Sue seemed to have taken it on herself to smooth Charlie's transition into the world of make-believe. She came with him to the Cullens' most days, though she never seemed truly comfortable here the way her son and most of Jake's pack did. She did not speak often; she just hovered protectively near Charlie. She was always the first person he looked to when Renesmee did something disturbingly advanced - which was often. In answer, Sue would eye Seth meaningfully as if to say, Yeah, tell me about it.
Leah was even less comfortable than Sue and was the only part of our recently extended family who was openly hostile to the merger. However, she and Jacob had a new camaraderie that kept her close to us all. I asked him about it once - hesitantly; I didn't want to pry, but the relationship was so different from the way it used to be that it made me curious. He shrugged and told me it was a pack thing. She was his second-in-command now, his "beta," as
I'd called it once long ago.
"I figured as long as I was going to do this Alpha thing for real," Jacob explained, "I'd better nail down the formalities."
The new responsibility made Leah feel the need to check in with him often, and since he was always with Renesmee...
Leah was not happy to be near us, but she was the exception. Happiness was the main component in my life now, the dominant pattern in the tapestry. So much so that my relationship with Jasper was now much closer than I'd ever dreamed it would be.
At first I was really annoyed, though.
"Yeesh!" I complained to Edward one night after we'd put Renesmee in her wrought-iron crib. "If I haven't killed Charlie or Sue yet, it's probably not going to happen. I wish Jasper would stop hovering all the time!"
"No one doubts you, Bella, not in the slightest," he assured me. "You know how Jasper is - he can't resist a good emotional climate. You're so happy all the time, love, he gravitates toward you without thinking."
And then Edward hugged me tightly, because nothing pleased him more than my overwhelming ecstasy in this new life.
And I was euphoric the vast majority of the time. The days were not long enough for me to get my fill of adoring my daughter; the nights did not have enough hours to satisfy my need for Edward.
There was a flipside to the joy, though. If you turned the fabric of our lives over, I imagined the design on the backside would be woven in the bleak grays of doubt and fear.
Renesmee spoke her first word when she was exactly one week old. The word was Momma, which would have made my day, except that I was so frightened by her progress I could barely force my frozen face to smile back at her. It didn't help that she continued from her first word to her first sentence in the same breath. "Momma, where is Grandpa?" she'd asked in a clear, high soprano, only bothering to speak aloud because I was across the room from her. She'd already asked Rosalie, using her normal (or seriously abnormal, from another point of view) means of communication. Rosalie hadn't known the answer, so Renesmee had turned to me.
When she walked for the first time, fewer than three weeks later, it was similar. She'd simply stared at Alice for a long moment, watching intently as her aunt arranged bouquets in the vases scattered around the room, dancing back and forth across the floor with her arms full of flowers. Renesmee got to her feet, not in the least bit shaky, and crossed the floor almost as gracefully.
Jacob had burst into applause, because that was clearly the response Renesmee wanted. The way he was tied to her made his own reactions secondary; his first reflex was always to give Renesmee whatever she needed. But our eyes met, and I saw all the panic in mine echoed in his. I made my hands clap together, too, trying to hide my fear from her. Edward applauded quietly at my side, and we didn't need to speak our thoughts to know they were the same.
Edward and Carlisle threw themselves into research, looking for any answers, anything to expect. There was
very little to be found, and none of it verifiable.
Alice and Rosalie usually began our day with a fashion show. Renesmee never wore the same clothes
twice, partly because she outgrew her clothes almost immediately and partly because Alice and Rosalie were trying to create a baby album that appeared to span years rather than weeks. They took thousands of pictures, documenting every phase of her accelerated childhood.
At three months, Renesmee could have been a big one-year-old, or a small two-year-old. She wasn't shaped exactly like a toddler; she was leaner and more graceful, her proportions were more even, like an adult's. Her bronze ringlets hung to her waist; I couldn't bear to cut them, even if Alice would have allowed it. Renesmee could speak with flawless grammar and articulation, but she rarely bothered, preferring to simply show people what she wanted. She could not only walk but run and dance. She could even read.
I'd been reading Tennyson to her one night, because the flow and rhythm of his poetry seemed restful. (I had to search constantly for new material; Renesmee didn't like repetition in her bedtime stories as other children supposedly did, and she had no patience for picture books.) She reached up to touch my cheek, the image in her mind one of us, only with her holding the book. I gave it to her, smiling.
" There is sweet music here,'" she read without hesitation, "'that softer falls than petals from blown roses on the grass, or night-dews on still waters between walls of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass - '"
My hand was robotic as I took the book back.
"If you read, how will you fall asleep?" I asked in a voice that had barely escaped shaking.
By Carlisle's calculations, the growth of her body was gradually slowing; her mind continued to race on ahead. Even if the rate of decrease held steady, she'd still be an adult in no more than four years.
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