"When did you - "
"Before you left on the honeymoon. I was prepared for several possible futures."
I nodded and opened the container. I'd never worn contacts before, but it couldn't be that hard. I took the little brown quarter-sphere and pressed it, concave side in, to my eye.
I blinked, and a film interrupted my sight. I could see through it, of course, but I could also see the texture of the thin screen. My eye kept focusing on the microscopic scratches and warped sections.
"I see what you mean," I murmured as I stuck the other one in. I tried to not blink this time. My eye automatically wanted to dislodge the obstruction.
"How do I look?"
Edward smiled. "Gorgeous. Of course - "
"Yes, yes, she always looks gorgeous," Alice finished his thought impatiently. "It's better than red, but that's the highest commendation I can give. Muddy brown. Your brown was much prettier. Keep in mind that those won't last forever - the venom in your eyes will dissolve them in a few hours. So if Charlie stays longer than that, you'll have to excuse yourself to replace them. Which is a good idea anyway, because humans need bathroom breaks." She shook her head. "Esme, give her a few pointers on acting human while I stock the powder room with contacts."
"How long do I have?"
"Charlie will be here in five minutes. Keep it simple."
Esme nodded once and came to take my hand. "The main thing is not to sit too still or move too fast," she told me.
"Sit down if he does," Emmett interjected. "Humans don't like to just stand there."
"Let your eyes wander every thirty seconds or so," Jasper added. "Humans don't stare at one thing for too long."
"Cross your legs for about five minutes, then switch to crossing your ankles for the next five," Rosalie said.
I nodded once at each suggestion. I'd noticed them doing some of these things yesterday. I thought I could mimic their actions.
"And blink at least three times a minute," Emmett said. He frowned, then darted to where the television remote sat on the end table. He flipped the TV on to a college football game and nodded to himself.
"Move your hands, too. Brush your hair back or pretend to scratch something," Jasper said.
"I said Esme" Alice complained as she returned. "You'll overwhelm her."
"No, I think I got it all," I said. "Sit, look around, blink, fidget."
"Right," Esme approved. She hugged my shoulders.
Jasper frowned. "You'll be holding your breath as much as possible, but you need to move your shoulders a little to make it /oo/clike you're breathing."
I inhaled once and then nodded again.
Edward hugged me on my free side. "You can do this," he repeated, murmuring the encouragement in my ear.
"Two minutes," Alice said. "Maybe you should start out already on the couch. You've been sick, after all. That way he won't have to see you move right at first."
Alice pulled me to the sofa. I tried to move slowly, to make my limbs more clumsy. She rolled her eyes, so I must not have been doing a good job.
"Jacob, I need Renesmee," I said.
Jacob frowned, unmoving.
Alice shook her head. "Bella, that doesn't help me see."
"But I need her. She keeps me calm.'7The edge of panic in my voice was unmistakable.
"Fine," Alice groaned. "Hold her as still as you can and I'll try to see around her." She sighed wearily, like she'd been asked to work overtime on a holiday. Jacob sighed, too, but brought Renesmee to me, and then retreated quickly from Alice's glare.
Edward took a seat beside me and put his arms around Renesmee and me. He leaned forward and looked Renesmee very seriously in the eyes.
"Renesmee, someone special is coming to see you and your mother," he said in a solemn voice, as if he expected her to understand every word. Did she? She looked back at him with clear, grave eyes. "But he's not like us, or even like Jacob. We have to be very careful with him. You shouldn't tell him things the way you tell us."
Renesmee touched his face.
"Exactly," he said. "And he's going to make you thirsty. But you mustn't bite him. He won't heal like Jacob."
"Can she understand you?" I whispered.
"She understands. You'll be careful, won't you, Renesmee? You'll help us?"
Renesmee touched him again.
"No, I don't care if you bite Jacob. That's fine."
"Maybe you should leave, Jacob," Edward said coldly, glaring in his direction. Edward hadn't forgiven Jacob, because he knew that no matter what happened now, I was going to be hurting. But I'd take the burn happily if that were the worst thing I'd face tonight.
"I told Charlie I'd be here," Jacob said. "He needs the moral support."
"Moral support," Edward scoffed. "As far as Charlie knows, you're the most repulsive monster of us all."
"Repulsive?" Jake protested, and then he laughed quietly to himself.
I heard the tires turn off the highway onto the quiet, damp earth of the Cullens' drive, and my breathing spiked again. My heart ought to have been hammering. It made me anxious that my body didn't have the right reactions.
I concentrated on the steady thrumming of Renesmee's heart to calm myself. It worked pretty quickly.
"Well done, Bella," Jasper whispered in approval.
Edward tightened his arm over my shoulders.
"You're sure?" I asked him.
"Positive. You can do anything" He smiled and kissed me.
It wasn't precisely a peck on the lips, and my wild vampiric reactions took me off guard yet again. Edward's lips were like a shot of some addictive chemical straight into my nervous system. I was instantly craving more. It took all my concentration to remember the baby in my arms.
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