Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.
Thanks, as always, to Lemonmartinis and MoltenChocCake. Here's hoping I placed those commas correctly there!
As Edward said…enough with the heavy. Someone has a birthday, so let's party!
CHAPTER 13: How Old is That in Dog Years?
Edward walks into the living room from the kitchen, carrying two bottles of beer. My eyes leave the page I'm reading so that they can look up at him. I smile as I take the drink I'm offered. I give him a kiss in thanks as he sits down and puts his feet up on the coffee table. He leans in so that his head is resting on my shoulder.
I had moved into the house about three weeks ago. I accepted Edward and Mag's invitation to move in a while back, but like everything else in life, it took a bit to get the timing just right.
Dr. Banner is getting very close to retirement, so I have been very busy making plans to take over the clinic from him. Next week I sign the papers to assume ownership and shortly after will begin work on updating the building. I am also in search of a new vet to take my place so that we can be fully staffed once Dr. Banner leaves. The grand re-opening of the Forks Animal Hospital will occur in the next couple of months.
The path that my life has taken since moving back to Forks is still so surreal. If you had told me when I was in Phoenix that I would be moving back to my home town, owning my own business, meeting the love of my life and helping to raise his daughter, I would have laughed.
It still amazes me that this is my new reality. I guess the threat of Kate will always loom, especially in light of what Marcus and Jo told Edward in Seattle. But so far, we haven't heard from her. And Edward and I agreed to cross that bridge together when we come to it.
"What are you reading there, Dr. Swan?"
I push my glasses up from where they've fallen down my nose and read the title to him.
"Canine and feline intracranial meningiomas: An updated review."
"Sounds like a real page turner," he observes.
My face shows mock insult at his sarcastic tone.
"I'll have you know it is a very interesting article," I huff.
"Oh yeah? Try me," he challenges with a wicked gleam in his eye.
I begin reading: "Meningiomas are the most common primary brain tumors in dogs and cats. There are several morphological phenotypes of this extra-axial neoplasm and they show predilections for certain anatomical locations..."
Edward reclines back in to the cushions of the couch and feigns snoring, so I change the tone of my voice to that of a phone sex operator and continue to read.
"There have been a number of attempts to apply the current World Health Organization (WHO) classification for human meningiomas to dogs and cats," I drawl. "And to obtain a universal classification scheme for domestic animals."
The snoring stops and Edward looks over at me, wide-eyed.
"Oh baby, I love it when you talk dirty to me."
I laugh and smack him on the shoulder with the journal.
"Jerk!" I shriek, playfully.
Edward does his best imitation of a feline and pounces on me. He doesn't even break the kiss he lays on me as he snatches the journal out of my hand and tosses it over his shoulder.
Those morphological phenotypes will have to wait for another day.
Later, when we've come up for air, we sit on the couch, not really paying attention to whatever prime time drama is happening on the television.
"Is Mag excited for tomorrow?" I ask.
I know that I can't wait for tomorrow. It's Madigan's seventh birthday and we are having a special celebration for her in her class. One of her favorite books during the last year has been Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes, so she asked me if I would help her make cupcakes for her class. This afternoon we donned the matching aprons that my mom had gotten us and made cupcakes in every color imaginable.
It was one of the most fun afternoons that I have ever spent and I was so happy to be included in helping her be a hero at school. And she would be a hero when they saw what we had for them. Not only were we bringing sweet treats, but Mrs. Newton had given us permission to take the boys to class for a birthday show and tell. Cupcakes and dogs? Yeah, she'd be voted class president tomorrow if they held an election.
"Oh, she's not just excited. She is, and I quote, 'SO excited' for tomorrow. It took me forever to get her to go to sleep."
I snuggle in to him and give laugh. I can just imagine her saying that. Our girl has really come out of her shell. She even came home last week with a 'Reading Superstar' award. I thought Edward would explode with pride. I felt like picking her up and running for a victory lap around Forks Elementary.
"I'm surprised she actually went to sleep. I must have worn her out with the baking. Speaking of tomorrow, which job do you want - picking up the boys from Raise the Woof or cupcake transport?"
He takes a swallow of his second beer.
"I'll raise the woof. Those cupcakes will never make it to the school if I'm in charge of them," he says.
True, but I know he secretly wants to have some extra time with the boys. They became his running partners when we moved in and ever since, Edward and the boys have quite the bromance going. Between Mag and my boyfriend, I am lucky to get any time with them. It doesn't bother me a bit, though. They are my family and their happiness is my happiness.
We finalize plans and then Edward gets off the couch to go and finish the project that he's been working on for the birthday girl. On the way out of the den, he hands me the vet journal that he had tossed on the floor and hands it to me, giving me a wink before walking away.
"Maaaaadigaaaan," Edward whispers in a sing-song voice, dragging her name out. "Wake up, birthday girl."
We are both seated on either side of her on her fluffy pink bedspread, adorned in party hats. In our hands we carry confetti and noisemakers. Even Gandalf and Wallace wanted in on the fun, so we tied ribbons to their collars. They sit at the end of her bed, anxiously waiting for the big moment when she wakes up to the special surprise we have planned for her.
Like children ourselves, Edward and I had giggled our way through the morning, filling the house with balloons and streamers and setting up a special birthday treasure hunt. In order to find her gifts, she has to find the clues, read them and follow their directions. We have been planning this for weeks.
Edward tries again to wake sleeping beauty. Getting impatient or perhaps just showing Edward how it's done, Gandalf lets out a loud bark. This does the trick. And as soon as we see her eyes open, we let loose.
"Happy Birthday to yoooouuuu," we croon to our girl. "Happy Birthday to yoooouuu. Happy Birthday, dear Madigan. Happy Birthday to yooouuuuuu!"
We even harmonize on the final line. By the time we finish our song, the she is sitting up in her bed, bouncing with delight and giggling up a storm as we blow into noisemakers and throw confetti. Gandalf and Wallace smother her with doggy kisses.
"Are you ready to get this birthday celebration started?" Edward booms.
Madigan jumps on her bed.
"YEAH!" she screams.
"Let's go!" he answers.
We both take a hand and lead her out into the hallway to her first treasure hunt clue. Gandalf and Wallace trot out behind us. Edward points out a sign on the hall closet door that has her name on it.
"What is that?" she asks.
"Well," I start. "Why don't you go over there and read what it says."
She walks over and turns the top part of the folded paper and reads what's written.
"Happy Birthday, Maggie May," she reads slowly. "Follow the clue and you will find a special surprise waiting for you. Take ten steps left and turn around. Take five more steps and another clue may be found."
She thinks for a minute, looking up and down the hall.
"Where is it?" she whispers.
"You'll have to follow the clues, Mag," Edward reminds her.
She takes ten steps to the left and we tell her to turn around. When she does, she takes five more. This puts her face to face with the bathroom mirror. Another note awaits her there.
"What does that one say, Maggie May?"
"Today you'll get lots of birthday wishes," she starts. "Your next clue is in the machine that washes the dishes. That's the dishwasher!"
She dashes out of the bathroom and heads for the stairs. We follow behind, laughing at her enthusiasm. Then we hear a very loud screech. Someone has found the decorations. This is a huge success already.
Mag runs through the balloons and rips open the dishwasher. Sure enough, there is another clue. We know her patience will run low pretty soon, so after she reads this one, there is only one more. The final slip of paper is pulled from underneath a chair in the den. It directs her to the porch, where we have placed her birthday gifts.
There are two smaller ones from me and a large one from her father. It took us five rolls of paper to wrap it. We ask her to open the two small gifts first. One of them is a set of custom scrubs that I had made for her to wear to the clinic when she goes to work with me. They have the Forks Animal Hospital logo on one side of the top and her name embroidered on the other. The other present is a bag full of books – books that will go perfectly with the gift that her father made for her.
She hugs me for what feels like forever and then asks Edward if she can open the final gift. He asks her if she needs any help and she politely refuses.
"Well, you better get to it then, birthday girl. You're going to be late for school," he reminds her.
She tears open enough of the paper to reveal what is underneath, jumping up and down when she sees what it is. For the past several weeks, Edward has been working on a bookshelf for Mag. It is made of Pacific Northwest maple, and he took the boards on the side and top and made intricate carvings in them. He even carved paw prints into the design. On the top of the shelf, a piece of wood sticks up and bears her initials.
He crouches down next to her and explains that he left it blank so that they could paint it together. The hug she gives him nearly sends me into a weeping fit. As he returns the affection, he looks over at his shoulder and his smile lights up the morning.
After her breakfast of choice and a skype call to grandparents who are waiting for the deal on their Florida house to close, Madigan and Edward take off for school. We have both taken the day off from work, so I stay home to get cleaned up for tonight's family dinner. On his way out the door, I give Edward a list of errands to run.
The last of the balloons and wrapping paper are stowed away when my cell phone vibrates. I still feel like a high school girl getting a call from her crush when I see his name on my screen.
"Forget something, handsome?" I say by way of greeting.
"No, I was just calling to see what you're doing."
"Just getting ready to take a shower. You finished with your errands?"
"On my way home as we speak."
Home. I love that word, I think as he pauses.
"Shower, huh?" he continues. "Do you feel like sharing?"
"Sharing is caring, baby."
Alice and Esme help me carry the cupcakes to school while Edward and Carlisle go to pick up the boys from grooming. They are sitting in the lobby of the school waiting for us. My smile is huge as I see that Jake and Leah have adorned them with birthday handkerchiefs this time. Edward has already strapped them into their therapy dog vests and we all walk to Mag's class together. Mrs. Newton has her students sitting on the carpet for their guests and I'm not sure what draws the biggest gasp as we walk in, the sight of cupcakes or the size of the dogs.
I can tell that Madigan is fighting to stay seated. When, at last, it is time to get the party started, Mrs. Newton asks her to introduce her guests. Not only does she do so, but she proceeds to tell her classmates all about the dogs, even explaining the proper way to approach them. Beside me, Alice starts handing out the tissue. After seeing this once shy, defeated little girl taking command of her classroom as a confident young lady, we all need them – even the men.
As predicted, Madigan becomes a first grade sensation this day. And I have a feeling that even after all of the cupcake crumbs and dog hair are cleared away tomorrow, she still will be.
Family birthday dinner brings a surprise appearance from the Seattle McCarty's and a new pair of purple cowboy boots, courtesy of Uncle Jasper and Aunt Alice. We play games and Bertie plays Happy Birthday on his violin. Rosalie tells Edward and I that he has been practicing all week.
By the time we curl up together on the sofa after everyone leaves, the yawns are plentiful. We get about halfway through reading 'Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?,' when I see small eyes start to close.
"You ready for bed, Mags?" Edward asks.
She nods her head affirmatively. He picks her up and we walk upstairs and tuck her in to bed.
Before her eyelids fall again, she says in a sleepy voice, "Daddy and Bella, this has been the best birthday ever."
Sweet kisses are placed on the sweetest forehead. Edward grabs my hand as we turn out the light and walk to our room. He whispers his thanks and love, as he undresses me and lays me down on the bed.
This was Madigan's birthday. And yet , I feel it is Edward and I that got all of the presents.
Many apologies for not replying to everyone's reviews for the Marcus and Jo outtake – I fell way behind this week. Please know that I appreciate each and every one.
This is the last chapter until I get back from the UK. Hope you enjoyed it!
Thank you again for reading.
References for this chapter in order of appearance:
Mottaa, Luca, Maria Teresa Mandarab and Geoffrey C. Skerritta. "Canine and feline intracranial meningiomas: An updated review." The Veterinary Journal 192.2 (2012): 153-165. Online.
Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes (Written by Jane O'Connor; illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser)
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? (Written by Carmela LaVigna Cole; illustrated by Mike and Carl Gordon)