Under the Mistletoe
A Christmas party -a fight between Edward and Jacob -Mike makes Edward jealous -Bella gets rather angry with Edward -Bella and Edward blur the boundaries Edward has set on their physical relationship -Edward and Charlie have a one-on-one chat of some sort.
Not mine, enjoy :)
Under the Mistletoe
Charlie would be there. He was playing Santa again this year. He still wasn't happy with me. And everyone who'd taken an angel from the angel tree would be there to see the kids open the gifts. I knew Newton had taken one. Bella had mentioned it one day when I picked her up, and I'd heard his thoughts when he decided a party with Bella in attendance was worth buying clothes and toys for some kid he didn't even know. I hadn't seen Jacob lately, either, but I assumed he'd be there as well, since he seemed to have taken on the role of Bella's guard dog ever since the night he'd returned her motorcycle and learned that she wanted to be bitten.
At least I'd managed to stay that decision with the marriage bargain. Bella wanted me to change her as much as I wanted her to marry me. I didn't need to read her mind to tell that. I could hear her heart beat faster when I mentioned it every time she brought up going to see Carlisle about changing her. But we were several months past the graduation deadline and she was still human, even if she hadn't agreed to marry me.
Bella would be at the Angel Christmas party this year. A real angel. And there would be mistletoe. Bella and mistletoe. Together. The mere thought made me smile.
"Full of Christmas cheer, aren't we?" Jasper grinned as we climbed out of the car. Sometimes I wished he couldn't feel my emotions. At least lately he was enjoying what it felt like to be me instead of trying to make me feel better all the time.
Alice whispered in his ear, "He's looking forward to catching Bella under the mistletoe. I saw it earlier." Of course, I could hear her whether she whispered or not. I could also hear her thoughts. I hid the mistletoe when I helped decorate. You'll have to find it first.
Emmett snorted. "Since when has he worried about mistletoe?" Even Esme and Carlisle laughed. Rosalie crossed her arms and rolled her eyes as the four of them met us. We always had to take two cars when we drove anywhere as a family. Vampires do not drive minivans.
I sighed and wished my breath was warm enough to make a little cloud of condensation. The way Bella's did. Jasper looked at me and shook his head, laughing. So I was happy. It was Christmas. I was supposed to feel happy.
Carlisle held the door open as we all piled into the school gym. It might be the hospital's party, but most of the community gatherings took place at the school. It was the only place really big enough to hold a crowd, even in a town as small as Forks.
You have to hand it to Alice, she could plan a party. Or at least decorate for one. Carlisle beamed proudly as he looked around the room. A Christmas tree covered with ornaments, its boughs straining under the weight, lit up the center of the gym. Strands of icicle lights dangled from the ceiling. I hoped she'd thought to bring in a generator to handle all of the extra electrical usage. Tinsel shimmered everywhere, reflecting the light. She'd even found a tiny merry-go-round with reindeer instead of horses for the kids to ride. A photographer waited in another corner next to Santa's empty chair. That should keep Charlie busy once he arrived. Things were looking better every minute.
Alice was right, though. I still hadn't spotted the mistletoe. And trust me, I was looking for it. Not that I needed mistletoe to kiss Bella, but it was a Christmas tradition.
I spied the mistletoe at the same time I found Bella in the crowd. It wasn't exactly the mistletoe - at least, not the mistletoe Alice had hung where ever she'd hidden it. It was the mistletoe Mike Newton seemed to be carrying around to hold it over a girl's head so he could kiss her. Right now he was holding his vile fist, full of mistletoe, over Bella's head and trying to kiss her. I knew I should have driven separately and picked her up. I felt the growl rise in my throat. I could taste the jealousy, even though I knew, without a doubt, that Bella had no interest in Mike Newton. Bella frowned at him as she realized what he was doing just in time to turn her head so he missed her mouth. That's my girl. Newton, of course, was clearly disappointed that he'd only been able to kiss her cheek. I didn't have to read his mind to know that.
At least one mission accomplished. I'd found Bella. Now to get her away from Newton. I dodged shrieking children as I crossed the room to meet her. She was absolutely radiant. She stood out among the crowd because she wore a deep blue sweater with a snowflake pattern, the only blue in a sea of red and green. "You look extraordinarily beautiful," I whispered as I slipped my arm around her waist. "Not that there's anything extraordinary at all about you looking beautiful. You always look beautiful. But you are positively glowing tonight." I kissed her - without any mistletoe - and my lips met hers instead of her cheek.
"I feel radiant," she beamed. "It's our first Christmas together." She leaned against me and I could feel her body infuse mine with warmth.
She was so excited. Excited to be with me. Sometimes I still couldn't believe it. Every morning as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, joy spread across her face when she saw me. Her smile was my sunrise. And every night, as she fell asleep, the soft tempo of her breath and the soothing tattoo of her heartbeat served gentle reminders of her humanity, the state of grace that she wanted to abdicate because of her love for me. Me. The dark monster who watched, a silent sentinel, over her dreams.
Mike scowled at us and I realized how rude I'd been not to acknowledge him. I nodded in his direction and said, "Newton." He gave me a disgruntled stare and told me to have a merry Christmas. "You, too," I smiled. As merry as possible, as long as you stay away from Bella.
"Has Charlie agreed to spare you on Christmas Eve?" I asked.
She nodded. "He's going to work. I probably won't see him until Christmas night. He's just worried about me being home alone overnight now." She laughed, knowing full well that she wouldn't be alone for a second. "I think working on Christmas Eve and most of Christmas day is pretty much his holiday tradition. That and giving out the toys at this party." She glanced at the corner where Santa's chair waited, empty.
Children had started to mob the corner, so Charlie must have just arrived. Bella took my hand and led me across the room. "Ho, ho, ho," Charlie belted out as he settled into the throne-like chair. "Time to find out who's been naughty and who's been nice." He scanned the room.
Beside me, Bella whispered, "He loves this."
I couldn't respond. I'd heard what he was thinking. Too mortified to speak, I waited with dread for his voice.
"Who's been naughty this year?" he peered over a pair of wire spectacles. Not one child moved. In fact, not one of them so much as breathed. Every single child in the room held his or her breath and eyed the crowd looking for anyone who might have been naughty. Charlie's eyes caught mine. He pointed his finger at me. "You." I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "Yes, you," Charlie grinned menacingly. "I have reason to believe you've been very bad this year." I hung my head. There was no escape. I smiled and raised my head.
Bella turned to me and mouthed, "I had no idea he would do this."
In the background, I heard my family. The tinkling chime of Alice's laughter. Jasper trying to hold back his own chuckles as he sensed my discomfort and sent a wave of calm in my direction. Rosalie giggling like a maniac. Emmett's bellowing guffaw.
And their thoughts.
Maybe I should have warned him about this... Alice grinned wickedly.
Calm. Happy. Serene... I'll do what I can to help you. Jasper vacillated between sympathy and laughter.
This is the best hospital Christmas party ever! Rosalie watched my misery with such glee.
How bad have you been, brother? Emmett raised his eyebrows.
Charlie flipped his palm up and crooked his finger. "Come up and see Santa, young man. I think I might have something in my bag for you."
Bella squeezed my hand and I stepped forward. When I reached Charlie, he laughed. "I think you're a little to big to sit on Santa's lap. Just stand beside me here."
I felt like an idiot.
Carlisle met my eyes. He covered his mouth to hide the grin. You have to admit, it's funny.
The kids love it. Smile for their sakes. Esme pleaded. She pursed her lips to hide a smile.
I grinned at Charlie as he asked, "Edward. It is Edward, isn't it? But I think you'd rather be called Eddie." The crowd laughed.
Forget the kids. This is for Bella. She is the only reason I'd go through this. Eddie. I hate it when people call me Eddie. I plastered a smile on my face.
Esme raised her eyebrows and chided me silently. Be a good sport, Edward.
This is even better in real life! Alice's head moved like it rested on a spring, bobbing up and down as she snickered.
Jasper gave up and gave in to the laughter. You're on your own... Eddie.
Eddie. Emmett howled out loud. Charlie called you Eddie. In front of a room full of people! You are NEVER going to live this down! In a minute or two, he was going to literally roll on the floor. Never. Ever. Not in a million years. I will never let you forget it! He sounded downright gleeful.
And Rosalie. She leaned against Emmett hysterically gasping for air she didn't need. Forget trying to off yourself in Italy. You must love her if you let her dad call you Eddie. She snorted. Rosalie actually snorted. Especially in front of all these people.
Bella's jaw dropped, and she stared in open-mouthed horror.
Carlisle remained suspiciously silent. I suspected that he was hiding his thoughts. Did he know about this ahead of time? Surely not. Carlisle wouldn't do that to me. Would he?
I'm enjoying this more than I ever thought I would. That was Charlie. I readied myself for my next mortification. I knew it was coming. Behind my smile I clenched my teeth. He ducked his hand into the huge red bag and pulled out a bundle of sticks tied with a red ribbon. He handed it to me, wagging his head from side to side. "I know you were hoping for something else, but you have to be good all year for Santa, Eddie."
The kids watched, some of them as horrified as I was, but for different reasons. I held my sticks and grimaced for them, trying to look disappointed. Bella beamed at me. I think the worst part is over.
"Maybe I have something in my bag for you after all, Eddie" Charlie murmured. "Hmmm..." He reached deep into the bag. I smiled as if anticipating something special. This time he handed me a lump of coal with a shiny gold ribbon around it. I took it and mugged a glum look for the kids.
Bella grinned then tried to hide it. I winked at her before I returned to glaring at Alice. Then Charlie started talking again. "Perhaps some of you kids know some tips you can give Eddie here, so that next year at Christmas he can find something besides switches and coal from Santa."
A little boy's hand shot up and Charlie called on him. "No cussin'. Santa doesn't like it when you cuss. And neither does Mrs. Evans. She'll call your mom from school." It was just one little word. Well, maybe two.
Emmett and Jasper leaned against each other. They kept whispering, "No cussin' Eddie," Emmett's snorts mixed with Jasper's chuckle. It would be much worse at home.
Next, a little girl stood up. "Don't call your brothers names." She twisted her mouth with regret. "Not even when you're really mad at them because they tore the head off your doll." She glared at two little boys who sat near her. One of them stuck his tongue out at her. I hope I get a new doll. I made a mental note to make sure she received a new doll, even if she didn't get one tonight. I understood wanting to call your brothers names.
Not one to miss anything, Jasper stuck his tongue out in my direction. Emmett punched him in the shoulder, unable to speak from his contortions. Rosalie joined them. And we promise not to play with your doll, Eddie.
Finally, a sturdy, rough-looking boy spoke, "And don't bite anybody. Santa isn't happy about biting."
Alice shrieked and glanced at Bella, who had covered her face with her hands and was shaking her head. Emmett and Jasper both made exaggerated biting motions until they disintegrated into laughter. Rosalie had had enough. She smacked Emmett and he grew quiet immediately. "You'd better hope he doesn't listen to that last one," she hissed. "The sooner the better for all of us."
Charlie slapped me on the back. "Think you can keep those rules, Eddie? No cussin', calling your brothers names, or biting?"
Glancing innocently at Bella, I raised my eyebrows and smiled. "I'll do my best, Santa."
"I can always go to Carlisle," Bella whispered in my direction.
"You do that, Eddie," Charlie grinned. He handed me the sticks and the coal. "Don't want to forget that, now, do you, Eddie?"
Santa was way too into this 'Eddie' stuff. I feigned regret and shook my head. "No, sir." I edged away from Charlie and back into the crowd as he reached into the bag and began to call the children's names to distribute the toys. But not before I saw the little boy who had given the 'no biting' advice wander in the opposite direction. I followed him with my eyes, straight to Jacob Black, who deftly handed him a folded five dollar bill.
Jacob looked up, right into my eyes, and smiled innocently. "Kid had a good idea, you know. No biting. You never know when someone might bite back." I heard a low rumble in his throat. I growled back.
"A-hem," Bella coughed a warning or both of us. "I heard that, guys. Perhaps we could nix the growling. It's Christmas. Peace on Earth, all that." She glared at each of us in turn. No fear. Not even an instinct for self-preservation. A human girl staring down an adolescent werewolf and a century-old vampire. Not that either of us would hurt her, at least not by choice. Still, she was awfully brave. She was lucky we were both in love with her.
Of course, that was the problem. We were both in love with her. Unlike Mike Newton, Bella actually cared for Jacob. She didn't want to hurt him, and she didn't want me to, either. Unfortunately, it appeared that regardless of how this mess ended, it somebody was going to be hurt in some way. It just didn't seem feasible, mixing vampires and werewolves.
Both of us backed down as Bella stepped between us. It worried me, since I could hear Jacob's angry thoughts. I didn't like having Bella that close to a young werewolf who was that angry, even if the anger wasn't directed at her. She was standing between the wolf and the source of his anger. Bella had tried to tell me that he was really good at controlling his phasing, but I didn't trust him. I inched forward, trying to place myself where I could shield her if he phased. She noticed.
"Edward Cullen, I do not need you to protect me from my friend. He isn't going to hurt me," she hissed.
"I can hear his anger," I pointed out. "He could phase at any time."
Jacob shook his head, clearly disgusted by my comment. "I have no intention of hurting her. And I'm not going to phase in a room full of children. I can control myself better than that."
"You haven't even had a year to adjust. You have no idea what the limits to you anger might be," I scowled. "You could flash anger and kill anyone within reach and have absolutely no control over it what-so-ever."
"Just because I'm not a hundred years old doesn't mean I can't control myself. I'd never hurt Bella or any person she cared about." Jacob eyed the room carefully. "In fact, there are only about seven individuals here that I might pose any danger to at all." Leeches, every one of them. Not people.
Bella frowned. "I care about the Cullens, Jacob."
"They aren't people, Bella. They're monsters." Jacob's flesh roiled. Bloodsuckers.
"And you aren't a monster?" I locked eyes with him.
"It's my job to protect her from leeches like you." Jacob's lips stretched across his teeth. "That's why I exist." I don't think of her as food.
"Stop. It. Now." Bella snarled the words at both of us. "I'm tired of this. This is supposed to be a party." She pointed at Jacob. "You, I will talk to later. No more of this tonight. Not to him or any of his family. Understood?" Jacob nodded sheepishly. "And you," she turned to glare at me. "Let's talk." She grabbed me by the arm and led me outside. It was cold outside and Bella hated the cold. I was definitely in trouble.
"I cannot believe you!" she hissed. "This is a party. This is one of Charlie's favorite things to do all year and instead of watching him give out toys to little kids who would have no Christmas otherwise, I am refereeing between my boyfriend and my best friend."
It was difficult to refrain from saying, "He started it," but I pressed my lips together and held my tongue.
"Now do you think you can go back inside and behave? Or at least just stay away from any werewolves who might be here?" Bella asked. She gave me a stern look and waited for an answer.
That's when I spied it. Mistletoe. It still wasn't any that Alice had hung. This was wild, growing in a cypress tree on the edge of the forest. But it was mistletoe. Of that, I was certain. I smiled at Bella. "Walk with me?" She shivered beside me and I took off my sweater and pulled it over her head to provide her some extra warmth. We walked hand-in-hand to the edge of the forest and I led her to the cypress tree in question. I stopped and faced her, cupping her face in my hands before kissing her squarely on the mouth. Her lips felt so warm against mine. She pressed closer to me and kissed me back. Then she remembered to breathe.
"That's almost enough to keep you out of trouble," she grinned.
"Thank goodness for mistletoe," I laughed, glancing upward. "Of course, it used to be a little scandalous, kissing women under the mistletoe. Since you weren't kissing much the rest of the time."
Bella gave me a sly smile. "So really, you're supposed to do something scandalous under the mistletoe?" she asked.
"I guess you could say that."
She grinned, her face beaming. "Then let's be scandalous!" she whispered as she wrapped her arms around my neck and pressed close to me. She jumped a bit and wrapped her legs around my waist then kissed me. She leaned her head back, revealing her neck and I kissed her, following the vein up her neck to her ear. If only she knew how much that tempted me. She held me tighter, seeking out my lips with hers. I turned and leaned my back against the tree, holding her as tightly as I dared. I clenched my teeth but opened my lips to hers as she squirmed against me. I wanted her so much. The restraint was nearly impossible. If I wasn't careful--
"Isabella Marie Swan. What do you think you're doing?" We both jumped as Charlie's voice shattered the stillness of the night. He stood in the doorway, hands on his hips, looking like one very angry Santa as we approached. "Kissing under the mistletoe is one thing, but that's... that's..." He seemed at a loss for words. He took in my sweater dangling just above Bella's knees and narrowed his eyes at me. "Get her in here where it's warm."
I wrapped my arm protectively around her shoulders. "If you'd just marry me, we wouldn't have to worry about this any more," I grinned. "And we could really do something scandalous. Even without mistletoe."