1-13 Portland Oregon

I helped Esme put together our trunks for Vermont. There was a big house there, big enough for all of us, and it would be a good next stop after Oregon.

On the second to last afternoon in our soon-to-be old house, I sat in the middle of the living room, listening to Jasper play the guitar and watching Carlisle read when I saw a Coke bottle spinning through the air, its glass reflecting the light from the kitchen chandelier in a mottled pattern across the walls. Then it fell to the ground and smashed.

“You are a complete asshole!” a high voice cried. Then the back door opened and slammed closed with such force it fell off its hinges.

A rustle accompanied Carlisle’s utterly unhurried page turn.

I blinked, then got to my feet. The strumming stopped.

“You saw something?” Jasper asked.

I nodded. “Something small.”

Carlisle stopped turning pages when I headed for the stairs.

Edward’s room was at the top of the stairs, on the right. He keeps a lot of things; little mementos of the ways he’s lived his life. I don’t know what all of them mean, but I do know that they all mean something.

I had seen it dozens of times before, but had never actually bothered to inventory it. No matter. The virtue of being a vampire is that my new memory is perfect.

Even if my old memory is nonexistent.

Rummaging through my brain, I went down the list of things that were on this shelf. A baseball card, one of Carlisle’s. A sand fulgurite that had something to do with Emmett. A Coke bottle. The Coke bottle, from what I’d seen. A bookmark from the New York City Public Library. A lighter…

That was the part that was missing. A little silver box, no bigger than a pack of cards.

My visions aren’t always perfect. They don’t always give every detail, and though I knew Edward winged the Coke bottle at Emmett in the kitchen, I wasn’t exactly sure why.

Now I knew.

Rosalie and Emmett were out in the backyard with Esme, burning some of the debris from the remodel of the house. Emmett would’ve remembered the lighter, and he couldn’t see what would happen.

Outside it was just beginning to get cold. For a brief moment, I could see my breath when I stepped out into the cool air, because I was warm from the temperature in the house. But it equalized after a minute, like it always does.

“Em,” I said gently, and he turned, grinning.

Emmett is probably the most at home with what we are. The way he sees it, he got the best deal; he didn’t die, and he ended up with Rose, who is the absolute center of his universe. He likes being stronger than any human and really, all of us. He liked having one brother; he likes having two even more. He teases me, but it’s a sweet teasing.

When Edward called me “Freak,” there was always the slightest tinge of truth.

He turned away from the bonfire, and it snapped and crackled behind him, making his hair look orange in the glow. Smoke billowed up as though it was coming out of the crown of his head. I laughed.

“Are you laughing at me?”

I pointed. “Just the fire. The smoke looks like it’s coming out of your head.”

He whirled like something had bitten him.

I started to laugh, and the next thing I knew, my shoulders were pressed into the ground, with Emmett on top in a full-body tackle. He threw me over him into the grass, and red and orange leaves stuck in both our hair as we tumbled over each other, laughing.

“Hey, you two,” Esme called, but she was smiling. “Play nicely.”

“So, Crystal Ball,” Emmett said, still pinning my shoulders with his elbows. “You needed something?”

“What did you use to start the fire?” I asked.

Emmett frowned for a second, then produced the little silver lighter from his pocket. It glinted in the sunlight, and I saw the three initials engraved on it.

E. A. M.

“Who is EAM?” I wondered.

“It’s Edward’s,” Emmett replied.

I shoved him. “I know that much. But he’s E. C.” I stretched out my hand, beckoning for it.

Emmett shrugged, shoving the lighter into my hand.

“He wasn’t always.”

I blinked.

It was true. Jasper was Jasper Whitlock, Rosalie was still Rosalie Hale. Emmett was…so thoroughly a Cullen now that I’d never even bothered to ask.

Of course Edward had once not been Edward Cullen.

I was the only person who was just “Alice.”

Emmett waved a hand in front of my face, then snapped his fingers an inch from my nose. “You seeing something?”

“No,” I said, stepping back. “But I’m putting this back. In the future, don’t borrow it from him.”

Emmett rolled his eyes. “You saw some epic hissy fit over a lighter, I’ll bet.”

I shrugged. “Something like that.” I backed away toward the house, turning the lighter over in my hands.

E. A. M.

A weird twinge went through me.

I was halfway up the stairs before I recognized it as jealousy.

I laid the lighter next to the Coke bottle, which never got thrown.


Comments are closed.