I was nervous about our engagement stealing some of Alice’s wedding thunder, but Edward assured me that he hadn’t told anyone what he was planning. As far as everyone knew, he was just surprising me with dinner. We discussed it, and although we both wanted to scream from the rooftops that we were engaged, we decided to keep it to ourselves until after the wedding. The only person we’d told was Charlie, and he was heading to the reservation to fish the weekend of the wedding. We didn’t need to worry about him telling anyone besides Billy Black.
Alice tried to coordinate another sleepover the night before her wedding. I was anxious to get home and as soon as Rose hesitated, I knew we could get out of it. I hated taking my engagement ring off for the rehearsal, but I knew it was the best choice. I’d already McGuyver’d a hiding place for it during the wedding because I couldn’t bear to leave it anywhere. Rose was smooth, arguing her reasons for wanting to go home, and I followed her lead. We somehow convinced Alice that it was very important for her to spend her last unmarried night with Carlisle and Esme in their hotel suite. It made sense with her early morning spa appointment.
Instead of announcing anything, we shared intimate little moments during the rehearsal. Grinning at each other over our champagne glasses; Edward’s finger sneaking under the strap of my dress, to caress my collarbone; my hand, hidden by his suit jacket, sliding into the top of his waistband. Those secret, tender exchanges meant more to me than they ever had before.
Alice and Jasper’s wedding and reception were being held in the Great Hall at Union Station. It was a massive room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, antique flooring and classic archways. The room was decorated in classic black and white with red accents. Alice had always been a big fan of Audrey Hepburn, in particular, the dress that her character wore to the Larrabee’s garden party in the movie Sabrina. It was a strapless white ball gown with chains of black embroidered flowers on it. The dress itself was tea length and column shaped and had a removable skirt that created a fuller silhouette. She had coordinated their entire wedding around a modernized version of the gown. Jasper indulged her in everything she wanted, but actually, I think he knew he’d never be able to stop her.
Our coordinating bridesmaid dresses were floor length black satin. They were strapless with a wide, gathered white satin band at the waist. Like all of the previous bridesmaid dresses I had worn, they were simple yet classic, and something I would never wear again. I’d given most of them away to a charity that provided prom dresses for girls who couldn’t afford them. I’d do the same with this one. It actually made spending the money on it a little less painful. Instead of thinking of how much I had spent on the weddings, I focused on the fact that I was eventually using the dresses to pay it forward.
Alice insisted we all wear bright red lipstick for the ceremony and when I say red—I mean the exact shade of a fire engine, red. I was leaning forward checking my lipstick in the mirror for the tenth time, because I was terrified to have it smeared like blood across my face, when Rose bumped me out of the way with her hip.
“Move it, Swan. You’re hogging the mirror.”
“Fuck off,” I joked, then paused and laughed because I didn’t know what to call her. “Did you decide what your last name is going to be?”
“Yeah.” She made a perfect pout and applied another layer of lipstick. “I’m going to hyphenate, but just use Hale at the hospital. That way when Emmett acts like total fuck up they won’t always associate him with me.”
“He’s going to be a doctor—he can’t act like a fuck up anymore.”
“You do come visit us at work, right? Have you seen the elaborate pranks those doctors pull? It’s like they put so much time and energy in to an education that they have to do dumb shit to prove their still human or something.” She chuckled. “They’re all big children and Em is the ringleader. Anyway, Hale at work, otherwise Hale-McCarty.”
Alice had asked us to wear our hair down because Jasper’s two cousins who were standing up with us also had long hair. Rose fluffed her blond locks and pushed her chest out, taking a good look at herself in the mirror.
“And you, Miss Swan? I know you’ve been writing Mrs. Edward Cullen on your notebook since junior high school. Will you finally take his name after all of these years?” She turned away from the mirror and smiled at me. “Because he is going to ask you—any day now.”
“Thanks, Rose. Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it. I haven’t mentioned it to Edward, but I was thinking maybe we could both hyphenate.”
She laughed so loud that Esme shushed her. “Doctor Cullen-Swan? That’s so not happening, Bella.”
“No! You know how Alice and Edward’s last name was originally Masen-Cullen, but they dropped the Masen part when Esme and Carlisle adopted them? I was going to maybe ask him if we could both be Masen-Cullen’s.”
Rose’s eyes started to tear up and I felt mine do the same. “Bells, I think he would love that.” She took a deep breath and blinked a few times before starting to laugh. “Bitch, I can’t believe you almost made me cry before the wedding!”
I laughed along with her. “Sorry! You asked me.”
Alice came over to join us. “What are you two laughing about?” She continued without waiting for an answer. “Rose, move over so I can check my mascara; Esme made me cry.”
Rose and I both laughed even harder and Alice stuck her tongue out at us before checking her hair and makeup.
There was a knock on the door and although we all knew what it meant, Esme called out, “It’s time, ladies.”
I reached out and squeezed Alice’s hand. “Ready?”
She nodded, giving both Rose and I a brief sad look before taking a deep breath. When she exhaled, she looked completely calm and in control. I knew that her hesitation wasn’t because she was going to be the center of attention, or because she and Jasper were getting married. Just like Edward, she had mentioned her disappointment at not having her mother and father at her wedding. She was thrilled to have Carlisle walk her down the aisle; but it wasn’t the same.
We moved into the ballroom to line up, standing behind a screen that separated the ceremony and reception areas. Esme whispered quietly to Alice and gave her a hug as she handed her off to Carlisle and made her way to the front of the line. Edward came to stand next to me, his hand sliding low on my hip as he gave me a sideways hug to avoid messing up my make-up or squishing my flowers.
“You think this will be the last time we do this before it’s our turn?” he whispered.
“Christ, I hope so. We don’t know anyone else that needs to get married.”
“I heard Carlisle and Esme talking about renewing their vows.”
“You did not!” My voice was louder than I intended and I blushed at calling attention to myself, but for just a second, I’d been jealous that someone else might get to walk down the aisle before we did.
“No, I didn’t. I just wanted to scare you.”
“So not funny, Doctor Cullen,” I said, slapping his arm and trying not to laugh.
He kissed my temple and laughed. I was glad for the humor; we’d had a few moments during pictures where I thought I was going to cry or go crazy and just scream at someone that we were engaged already. My little outburst had caught everyone’s eye and I was starting to feel like it might just be easier to tell our friends and family than trying to save the news for later.
Edward looked gorgeous in a tux. He always did. In all honesty, I’d been imagining my wedding to Edward since childhood, but ever since we’d moved in together, they’d gotten more elaborate or at least more detailed—you couldn’t get much more elaborate than Alice’s wedding.
As we shuffled forward into the ballroom before walking down the aisle, I tried to really picture us as the couple getting married. From the classic architecture, to the chocolate stars covered in red foil scattered on the tables to represent Jasper’s home state of Texas; the ballroom was beautiful. It truly was Alice’s dream come, true but somehow all of the glitz and glitter just didn’t seem like us. Then again, I didn’t really know what our style was, but I knew Alice would have great suggestions. She probably had the whole thing planned already.
Edward and I walked slowly down the aisle, and I was acutely aware of every eye on us. Could they see how happy we were? Could they tell that we were both thinking that we’d soon be the ones walking down the aisle? My smile got even wider at that thought and Edward squeezed my elbow as if he could read my thoughts.
When we reached the altar, his hand slid down my forearm and clasped my fingers for a split second before he let go and crossed to stand behind Emmett. The music changed and Jasper’s eyes were fixed on Alice as she and Carlisle made their way towards us. He looked at her with total adoration. When I glanced over to make sure Edward was holding up all right, I found his eyes already watching me, a ridiculous grin on his face. I smiled back and tried to focus on the ceremony, but my eyes kept drifting back to Edward.
The minister explained that the two red roses on the altar were in honor of Alice’s mother and father. Rose stood behind me and I could hear her sniffling as I struggled not to cry myself. I reached behind me and found her hand with mine. She squeezed my hand in return and quieted, though I wasn’t entirely sure who was comforting who.
Jasper had chosen a Native American wedding blessing and his cousin came forward to do the reading. Alice wasn’t particularly fond of that blessing, and I smiled as I listened, knowing that being with Jasper had really taught her how to make compromises.
They spoke vows that they each had written; neither was able to speak them without pausing to wipe away tears. They were beautiful and personal, with both saying they had been blessed to find their other half.
When the minister finally announced, “You may now kiss the bride,” the guests cheered and clapped. Edward and I were one step closer to our future, and I suddenly couldn’t wait for Alice to get home from her honeymoon so we could start planning. I realized I should probably figure out how to tell her before they left the reception to catch their flight.
We posed for more pictures with the newlyweds, and then made our way to the back of the large room for cocktails and a receiving line. We chatted with the wedding guests, some were friends and others were Jasper’s friends or relatives from Texas. His parents were at the front of the line with Carlisle and Esme and his father’s booming laugh interrupted the hum of conversation from time to time.
When the guests had all made it through the line to congratulate Alice and Jasper, we had time to mingle. Edward went to the bar for cocktails and I managed to piece together a cheese plate with what was left of the appetizers. Rose cornered me and tried to steal the pepper jack cubes; I figured they would have given me bad breath anyway, so I let her have them.
Edward had been gone for a while and I wanted to go look for him, but I kept getting stopped by people to chat. My debate coach whose wife worked with Carlisle at the hospital, Mrs. Cope from the high school office, Mike’s parents, Jasper’s cousin’s husband; I couldn’t get away.
When I was finally able to escape I spotted Edward across the room, he was standing near the bar with Carlisle and Emmett. They seemed to be in deep conversation as they sipped drinks, both men listening intently to Edward. As I approached, they broke into smiles and I watched Carlisle pat Edward on the back and give him a quick hug. Emmett slapped his brother on the head, then laughed and shook his hand.
I shook my head a little, thinking to myself that Edward was a push over. I had a feeling that he had just filled them in on our secret.
“Gentlemen,” I teased, “penny for your thoughts.” They turned quickly, clearly startled as they greeted me.
“Isabella!” Carlisle chuckled. “Have a told you how lovely you look tonight?”
“Nice try,” I laughed as Edward slid an arm around my waist. “What’s the top secret news you’re all over here whispering about?”
“Oh, I think you know,” Emmett joked.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” There was no way I was saying anything on the outside chance that Edward hadn’t told them our news.
“It means,” he said, trying to sound serious, “that I finally told Edward I’m leaving Rose for you.”
Edward rolled his eyes and I laughed, raising my eyebrow at Emmett. “Really? How’d he take the news?”
“Better than I did,” Rose answered and Emmett nearly jumped out of his skin. She was behind him, and I couldn’t see her hands, so I’m not sure if he jumped at the sound of her voice or if she’d pinched his ass.
“Oh shit, baby. You know I’m kidding!”
He turned and pulled her into his arms, whispering apologies in her ear. She whispered something back, and they suddenly looked like they wanted to rip each other’s clothes off.
Carlisle stepped closer to them. “Let’s keep this PG, you two,” he said, chuckling.
“Sorry,” Emmett said sheepishly.
Rose laughed and stepped away from her husband, who was jamming one hand in his pocket to either adjust his pants or attempt to hide his arousal.
Carlisle just shook his head. “You kids are lucky I’m a young father; an older man might not have survived you.”
Edward gave me a little squeeze and kissed the top of my head as Esme approached and told us it was time to make our way to the head table for dinner.
The dinner Alice had planned was seated, with your choice of steak or chicken with mixed vegetables. Both dishes also came with tamales which Jasper’s grandmother had shipped overnight from her favorite place in Texas.
During the cocktail hour, the event staff had been hard at work on the other side of the fabric screens that separated the two areas of the ballroom. As we took our seats, the screens were moved to reveal a large wooden dance floor with a D.J. booth, and a gorgeous four tiered black and white wedding cake where the ceremony had taken place just an hour before.
After the minister said grace, the microphone was handed to Edward to make his toast. I was nervous for him. I knew he was pretty emotional about his parent’s absence as well as the revelation that Alice wasn’t his baby sister anymore.
Edward cleared his throat and smiled down at his sister for a second before facing the guests. “You may know that my sister and I have been through a lot together. Despite the hard times, I’ve always thought that we were pretty lucky. We’re lucky to have had not one, but two sets of amazing parents. We were given an amazing brother in Emmett and the great community of Forks to grow up in.” The crowd laughed a little; probably half of the guests were from Forks as well.
“Speaking of luck, only Alice would go to Spain and come back with a new career goal and a soul mate.” There was more laughter from the guests, and then he got a little more serious. “I was all the way across the world when she called to tell me she’d met ‘the one.’ I doubted her until I met him; then I knew she was right. Jasper has this way about him…it’s hard to describe, but if you know him you understand. He is the calming force that keeps Alice grounded and she is the light in his eyes. I’m lucky to gain Jasper as a brother. Ladies and gentlemen, to Jasper and Alice Whitlock—may they have a life together full of luck and love.”
I wiped my eyes as he raised his champagne glass. The room was filled with murmurs of ‘hear, hear’ and ‘to Alice and Jasper.’ I lifted my glass with everyone and clinked glasses with Emmett who was sitting on my left. Edward sat down and I leaned over, taking his face in my hands.
I kissed him gently. “That was beautiful.”
He brushed my hair over my shoulder and his hand slid to the back of my neck. “I love you,” he sighed, tilting his head to kiss my forehead. I closed my eyes loving the feeling of being close to him, even in the middle of a crowded ballroom. The sound of Carlisle’s voice over the sound system startled me, and I looked up to see him with the microphone, standing next to the parent’s table, the confused DJ next to him looking lost.
“Sorry, for breaking protocol, I just need to say a few words.” He paused for a second, smiling at Alice. “I think Edward is right. It hasn’t always been the case, but for quite some time our whole family has traveled under a lucky star. My wife and I have been blessed with three wonderful children. Today, as Alice and Jasper celebrate the beginning of their lives together, we have even more to celebrate.”
There were ripples of questions and chuckles throughout the room. I glanced at Edward wondering what was going on. He grinned and gave me a small shrug before turning to Alice and whispering, “Sorry, you know how he is.”
“What?” she laughed, looking confused. “What’s going on?”
Carlisle cleared his throat. “My other children have held back their own joy to let their baby sister have her special day.”
Alice’s eyes got wide as she looked at both of her brothers. I was sandwiched between them, and I knew without even looking, they were both embarrassed that Carlisle was outing them. I knew I was and I didn’t even know what Emmett was being outed for.
“Boys, you know Alice would never forgive you for waiting to tell her.” He gave a small nod to his sons. I was too mesmerized to comprehend what he expected of them, but they seemed to know.
Emmett stood, reaching down to Rose and I realized Edward was mirroring his movements. My eyes were on Edward when I heard Alice gasp. I followed her eyes and started to laugh. Emmett was grinning like a fool, rubbing his hand over Rose’s slightly rounded stomach. In typical Emmett form, he shrugged and gave his sister a lopsided smile. She squealed and moved quicker than I’d have thought possible in her wedding dress to hug both Emmett and Rose. I’m pretty sure I heard Esme scream, as well.
“Three months,” Rose said, grinning as Emmett held up his fingers for the guests who couldn’t hear her.
The room was full of cheers and clapping and I was still laughing at Alice’s excitement until she whirled around and grabbed my left hand. She held it up and looked confused as she took in my naked ring finger. She looked at Edward for a second and then her eyes met mine. I saw them grow impossibly wide before I realized what she was thinking.
We spoke at the same time. “Oh my God! You, too?” “No! Not that!”
I quickly reached up the to the bodice of my dress, a little mortified at my chosen hiding place. I fumbled with the safety pin for just a second before managing to pull my engagement ring out. I felt Edward’s hands on my hips and heard him lightly chuckle in my ear as I slid the ring on and Alice dissolved into happy tears.
“I can’t believe you weren’t going to tell me!”
Edward reached around me and put his hand on her arm. “We were going to tell you, Alice—as soon as you got home from your honeymoon.”
It had all happened very quickly and the guests were still reacting to our news, filling the ballroom with laughter and clapping again. It was static in the background to me as I was more focused on the friends around me. Emmett high-fived his brother and Rose leaned over to kiss my cheek and get a better look at the ring.
“We’ll talk later, missy,” she teased, trying to sound upset with me. I knew she was thrilled for us though, and besides, she had some explaining of her own to do.
Carlisle cleared his throat again and the room quieted. He raised his champagne glass towards us and grinned. “May all of your families be as lucky in as ours.” He sipped his drink and chuckled. “And on that happy note, let’s all eat and enjoy ourselves.”
By that time Esme had wound her way behind the head table to hug everyone. She had made it through the wedding without crying, but she couldn’t hold back her tears anymore. She and Alice were a sobby mess. Jasper rubbed his new wife’s back with one hand while using the other to shake hands with first Emmett and then Edward.
Even though the waiters had begun serving dinner, no one seemed to want to break out of our little huddle. Once someone released me from a hug and said congratulations, another family member was holding me tight. There were only eight of us, but it seemed like an endless circle. Finally, Emmett told Rose he was going to eat her steak if she didn’t sit down and we all dispersed to our seats.
Alice slapped Edward’s arm. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!”
“I’m sorry!” he whispered, rubbing his arm. “This was supposed to be your day. You know how Carlisle is—he just knew and I couldn’t deny it, then he looked at Emmett and he can’t keep anything a secret…”
She laughed, shaking her head but smiling. “It’s fine, really, Edward. It’s still my day. Everything has been perfect. I’m glad Carlisle told everyone, it was an unexpected wedding gift.” She narrowed her eyes and leaned closer to whisper, “But if you two get pregnant before us…”
We all laughed, and I was glad she was taking it so well. I guess I should have known she would. I mean, Alice definitely enjoyed being the center of attention, but she also liked to celebrate everyone else’s good news.
I glanced over at Rose and Emmett, smiling as I thought about their news at well. I couldn’t believe she’d been keeping her news a secret too, but they’d probably been waiting to get through the first trimester before making an announcement.
“Now you—” Alice said, getting my attention and pointing her finger at me, “You’re telling me everything after dinner. You just earned yourself bathroom duty to help me hold my dress while I pee.”
I rolled my eyes at her and laughed. “I might need Rose’s help.”
Alice giggled. “Oh, she’ll come with us, but she’ll be holding my dress later when we’re drunk.”
“Good plan.” She nodded and I knew we were okay.
Emmett started clinking his spoon on his water glass to get the newlyweds to kiss, and she turned away from me, her arms sliding around her Jasper.
Edward leaned close, putting his arm along the back of my chair. “Just think,” he whispered, “we’re next.”
“We’ve had enough practice walking down the aisle,” I joked.
“Think you can manage the walk without me?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Think you can meet me and Charlie at the end?”
He grinned, casually moving a bit of my hair over my shoulder. “I do.”
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