee took a careful sip --it was hot-- then stopped. “Alice, this tastes like the tea Renesmee gave me on the reservation.”
Alice grinned at Edward and then at her. “Edward brought some back with him. He thought there might be times when you could use a calming drink.”
Judy Lee smiled at Edward. “You think of everything, don’t you?”
“Of course!” he said. “Isn’t that how I’m supposed to be?” Bella slapped his shoulder, and he winced. He glanced at her, and grinned. “Well, that’s how she thinks of me. I couldn’t disappoint her, could I?”
Judy Lee sipped her tea and ate some toast and jam that Esme had fixed for her. When she finished, she beamed at the group of vampires standing in casual poses smiling at her.
Edward listened as the tea relaxed her. He thought, ‘This morning was fun, but tiring. As she drifted into sleep, she was thinking about how much she loves all of us. She hopes the return module will never come because she doesn’t ever want to leave. Her thoughts were fading as she imagined herself as a vampire.’
Alice had easily caught a rabbit, cleaned, wrapped and placed it in the freezer, and disposed of the evidence while Judy Lee was out with her brothers. Rosalie had killed the turkey, and while Judy napped, Emmett helped her clean and prepare it. He had often brought turkeys to his mother’s table when he was human.
Alice saw that Judy Lee would wake soon, so they all left but her. When the little grandma woke, Alice whisked her upstairs to change clothes and clean up. It was time to go shopping for ornaments.
After they left, Edward called Carlisle. When he answered he said they had caught a beautiful Atlantic salmon and were starting home. Edward suggested they buy a small freezer for the garage to hide the ‘presents’ in. Their guest would have to be blind to overlook the additions in the kitchen freezer. Carlisle said they would stop and buy one. When they got home they had a nice five cubic foot freezer. They put it in a dark corner of the garage and plugged it in. After the fish was prepared, they put all the meat in the new freezer. Now, if Judy Lee opened the freezer in the kitchen, nothing would appear amiss.
Bella and Edward were the only ones lacking. While Edward went hunting, Bella made a baking dish full of dressing for the turkey. It took a while to find a mountain lion, but at last he spied one high in a tree. He drank it dry then tore out the tenderloin and a chunk for stew meat. He could sense other carnivores hovering a safe distance away, so he left the carcass for them. He raced home to clean and package his present. As he closed the lid to the freezer, he smiled to himself in satisfaction.
Rosalie had baked the turkey and Bella baked the dressing. They aired the house and hid the food in an animal proof container in the cold back yard. Esme prepped the potatoes and vegetables. This was going to be a great Christmas.
Alice was excited about the shopping trip. She chose and olive green blouse and a gray midi-skirt for Grandma from the new clothes in the closet along with a pair of sensible black walking shoes. They were comfortable. Judy Lee looked in the full length mirror and said, “You know, it’s been at least twenty years since I wore a skirt or dress. I like it.”
Alice gave the outfit a critical look. “You do look nice. We’ll work on your fashion sense.” She paused then said, “I think I’ll add a line of stylish clothes for seniors to AliceRoi Fashions. I believe there’s a market for it.”
Judy Lee laughed. “Well I did promise to be your ‘mannequin’. Just ease me in gently. It’ll take some getting used to.”
The two girls had fun gathering ornaments, lights, garlands, tinsel and best of all, a beautiful star for the treetop. They stopped for chicken chow mein at a food kiosk. After lunch, Alice insisted that Grandma needed a ‘Christmas Outfit’ to go with the beautiful tree. She chose a floor length dark green silk; over it was a red crocheted cape with sleeves for warmth. A tiny red beanie-cap and red pumps with one-inch heels completed the outfit. Alice wanted 4-inch strappy stilettos, but Judy Lee convinced her that humans in their seventies couldn’t balance like vampires. “If you’re going to design outfits for seniors, take that into consideration. Remember, most seniors will prefer more conservative clothes. That’s my preference, too.”
Alice chuckled. "I'll try to go slowly, but as I told you before, if I'm going to design a line of 'elder clothing' it's got to have class!"
They arrived home with more of everything than would fit on the tree. They hadn’t forgotten the base. The tree got an ornate revolving stand; it was placed in front of the window. Everyone got into the act. Each vampire chose one ornament that he or she liked and placed it on the tree. Emmett picked Grandma up so she could put the star on top. Then while the human watched, they worked at vampire speed to finish decorating the tree and framing the window. It was beautiful. When Carlisle turned on the rotating base the tree cast rainbows all over the room. Judy Lee jumped up and clapped. “It’s like a vampire in the sunshine! How perfect!”
Edward went to the piano and they all sang Christmas songs. He thought, ‘Judy Lee is really tired, but pleased with the day. Alice was cheerful so she has stopped worrying about offending her. She even enjoyed the shopping! Alice allowed her to approve her new Christmas outfit. Emmett called her ‘Little Grandma’ again tonight. She actually loves it. It makes her feel more a part of the family.’
After a light supper she said goodnight. A hot bubble bath was the perfect end to a perfect day. As she drifted into sleep, she thought, ‘Tomorrow is Christmas. I wonder if it will mean anything special to the Cullens. I know Edward isn’t religious, even doubting that vampires have souls. Carlisle hopes that they have done enough to counteract the bad that most vampires do so when they meet God they will be forgiven. None of us really know who’s in and who’s out until our time comes, I guess. I wish I had something to give them, but what do you give to those who already have immediate access to anything they would ever want or need? I guess a hearty ‘Merry Christmas’ will have to suffice.’
She gradually became aware of soft shuffling noises in her bedroom. She opened one eye and saw Alice at her closet. She thought, ‘I think she wants me to wake up.’ She stretched and sat up. Alice leaped on the bed and said, “Merry Christmas, Grandma! I shook out your dress so it won’t be wrinkled. Are you ready to start the day?”
Judy Lee laughed at her. “You look festive this morning. Are they all dressing up for Christmas?” Alice was wearing an elegant silver lame gown with a poinsettia pinned to the shoulder and strappy silver stilettos to match.
“Of course. We’re all ready to party. It’s after nine in the morning. Are you ever going to get up? Come on. I’ll help you dress.” She flitted to the closet and returned with the new Christmas outfit. Alice helped her into her dress and fitted the little cap on her head. She pinned a golden star brooch to hold the shawl together at breast level. She slipped into her new pumps and they went downstairs. The vampires were all in festive formal wear and looked like royalty. It was awesome!
Judy Lee curtsied and said, “Sirs and madams, I have never seen such a beautiful tableau. Merry Christmas, everyone!”
They all relaxed and laughed. “Merry Christmas, Little Grandma,” they sang in unison. Suddenly they each held a package in front of them.
“Oh!” the old woman cried. “I knew I should have bought presents. But I didn’t know what to get. You already have everything!”
Esme gave her a hug. “We don’t expect presents. You are our gift. These are just tokens. We hope you like them.”
Edward stepped forward and grinned sheepishly. “We didn’t want a repeat of Bella’s birthday party,” he said glancing at Jasper. “So you don’t get to unwrap any of them.”
Jasper chuckled. “We all hunted and brought you cuts of meat. You liked what Emmett and I brought so we got more.” They each came forward and showed her frozen packages of salmon, rabbit, mountain lion. Rosalie presented a cooked turkey. Bella held a baking dish of dressing.
As she surveyed the smiling family that she loved so much, tears started leaking down her cheeks. Alice flitted to her and said, “Don’t you like it? We wanted to make you happy!”
She hugged her little Alice and laughed through her tears. “My wonderful vampire family! I am very happy. I’m just overwhelmed that you would all do this for me. Am I really here with you on Christmas morning, or am I in a hospital living a delusion? How could I be so blessed?” And she cried all over the top of Alice’s head. Before she could blink, the food was gone and the other seven were around her in a group hug.
Bella handed her a handkerchief. “Blow your nose and wipe your eyes. You are really here. We are as blessed as you. You have added a ‘little grandma’ to our family.”
She beamed at her family. How she loved them! She wanted to spend the rest of her life with them. “Alice, is there any more of that Quileute tea? If I don’t calm down my heart may burst with happiness. You really want me to be your grandma… to be part of your family?”
Esme kissed me on the cheek. “Of course, dear. As long as you want us, we want you to stay. You have already brought much joy to our home.”
The day calmed down after that. Judy Lee was the center of attention for a while. Alice fixed her a cup of tea with toast and jam. They sang songs and told her about their Christmas with Renesmee and Fred. She knew a lot of it, but they filled in the details. She wanted to know if she would ever get to meet the Denalis. They talked about taking sight-seeing trips to New York City, Niagara Falls, and any other places she might decide she wanted to see. She asked about Isle Esme.
In the afternoon, she had her Christmas meal. She felt a little strange eating alone and briefly wished her family could share with her. But then she smiled and accepted them as they were. They helped her put the leftovers in meal-sized containers and freeze most of it. There was enough meat that she thought it would take a year to consume it all. All in all, it was a successful venture. Edward was pleased with how easily the others enfolded her into the family. She retired in the early evening. It was an exhausting day for her, but as she settled into bed, she was happy. Sleep came easily and her dreams were light and filled with pleasant memories of the day.
For a few days she heated leftovers in the microwave for dinner. She began to feel sluggish and puffy then so she went back to fruit, veggies and salad for a while. She continued her walks but didn’t venture too far away. It was really cold outside. Living with vampires was making it easier to accept colder temperatures than in her other life, but there was a limit. She started walking in hiking boots and parka. Sometimes she had company, and they would stray into unknown territory. She was introduced to a waterfall with a lovely pool. It might be fun to swim there in the summertime.
The cold weather encouraged curling up in a blanket listening to music and reading. Gradually things got back to normal. They took the tree down just after New Year’s Day; the needles were beginning to drift to the floor. She helped pack the ornaments away for next year. She and Alice took them to the attic; when they returned, the tree was gone and her corner looked as it did before the holiday.
The New Year started quietly. The Cullens went about their daily existence, flitting in and out of the house on unknown vampire errands. Judy Lee dozed, read, watched TV, etc. Occasionally, a water bottle, glass of juice, or cup of tea would appear on the side table. A couple of times a day, she would fix something to eat.
Bella and Edward joined her one unusually balmy afternoon on her favorite park bench. They had been talking about some of the problems that cropped up when a vampire dated a human. They laughed at the problems of Bella getting carried away and Edward trying to keep her safe. They lamented at some of the mistakes they made. At one point Bella gave Judy Lee a hug. “You are truly one of us, Grandma. You could have lived with us for the last decade and not been closer to knowing who we are. I am amazed. We want you to stay with us as long as you can.” She looked puzzled. “How could that woman know so much about us?”
“I have a theory about that.” They grinned as they remembered a human conversation with Edward. “You lived in Arizona for a good part of your life. Did you ever hear of a place called Sedona? They say that psychic vibrations are strong in that area. What if it is spread over a wider area than anyone realizes? Is it possible that there is a thinner membrane between realities there and when she was in creative mode she had vibrations from your world? She wrote it thinking it was fiction, but maybe she was feeling a connection between realities. It’s just a theory, but since I’ve been here it seems more possible than mere coincidence would be.”
Edward said, “I guess that’s as good a theory as anything else. At least it sounds possible. At any rate, you --and she-- know a great deal about us; more than we might prefer, perhaps. Whatever the reason, we’re glad you came.”
Carlisle continued to monitor Judy Lee’s vital signs, but the weekly visits in his office became mostly chat sessions. He was concerned that she might be getting bored. She told him that during the cold season she missed her walks; the New York winter was a lot colder than she was used to. In her other life she seldom had to deal with snow or below-freezing temperatures. She assured him that she was quite comfortable indoors, however, since Esme brought the heaters and blankets.
He spoke about it to Esme, and a few days later she came up with a plan. “We’re going on a girls’ vacation to Isle Esme in Brazil. All five girls will leave around the first week in March. The weather this time of year is great for walks, swimming, boating, fishing and sight-seeing in Rio.”
In preparation, Alice took her shopping for swimwear and summer clothing. She asked for a camera since she doesn’t have vampire memory. Rose called the caretakers to open the house and stock the kitchen. Bella made plane and boat reservations. The three brothers planned a guys’ hunting trip in Canada while Carlisle stayed to teach school and mind the house. The rest of February the couples were inseparable. It’s hard for them to be apart.
The girls left on the first Saturday in March. They drove the Volvo and the Mercedes to the airport so the men could see them off. The luggage was checked in and the hugs and kisses finished and all the well-wishing was over. They boarded the plane and the journey began.
They landed at night and traveled by foot to the marina. When there was no one around Judy Lee rode on Bella’s back and they went at vampire speed. They boarded their boat and Rosalie took them out into the ocean. There was a full moon and the water was beautiful. They traveled quite a long time. Judy Lee chuckled and said, “Bella, are we going to Atlantis? Do you remember thinking that?”
Bella laughed. “Are you worried about landing before human moments become necessary? It won’t be long now.”
A few minutes later, Esme said, “Look, Little Grandma, there it is.” She pointed into the distance. Gradually it became clear as Rosalie nosed into the docking area. There it was in the moonlight. A single welcoming lamp burned in the window. Rosalie anchored the boat at the dock, everyone grabbed luggage and went to the door. Esme unlocked it and they went in to the living room. Judy Lee remembered it, and the kitchen and the white bedroom with the glass door leading onto the beach. She couldn’t see herself sleeping in that bed, so she went to the blue room. But everything was green now, and the beds had been replaced so no memory of the honeymoon damage remained.
For a week, they hiked in the jungle, swam in the ocean, sunbathed on the beach. There was so much to see and do that the week sped past. She got lots of pictures.
On the last night of Carnaval they went to Rio de Janeiro. There were costume parades and dancing in the streets. There were some places she asked specifically to see. She didn’t explain why, but they humored her anyway. She took pictures and bought postcards -- since she wouldn’t see them in daylight. She wanted to see the statue of Christ on the mountain top. She didn’t need to get close, just close enough for a picture. That was a common tourist request, so they didn’t think it was odd. It was a beautiful sight. She also got a postcard of a daylight view.
She wanted to see the Candelaria Cathedral. They looked at her strangely when she asked if one of them could sneak her into the bell tower. Rose had visited Rio the most so she packed the human on to her back, went up a secluded wall and over the rim of the tower. Judy Lee slumped to the floor against the wall and looked at the room, trying to see it as Edward had seen it. After a few minutes, she stood and told Rose she was ready to go. If the vampire suspected why she was there, she didn’t say.
They did look at her even more strangely when she asked to see the Rocinha area. She wanted a picture of the little houses stacked on top of each other up the mountain. She didn’t explain and they didn’t ask, but took her where she could get a picture. It came out too dark so she used a postcard for her scrapbook.
She managed to taste some of the local food, but she was too excited to be hungry. While they were on the mainland the girls took turns --two by two-- hunting. It had only been a week, but the hunting was better on the mainland than on the island. Just before dawn, they were all sated and ready to head back. Judy Lee was exhausted on the boat ride, and at the house she slept until late afternoon.
The next week was much like the first. She enjoyed the hikes and the swimming. Alice took her to a place where she could swim with the dolphins. The vampires couldn’t get close, though; the dolphins left quickly if they got near the water.
Vacation was finally over. They would fly out after sunset of course, so she ate supper, showered and dressed for the flight home. She couldn’t express enough appreciation to these wonderful girls for this memorable trip. The told her they were just glad she had fun. Alice chuckled and said, “We want you to be happy for Jasper’s sake, right?” They all laughed.
The men were waiting at the airport with both cars. Two weeks was a very long time to be apart, so the couples rode together. Edward greeted Judy Lee with her parka in his arms. She was grateful; New York seemed even colder after the tropical vacation. He asked if she had a good time, but didn’t ask for details. His attention was focused on Bella. She sat with Alice and Jasper in the back seat of the Volvo. They were quietly involved with each other also. In case Edward was listening, she tried to keep her thoughts on the island and the activities there: visions of the rooms, the jungle walks, the swimming and sunbathing. She wasn’t ready yet to reveal her visits in Rio.
Edward mused, ‘Little Grandma seemed to have a great time on the island. She is concentrating on the activities there. I caught glimpses of Rio at night, but she doesn’t want to think about their trip there. The others are too involved with their mates to think of anything else. What is she keeping from me? I’ll find out later... I’m so glad Bella is home. I’ve missed her.’
It was pleasant to return home and curl up in her own little corner again. The men hugged her and welcomed her home then the four couples disappeared to their own special places to welcome each other. She got up from her chair and walked around the house, touching the chairs, the table, the computer, the TV, the piano. She got a bottle of water and went to her bedroom. She ran her hand over the clothes in her closet; ran her fingers across her blanket; bounced up and down on her bed. She spread her arms and twirled around the room. She laughed aloud and cried, “Hello, House. I’m home!” She went back downstairs and turned off all the lights as she passed each switch. She sat in her chair in the early morning and watched the day wake up to reveal the rooms with daylight. She whispered, “Good morning, World. It’s going to be a wonderful day.
She took her camera to the computer and slid the chip in. She made sure there was photo paper in the printer then started printing her memories of the vacation. She hadn’t realized how many pictures she had taken. Her beautiful companions were perfect in the paradise setting. Alice had managed to snap several shots of her swimming, hiking, and playing with dolphins. ‘How could I be part of this family of angels? I am so plain!’ The pictures of Rio were very nice. Even the night shot of Rocinha wasn’t bad. Rose had taken a couple of shots of her in the bell tower, and she got some of the bell and the tower, too. As soon as she finished she gathered the Rio pictures and tucked them aside. She stacked the others together to put in her ‘vacation’ scrapbook which she would buy when she next went to town.
When that was finished, she fixed breakfast. She sorted the pantry by expiration date, and checked the fruit and veggies for those to be used first. The oldest ones she washed and pared and set to simmer for a vegetable stew. She went out the kitchen door and walked around the back yard but it was so cold she didn’t stay out for long.
She went upstairs and sorted her closet for most to least likely to be worn. There were a few things for warmer weather that she tucked in the back. Summer was coming, but it was still too cold to wear them. She went back to her corner to listen to music and read. With the heater and blanket she was warm as toast. She really didn’t mind being alone because she knew that her wonderful family would show up eventually. The pages began to blur and she dozed for a while.
Edward was resting beside Bella. He was glad they had a good time. ‘Bella’s happy to be back home with me, but she really did enjoy watching Judy Lee have fun. We’ll have to come up with more things to entertain her since she seems to have been accepted by the whole family. Rose has finally learned to trust her. Emmett is delighted. He’s telling her all about his talk with Judy Lee in Forks, now that she will listen. He thinks it’s great that other people know about his prowess --in a world where the Volturi can’t pass judgment. He really doesn’t care how they know. He looks at Rose a little differently now. He is pretty proud of his part in taming her anger.
Alice and Judy Lee went to town for a scrapbook and some more groceries. The pictures filled the pages and things settled into a quiet pleasant pattern.
As spring progressed toward summer there were more days that were warm enough to walk with just a jacket and headscarf. Judy Lee began to feel her muscles getting stronger and her winter puffiness went away. Carlisle said her health was improving and she would stay around a lot longer if she kept getting exercise and eating a healthy diet. She woke one morning before daylight feeling rested and ready to start her day. She realized she had been here for over three years. She recalled her journey thus far, listing her blessings ….
I’ve met and hugged a werewolf.
I’ve flown in a luxury airliner.
I’ve sped through the treetops on the backs of vampires.
I’ve sat in the back yard while my family sparkled.
I’ve eaten wild game.
I’ve had individual talks with every Cullen and they have accepted me into their family as their ‘little grandma’.
I’ve vacationed on a magical island in South America.
I’ve walked more than I have in years.
I’ve taken no medicines for allergies, colds, arthritis, backaches, or headaches.
I’ve lost twenty pounds.
Carlisle says I have no chemical imbalances and I can expect to live for twenty or more years.
As she prepared to start her day, she thanked God for letting her come here.
The years flowed by pleasantly. The family owns many houses around the world and occasionally one of the couples would choose to live apart for a time. They took her on excursions once in a while. Her vampires enjoyed showing her around. Alice finalized her new line of clothing catering to fashion-savvy ladies over fifty. AliceRoi Fashions called it ‘Chic Mature’. Judy Lee, of course, had the prototypes in her closet. There was a nice selection of casual, dressy and formal attire. She went with Alice to the fashion show introducing the new line. She saw the Liberty Bell. She saw New York from the top of the Empire State Building. Esme and Carlisle showed her the Statue of Liberty. Rosalie and Emmett took her to Niagara Falls. Charlie visited one summer and he escorted her through Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage. Of course, the Cullens couldn’t do that. The horse would bolt! Bella and Edward took her to Chicago one weekend. They treated her to a Traditional Chicago Pizza in Lincoln Park. Edward showed off his childhood home. They toured the International Museum of Surgical Science and saw medical equipment as far back as the Revolutionary War; even the ‘Amputation Kit’ that Carlisle used in the Civil War.
After a few years the Cullens needed to relocate. They spent some time in Alaska near the Denali cousins. Their cousins thought it was strange to keep an elderly human with them, but then in the past they had kept Bella as a human. They always knew the Cullens were a little strange. While they were there, they took Judy Lee to see a glacier and just for fun they built an igloo.
They made a trip to Washington and reopened their house for a week. They spent most of the time on the reservation with Renesmee and Jacob. Since Charlie had retired and married Sue Clearwater he was completely in the know and understood and accepted what the Cullens and Renesmee were. Edward and Bella slipped out with Judy Lee to revisit their little cottage in the woods.
Edward noticed that the old woman was moving a little slower on this trip. ‘The last decade has taken its toll on our little grandma. She loves our outings and still gets around pretty well for her age, but she tires more easily. Humans are so fragile! It seems such a short time since she joined our family.’
After saying goodbye to Washington, they made a more permanent move to upper Montana near the Canadian border. Carlisle worked in a hospital clinic. Edward took night courses at a local college. Bella helped Esme restore an old house. The other members of the family went their separate ways for a time. Wherever the family moved, Judy Lee always had her corner with her heater and blanket.
No matter how well she cared for herself the years were taking their toll. Her nineties found her moving a little more slowly; walking a little more carefully. She spent more and more time under her blanket with her books and music. Edward composed a beautiful lilting tune commemorating her adoption into the family. He titled it ‘Little Grandma.” He made a CD for her with all the special ‘family’ songs he had composed. She listened to it more than the other music she had available.
Edward and Carlisle monitored her health carefully. Edward was watching her sleep one afternoon. ‘Judy Lee is failing in spite of Carlisle’s constant attention. She has taken to eating soup and toast and sipping tea. She has lost more weight and sleeps most of the time. Bella and I have been talking about taking her to Isle Esme. She might thrive on the sunshine and warm waves. Carlisle and Esme agree. Everyone is coming home. They want to be around in case ….’
Judy Lee was excited. ‘This year is looking up. My family is all together again. What a surprise! They want to spend the next year at Isle Esme. We are all excited with making plans for the move. Alice had designed a new swimsuit with a matching wrap for lounging on the beach. Rose trimmed my hair for easy maintenance. Carlisle hired a private plane for the trip, then he and Esme left early to open the house and stock the kitchen.’
On the flight they played board games, sang songs and watched old movies. She snacked all the way to Rio. When they arrived at the airport, Edward, Jasper and Emmett took turns walking with Little Grandma, supporting her so she wouldn’t get too tired. Edward and Bella took her in his speedboat while the others took a larger yacht and all the luggage. She remembered when Bella made her first trip here with Edward. She patted Bella’s hand and said, “He is a vampire, after all. Maybe we are going to Atlantis.”
Bella gave her a hug and said, “I remember.”
They docked at the island and the fairytale began a new chapter. Judy Lee’s most common mode of travel was in a vampire’s arms. They saw the most amazing places in the jungle. She paddled in the ocean with vampire life guards on duty for when she got tired too far from shore. She turned ninety-five and got a cake with 95 candles on it. She couldn’t blow them out but she had plenty of help.
They had a wonderful Christmas. Renesmee and Jacob came and brought some of Emily’s cookies. They decorated a tree and sang Christmas carols. Edward played ‘Little Grandma’ for them. Jacob and Renesmee had never heard it.
As the old year passed and the New Year began, Judy Lee felt less and less like going out. She spent a lot of time on the deck watching the ocean and listening to the waves. She caught herself dozing in the middle of the day. She began to sense that her fairytale was coming to an end. But what a beautiful setting for her last days.
She got some stationery from Esme and wrote a loving farewell message to each member of her wonderful vampire family. She carefully wrote the names on the envelopes and set them on her dresser. She put on a beautiful AliceRoi gown, wrapped her blanket around her in her corner in the living room and closed her eyes.
Edward thought back over the last few days on Isle Esme.
‘I was the first to know when our little grandma was gone. Her thoughts faded and then disappeared. I gathered the family and told them. We gathered around her and mourned her passing. Bella found the letters on her dresser and we read her sweet farewells. We decided that here on Isle Esme was the perfect place for our final goodbyes. She had requested in the letters that she have a ‘vampire’ funeral… that is cremation. We built a pyre on the beach and watched until she was a pile of ashes. We put them in an urn, took them into the jungle to a place she loved and buried them. We placed a plaque over the spot. It only said:
Judy Lee Our Little Grandma
We will all miss her. She brought joy to our lives for the short time she was with us. Jacob will continue to look for the return device. We will notify them if we get the chance that she lived a good life and died quietly in her sleep.’