I was totally diverted. My daughter was just on the other side of that thin wall of glass. I couldn't see her - the light bounced off the reflective windows like a mirror. I could only see myself, looking very strange - so white and still - compared to Jacob. Or, compared to Edward, looking exactly right.
"Renesmee," I whispered. Stress made me a statue again. Renesmee wasn't going to smell like an animal. Would I put her in danger?
"Come and see," Edward murmured. "I know you can handle this."
"You'll help me?" I whispered through motionless lips.
"Of course I will."
"And Emmett and Jasper - just in case?"
"We'll take care of you, Bella. Don't worry, we'll be ready. None of us would risk Renesmee. I think you'll be surprised at how entirely she's already wrapped us all around her little fingers. She'll be perfectly safe, no matter what."
My yearning to see her, to understand the worship in his voice, broke my frozen pose. I took a step forward.
And then Jacob was in my way, his face a mask of worry.
"Are you sure, bloodsucker?" he demanded of Edward, his voice almost pleading. I'd never heard him speak to Edward that way. "I don't like this. Maybe she should wait - "
"You had your test, Jacob."
It was Jacob's test?
"But - ," Jacob began.
"But nothing," Edward said, suddenly exasperated. "Bella needs to see our daughter. Get out of her way."
Jacob shot me an odd, frantic look and then turned and nearly sprinted into the house ahead of us.
I couldn't make sense of their confrontation, and I couldn't concentrate on it, either. I could only think about the blurred child in my memory and struggle against the haziness, trying to remember her face exactly.
"Shall we?" Edward said, his voice gentle again.
I nodded nervously.
He took my hand tightly in his and led the way into the house.
They waited for me in a smiling line that was both welcoming and defensive. Rosalie was several paces behind the rest of them, near the front door. She was alone until Jacob joined her and then stood in front of her, closer than was normal. There was no sense of comfort in that closeness; both of them seemed to cringe from the proximity.
Someone very small was leaning forward out of Rosalie's arms, peering around Jacob. Immediately, she had my absolute attention, my every thought, the way nothing else had owned them since the moment I'd opened my eyes.
"I was out just two days?" I gasped, disbelieving.
The stranger-child in Rosalie's arms had to be weeks, if not months, old. She was maybe twice the size of the baby in my dim memory, and she seemed to be supporting her own torso easily as she stretched toward me.Her shiny bronze-colored hair fell in ringlets past her shoulders. Her chocolate brown eyes examined me with an interest that was not at all childlike; it was adult, aware and intelligent. She raised one hand, reaching in my direction for a moment, and then reached back to touch Rosalie's throat.
If her face had not been astonishing in its beauty and perfection, I wouldn't have believed it was the same child. My child.
But Edward was there in her features, and I was there in the color of her eyes and cheeks. Even Charlie had a place in her thick curls, though their color matched Edward's. She must be ours. Impossible, but still true.
Seeing this unanticipated little person did not make her more real, though. It only made her more fantastic.
Rosalie patted the hand against her neck and murmured, "Yes, that's her."
Renesmee's eyes stayed locked on mine. Then, as she had just seconds after her violent birth, she smiled at me. A brilliant flash of tiny, perfect white teeth.
Reeling inside, I took a hesitant step toward her.
Everyone moved very fast.
Emmett and Jasper were right in front of me, shoulder to shoulder, hands ready. Edward gripped me from behind, fingers tight again on the tops of my arms. Even Carlisle and Esme moved to get Emmett's and Jasper's flanks, while Rosalie backed to the door, her arms clutching at Renesmee. Jacob moved, too, keeping his protective stance in front of them.
Alice was the only one who held her place.
"Oh, give her some credit," she chided them. "She wasn't going to do anything. You'd want a closer look, too."
Alice was right. I was in control of myself. I'd been braced for anything - for a scent as impossibly insistent as the human smell in the woods. The temptation here was really not comparable. Renesmee's fragrance was perfectly balanced right on the line between the scent of the most beautiful perfume and the scent of the most delicious food. There was enough of the sweet vampire smell to keep the human part from being overwhelming.
I could handle it. I was sure.
"I'm okay," I promised, patting Edward's hand on my arm. Then I hesitated and added, "Keep close, though, just in case."
Jasper's eyes were tight, focused. I knew he was taking in my emotional climate, and I worked on settling into a steady calm. I felt Edward free my arms as he read Jasper's assessment. But, though Jasper was getting it firsthand, he didn't seem as certain.
When she heard my voice, the too-aware child struggled in Rosalie's arms, reaching toward me.
Somehow, her expression managed to look impatient.
"Jazz, Em, let us through. Bella's got this."
"Edward, the risk - ," Jasper said.
"Minimal. Listen, Jasper - on the hunt she caught the scent of some hikers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time___"
I heard Carlisle suck in a shocked breath. Esme's face was suddenly full of concern mingled with compassion. Jasper's eyes widened, but he nodded just a tiny bit, as if Edward's words answered some question in his head. Jacob's mouth screwed up into a disgusted grimace. Emmett shrugged. Rosalie seemed even less concerned than Emmett as she tried to hold on to the struggling child in her arms.
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