"So, how do we justify my leaving?" I asked Carlisle.
"Simple, really. Everything else until now has been 'for her own good,' right? Well, this will be, too."
"Easy. All we have to do is get her to bleed in front of the whole family. Then one of us will attack her in a 'frenzy.'"
"What?! You want me to—"
"Of course not, Edward. You will be the one swooping in to rescue her from the 'deranged monster.' Your attempt at evading disaster will accidentally cause an even bigger problem, you will alternately blame her then yourself, and come to the conclusion that she is better off without you."
"Annnnd what about the returning part?"
"Naturally, you will later return, tell you're sorry and that you want her back, recite some poetry that Alice will write for you, and sweep her into your arms for the big finale."
"Naturally," I said sardonically.
"Naturally," he said enthusiastically.
The event would be her birthday party. The party Bella didn't want. Not like we cared. I let Rosalie wrap the gifts. She would carefully wrap them, placing one very thin razor blade underneath the wrapping at one seam. The idea was, Bella would think she just got a particularly grisly paper cut. Just because, you know, she's klutzy like that. Why were we throwing her a party when we knew she didn't want one? Our answer: because Alice wanted to throw one.
ONE razor blade, Rosalie!
The day of the party we had a peculiar assignment for English class: we were supposed to watch the 1960's theater production of "Romeo and Juliet." Bella was worried about crying at the end; she said she memorized the play, and maybe she had, but I knew for a fact that she didn't understand it. How did I know? She thought it was some kind of tragic love story. Really, it's a tragicomedy. I always have to concentrate on not giggling at the irony of the "dead girl-not!" at the end. Bella cried when Juliet woke and discovered her dead lover.
Aw, isn't that cute? She thinks we're like the tragic couple! Ok, Bella, that sounds like more fun anyway. Quick; I'll drink some poison and you stab yourself! Let's hurry this along, huh?
Alas, it was not to be. Le sigh. But at least the fun part was coming up. I drove her up to the Cullen house, and she again tried to convince me to turn her. Again I turned her down. Bella, you're perfectly alive and healthy, and unfortunately I cannot alter that state myself; that would put something of a kink in our supposedly romantic relationship.
We got to the house, walked up the stairs into the living room, and were greeted with, "Happy birthday, Bella!" Wow, they had really decked the room out. There were streamers, a big banner, and a gorgeous cake. All in pink; nice touch.
Esme came up and hugged her first. "Happy birthday." She was genuinely happy and in the spirit of the celebration. It always makes me a little embarrassed for her when she obviously "doesn't get it" like this, even after we explained everything to her. Simple minds, simple pleasures, I guess.
Next Carlisle came and put his arm around Bella's shoulders. "Sorry about this, Bella," he said in a stage whisper. "We couldn't rein Alice in." Bella looked kind of leery about Carlisle holding her so close like that, and for once I agreed with her completely; I felt the same way. The only difference was, she didn't know why she should feel that way.
Emmett and Rosalie said their hellos, and Emmett excused himself to run his assigned errand. "I have to step out for a second." He winked obviously at Alice. "Don't do anything funny while I'm gone." Funny he should say that to Alice…
Alice skipped forward to give her a hug while Jasper hung back by the staircase, presumably to "avoid temptation" or something. It was all an act, of course.
"Time to open presents!" Alice declared, and led Bella to the table.
"Alice, I told you I didn't want anything—"
"—And I didn't listen," Alice finished. "Open it." She placed the first box in Bella's hands.
Bella hefted it for a moment, testing its weight, perplexed at its lightness. She ripped off the paper, opened the empty box, and looked up in confusion at us. "Um…thanks?"
We all smiled, and Jasper actually laughed. "It's a stereo for your truck. Emmett's installing it right now so you can't return it," he said.
Yeah, yeah, but that gift was just as much for me as it was for her. Her truck radio got terrible reception. I had to do something.
"Thanks, guys," said Bella. "Thanks, Emmett!" she yelled, so she knew Emmett heard.
"Open mine and Edward's next!" Alice demanded, nearly bouncing on her toes, she was so excited. We all were, anticipating what would likely happen next.
Bella turned to glare at me. "You promised!" she accused, referring to a promise I'd made not to buy her a gift.
"I didn't spend a dime," I replied innocently. "Please just open it."
Get ready, Carlisle told me.
I telepathically linked everyone in with Carlisle.
You all know your roles. It's Showtime.
Bella slid her finger under the tape to release it, and jerked her hand away. "Shoot," she said, examining her bleeding finger. The razor blade had done its job.
There's the blood! Edward, now!
I jumped a little at his vehemence, and tackled Bella, crying out a warning at the same time. Carlisle yelled performance instructions. Jasper! Frenzy! My push caused Bella to slide across the table, shattering the crystal dishes at the same time that Jasper "attacked" me, snarling and gnashing his teeth, presumably trying to get at Bella. Rosalie, now! Her job was a little more subtle. She had to throw small pieces of glass as projectiles, and embed them in Bella's arm, just to make sure she bled profusely from the "accident." This was the part I was nervous about. She didn't like that she had to help me with my "project." Rosalie was the best marksman of us all when it came to things like this, but I wasn't sure she wouldn't use the glass to kill Bella now and end this whole thing before I wanted to.
Oh, good, she cooperated.
Emmett grabbed Jasper and secured his arms behind his back as we rehearsed, and then we all stood back, letting Bella feel the full effect of what we were about to do.
Okay, everyone, Carlisle prompted, Get your rape face on.
Bella looked up dazedly into the eyes of six hungry vampires. We all watched in satisfaction as fear grew in her eyes.