"You're picking up Mr. Weber at three o'clock," I reminded him.
"I don't have that much to do today besides bring the minister, Bells. I'm not likely to forget my only job." Charlie had taken the entire day off for the wedding, and he was definitely at loose ends. Now and then, his eyes flickered furtively to the closet under the stairs, where he kept his fishing gear.
"That's not your only job. You also have to be dressed and presentable."
He scowled into his cereal bowl and muttered the words "monkey suit" under his breath.
There was a brisk tapping on the front door.
"You think you have it bad," I said, grimacing as I rose. "Alice will be working on me all day long."
Charlie nodded thoughtfully, conceding that he did have the lesser ordeal. I ducked in to kiss the top of his head as I passed - he blushed and harrumphed - and then continued on to get the door for my best girlfriend and soon-to-be sister.
Alice's short black hair was not in its usual spiky do - it was smoothed into sleek pin curls around her pixie face, which wore a contrastingly businesslike expression. She dragged me from the house with barely a "Hey, Charlie"
called over her shoulder.
Alice appraised me as I got into her Porsche.
"Oh, hell, look at your eyes!" She tsked in reproach. "What did you do? Stay up all night?"
She glowered. "I've only allotted so much time to make you stunning, Bella - you might have taken better care of my raw material."
"No one expects me to be stunning. I think the bigger problem is that I might fall asleep during the ceremony and not be able to say 1 do' at the right part, and then Edward will make his escape."
She laughed. "I'll throw my bouquet at you when it gets close."
"At least you'll have plenty of time to sleep on the plane tomorrow."
I raised one eyebrow. Tomorrow, I mused. If we were heading out tonight after the reception, and we would still be on a plane tomorrow... well, we weren't going to Boise, Idaho. Edward hadn't dropped a single hint. I wasn't too stressed about the mystery, but it was strange not knowing where I would be sleeping tomorrow night. Or hopefully not sleeping ...
Alice realized that she'd given something away, and she frowned.
"You're all packed and ready," she said to distract me.
It worked. "Alice, I wish you would let me pack my own things!"
"It would have given too much away."
"And denied you an opportunity to shop."
"You'll be my sister officially in ten short hours... it's about time to get over this aversion to new clothes."
I glowered groggily out the windshield until we were almost to the house.
"Is he back yet?" I asked.
"Don't worry, he'll be there before the music starts. But you don't get to see him, no matter when he gets back. We're doing this the traditional way."
I snorted. "Traditional!"
"Okay, aside from the bride and groom."
"You know he's already peeked."
"Oh no - that's why I'm the only one who's seen you in the dress. I've been very careful to not think about it when he's around."
"Well," I said as we turned into the drive, "I see you got to reuse your graduation decorations." Three miles of drive were once again wrapped in hundreds of thousands of twinkle lights. This time, she'd added white satin bows.
"Waste not, want not. Enjoy this, because you don't get to see the inside decorations until it's time." She pulled into the cavernous garage north of the main house; Emmett's big Jeep was still gone.
"Since when is the bride not allowed to see the decorations?" I protested.
"Since she put me in charge. I want you to get the full impact coming down the stairs."
She clapped her hand over my eyes before she let me inside the kitchen. I was immediately assailed by the scent.
"What is that?" I wondered as she guided me into the house.
"Is it too much?" Alice's voice was abruptly worried. "You're the first human in here; I hope I got it right."
"it smells wonderful!" I assured her - almost intoxicating, but not at all overwhelming, the balance of the different fragrances was subtle and flawless. "Orange blossoms... lilac... and something else - am I right?"
"Very good, Bella. You only missed the freesia and the roses."
She didn't uncover my eyes until we were in her oversized bathroom. I stared at the long counter, covered in all the paraphernalia of a beauty salon, and began to feel my sleepless night.
"Is this really necessary? I'm going to look plain next to him no matter what."
She pushed me down into a low pink chair. "No one will dare to call you plain when I'm through with you."
"Only because they're afraid you'll suck their blood," I muttered. I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes, hoping I'd be able to nap through it. I did drift in and out a little bit while she masked, buffed, and polished every surface of my body.
It was after lunchtime when Rosalie glided past the bathroom door in a shimmery silver gown with her golden hair piled up in a soft crown on top of her head. She was so beautiful it made me want to cry. What was even the point of dressing up with Rosalie around?
"They're back," Rosalie said, and immediately my childish fit of despair passed. Edward was home.
"Keep him out of here!"
"He won't cross you today," Rosalie reassured her. "He values his life too much. Esme's got them finishing things up out back. Do you want some help? I could do her hair."