"How long?"

He smiled, wrinkling his nose a little. "Rosalie and Emmett were the worst. It took a solid decade before I could stand to be within a five-mile radius of them. Even Carlisle and Esme had a difficult time stomaching it. They kicked the happy couple out eventually. Esme built them a house, too. It was grander than this one, but then, Esme knows what Rose likes, and she knows what you like."

"So, after ten years, then?" I was pretty sure that Rosalie and Emmett had nothing on us, but it might sound cocky if I went higher than a decade. "Everybody is normal again? Like they are now?"

Edward smiled again. "Well, I'm not sure what you mean by normal. You've seen my family going about life in a fairly human way, but you've been sleeping nights." He winked at me. "There's a tremendous amount of time left over when you don't have to sleep. It makes balancing your... interests quite easy. There's a reason why I'm the best musician in the family, why - besides Carlisle - I've read the most books, studied the most sciences, become fluent

in the most languages.... Emmett would have you believe that I'm such a know-it-all because of the mind reading, but the truth is that I've just had a lot of free time."

We laughed together, and the motion of our laughter did interesting things to the way our bodies were connected, effectively ending that conversation.

25. FAVOR

It was only a little while later that Edward reminded me of my priorities.

It took him just one word.

"Renesmee..."

I sighed. She would be awake soon. It must be nearly seven in the morning. Would she be looking for me? Abruptly, something close to panic had my body freezing up. What would she look like today?

Edward felt the total distraction of my stress. "It's all right, love. Get dressed, and we'll be back to the house in two seconds."

I probably looked like a cartoon, the way I sprung up, then looked back at him - his diamond body faintly glinting in the diffuse light - then away to the west, where Renesmee waited, then back at him again, then back toward her, my head whipping from side to side a half dozen times in a second. Edward smiled, but didn't laugh; he was a strong man.

"It's all about balance, love. You're so good at all of this, I don't imagine it will take too long to put

everything in perspective."

"And we have all night, right?"

He smiled wider. "Do you think I could bear to let you get dressed now if that weren't the case?"

That would have to be enough to get me through the daylight hours. I would balance this overwhelming, devastating desire so that I could be a good - It was hard to think the word. Though Renesmee was very real and vital in my life, it was still difficult to think of myself as a mother. I supposed anyone would feel the same, though, without nine months to get used to the idea. And with a child that changed by the hour.

The thought of Renesmee's speeding life had me stressed-out again in an instant. I didn't even pause at the ornately carved double doors to catch my breath before finding out what Alice had done. I just burst through, intent

on wearing the first things I touched. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy.

"Which ones are mine?" I hissed. As promised, the room was bigger than our bedroom. It might have been bigger than the rest of the house put together, but I'd have to pace it off to be positive. I had a brief mental flash of Alice trying to persuade Esme to ignore classic proportions and allow this monstrosity. I wondered how Alice had won that one.

Everything was wrapped in garment bags, pristine and white, row after row after row.

"To the best of my knowledge, everything but this rack here" - he touched a bar that stretched along the half-wall to the left of the door - "is yours."

"All of this?"

He shrugged.

"Alice," we said together. He said her name like an explanation; I said it like an expletive.

"Fine," I muttered, and I pulled down the zipper on the closest bag. I growled under my breath when I saw the floorlength silk gown inside - baby pink.

Finding something normal to wear could take all day!

"Let me help," Edward offered. He sniffed carefully at the air and then followed some scent to the back of the long room. There was a built-in dresser there. He sniffed again, then opened a drawer. With a triumphant grin, he held out a pair of artfully faded blue jeans.

I flitted to his side. "How did you do that?"

"Denim has its own scent just like anything else. Now... stretch cotton?"

He followed his nose to a half-rack, unearthing a long-sleeved white t-shirt. He tossed it to me.

"Thanks," I said fervently. I inhaled each fabric, memorizing the scent for future searches through this madhouse. I remembered silk and satin; I would avoid those.

It only took him seconds to find his own clothes - if I hadn't seen him undressed, I would have sworn there was nothing more beautiful than Edward in his khakis and pale beige pullover - and then he took my hand. We darted through the hidden garden, leaped lightly over the stone wall, and hit the forest at a dead sprint. I pulled my hand free so that we could race back. He beat me this time.

Renesmee was awake; she was sitting up on the floor with Rose and Emmett hovering over her, playing with a little pile of twisted silverware. She had a mangled spoon in her right hand. As soon as she spied me through the glass, she chucked the spoon on the floor - where it left a divot in the wood - and pointed in my direction imperiously. Her audience laughed; Alice, Jasper, Esme, and Carlisle were sitting on the couch, watching her as if she were the most engrossing film.

I was through the door before their laughter had barely begun, bounding across the room and scooping her up from the floor in the same second. We smiled widely at each other.

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