A/N: Thank you to Honeymoon Edward and LizziePaige for pre-reading, and Midnight Cougar for working your magic.
A bit of accounting and review in case you forgot, Edward and Bella have five kids: Charlie, Peter, Wil, and twin girls, Tori and Madi. Alice and Jasper have three kids: Sophia, Marco, and Izzy.
Age tracker for this chapter: Emmett (38), Lily (7), Edward (36), Bella (34), Charlie (9), Peter (8), Wil (7), Tori & Madi (4), Jasper (49), Alice (41), Sophia (10), Marco (7), Izzy (5)
(whispers) This is one of my favorite chapters. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m just here having fun.
C6 – Happy 7th Birthday, Lily
“Hey, Bella.” My eyes check the room as to who may listen to my conversation, and I step outside in the rain to take her call. I don’t need any gossiping moms putting either of us in a bad position.
“Em, I need to ask a huge favor of you. And I know you probably already have birthday plans with Lily, but Charlie and Peter’s soccer game started late and now, it’s running late. I can’t get back there in time to pick up the girls from dance class.”
“Say no more. I’ll bring them home.”
Bella lets out a heavy exhale. “Em, they’re probably hungry too—”
“Look, Lily and I don’t have big plans. She wants to go to McDonald’s and will be thrilled the twins can tag along. No problem. I’ll make sure they eat.”
“Em, you’re a lifesaver. Edward is teaching tonight and won’t be home until late. The game should be over by the time you and the girls finish dinner.”
“I got it, and if you aren’t home by then, they can hang with Lily and me until you’re back.”
“Thanks, Em. You’re the best.”
“Spread the word. I can always use some good press.”
“See ya later.”
I walk back inside as Lily’s dance teacher opens the door and her students spill from the studio toward the cubbies where they bundle up with sweatpants, coats, socks, and shoes. I spot Lily talking with Tori while Madi trails behind.
I may be biased, but Lily’s hair looks the best. While all the girls have ballerina buns, I wrapped an extra braid around Lily’s. When they spot me, I give them the change in plans.
“Good news, girls. Tori and Madi are going with us to dinner this evening.”
High-pitched squeals, at the possibility of more time together, get the trio moving faster.
“Daddy, can they sleep over?”
Leave it to Lily to ask for more.
“No. Aunt Bella said only dinner.”
Lily turns to Tori and Madi. “We’re going to McDonald’s. It’s my birthday pick.”
Their eyes light up.
Tori jumps up and down. “Uncle Em, you’re the best! We never get to go there.”
“Sure. Remember me when you’re voting for favorite uncle.” I wink.
Jasper doesn’t stand a chance.
I shuffle the girls out to my Range Rover, putting them in the back seat together. The drive is short, but they chatter non-stop. Or I should say Tori talks non-stop. Once we make our way inside the restaurant, I point toward a table.
“Sit there and I’ll order our food. What does everyone want? Chicken for you Lily?”
“What about you two?”
Tori speaks up, “Cheeseburgers for us, Uncle Em.”
I glance at Madi who nods her head in agreement.
After placing our order, our food is ready in no time, and soon I’ve passed out everything. Lily is busy lining up her chicken nuggets in a row, while Tori has a huge bite of cheeseburger in her mouth silencing her for a moment. Madi has her burger open, and she’s staring at it.
“Is something wrong with your cheeseburger, Madi?”
Her eyes are glassy with tears, and I can’t for the life of me, figure out what’s wrong.
Madi’s voice is soft. “There’s rice on my burger.”
“Rice?” I don’t remember McDonald’s ever having rice on the menu.
Tori finishes her bite and smacks her forehead with her hand. “Oh no, Uncle Em. You forgot.”
“Forgot? What did I forget?”
“To order Madi’s cheeseburger plain. Don’t worry, Daddy forgets sometimes too. Then he eats it.”
I look over at the tiny pieces of minced onions. “Madi, that isn’t rice. Those are onions.”
“Even worse, Uncle Em. Madi hates rice and onions,” Tori explains.
“Can we scrape them off with a French fry?” I wonder, but one look at Madi’s large green eyes puts me back at the counter ordering another cheeseburger—this one plain.
With everyone happy, I’m finally able to dig into my food, jamming a handful of French fries in my mouth.
“Uncle Em, do you like big food?” Tori asks.
“I suppose. I’m a big guy. Why?”
“Because that’s what it says, right?” She leans over, pointing to the words. “Big Mac?”
“Yes, that’s what it says.”
Tori nods. “Wil tried to eat one of those. Peter kept calling him a baby and said he only eats baby food. So, Wil begged Daddy to order one for him, but do you know what happened?”
“He couldn’t eat the whole thing?” I guess.
“Nope. He ate all of it then puked. And Peter got in trouble for name-calling.”
Lily makes a face. “Gross.”
“Mama was mad and made Daddy clean it up.” Tori shifts the conversation as she twists in her seat. “Thanks for getting us French fries, Uncle Em. Mama never lets us have them. She always orders apple slices and yogurt.”
I hope I won’t be in too much trouble with Bella for not picking the healthier selections. “You can have those next time. Today’s special.” I poke Lily’s side. “Right, Birthday Girl?”
Lily giggles. “Right, Daddy.”
Tori continues to fill me in on the details of Casa Cullen. “Wil hates it when we have carrots. He only eats them raw, but Mama cooks them. He wouldn’t eat them the other night and Charlie called him a little s-word. Do you know the s-word, Uncle Em?”
“I have a good idea which one you’re talking about.”
“It’s the poop one. Mama made Charlie put a dollar in the swear jar. Do you have a swear jar at your house?”
Madi speaks up. “Tori, we aren’t supposed to say poop at the dinner table.” Then puts her hand over her own mouth, giggling at her own mistake.
Tori snickers. “Ooops.”
My eyes shift to Lily. “No, we don’t have a swear jar.”
“Well, Mama says it’s only March, but the way her swear jar is filling up. She will be in Australia before June. She and Daddy are going there on a trip. Did you know?”
“No, but it’s been a long time since they went to Paris.”
“Can we stay with you when they’re gone? The boys want to stay with Aunt Alice because Marco has a new video game blah, blah, blah.” Tori rolls her eyes.
“We’ll see. I need to talk to Aunt Bella.” I can probably handle Lily and the twins for a week, but it will be a stretch on my part.
Madi clears her throat. “Uncle Em, have you ever said a bad word?”
I don’t think twice about my answer. “Yeah, all the time.”
All three girls gasp in shock. Uh-oh. That was probably the wrong response.
“Does Grandma wash your mouth out with soap? Because Mama said that would fix Charlie, but we’ve heard Daddy say bad words too,” Tori tells me.
“Did you?” I’m cracking up at Edward getting caught by these two.
Madi nods while Tori explains. “He was angry and said the f-word a bunch of times. Do you know the f-word, Uncle Em?”
“I’m familiar with it.”
“Daddy saw us standing behind him and handed me and Madi each a dollar not to tell Mama. Madi put her dollar in the swear jar, but I kept mine. I’m saving up for a mermaid Barbie.”
Madi sits on her knees and asks, “Lily, did Grandma make you cupcakes?”
“Yeah, pink ones. My favorite.”
“Grandma’s cupcakes are the best. Madi and me are having mermaid cupcakes for our birthday, and Aunt Alice is making everyone mermaid costumes. Mine is blue and Madi’s is purple. Izzy wants green and Sophia chose bright pink. Do you want light pink, Lily?”
Lily nods then takes another bite of chicken.
I’m surprised Jasper and Alice’s daughter, Sophia, is willing to go along with a birthday party for her younger cousins since she is ten. She’s older, but maybe it’s the mermaid theme or that she doesn’t want to be left out of the fun. Their other daughter, Izzy, is six, which puts her a year younger than Lily and a year older than Tori and Madi. I’m happy that Lily has them, as they seem more like sisters than cousins to her.
“I’ll tell Aunt Alice. The boys said mermaids are stupid.” Tori gasps, putting her hand over her mouth. “Don’t tell Mama I said the other s-word. Okay, Uncle Em? I don’t have any extra money for the swear jar.”
“Your secret is safe with me.”
Relief is clear on Tori’s face. “Madi and I want to take swimming lessons instead of dance lessons, but Mama says maybe this summer.”
Madi grins. “Then we can be real mermaids.”
“Sounds like fun. Why wasn’t Izzy at dance class? Is she still sick?”
“I think so.” Lily nods. “Daddy, can we watch the Little Mermaid when we get home?”
“Sure.” I agree knowing where this discussion will head when the three of them get started on Disney princesses.
Tori sighs. “I love that movie. Daddy says our hair is just like Ariel’s, but Eric stinks.”
“Belle’s my favorite princess,” Madi says.
“Not me. My favorite is Anna.” Leave it to Tori to pick the most outspoken princess.
“From Frozen?” I clarify.
Tori nods. “My second favorite is Merida. She has a bow and arrow. I asked for one for Christmas, but Mama said ‘no,’ because Santa doesn’t want me hurting anyone, but I wouldn’t.”
“Not on purpose,” I add, thinking the last thing that household needs is Tori wielding a bow and arrow.
“Well, maybe Peter.” Tori giggles.
Lily smiles. “My favorite is Mulan.”
“Really?” I’m surprised. I expected her to pick a blonde like Cinderella or Rapunzel.
“She’s better than all the boys, Uncle Em,” Tori informs me, as if I haven’t seen these movies what seems like hundreds of times.
“Which prince do you think I am?”
“Beast!” All three chime in at the same time, sending them back into a fit of giggles.
“All right. All right. Is everyone finished? We should wrap this up before we get in trouble with Aunt Bella for staying out too late. You all have school tomorrow.”
We make short work of cleaning up our table then head to the twins’ house where Bella has made it home with the boys from soccer. I give her a wave then drive home.
After a non-spoken birthday wish, half a cupcake, and a bath, Lily can barely keep her eyes open while watching The Little Mermaid. She curls into my side when Ariel makes the deal with Ursula, the evil sea witch.
“She’s bad, Daddy,” Lily whispers.
“It’ll be okay,” I reassure, gently rubbing her back.
As the movie continues, Lily’s breathing becomes heavy while her body goes limp. I stop the movie then carry her into her room and tuck her into bed.
“Happy birthday, Lily.”
She jostles slightly before whispering, “Night, Daddy. You’re the best.”
I turn out her light, leaving the door open slightly, then return to the living room where I switch over to ESPN and catch up on the latest scores.
My mind drifts back to my evening with the girls and a smile spreads across my face at how talkative and lively Tori is. She’s so much like Alice; it’s scary. Every day Madi reminds me of Bella with her quiet, kind presence, but both have Edward’s coloring—red hair and green eyes with fair skin.
I’m still surprised all three thought I was most like the Beast. Maybe because of my size, but a prince who lacks compassion and is cursed until he learns to love another and earn their love in return?
What if they’re right?