"Are you sure these balloons look good there, tied up in the corner? Aren't you afraid they'll pop this close to the heat of the stove?" I asked Alice as she was decorating the house with balloons ranging in different shades of blue. Alice even made arrangements for a bouncy castle to resemble the castle Elsa built herself in the movie.
Yes, I've seen Frozen a few hundred times.
Charlotte's birthday was technically tomorrow, but we were celebrating her birthday today on a Saturday. My birthday was on the seventeenth of September, and Charlotte's was a few days after mine on the twenty-second. It had been a few days – about four days to be exact – since I slept with the Adonis, and I still couldn't get him out of my head. Thankfully Alice distracted my thoughts by telling me that she had talked to a guy who could bring a snow machine and make a 'winter wonderland' in our backyard. This was yet another reason I loved that Alice took over when it came to planning parties. This way, I could sit back and just watch and not have to keep Alice confined to traditional decorations for a birthday party. Alice loves to go all out, and I know that she loves spoiling Charlotte and Alex.
"Now Alice, when did you say Mom, Dad, and everyone were coming?" I asked. See, our parents divorced when Alice and I were in high school and since then my mom got remarried and my dad is currently dating someone. My dad, Charles "Charlie" Swan, is the chief of police in a small town in Washington state is dating a woman who owns the only diner in Forks, and my mother, Renee "Swan" Hale, married Phillip Hale, a well-known contractor who owned his own contracting company. He built the house him and my mom lives in.
This is how I got Rosalie as a sister. I still couldn't believe it back when Mom told me that she was getting married again – I mean my mom is very flighty and hates to be tied down. Phil is the complete opposite of my mom and it's a wonder they've been married nearly fourteen years now. They married a few months after my parents' divorce was finalized in 2004.
Rosalie and I thought that it was a bit too soon for my mom and her dad to get married, but Alice thought that it was so 'romantic' that Mom was able to fall in love so quickly after being married to our dad. Speaking of my dad, he has been dating a woman who owns the diner in Forks for a few months now. I think he said that her name is Sue Clearwater, and she has two children from a previous marriage. Apparently Sue's husband died from a heart attack a few years back. My dad and Sue had always been very friendly towards each other. I was happy for him; it was good to see that he was happy again.
The divorce hadn't been his idea, but he went along with it because he knew that it was what my mother wanted.
"Mom texted me from the airport that she and Phil are going to be here within the hour and dad will be here with Sue and our soon to be stepbrother and step-sister in two and a half hours," Alice replied. This would definitely be interesting having both my mom and dad under the same roof with their new significant others. Now, don't get me wrong, Renee and Charlie rarely fought or raised their voices, but it was always a bit awkward when they would be in the same room since the divorce – and now add in Seth and Leah, Sue's children, and this would definitely be an interesting birthday party for Charlotte.
"Are you sure you bought enough alcohol? I mean, you know how Mom gets when she and Dad get around each other. I swear she drinks so much that I'm surprised she hasn't grown gills yet," I said.
Alice stated, "Mom is not an alcoholic…but you may be right about the wine part. Do you think Garrett would mind going to the – "
"Do you think Garrett would mind going to what?" Garrett said as he walked into party planning central – also known as my kitchen – after attempting to assemble the decorations he was tasked with putting together. I was so happy that he had decided to come home a few days early. He came home last night and told me that he didn't want to take the chance of missing Charlotte's party, and, of course, he missed me too. Things were still as they always were; we hugged and then went about our day as if nothing was wrong. We even had our normal…boring sex. He was asleep minutes afterwards and I was left wanting more of that hot, passionate, spine-tingling sex I had gotten from the Adonis.
Stop it Bella, you're married, you love your husband. You can't be fantasizing about having sex with a total stranger.
"Oh I had forgotten that the whole family was coming this time. What is your mom's favorite kind of wine again, Bells?" Garrett asked.
"I think I remember her telling me that it was Merlot," I said as I went to the wine cabinet to scan over the different bottles Garrett and I had for only special occasions – and well, my mother and father spending time together in the same room counted as a special occasion.
"No, that's the wine that has blackberries in it and Mom hates blackberries apparently. Um, I think I remember at last Mother's Day dinner she had bought a new bottle of Riesling, and seemed to really like it," Alice added. Of course, why didn't I remember that? That's probably because I was too busy running interference between Mom and Charlie. I swear, for two people who were high school sweethearts they are so uncomfortable around each other lately. I just hope that this party would break that tradition of my mom drinking down wine like its water and my dad staying outside trying to give Garrett grilling tips.
For the life of me, I still didn't understand why they acted so awkward and clipped to one another, when in all actuality; they both signed the divorce papers willingly. I guess my mom thought that my dad would wind up alone, and didn't really expect him to find someone else that he cared about as much as he cared about her and I think that really upset her more than she cared to admit. Thankfully Phil was completely supportive and he knew my mom and dad's history; he tries his hardest to distract my mom when she starts to head for her third glass of wine.
"OK, so I'll go to the store and pick up a bottle of Riesling. Do you mind if I take Alex with me?" Garrett asked. He grabbed his keys and gave me a quick peck on the cheek when I agreed. I hollered after him that we also needed a couple bags of ice. I watched as he headed for the garage and Alex trailed after him to his car. I was suddenly jerked from my daydream by what sounded like two cats fighting over a dead mouse, when it was actually Alice and Rosalie squealing at first seeing one another – I swear it's like they haven't seen each other in years instead of only two days ago. But I decided to ignore it and went to go find Charlotte. If I knew my daughter, she was up in her room waiting to make her grand entrance when her friends from school arrived. When I got to her room, I wasn't disappointed she was in front of her pink mirror, twirling around in her blue Elsa dress. I couldn't help but smile right along with her.
"Hello sweetie, Aunt Alice did a really good job on your dress didn't she? Now, are you ready for me to do your hair?"
"Can you make it look like Elsa's when she wears this dress in the movie?!" Charlotte replied excitedly. I couldn't help but laugh and agreed to fix her hair just like Elsa's – it took a lot of bobby pins and hairspray, but I was finally able to get her hair to where it was almost identically matched the Disney character's hair. When I finished, I let her go to the mirror and look at it. I think she liked it – between the screaming and shouting about how beautiful it was, I mean; she even told me that it was just perfect. I couldn't help but smile right along with her when she said that Lizzie Malloy would be completely jealous.
Yes, I was that kind of parent. The kind of parent who competed with the other mothers to see who could throw the best parties for their kids – and I would win by a landslide because I had one thing that they didn't have.
Alice planned everything. She managed to get the bouncy castle, she had a guy coming over soon that would cover the backyard in fake snow, and she had a make-up artist coming to do face paint for the kids who wanted it.
Soon though, the kids had arrived and the gift table was overflowing. It was time for Charlotte to make her grand entrance. Garrett and I waited at the foot of the stairs while I called all the kids' attention to the stairs and called for Charlotte to come down. All the air seemed to leave the room when all the kids collectively gasped as Charlotte walked down the staircase. I couldn't help but smile wider when I saw the jealous look on Lizzie Malloy's face.
"Ok, now that we have Charlotte, why don't we all go out back for a fun little surprise?!" Alice announced and was met with a bunch of kids screaming and giggling as Charlotte led the charge to the backyard. When they got to the backyard, there was another loud collective of screaming and cheering when the children they got a good look at all the fake snow on the ground.
"This is a wonderful party, Bella. You, Alice, and Garrett really outdid yourselves. Now, Sue and I would like for you and Alice to meet us in the family room; there's something we want to tell you kids that I think you all will like to hear." Charlie said. I had a sneaking suspicion what he had in mind and I knew that Alice was suspicious as well – mainly because she had on her innocent-looking expression. Garrett pushed me to go on and stated that he and the other adults at the party would watch the kids. I sighed and followed my father.
I took a seat next to Leah, who was the spitting image of her mother, Sue. Leah had shoulder length black hair, dark brown eyes, and a somewhat-tanned complexion – from spending time out in the sun no doubt. Seth, Leah's younger brother, sat next to her. He also had dark brown eyes and black hair, the latter of which he had obviously spent way too long in the bathroom styling, but his tanned complexion was a tad bit darker than Leah's. . Leah was a senior in high school, while Seth was a sophomore – but you would never guess that because Seth had a good few inches on me, which made him appear older.
"Now Seth, Leah, you know how your mother and I have been dating for a few months now?" Charlie asked the two teenagers next to us. Alice and I exchanged a knowing glance; we both knew where this conversation was headed, but it seemed that Leah and Seth didn't have a clue, and if they did, they hid their emotions very well. "What Charlie is trying to say is that, well, we have decided to take our relationship to the next logical step. Charlie and I have decided to move in together," Sue explained.
"Oh that's good news! So, does that mean that Leah and I would live with Billy then?" Seth asked. I couldn't believe he wasn't putting two and two together, but granted I thought the conversation was going to go a bit differently, but this is just as wonderful news. "No, idiot, it means you and me are moving with mom to live in Charlie's house." Leah announced before stalking off to a different room. I could tell that she was upset about the news; it had only been about a year and a half since their dad passed away from the heart attack. I guess it was hard for Leah to deal with right now. Sue quickly went after her to try and console her, while Seth just sat there staring at Charlie for a few minutes before finally uttering, "Ok, that's good too. Living with you could be cool I s'pose." Then with that, Seth got up and walked out of the room and out to the backyard to get in on the snowball fight action.
"Well, I had hoped that would've gone a bit better. You girls are alright with my asking Sue and the kids to move in with me, right? I don't want to make you two uncomfortable," Charlie added sincerely. I loved how thoughtful my dad could be – I always tried to emulate that part of him by putting other people's feelings before my own – which is probably another reason I was secretly unhappy in my marriage.
"Of course we're happy Dad, and besides, Bella and I both thought you were going to announce that you two were engaged or something. But moving in together is good news too. Don't worry about Leah, she'll warm up to you and she'll see how cool of a dad you are," Alice said and gave him a hug. She then announced that she wanted to see how the kids liked the snow. I hurried off with Charlie to go find Sue and Leah.
I had just gotten to the kitchen when I heard muffled voices coming from Garrett's office. It was Garrett's voice and he sounded angry and upset. I decided to go see what was up, but what I heard when I got to the doorway both worried and confused me.
"…No, I can't come and visit this weekend….no it's my daughter's birthday party." Oh, and it got even better the more I listened. "…I know I haven't seen you guys in a while…yes I miss you, you know that…yes I love you too…" I had no clue who Garrett was talking to, but I knew that it was not work-related. I decided to make my presence known and knocked on the door jam. I could tell I startled him, and I took a little bit of pleasure in doing so. I asked him who was on the phone and Garrett just shrugged it off. I wanted to argue about it, because it seemed like a whole lot of something going on. But I decided to remind him instead of the fact that it was Charlotte's party and that it was getting close to time to blow out the candles.
Garrett agreed and said he would be out in a few minutes after he made a few more phone calls concerning work.
Yeah, work…that's what it was...
I didn't believe it at all, but decided to keep my mouth shut.
For now at least.