She shot off into the trees like the most graceful bullet.
"That was weird," I said when the sound of her flight had vanished completely. "Am I really that bad? They didn't have to stay away. Now I feel guilty. I didn't even thank her right. We should go back,tell Esme - "
"Bella,don't besilly. No one thinks you're that unreasonable."
"Then what - "
"Alone time is their other gift. Alice was trying to be subtle about it."
That was all it took to make the house disappear. We could have been anywhere. I didn't see the trees or the stones or the stars. It was just Edward.
"Let me show you what they've done," he said, pulling my hand. Was he oblivious to the fact that an electric current was pulsing through my body like adrenaline-spiked blood?
Once again I felt oddly off balance, waiting for reactions my body wasn't capable of anymore. My heart should have been thundering like a steam engine about to hit us. Deafening. My cheeks should have been brilliant red.
For that matter, I ought to have been exhausted. This had been the longest day of my life.
I laughed out loud - just one quiet little laugh of shock - when I realized that this day would never end.
"Do I get to hear the joke?"
"It's not a very good one," I told him as he led the way to the little rounded door. "I was just thinking - today is the first and last day of forever. It's kind of hard to wrap my head around it. Even with all this extra room for wrapping." I laughed again.
He chuckled with me. He held his hand out toward the doorknob, waiting for me to do the honors. I stuck the key in the lock and turned it.
"You're such a natural at this, Bella; I forget how very strange this all must be for you. I wish I could hear it." He ducked down and yanked me up into his arms so fast that I didn't see it coming - and that was really something.
"Thresholds are part of my job description," he reminded me. "But I'm curious. Tell me what you're thinking about right now."
He opened the door - it fell back with a barely audible creak - and stepped through into the little stone living room.
"Everything," I told him. "All at the same time, you know. Good things and things to worry about and things that are new. How I keep using too many superlatives in my head. Right now, I'm thinking that Esme is an artist. It's so perfect!"
The cottage room was something from a fairy tale. The floor was a crazy quilt of smooth, flat stones. The low ceiling had long exposed beams that someone as tall as Jacob would surely knock his head on. The walls were warm wood in some places, stone mosaics in others. The beehive fireplace in the corner held the remains of a slow flickering fire. It was driftwood burning there - the low flames were blue and green from the salt.
It was furnished in eclectic pieces, not one of them matching another, but harmonious just the same. One chair seemed vaguely medieval, while a low ottoman by the fire was more contemporary and the stocked bookshelf against the far window reminded me of movies set in Italy. Somehow each piece fit together with the others like a big three-dimensional puzzle. There were a few paintings on the walls that I recognized - some of my very favorites from the big house. Priceless originals, no doubt, but they seemed to belong here, too, like all the rest.
It was a place where anyone could believe magic existed. A place where you just expected Snow White to walk right in with her apple in hand, or a unicorn to stop and nibble at the rosebushes.
Edward had always thought that he belonged to the world of horror stories. Of course, I'd known he was dead wrong. It was obvious that he belonged here. In a fairy tale.
And now I was in the story with him.
I was about to take advantage of the fact that he hadn't gotten around to setting me back on my feet and that his wits-scramblingly beautiful face was only inches away when he said, "We're lucky Esme thought to add an extra room. No one was planning for Ness - Renesmee."
I frowned at him, my thoughts channeled down a less pleasant path.
"Not you, too," I complained.
"Sorry, love. I hear it in their thoughts all the time, you know. It's rubbing off on me."
I sighed. My baby, the sea serpent. Maybe there was no help for it. Well, /wasn't giving in.
Tm sure you're dying to see the closet. Or, at least I'll tell Alice that you were, to make her feel good."
"Should I be afraid?"
He carried me down a narrow stone hallway with tiny arches in the ceiling, like it was our own miniature castle.
"That will be Renesmee's room," he said, nodding to an empty room with a pale wooden floor. "They didn't have time to do much with it, what with the angry werewolves___"
I laughed quietly, amazed at how quickly everything had turned right when it had all had looked so nightmarish just a week ago.
Drat Jacob for making everything perfect this way.
"Here's our room. Esme tried to bring some of her island back here for us. She guessed that we would get attached."
The bed was huge and white, with clouds of gossamer floating down from the canopy to the floor. The pale wood floor matched the other room, and now I grasped that it was precisely the color of a pristine beach. The walls were that almost-white-blue of a brilliant sunny day, and the back wall had big glass doors that opened into a little hidden garden. Climbing roses and a small round pond, smooth as a mirror and edged with shiny stones. A tiny, calm ocean for us.
"Oh" was all I could say.
"I know," he whispered.
We stood there for a minute, remembering. Though the memories were human and clouded, they took over my mind completely.
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