It had been years since the family had lived in Forks and now we all decided it was time to come home. Just the thought of being in Forks has stirred up so many memories. I love being back where my life with Edward first began. The homecoming would also make tonight’s celebration even more special.
It is usually very quiet and peaceful here; however, tonight the Cullen house was full of commotion. Constant chattering could be heard all around the bottom floor of the vintage home. Items were being moved around to new areas of the house to prepare for a more party-like atmosphere. I seemed to be the only thing in the house that was standing still.
With uncertainty, I stared into the mirror wondering if this was the right one. I was wearing a dark blue off-the-shoulders evening gown with matching satin high heel shoes. The dress clung to my skin like a baby to her mother. The bottom of the dress flared to create a petal-like effect around the floor of the room. It was beautiful, but was it right?
I turned to see behind me four other dresses gently laid out across the king sized bed. The dresses were various shades of blue. All were striking in different ways. I glared back towards the mirror. Which would I look better in? Which would he like better? This was such an important evening. All of our family and friends would be attending. I wish I could decide.
There was a knock at the door, but I already knew who it was because of the sweet smell saturating the air. I smiled as my face was resetting itself from its unresolved wardrobe issue.
“Mom, can I come in?” she asked with a voice that would have unlocked any impenetrable door.
“Sure. Come in Renesmee,” I said as the door slowly opened.
Her beautiful brown eyes peeked around the door. She pushed the door open another inch. “Are you sure, sure?” she questioned.
“Yes, I am sure, sure. You know that you are always a welcome sight. Anyway, I could use some help,” I said with a grateful tone.
“Aunt Alice thought you might be having some issues. She sent me up here. She knew you were having a little trouble picking out your outfit.”
As always Alice was right on the money. I wondered why she did not take care of my indecision herself. Renesmee must have read my face because a second later I felt her soft hand touching my cheek. At that very moment, I could see Alice dancing around finishing up last minute party preparations. She was directing Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper on where to move some of the unneeded furniture from the front room. Their faces appeared focused but not irritated. Rosalie and Esme were setting out elaborate floral arrangements on several tables. The family had been doing little things to make the event extra special for Edward and me. The images disappeared as Renesmee removed her hand from my face.
She leaned in tenderly to kiss my cheek and then stated, “You look gorgeous, Mom.” My daughter gazed at me as if I were a Greek goddess.
She herself was such a beauty that words had trouble defining. In her face, I could see all of Edward’s flawless features. But her wavy russet hair and deep brown eyes were me or at least the human me. She was a vision of perfection wearing a strapless deep emerald green evening gown that framed her magnificent hourglass figure. Renesmee beamed at me while I took in her loveliness. Her voice broke my trance.
Since I did not respond to her original comment, she repeated, “Mom, did you hear me? You look gorgeous.”
“No worries, Mom. You can do this. There is only a house full of guests waiting for you,” she said in an authoritative voice. “Not to mention one VERY special man.”
“Well, which one should I wear?” I asked looking back at the dress lying on the bed.
“You know he does not care what you wear. He only cares that it is you wearing it,” Renesmee stated as she placed her hand on my shoulder. “However, I like the one you have on. The deep blue brings out the golden color of your eyes.”
“Thank you, I think you’re right. I just had to get someone else’s opinion,” I stated confirming her thoughts.
A second later, there was a tap at the door. Renesmee kissed my cheek and started walking to the door to answer it. She opened the door and sighed as he walked through the doorway.
“Good evening, Dad. Don’t you look striking,” Renesmee declared as she gave Edward a big hug.
“And may I return the complement,” he replied with a proud father’s grin. “Nessie, you always look so beautiful in green.”
Then he turned to me. Our eyes locked and we both tenderly stared at each other for a few moments. Neither of us said a word but we knew what each other was thinking.
“Uh hum,” Renesmee coughed. “I think Aunt Alice needs my assistance downstairs. Besides, I am sure that Jacob and E.J. are causing some kind of trouble. You know how those two can be,” she said as her hand reached for the door.
“That is all right. I can take over from here,” Edward stated with a guardian quality to his tone.
“You two look fabulous,” she affectionately stated as she closed the door behind her.
There he was standing five feet away from me. Renesmee was right. He was striking. My Edward was as youthful as the first day I saw him. His dapper appearance would never dull. He was dressed in a double breasted suit with a dark blue handkerchief in his left pocket that matched my dress perfectly. Alice must have given him some insight to my party attire.
He was at my side the very second the door closed. Edward leaned down and whispered, “You are stunning, Mrs. Cullen.”
Edward knew exactly the right things words to dazzle me. And with his words our lips met. His lips were expressive. They showed me how much he still loved me after all of these years. He pulled me close to him and as his hands wandered over the curves of my hips. Encounters like this always took my breath away. We slowly parted frames but never fully let go over each other. His hand rested in the small of my back as he walked me over to the end of the bed.
“Would you sit with me a while?” he asked innocently. Without a word, I sat down next to my husband. Side by side we gazed into each others eyes.
“I have something for you,” he whispered.
Without allowing me enough time to protest, he reached down under the bed and retrieved a small square black box that was wrapped with a beautiful red ribbon.
“An anniversary gift,” he announced.
“But, but I didn’t get you anything,” I regretfully responded.
“Yes you did. You gave me eternity. And that is all I will ever need,” he whispered in my ear. “Anyway, it is your favorite kind of gift - homemade. Now, please open the present.”
After a few moments, I untied the bright red ribbon that was securing the box. I proceeded to lift the lid. In the box was a leather photo album embossed with our initials on the front cover.
“I made it myself. Do you like it?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” I whispered as I lifted the book out of the box.
I opened the book. The paper sparkled with silver lettering that simply stated: Our First One Hundred Years. My eyes began to sting as I slowly turned to the first page of the album. There was a picture of Edward and me during our courtship. In the picture, we were smiling and holding hands in front of my old Chevy truck. He looked the same as he did today, but I was still my human form. I looked utterly plain compared to the features that immortality had given to me. But Edward looked at me as if I were the prettiest girl on Earth.
“Remember, how you liked that truck,” he sarcastically laughed.
“If that truck could talk,” I reflected. “It would tell some interesting stories.”
I turned to the second page of the album. The photo was of Edward and me under a balloon arch at my prom. The photo reminded me how important it was to Edward that I experienced as many significant events in my human life as possible. I chuckled recalling the fact that he got me to dance.
I slowly turned to the next page and there was a picture of the two of us on our wedding day. I looked back at Edward and placed my hand affectionately on his cheek.
“One of the best days of my existence,” I proudly stated.
“And mine,” Edward stated as his arms tightened around my waist. His lips then moved slowly to mine. Every kiss made our actions more uncontrollable. His hands moved to the sides of my face. He held me tightly as our bodies melted into one. His passionate lips shifted to the base of my neck.
Bringing his lips to my ear, he whispered “Alice would not be pleased if we were late for the party.” If vampires could blush, my face would have shown my crimson cheeks.
I paused until I regained my composure. “Yes, you’re right. She would not like that much.”
I glanced back at the photo album turning to the next page of the book. The photo was of Renesmee, Edward and me days after she was born. I could remember Rosalie taking the picture as if it were yesterday.
Those early days were driven by fear. The dread of not knowing Renesmee’s mortality overtook my mind. Thankfully, the answer to that fear not only saved Renesmee but it also saved the entire Cullen family. I smiled as I remembered the Volturi disappearing from the clearing through the trees. These days the ruling family of the vampire realm travels very little away from their Italian village. And Alice assures us that there is no danger to the family.
I continued turning the pages filled with memories of our life together. The pictures were snapshots of holidays, birthdays, family baseball games, Renesmee’s high school graduation and other wonderful moments along our journey.
Then I stopped at one of the photos in the album. My eyes started to sting once again. It was a family picture at Renesmee and Jacob’s wedding taken on the cliffs near the First Beach in La Push. There was no doubt that their love was eternal. You could see it in their eyes.
The picture also included other smiling faces of our family. The picture was comprised of many different complexions but the Cullens and the Blacks were now a part of one big happy family unit.
Sadness slowly surfaced as my fingers reached for the picture. I lightly touched the faces of Charlie and Renee.
“I miss them so much. I wish they could be here today,” sorrow filled my motionless heart.
“They loved you more than anything, Bella. They had to go on. It was their decision and they would not have wanted it any other way,” Edward stated.
“I know they had happy lives. Both of them finally found their soul mates in Sue and Phil. But I just can’t believe that it has been over forty years since they passed on.”
I was so glad that Renesmee had the opportunity to have her grandparents in her life. She was especially close to Charlie. A few years after she was born, Charlie asked me one question about our new family situation and my daughter’s worldly vitality. Concern filled his thoughts and pain encompassed his face. He could tell Renesmee was maturing too fast for the average mortal lifespan.
“Will she be okay?” Charlie asked with fear in his tone.
I reassured him that she would live a long and healthy life with Edward and me. And that was all of the assurance he needed.
I continued to explore my present by turning memory-filled page after memory-filled page until stopping at one photograph. In the photo, Renesmee was holding a sweet dark haired bundle of joy while Jacob stood by her side. Jacob had an elated smile on his face. This was the day Edward Jacob came into our lives.
“I can’t believe that E.J. was so little,” I stated. Then, Edward and I both laughed at my response to the day our grandson was born.
Renesmee’s pregnancy was normal and without any supernatural interferences. She was so strong and did not complain the whole nine months.
From the every beginning, we could all tell that E.J. was definitely his father’s son. He looked and acted just like Jacob. During his childhood, his main forms of entertainment were running, playing and getting into trouble. And Jacob was usually in the middle of his son’s adventures. So at sixteen, no one was surprised when E.J. became one of the wolf pack.
Photos of our grandson filled the pages of the album. One picture was of E.J. sitting next to Edward as he was learning to play the piano. Another was of E.J. and Renesmee practicing his driving skills. Jacob and Edward were not allowed to teach him because of their driving tendencies. They were not happy about their exclusion but got over it when Renesmee and I insisted on the matter.
I turned to the last page of the album but the page was blank. There was a little black satin pouch fixed to the middle of the empty page. I gazed at the pouch for a few moments not knowing what other surprises Edward had for me.
I looked up to see that his eyes were staring at my bewildered expression.
“Where is the last photo? And what is in the pouch?” I asked.
Before responding, he freed the satin pouch from the page in the book. He then lifted the leather bond photo album out of my hands and placed it back in the black box.
“This is also for you,” he stated.
He placed the satin pouch in my hand. Cautiously, I untied the string that was securing the small bag. I turned it over and out fell an old top to a lemonade drink. My mind flashed back to one of the first days of our budding relationship. I could remember Edward playing with the top as we sat at the lunch table in Fork’s High School cafeteria.
“You kept it after all these years?” I questioned.
“It was yours. And it comforted me when I had to go away,” he stated with a quiver in his voice. “I needed the top close to me so that I would always have a part of you.”
I looked at the bottle top again as he placed it in the palm of my hand. My eyes gazed back to his lovely face.
“You always see the perfections in places that no one else would have thought about searching. That is how you found me,” I avowed by moving closer to him. “This is why I love you so much.”
He then proceeded to place his arms tightly around my waist. He moved closer to me removing the space between us. We were so close that I could feel his breath on my lips.
“I love you too,” he whispered. “I also saved the last page in the album for a picture of us at our anniversary party,” he whispered as his breath engulfed my essence. “I plan on making tonight one of the most memorable moments of our marriage.”
I did not know if he meant the anniversary party or the private experience that would follow the party. But my mind was not on the party that was about to begin downstairs. It was on the need to make love to my dearest husband. Centuries of love making from dusk to dawn could not restrain my sexual appetite. I could not resist my yearning for his touch. Once again, his lips met mine. Our mouths opened so we could take in the sweet aromas of each other’s soul. Time stood still as passion took over our responses.
* * *
“To think I ever worried about losing this craving,” I whispered in his ear. “I must have been absurd.”
“That is what I always told you,” he said jokingly.
After our passionate escapade, we got ourselves reassembled in our evening attire. We giggled with the thought of us celebrating our second honeymoon merely feet away from all of our guests downstairs.
We glanced in the mirror to scan our appearance. We looked perfect.
Edward held out his hand for me. I interlaced fingers through his, and then we slowly walked to the door. He put his hand on the doorknob and turned to look in my eyes.
“Are you ready for our one hundred year anniversary party, Mrs. Cullen?” he asked in the sweetest voice I have ever heard.
“Yes, Mr. Cullen.” I simply replied.
Edward opened the door to the bedroom never letting go of my hand. We stepped closer to the staircase so that we could take in the festivities. I could hear the sound of my lullaby being played on the piano. I would have to thank Rosalie for the sweet gesture. Edward wrapped his arm around mine and smiled tenderly into my eyes. A hundred year old memory flashed to my thoughts, remembering Charlie standing with me in this very spot. I smiled back at Edward acknowledging that this time was different. This time, Edward would be by my side. Together we journeyed down the stairs and to join in our celebration.