Edward had been looking forward to this all day. Alice had planned most of it, with a tiny bit of help from Edward as to what music Bella would listen to. He couldn't help laughing at her lame attempt to remove the handkerchief. "You can't ruin the surprise, Bella dear," he teased, swatting her hands away from her face. He sped towards his family's home like he'd done a million times before, only today would be different. Today would be a celebration of her life. Something he really wanted to stress to her.
"Charlie knows you might be out a little later than usual tonight. Alice cleared that up for him," he said matter-of-factly, still enjoying the relentless teasing. He grinned from ear to ear as they drove down the windy roads of Forks. Whether she liked it or not, she was going to have fun tonight. He was determined to make it the best night of her life. She deserved it. Every second of it.
She trusted him completely. Which meant she believed his word, and would be hard pressed to find a promise she approached dubiously; he'd said no birthday party, so there was no birthday party.
And yet the throbbing feeling in her chest, right beneath her sternum, told her that Edward cared too much about her to let her eighteenth birthday party go uncelebrated. Bella's hands fidgeted in her lap as she pressed her head back into the seat. It was the only way to keep her bursting anticipation at bay.
Finally the car rolled to a stop, and she stuck her hands out to where she hoped Edward was, and once she felt something flesh-like, she held on to it. "Edward you take this thing off me and tell me where I am. This is madness." Bella laughed. She tried to slide closer to him but the seat belt cut into her chest, and she instinctively gently tugged at whatever part of Edward she was holding.
"What -- is that you? Where are you?" Bella pulled her hand away, suddenly aware that she wasn't touching his hands.
He almost felt guilty about lying to her concerning her birthday party. It wasn't going to be huge. Just the Cullen family. And her. And just a few little presents. And a Bella sized cake, since none of them would be partaking. He just worried what Bella would think of his present to her. It wasn't anything extravagant, but he knew she'd appreciate it nonetheless.
He parked the car and undid his seatbelt, staying completely silent. The advantage of not having to breathe was that he could be stealthy for such a moment. He smiled as her hands wandered around, but he had to move himself quickly away, grabbing her wrists to stop her hands from going where her hands shouldn't go. "Okay, calm down there," he said through an uncomfortable laugh, trying to remain as collected as possible. Clearing his throat, he let go of her wrists gently and looked at her half covered face. "We're here," he said cryptically. "And you can't take that off until we get inside."
Bella opened her mouth to question Edward's abrupt attack on her wrists, but she thought better of it. Instead, she huffed and turned her head in a direction she assumed was away from him. "You're not going to get away with this, Edward Cullen," she scoffed, although had the handkerchief not been on Edward might have caught the humorous glint in her eyes.
She felt around for her seatbelt, and after fumbling with it she managed to undo it, and stretched in her seat. Her hands started banging against the door next to her, searching for the handle, and in her haste she accidentally banged her knuckles against something sharp. Bella gasped, pulling her hand quickly away and raising it to her mouth to suck on the wounded flesh. She could taste salty blood in her mouth, and shoved her hand even farther in. Edward would not be happy.
Bella wriggled her nose, trying to slide up the handkerchief by its own accord, because she could not risk taking her knuckle out to speak. Edward might see the blood, and then... erm... happy birthday Bella, while I knaw your hand off.
Failing at moving the handkerchief more than a few centimeters, Bella sighed and cleared her throat. Pleeeeease?
"I think I'm in the process of getting away with it," he joked, glad that her hands were far away from his body. He didn't want to test the limits of physical intimacy with her. Well, not at the moment, at least. No matter how much she loathed it, he was really enjoying her birthday, and it'd only just begun.
He smirked as her hands blindly searched for a way out. Just a little bit more torture before she got her big surprise. He heard her gasp and his eyebrows furrowed. Maybe leaving her blindfolded wasn't the best idea. Bella, on a good day, came home with a bruise of some sort or an untied shoe. But blindfolded? It was only a few short feet to the house, he parked close enough where she wouldn't pose too much of a danger to herself. And, as always, he would be standing beside her.
The gasp coming from her throat confused him for a mere millisecond before he smelled the reason. The scent of her blood invaded his nostrils and he ground his teeth together, focusing on not breathing in the sweet smell. He could feel the venom starting to form in his mouth, but he wouldn't let his animalistic instincts take hold of him.
"We shouldn't go in until that stops bleeding," he said in a calm voice. He turned the car back on so he could roll down the windows and let some fresh air into the car.
The blood tasted vile in her mouth; this was one qualm Bella had with being a vampire. She was utterly convinced that she'd starve herself because even the idea of drinking blood for sustenance made her turn green with nausea. What an odd vampire she'd make, then.
After a few moments, the taste thinned out in her mouth, and she felt safe enough to remove her hand from her lips and pull her sleeve over it. They were about to go in to a house full of vampires, and although Bella loved them all, she didn't doubt that at least one of them (mainly Jasper) was curious about what she tasted like.
"Alright, I... I think it's done," she said in a small voice. The handkerchief deterred her from making a face at Edward. She wanted to make light of the situation, but her knuckle was still smarting. "Can we go? I'm starting to see stars under this thing," her voice was still quiet, but she managed a laugh.
Blood was such a mood spoiler.
Bella didn't wait for his assistance, and having already discovered the general feel of the door, she located the frame with more grace this time. It clicked, and she pushed the door out as far as it would go. Too far, apparently, because she fell out.
"Ergh," she groaned, back first on the dirt. She suddenly realized that it was light outside -- which meant the handkerchief had slid off (only one eye, though), and she saw an upside down house. A very familiar looking upside down house...
He watched her intently as the smell of blood waned from inside of the car. He looked down as she removed her hand from her mouth and saw that there wasn't a trace left. Good. The temptation, for him, was strong, but manageable. The others...he wasn't so sure that they'd be able to contain their bloodlust for long. Especially Jasper, who seemed to have the hardest time out of all of them.
He got out of the car at the same time she did, although he was hoping that she'd wait for him to come around and help her out. But that would be far too easy. He laughed as he walked around to the other side of the car to see just one eye peeking out from underneath the blindfold. The tone of her voice just set him off more. "C'mon, let's get you off the ground, dusted off, and in the house." He knelt down next to her, pushing her wild hair off of her face, as well as the blindfold. "Might as well take this off...though I can still cover your eyes, you know," he teased, half-smiling.
Bella crossed her arms, which was slightly awkward to do while sprawled across the ground, but she was determined to pout for at least a good minute. When Edward came over and knelt down by her side, she squeezed her eyes shut; his hands brushing the hair off her face, however, softened Bella's expression. It was hard to stay angry at perfection.
She rolled over on to her stomach and balanced on her knees, trying to shake off the dirt covering her back. "Next time you blindfold me, I'm going to take precautions," Bella snorted, tugging the rest of the handkerchief off her face and letting it rest around her neck. Standing slowly (two accidents were enough), she held out a hand for Edward to take. "Let's see what you're hiding, now."
They walked towards the house, and Bella's stomach began to protest.
"We're just at the house, there's nothing hidden. Why would anything be hidden?" he said innocently. He pressed his lips against the back of her hand as they walked towards the house. Part of Edward wished that it could just be her and him tonight, but Alice had been planning this for months. He couldn't disappoint his sister now. They'd have time together later.
He stopped at the front steps of his house and stopped there, taking Bella's face between his hands and kissing her gently. Just a few more minutes of bliss before they walked into the house. He mentally told Alice to wait a little while longer before the festivities began because he had to give the girl he loved a proper birthday kiss. As always, he was careful not to open his mouth too much, for fear that his razor sharp teeth would scrape against her lips and nothing good would come of that.
She opened her mouth to retaliate, but the feel of Edward's icy lips against her hand calmed her. Nothing could match the feeling of blissful content he sprinkled over her. When they were together the universe became a tiny spec and the two of them became an infinite wonder.
As they stopped Bella pondered breaking the silence, but found there was no need. She went through the initial electric shock, the cold comfort of his hands cupping her cheeks, and then she felt something snap. Usually when they kissed she could demonstrate a slight level of self control (although Edward trumped her in this area), but it was like the idea was foreign to her. In that one second Bella forgot her boyfriend was a vampire, and only felt an urgent need to have as much of him as she could.
Like he was slipping away.
Her hands wrapped themselves around his neck, pulling herself dangerously close to his entire body, and kissed him back with fervor.
His hands slid down her face, resting on her neck, his fingertips feeling the blood pulsing through her veins. Bella's enthusiastic response always shocked him a little bit, and this kiss was no different. He sighed against her lips, reveling in the feeling of her up against him. Just one more minute and he'd break away and they could go in the house.
Well, the minute passed and turned into three. Just them, in front of the house, sharing a perfectly wonderful moment. He wanted to make her birthday as memorable as possible. "Bella," he whispered, pulling his face away from hers slowly, but not moving anything else. He wanted so much to kiss her the way her eyes begged him to kiss her. "Happy birthday," he said with a grin.
If this was Edward's big surprise, then Bella was satisfied in every sense of the word. Her birthday wish had been completed, and apparently her knees agreed. As he whispered her name, she buckled in his arms. It was so difficult keeping balance around him.
She grinned, and readjusted herself in his arms. "See what you do to me." Bella held he proximity if their bodies, enveloping Edward in a long hug. Eighteen or Eighty-eight, it did not matter. So long as Edward was there. "I love you," she mumbled into his shirt. Edward rarely vocalized it, but she knew he felt it too.
He would never leave her. He could never. No matter what.
"I love you," he whispered against the top of her head. "I don't want to share you," he admitted quietly, half-joking, half-seriously. It was true, he didn't want to go inside and have Alice steal her away from him. He almost regretted allowing this surprise party to go on. Not that he had any other plans but maybe taking her out to dinner and some relaxing time alone at the house. He was looking forward to giving Bella her presents from the family. They all loved spoiling her just a little too much. In Edward's eyes, she deserved every bit of adoration that he and his family gave to her.
As much as he didn't want to admit it to himself, life would be easier if Bella was a vampire. He didn't want to be so careful with her all the time. Being with Bella brought out the human in him that had been hidden away for so long. Along with those human emotions were the human longings of a man forever stuck in a seventeen year old boy's body.
He could feel Alice's eyes looking at him through the window and he glanced quickly at her, shaking his head. No, he would go inside with Bella when he was good and ready. And, right now, he wasn't ready to let her go.
Alice waited inside very impatiently by the window, Edward had promised her that Bella would be there. Yes she was there but she wasn't inside where the party was at Jasper placed his arm around her waist and she looked up at him. Every ounce of frustration and impatience drained away from her and she felt the excitement that was to come.
"That isn't fair." she murmmered against his chest resting her head against him.
Jasper told her softly that he didn't want her upset and that Edward and bella would join them when they were ready.
"I love you, and you will be fine." Alice told him softly and with a bit of cheer in her voice. She truthfully was a tad worried but wasn't at the same moment. Jasper was strong sure it was harder on him than on others but nothing was completely easy. She wanted to tell him they all had weaknesses but Jasper's could be a problem. "At least he is happy now... I just wish they would come in already."
Edward chuckled as he heard Alice's impatience and he glanced at the window, jokingly rolling his eyes at her. "Someone's getting very testy in there," he murmured, running his fingers through Bella's hair. He worried about Jasper, even though they had all been hunting earlier in the day.
"As much as I hate to say it, the sooner we get in there, the sooner it will be all over...sort of like ripping a band-aid off really quickly," Edward desperately wanted Bella to enjoy herself tonight. Her smile lit up a room and made Edward's breath catch in his throat. If his family could make that happen, maybe this party wouldn't be completely in vain.