Acknowledgments

April 15th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

First, many, many thanks to robsjenn, first for being willing to bid on me in Fandom Gives Back, and then, for waiting pretty much forever while I got my sea legs for Alice’s voice and threw out draft after draft after draft. So my undying thanks are due to her, both for her patience, and for asking me to write something that was such a fun stretch of my normal Twilight writings.

Thanks also to Openhome, my intrepid beta and critique partner. Everything she does keeps me on track, and saves me from wandering too far afield in the search for the perfect way to portray someone. She’s walked through a novel and a novella with me over almost three years, and I am deeply, deeply in her debt.

Thanks to sleepyvalentina for prereading, and to her, twitina, and einfach_mich for being excited every time I bounced a few lines off them. It kept me going, and I owe you all.

And of course, thank you to all of you for reading. The gift of getting to share these stories with others is not one I take for granted, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming on these little journeys with me.

3-7 Portsmouth, New Hampshire

April 15th, 2013 § Comments Off on 3-7 Portsmouth, New Hampshire § permalink

Edward didn’t ask me about the photo, nor did he thank me for it. But he played almost every night, and most nights, I sat with him, listening, watching. Trying not to think of his mother and how it must have been, her sitting there with Edward leaning into her side.

Sometimes, my mind would drift though, and then I would hear his fingers falter as my imagining of his mother appeared in my mind.

Listening to him trip over the notes, I squeezed his arm.

“I’m here,” I whispered.

He kept playing.

Forward

3-8 Forks, Washington

April 15th, 2013 § Comments Off on 3-8 Forks, Washington § permalink

Charlie forbade Edward from visiting more than two hours at a time after I brought him and Bella back from Italy. So he was forced to spend more time at home.

One afternoon, I found him sitting in the backyard breaking twigs. They started out feet long, and then snapped in half, and in half, and in half, and in half. Methodically, rhythmically, like another piano concerto, just one played on wood.

When he finally got them small enough, he crushed them between his forefinger and thumb.

I sat down beside him in the grass. He didn’t say anything, just kept breaking the twigs. When he ran out of them, he disappeared into the woods, came back with more, and kept going.

Two hours later, he finished pulverizing one and murmured, “It’s different now.”

“Because of Jacob?” I asked.

He shrugged and snapped a few more.

“What would have happened, Alice?” he whispered at last. “If we’d stayed?”

I shook my head.

“I know you saw it. When I was deciding what to do.”

And he was right, because of course I was watching over him that night. The way he raced to the top of Mt. Olympus, and screamed against the howling wind. The pain that was coming if we left. The joy that would come if we stayed.

But there was joy now, too. There was joy coming. It was just going to be much harder won.

I put my arm over his shoulder.

“Now is what matters, Edward.”

His shoulders trembled a little, but then he coughed and sat up straighter.

“Now isn’t certain.”

I squeezed him, and for once, he didn’t run.

“Now is never certain,” was all I said.

Forward

3-9 Calgary, Alberta

April 15th, 2013 § Comments Off on 3-9 Calgary, Alberta § permalink

Vampires are fast in the snow. Even in feet of snow, like there was that night. We can race so quickly that we almost skim on top of it, our feet leaving little shimmering drags of tracks rather than giant footprints.

We were almost a mile away when we both caught the scent and stopped so abruptly that snow went spraying everywhere.

Blood.

A lot of it.

Edward gave me a pointed look.

I wondered if he could handle it.

He nodded quickly. “Can you?”

“We can hold our breath.”

And instinctively, I reached for his hand. He took mine, squeezed it, and together, we ran.

The accident scene was an eerie nightmare. Blood spattered across the road. The odd yellow lights of the tow trucks; the snow pulsing odd shades of blue and red from the police cruisers. People screamed.

Near the edge of the scene, a woman stood, sobbing.

“He was right here,” she screamed. “He was right here!”

Edward and I exchanged glances.

Vampires move too quickly for anyone except other vampires to see. But the scent near the woman was undeniable.

It was the scent I loved to bathe in at night.

“Oh, Jas,” I heard myself say and found my hand was squeezed tightly.

Edward still hadn’t let go of it.

“We can still find him,” he said.

We had to run at human speed through the wreckage, jogging at a pace that felt glacial. As we did, we ran into Carlisle coming the other way. I’d never seen him looking so disheveled—his shirt and pants were covered in blood, one of his sleeves was torn halfway off, his hair was drenched with snow and matted with some other substance. His skin pulsed an odd shade of purple in the glow from the emergency vehicles.

For someone with perpetually maintained energy, he looked exhausted.

“What—” he started to ask.

“Jasper,” Edward answered at once. “And Maria. They were out having a conversation. They weren’t far from here.”

Carlisle closed his eyes, tilted his head upward, and muttered a word I’d never heard him say before.

When he opened them again, he laid a hand on Edward’s shoulder. “Can you find them, son?”

Edward nodded.

“Then do. Please. Make that your priority. I’ll handle whatever needs to be handled here. Just—keep them contained.”

Then he turned to me. “Alice, do you see anything?”

I shook my head. “I saw the accident. And Jasper. But I think there’s nothing new coming.”

“Good. That’s…that’s good.” He squeezed Edward’s shoulder. “Go, son. You and Alice need to find them. And fast.”

Edward nodded and sprinted off in the direction of Jasper’s scent.

I was still holding his hand.

Forward

3-10 Portsmouth, New Hampshire

April 15th, 2013 § Comments Off on 3-10 Portsmouth, New Hampshire § permalink

A hospital in Calgary lost its ER surgeon, and Carlisle applied for the job.

The night before we were to move, Edward played Chopin for four hours, and I sat there the whole time. Vampires don’t get tired, and we don’t need to change positions. So I could just sit, and listen.

I tried not to think about Edward’s mother, or the photo, or any of the things that the nocturnes usually made me think of.

At the end of one piece, Edward leaned back on the piano bench and pressed his hands backward against the wood so that it made his body rock back and forth a little.

I wondered what he was thinking.

He didn’t answer right away.

After a few minutes, I thought maybe what he wanted was privacy, maybe some space to play some more. I swung my legs around to the other side of the piano bench and was halfway to standing when Edward whispered, “I was supposed to have a sister.”

I stopped.

“I’m sorry?”

He shook his head, but in the “clearing out cobwebs” kind of way, not in the “don’t talk to me” kind of way. Then he went on speaking.

“I think,” he added. “I feel as though I remember my mother telling me that. But I don’t remember much…” His head tilted to one side and he thought for a moment.

“Her name was…Margaret? I think,” he said at last. “My mother was pregnant with her when I was very small.”

This was fascinating. Both what he remembered, and that he remembered it at all.

“What happened to her?”

He went silent again. His jaw locked, and his face went blank, and he stared at the keys, like black and white were going to swirl into some new medium and give him some information that he didn’t already have. He didn’t look up at me.

“She died,” he said at last.

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