Chapter 1, Emmalie and Will
Will Black was having a tough day, which seemed to be the norm lately. At 16, he was tall for his age and had his father's black hair and dark eyes but his mother's lighter complexion. He sometimes felt he didn't quite fit anywhere, neither on the reservation nor in the rest of the world. Feeling restless, he pushed and held the "1" on his cell phone.
Emmalie was always cheerful. "Hi, Will – what's up?" she chirped. "Nothing, as usual," he replied mournfully. "What are you doing?" Emmalie replied that her Uncle Jasper was helping her with Civil War research for her term paper. They exchanged a wink. Emmalie just might be the only human being who knew that Jasper had actually served in the Civil War before he became a vampire. There were some secrets you couldn't even share with your very best friend.
Will continued grumbling. "My parents just left for the tribal council, holding hands for heaven's sake. It's embarrassing, Em."
Emmalie laughed. "Now, Will, I think it's great that your parents are still so crazy over each other. They've been married for all these years and have three kids – how many of your friends' parents are divorced?"
Will was determined not to be cheered up. "I'm stuck babysitting – want to come over for a while?" She could hear his little sisters in the background, laughing and calling her name. "Okay, I'll let Jazz finish my homework." Of course, she knew better, but she did love to tease him. "Let me just check with my dad."
Emmet was Emmalie's favorite person in the world. To her, he was a gigantic teddy bear. From the time she was a tiny baby, she had him wrapped around her little finger. He and Rosalie had been careful to shield her from their fierce vampire selves. When family members went out to feed on animals, they always hunted in groups and left some of the clan at home with Emmalie. She had noticed pretty early that her family was different, in many ways, from those of her friends.
Some of those differences were more positive than you might expect. Generally speaking, vampires might not be considered good role models. Yet Emmalie's family was a caring, nurturing unit, unified in their wish for her to have a happy and normal life. And she did. Em knew she was adopted, and she was aware that all the other residents of her home were vampires. According to her birth certificate, Emmet and Rosalie were her parents, and her humanity tended to shield the family from the usual scrutiny. After 30 or 40 years, people notice when someone fails to get older. Her "grandparents" were in their 30's, and parents, aunts and uncles were all about her age. It was other families that seemed strange to Emmalie; she simply took it for granted that she was the only one changing in her world.
She found Emmet in the living room, watching a football game. When her entry failed to distract him from the game, she gave him an affectionate peck on the cheek and that succeeded in bringing an instant smile to his face. "Hey, Dad, okay if I go over to the reservation for a while? I'll be back for dinner."
He was so predictable. "Homework done?" Emmalie grinned at him. "No, Dad, I asked Jasper to do it for me. See you in a little while."
Esme and Rosalie had fun cooking for Emmalie. They delighted in finding new recipes and bustling around the kitchen now, though the room was virtually unused before she came to live with them. Even Alice would occasionally bake a batch of her favorite cookies, always to be shared with Will and their friends. The big house would seem empty with Emmalie going off to college next year, and everyone dreaded the prospect though they knew it was a natural step.
"If Mom gets back while I'm gone, tell her I took the brownies to Will and the girls," Emmalie yelled as she ran out the door. If she didn't share the bounty with the Black kids, she knew she could easily balloon out of her size four wardrobe. The good news in that scenario would mean that Alice would have a new excuse to take her shopping. Of course, Will could eat non-stop and stay fit and trim, just like his father.
She jumped in her car and backed carefully out of the garage. The other Cullens drove like maniacs, but they were virtually unbreakable. They all insisted that Emmalie wear her seatbelt and drive carefully. She playfully called them hypocrites but was secretly glad that they cared. She was allowed to drive their sporty cars once in a while, for a special occasion, but her Volvo was designed to protect her from harm and was her usual mode of transportation.