I have seen a sunset in the Western sky
Ain’t nothin’ like the brightness in your eyes
And I have seen the moon reflected in the sea
But that don't compare to how you shine on me
After everything I’ve seen, I’d rather see you smile
I’ll make it known you are my world and nothing less
So will you dance with me
I will lead you
Give every moment that I have
Just to be near you
And when the songs end and everyone else leaves
Will you dance one more with me?
~Phillip Phillips, Dance With Me
I was surprised to find out that Bella was pregnant, of course I was. I was worried about her health, and what kind of hybrid we had created together. It had never crossed my vast thoughts that I would have the ability to create another life. I was shocked, but then I was incredibly pleased.
We had to move back in with Carlisle and Esme so that my father could keep an eye on Bella’s medical condition. She started losing weight at the same time her body reshaped itself around our child, and I begged Carlisle to find more blood for her. That seemed to do the trick, and I was rewarded with a happier Bella.
“Edward, come feel. The baby is kicking me.”
I smiled at Bella as I moved to her side. I had been preparing her a cup of blood, but I knew this was also important. The baby had reached a size that every movement was now noticeable, and I dearly loved to feel them.
“Oh, such a strong little one,” I chuckled. Bella smiled at me indulgently, the way she always did when she was in a good mood. “If it is a girl, she can be a dancer.”
“If it’s a boy, he can…okay, any sport, I suppose,” she laughed.
“He could dance, too.”
“And she could play sports,” Bella agreed. I smiled at her as I felt another bump against my hand. Bella’s skin was so warm.
The month felt like it flew by, though Bella occasionally complained that it was moving too slowly. Her belly grew and her trips to the bathroom increased. I knew it would be soon, based on the information we had gathered from the Amazonian sisters. I urged my family to hunt with me so we would be at our top form when the baby came, but we stayed close to the house.
It was a shock to return to find Bella in labor. Sue called me and told me to come back quickly. I was the first to reach the house, and I picked Bella up carefully and brought her to Carlisle’s study. He had all of the medical equipment we could need there.
Heartbeats are a sort of music to vampires, one could say. They were constant in the background of our lives in one way or another, and they were all unique. I knew Sue’s cadence, and of course Bella’s heartbeat was embedded in my mind. So when I heard a new beat, a faint sound, I realized suddenly that it belonged to my child.
With Carlisle’s guidance, I used a scalpel to perform a cesarean on Bella, but the sac the baby resided inside of was impenetrable to any knife. Thankfully, her morphine was working as I had to bite through that last barrier before freeing the beautiful little girl inside. She was indeed miraculous.
Renée arrived just after Bella fell asleep, and she was the next to hold the baby. Sue went after her, and I felt the pride swell inside of myself. We had done it.
Watching my daughter grow was intriguing. There were subtle differences each day that only the vampires in the house could detect. She grew rapidly still, and was more beautiful every day. She was smart and talented, as I quickly learned. Her hair was just a smidgen longer, her cheeks less round by one sixteenth of an inch. Her eyes were the bright green of my childhood, and I held on to that piece of my mother fiercely and fondly.
My favorite thing to do was to dance with Mara. As a baby, I could cradle her in my arms as I swung her around the room. As a toddler, I could hold her upright and clasp one of her hands as we swayed. The bigger she got, the more advanced my moves became to entertain her.
Soon she was standing on my feet as I spun us around.
“Again, Daddy!” she would shout with a huge grin on her face.
I felt ten feet tall when my daughter gave me that look. I would and did do anything for her. She was the cause of our extended family staying close to us, another reason to feel blessed in abundance.
As she grows and her talents make themselves known, I become aware of the thoughts of a certain man that has yet to leave our corner of the woods. They have taken on a different tone as of late, and I try to view my daughter in the same light. She is most certainly beautiful, almost a carbon copy of her mother. My green eyes are the dead giveaway, but the rest is all Bella. She is happy and smiling all the time, joking with my brothers or sighing over something pretty Alice has created for her. She is wise and strong, and I love her so much I never thought it was possible.
Still, my feelings toward Connor have only just relaxed as he has stopped focusing so much on my wife. Now his attentions have turned to my daughter and I do not know what to do about it.
I watch, and I wait. I study her responses to him, and I see the way they interact. Finally I approach him.
“Connor,” I begin, in perhaps a sharper tone than I intended.
He winces. “Yes, Mr. Cullen?”
“Edward. I have told you to call me Edward.”
He shuffles his feet and looks down. “Yes, sir, you have.”
Hell, what have I done to this man? “What are your intentions with Maralah?”
“M-my intentions? I don't have any int—aw, shit,” he breaks off at my raised brow. “Okay, come on. It’s not fair that you can read my mind.”
“It is what it is,” I say mildly.
“I like her. A lot. She’s like Bella, but my age and not married.”
“Seriously? Those are your only requirements in a mate?” My ire is rising, and he needs to explain himself quickly.
“Sir, she’s smart. She’s really funny, and so nice. She never shuts down my ideas like Shelly sometimes does. She listens. She gets me.”
This is what I was waiting for him to say, because I have already heard it in his thoughts off and on over the past few months. My baby girl has remained closed off on the subject, but my intuition says she feels the same. Connor is squirming now, uncomfortable with my scrutiny.
“Connor,” I say kindly, and he looks up with cheeks stained red.
“Yes?” he squeaks.
“Ask her what she thinks. I believe you will be pleased with her answer. Just, do not ask while you both are in a crowd. Ask her privately.”
He smiles at me for possibly the first time, looking genuinely relieved. “I will, thanks.”
When he walks off, Bella walks up. “Scaring Connor off again?”
I look at her and smile gently, leaning in to kiss her forehead. “No, just welcoming him to the family.”